How Long Can Raw Chicken Sit Out Without Being Spoiled? Kitchen Tips For You

Nowadays, people have become more and more concerned about the way they eat. Among many types of food recommended by doctors, chicken meat is the most popular nutritional choice for daily cooking because of its non-toxic dietary components. However, it’s not easy to store the chicken for a long period.

So, after buying a portion of raw chicken, what can you do to store this delicious ingredient?

In this post, let’s go into detail about how external forces influence raw chicken and the right way to store it. As a result, in the end, we can answer the question: How long can raw chicken sit out?

How Long Can Raw Chicken Sit Out?

chicken left out

Many factors cause the raw chicken to spoil. However, the three core reasons that affect the quality of chicken meat are room temperature, air exposure, and refrigeration. In the next section, let’s go into detail about each part!


The temperature has a significant impact on the freshness of chicken meat. To be specific, there is a temperature range in which bacteria and microorganisms can multiply four or five times faster than normal. Thus, you must pay close attention to the temperature to prevent rotting.

Typically, the temperature range for bacterial growth is between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. so any perishable food, if stored in the condition above, is more likely to be spoiled.

Furthermore, suppose the chicken is taken out of the fridge for more than 2 hours – Let remember the two-hour rule in cooking. In the meantime, the toxic bacteria can breed to the limit that the chicken is completely inedible.

The important thing that you should consider here is food safety. If you carelessly haven’t realized the case and still cook that chicken, then food poisoning could happen.

Air Exposure

Air is one of the vital factors that boost the growth of bacteria. According to scientists, a portion of raw chicken that is exposed to air can contain a bacteria density as twice as the one that is kept in a sealed container.

Whether keep the food inside or outside the fridge, the air still causes the spoiled raw chicken unless it’s covered.

Refrigeration And Freezing

Refrigeration and freezing are the two most common methods to keep raw fresh chicken for a long time. However, depending on your purpose, you should choose a suitable way.

Firstly, the refrigeration method can be used to keep uncooked chicken fresh for up to 1 day. Given that fact, this way is applicable when you want to thaw the frozen chicken or store meats for less than a day.

After a day, if you still haven’t used that meat yet, it’s a must to put the meat in the freezer. Likewise, as we mentioned above, the raw meat needs to be stored in a sealed container.

Meanwhile, the freezing method is a more popular option because the frozen food product can be kept for a significantly longer time without being spoiled.

If you keep the chicken in a sealed bag and ensure there is no water remaining in the container, then that chicken can be stored for up to 9 months.

To summarize, with the question ” How long can raw chicken sit out?” – we can see that the freezing method can help you keep raw chicken for several months while the refrigeration method can store the meat in just a day.

Noted that these figures are only guaranteed in case you preserve the raw chicken correctly. But how to do it? Let’s move to the next.

How To Store Raw Chicken Fresh For A Long Time?

Keep The Meat In A Refrigerator

Are you asking “How long does chicken last in the fridge?”. According to scientists, raw chicken can be kept fresh in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

After 2 days, if you still haven’t had any plan to use the food, it’s advisable to put the raw chicken into a more suitable place – the freezer. Thus, in this part, we will mention how to store raw chicken in a refrigerator if you tend to use it after 2 days.

Firstly, the raw chicken must be washed carefully under fresh water and cut into small pieces for convenient storage in the fridge.

Next, dry it with clean, sanitized towels or tissues until there isn’t any water remaining on the meat because the water creates a great environment for the bacteria to grow.

Secondly, you must ensure to place it in the coldest spot in the fridge. If available, please switch to the lowest temperature to avoid spoiling as much as possible. We suggest you put the raw chicken on the lowest shelf to prevent its juice and fat from dripping onto other food.

Thirdly, it’s advisable to keep the raw chicken in food plastic wrap or a foil. This method can decrease air exposure.

Freeze The Chicken

Freezing has always been the top chosen method because it allows you to keep many types of food like deli meat, raw chicken, smoked salmon, etc.

fresh for up to 9 months. Whenever you want to use the meat, just take it out and thaw for about 2 or 3 hours, and the food is ready to use.

The first step is removing the breast. Theoretically, you don’t have to divide the chicken into small pieces because it won’t affect the storing effect, but we still advise you to retain the moisture inside the chicken’s breast.

While being frozen for a long time, the breast will lose all the moisture, making it untasty and chewy. In brief, it’s acceptable to freeze all parts of chicken except the breast.

Now, we will go to step 2 of the process. You may wonder which method of repackaging raw chicken is the most effective.

Well, we will introduce you to the “vacuum-sealing” technique then. It’s great if you have the sealing machine at home, but you can still do it without one, either.

Just put a small portion of chicken meat into freezer bags, and manually, try to push out as much air as possible, then zip the bags tightly. In case you don’t have the freezer bags, using foil or plastic wrap or freezer paper is acceptable, too.

When you want to defrost, just take meats outside and wait for 2 or 3 hours (or even longer depending on the food, like the smoked turkey requires a day to thaw) until it warms up, and you can start creating mouthwatering recipes from it.

Put It Inside A Sealed Container

As we discussed above, the temperature is the most influential foodborne factor. Hence, leaving the food outside the refrigerator or freezer isn’t a good idea to keep raw chicken at all.

However, suppose you have to travel outside while keeping the raw chicken, what can you do to lengthen the period raw chicken can sit out? The only effective method at that time is to seal it inside a container.

There are two ways to apply this technique effectively. The first way is to buy a vacuum sealer to completely pull the air out of the container. The second way is to put all the raw meat into a bag, try to pull out air as strong as possible, and lock the bag firmly.

You should ensure that there isn’t much air remaining inside because the air exposure will cause rotting remarkably fast.

 To extend the storing, we have a tip for you: put lots of ice or frozen gel packs inside the container to lower the bag’s temperature.

We need to mention that this is the least recommended storing technique among these three because the chance of being influenced by heat is still remarkably high.


How To Know If The Chicken Has Already Been Spoiled?

Entry-level cooks may make many mistakes when storing chicken, like using the wrong temperature while storing or misevaluating the ideal time for keeping the food fresh.

As a result, the raw chicken, which is quite sensitive to external impacts, can be easily spoiled. Here are some indications to tell whether the chicken has already been spoiled or not:

  • It has a strong odor: Does raw chicken smell? Yes, it is. The fresh raw chicken always has a light meaty fragrance. However, when it is spoiled, the bacteria breeding inside the chicken causes the stinky, rancid smell that you can notice.
  • The texture changes from pinkish to grayish: The beautiful pinky color of fresh meat will slowly transform into gray when interacting with oxide.
  • The chicken is covered in a thick, slimy layer.

What Happens If You Eat Chicken That Was Left Out?

Leave chicken out overnight” is just a very bad idea for storing food product, to be honest.

As mentioned above, air exposure and temperature are the two biggest “enemies” that can lead to spoiling and chicken left out overnight satisfies all these two criteria.

To be specific, the chicken left out can gradually start rotting when being outside the refrigerator for more than 2 hours, and the bacteria will multiply dramatically until the food is too toxic to eat.

Normally, the maximum time for a raw chicken portion to start rotting is two hours. Plus, if the temperature in that room varies from 40 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, the raw chicken can become inedible even faster.

how long can raw chicken stay out

Does Cooking Chicken Kill All Bacteria?

Yes, it does. We always recommend people to serve cooked food rather than having it raw. The raw meat still contains many toxic microorganisms and viruses that cause food poisoning as well as digestive diseases.

However, we want to emphasize that each type of meat has its specific boiling temperature range, and you must know about it to prepare for your cooking.

For instance, the ideal temperature for chicken is 165 degrees Fahrenheit – since, at this level, all bacterias in raw chicken are completely eliminated.

Given that fact, it’s better to prepare a thermometer at home so that you will not undercook or overcook the dish then. Likewise, you should eat the cooked chicken within 2 or 3 days.

The Bottom Line

We have gone into detail about “how long can raw chicken sit out” until being spoiled. Likewise, we also take a quick look at some tips to store raw chicken for future use. We hope you can apply these methods above to use raw chicken meat in the best way.

Hope this post provides you with much useful information about your cooking experience. Thank you for reading!

Kevin Richard

Hi all! I’m Kevin. I spend plenty of time in the kitchen every day because I love cooking healthy and delicious foods for my family and friends. Cooking gives me a chance to be creative and fun. It’s also one of the most meaningful ways to express my love and take care of my little family.

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