How long can cooked chicken sit out? Well, let us answer this question today!
It takes time to get a lovely golden brown on your chicken, but how long you can enjoy that glaze is a different story.
We often talk of cook times when it comes to dishes, but we rarely discuss how long they can stay out. However, talking about the latter is as essential as the former. Let us take a look at why today!
How Long Can Cooked Chicken Stay Out?
Generally, any dish can stay out for around 2 hours. Now, it is the same for cooked chicken. Whatever type of cooked chicken is in question (yes, even the beloved fried chicken), it would be best for it to stay out for only a max of 2 hours.
This number is only a general estimate, though. As you will see in a bit, many things can affect how long chicken can stay out. However, you might want to remember that lessening the time could be good, but lengthening it is almost always not ideal or even possible.
It would be good to get rid of any chicken that has been out for longer than the max time. We will also talk about why that is later, but for now, let us discuss the factors that can affect how long a chicken can stay out.
The Three Things That Can Affect the 2-Hour Mark
When it comes to letting a chicken stay out, many believe three things can affect the time limit. Let us see how true that is in this section.
Does the Cooking Method Affect the Time?
There are many ways to cook and enjoy chicken. You can grill it and get beautiful charred marks, roast it and enjoy a juicy meal, or, probably the top favorite, fry it and hear a satisfying crunch!
As you likely already know, these different cooking methods vary in difficulty and time. However, it does not have much of an effect on how long the chicken can stay out.
Also, while it may affect the length of time the chicken can stay out, it is not the deciding factor. Compared to the other factors we will discuss in the following parts, its effect is trivial.
Since we are already talking about cooking methods, let us briefly discuss a closely related topic before we move on. Some think some ingredients might extend the time the chicken could stay out.
However, that is not the case. While some components of a dish could extend its time from spoiling, the same is not true when it comes to letting the food stay out at room temperature.
With that, it might be the best time to note that the different ingredients in different dishes will not help extend the time the chicken could stay out. On the flip side, it might even shorten the time limit.
Does Heat Affect the Time?
As you might already know, the different cooking styles affect how long a chicken can stay out because of the heat involved in each method.
With that, it could be sensible to think that a higher temperature could keep a chicken that is out from going bad. After all, if heat encircles the chicken, if one thinks about it, it can appear like it is mimicking what happens inside an oven.
It does make sense, but that is not how it goes. It is the other way around. In other words, the higher the temperature, the shorter you want to let the chicken stay out.
More than the cooking style, this one will affect the length of time a chicken can stay out more. However, is that all that could? Let us talk about the last factor next.
Does a Cover Affect the Time?
Finally, let us talk about covers and covering and how much it affects the time limit. Generally, when we leave any food to stay out, we tend to put covers on them. There are a few reasons we do so, but to keep germs and bacteria out is one of those.
As we will talk more about later, one of the reasons not to leave a chicken out for too long is because of how much bacteria it gets when it is out.
With all that, covers can appear like they could help extend the time a chicken could be left out. Yes, they can keep the outside bacteria out. However, bacteria can grow on the chicken. The bacteria do not need to stick to the meat from the outside to grow and multiply on it.
With that, covers and covering will not do anything in extending the length of time a chicken can stay out.
What Can Happen if You Eat Chicken That’s Been Out a While?
As we have said above, the max time you want to let a cooked chicken stay out is 2 hours. Lengthening the time is not ideal, but shortening it is sometimes recommended.
However, the chicken will not look bad immediately after the time limit. It can look, smell, feel, and taste the same for some time after. With that, you might wonder why adherence to this rule is necessary.
Eating chicken that has been out more than the max time could be dangerous. As we have said earlier, one of the reasons not to leave a chicken out for too long is because of how much bacteria it gets when it is out.
If you eat a chicken that has been out for too long, you can get sick. It can be as simple as a stomach ache or as serious as full-on food poisoning.
On the other hand, while we did say that a chicken that has been out over the time limit can look, smell, feel, and taste the same for some time, its quality will eventually decrease too.
Take fried chicken for one. If you do not eat fried chicken fast, you will start noticing signs it is no longer as appealing as when it just got off the pan.
As you can see, letting the chicken stay out for too long is not only bad for you but the chicken too! However, it does not mean you have to throw out the chicken if you cannot eat it within two hours of cooking it. There is a way to put a pause on that time limit. With that, let us talk about how you can enjoy it some other time next.
Storing Cooked Chicken to Be Enjoyed Some Other Time
While extending the two-hour mark is not ideal, there is a way to put a pause on that timer.
Let the Chicken Cool Down
There are opposing beliefs about putting hot food in the fridge. Some say the food will spoil and the refrigerator could break that way, while others say it will not.
Whichever argument you believe, it is okay. That is not why you want to let a cooked chicken cool down. You want the chicken to cool down for the next step.
Cover the Chicken Good
You want to let the chicken cool down first because you have to cover it. With some covering options, heat is not a recommended companion.
Take cling wrap as an example. Some types of it can melt if heated. You do not only risk eating plastic but also the harmful chemicals it could release when you wrap a hot chicken with it.
If you plan on eating parts soon and enjoy some for later, it might be good to cover them by portion.
Decide When You Want to Enjoy the Rest of the Chicken
There are two main ways to put a pause on your two-hour mark. That is, by putting it in the fridge or the freezer. Almost any chicken meal will last for around 3 to 4 days if stored in the former. On the other hand, depending on the dish, it could last for a few months when stored in the latter.
Place the Chicken Away from Uncooked Meats
Keep the chicken away from uncooked meats or anything that could contaminate it. Do not place cooked chicken with your uncooked one.
There Is Still a Time Limit
While these steps could pause the two-hour mark, it does not stop the timer entirely. It might be good to label the chicken you are storing to ensure you do not go over that time.
How long can cooked chicken sit out? Well, we answered this question and so much more today!
Chicken is one of the staples in our society. Wherever in the world you are, you will likely find at least a dozen dishes using the meat. We might not know all the chicken recipes out there. However, we now know how long any chicken dish can stay out for us to enjoy and dig in.
We hope we got to answer your question satisfactorily. If you have more chicken concerns or matters like this one, then you might want to check out our other talks. We might have just the answer or thing for you!