How Long Does Chinese Food Last In The Fridge – Authentic Cooking

Chinese food contains a high amount of oil and seasonings, making their storage period and method different from other Western food. If you have Chinese food in the fridge, you may be confused about their maximum longevity.

So, the question here is, “How long does Chinese food last in the fridge?”. Let’s find out the answer to this query through this article. We will also cover why you should throw away the old leftovers, signs that you know the Chinese food turns bad, as well as how to store, defrost and reheat the Chinese food when refrigerating it for a long time.

No need to waste more time; let’s start!

Why Should You Throw Chinese Food Leftovers Out?

Chinese Food

Leaving the leftovers in the fridge has never been a good option, whether it is the case for Chinese food or Western food. In short, the longer you store the food, the more bacteria multiplies in the dish. The more bacteria, the higher chance you will get food poisoning.

To be specific, microorganisms have always been living in food. Even though you have air-seal or boil the dish under high heat, there will still be bacteria. Especially if you leave the food outside at room temperature, the food will be exposed to the air, and the bacteria in the environment can breed and multiply even faster.

Scientifically, the microorganism can grow best at 40 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit (4 to 60 Celsius degrees). You can realize that the typical room temperature stays within this range, right? Thus, if you leave the food, especially the Chinese one, it can turn spoiled quickly. So understandable.

Can you extend the storage period if refrigerating the Chinese dish? Well, the answer is Yes, but not significantly.

The temperature range in the refrigerator is about 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 Celsius degrees). If you put the Chinese leftovers in the fridge, you can decrease the multiplying pace of the bacteria. But it does not mean that they will be killed.

They are still surviving, just growing slower! In other words, your food can still be spoiled no matter if you refrigerate or leave it at room temperature. So, it’s best to throw Chinese food leftovers out.

How Long Does Chinese Food Last In The Fridge?

Acknowledging the reason why you should throw the leftover Chinese food away, now, let’s go straight to the main topic of the blog: How long is Chinese food good for?

Under the typical refrigerator heat range – 35° to 38° Fahrenheit (or 1.7 to 3.3°Celsius degree), Chinese food can last for three to four days, like other leftover food. During these four days, the food is still edible and tasty as normal.

However, after four days, the case changes. Your leftover Chinese food will not be as delicious, oily, salty, delicate, and spicy as before. You can start feeling the bland, bitter taste of the dish, while the color also slowly turns darker.

Unlike leftover vegetables or meat, which can turn inedible immediately after the expiry date, you can still eat the bad Chinese food after four days. It does not obviously show signs of spoilage. If you are not paying attention, you may eat slowly-spoiling food, but don’t be aware of that.

You should also consider the packing status and portion volume. The bigger you pack your Chinese leftovers, the more environment for germs to grow. For example, if you store the food in big, dense containers, the spoiling pace will be much faster, 4 days can turn down to 2 or 3 days.

How To Know Your Chinese Food Is Bad?


When the Chinese food starts spoiling, it will expose the weird odor, making you immediately realize that there is something off.

Typically, the Chinese food is strongly seasoned so that you can smell its strong and tasty smell from far away. Most of the time, Chinese food has such an appealing fragrance. Therefore, if you can catch a rancid and foul smell from your Chinese dish, you know that spoilage is going on.


The color is the sign to show that the Chinese food turns bad, too. For example, your stir-fried lettuce always has a light, bright green color, but now, you can see that the strip slowly turns brown, and the leaves curl up. Or, the kung pao chicken, which is usually red, but now looks brownish.

In these cases, the food shows a sign of discoloration. And that is when you know exactly that your Chinese dish starts turning bad.


If there is a weird odor in the food, people can ignore it and still eat without any problem. If there is a discoloration, they may consider that the fish is overcooked and still enjoy it. However, if there is mold appearing in the dish, no one can endure it anymore. That dish must be thrown away into the trash bin.

The mold is quite easy to spot. If you see some strange, little white spores covering the food, you may recognize it right away! And when seeing those spots on your food, please discard the food as it is impossible to save anymore. It starts poisoning, gal!

How To Store Leftover Chinese Foods

After learning about “How long does leftover Chinese food last?”, you must feel that Chinese food is quite difficult to treat since its longevity is short. Well, it is not the wrong answer.

However, do you know that if you store the Chinese leftovers properly and wisely, you can still lengthen the freshness of the Chinese food for a significantly longer period?

In this segment, we will provide you some tips on storing the leftover Chinese food so that you can keep it for longer.

The first point to discuss is air exposure. There are millions of bacteria and microorganisms living and floating in the air. Hence, the more you let the food be exposed to the air, the more chances for bacteria to get into the food and damage its quality.

Therefore, after eating, you must put the food into air-tight, closed containers and place it in the fridge or even the freezer. Please remember, the container must have as little air exposure as possible to decrease the intrusion of the microorganism.

If available, we suggest you divide the food into small portions to store. This step is optional, but based on our experience, it is really effective!

Many people did not realize that the bulkier you pack a food batch, the more bacteria accumulate. When storing food in large batches, the center part will not cool down as quickly as the sides of the container.

So, the environment inside the container is like this: cool on the sides, hot in the center. Lots of bacteria multiplying at the center, dense environment for microorganisms to grow up. You can realize that it is such an ideal place for germs to live strongly, right?

So please divide the food into small portions and put them into separate, air-tight containers, and store them in the refrigerator.

How To Thaw Frozen Chinese Foods

To store Chinese food for a longer time, many people choose to keep it in the freezer. This is an effective way to lengthen the dish’s longevity because you have prevented the multiplication process of the bacteria, which means stopping the spoilage procedure.

If you want to take the food out of the freezer and defrost it for further use, how to thaw the cold Chinese food, specifically? Is it different from thawing other food?

Well, the answer is: There is no difference between thawing Chinese food and other cuisines. After taking it out of the fridge, let it sit out at room temperature for 5 to 7 minutes. Next, thaw the food by putting it into the microwave.

If you are in a hurry, just put the food into the microwave and skip the “sit out” step. You can still defrost the food, but it will be quite mushy then.

How To Reheat Chinese Food

Considering that your Chinese leftovers are not tasty anymore, many people will throw away the food. However, we have another answer on what to do with leftover Chinese food: reheat them.

The first and most common way to cook Chinese food is to “wok” it. Yes, we are not misusing the term. “Wok” is the tool to cook Chinese food that you often see in Chinese movies and TV shows.

First, wait for the oil to boil. You will realize when it comes to a boil by dipping the chopsticks to the pan’s bottom and seeing the bubbles submerge. Then, pour the food into that deep, big pan with a lot of oil.

Next, use the spatula to mix and stir the food until the food is hot enough. Turn down the heat and stir the food continuously for 2 to 3 minutes more. Then take out the food, and it is hot enough to eat.

The second way to reheat your Chinese leftovers is to put them into the microwave. We believe that the microwave can be found in any household for its versatility and cheapness.

Please find a microwave-safe plate, put the food on it, and place the dish into the microwave. Set the mode to average heat and wait for 3 to 5 minutes, based on the food. Later, you can eat the food as normal.

Finally, you can use the oven to reheat Chinese food that has lasted in the fridge. The process is similar to the microwave, but the oven has one advantage that the microwave does not: it can “cook” the food.

To be more specific, you can mix and match the Chinese leftovers with other remaining ingredients in the fridge like sausage, dim sum, cheese, kimchi, etc., to create some leftover Chinese food recipes.

Just put all the leftovers and the new ingredients into a big bowl, add sauce if needed, place the bowl into the oven, set to the high temperature, and wait for 5 to 7 minutes. You will have not just a reheated Chinese leftover anymore, but a new, tasty meal!

Final Thoughts

Scallops with mushroom in XO

If you still stay with us until now, congratulations! You have acquired abundant insights not only on “How long does Chinese food last in the fridge?” but also Chinese leftovers’ storage period as well as thawing and reheating ways.

We believe that you are acknowledged enough to use Chinese food well now!Is the guidance on “How long can Chinese food sit out?” easy to understand and follow? Can you apply our tips in your cooking? Share with us your experience in the comment box below!

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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