Piping-hot, crispy fried chicken is one of my all-time favorite dishes. Who doesn’t love tucking into those mouth-watering drumsticks coated in crunchy batter or those spicy wings that leave your taste buds tingling and begging for more? Whether you cook it yourself or buy it from your local takeout place, you have probably asked, ‘How long can fried chicken stay out?’
There are many ways to cook chicken pieces, but frying them in hot oil is probably one of the most popular. Fried chicken is chicken that has been coated in egg and flour, seasoned with your favorite spices, and deep-fried in hot oil. Many people also like coating their chicken pieces in breadcrumbs or crushed cornflakes to make them extra crispy.
Chicken has the potential to go off fairly quickly, so it is important to know how long your fried chicken can stay out of the fridge while remaining safe to eat.
Of course, the best time to eat fried chicken is straight out of the pan, when it has just been cooked. This is when it will be at its freshest and most appetizing. That aroma coming from the kitchen, and the sound of the chicken sizzling in the pan, will be utterly tantalizing and irresistible. But it may not always be possible to eat it straight away.
How Long Can Fried Chicken Stay Out the Fridge?
How long fried chicken can stay out of the fridge depends on a few factors, but the most important of these is the indoor temperature. Generally, in temperatures up to 85° Fahrenheit, it is safe to leave the fried chicken out for up to 2 hours. However, if it is any warmer than 85°, it should either be eaten immediately or placed in the fridge within 1 hour.
Why Shouldn’t Fried Chicken Be Left Out For Too Long?
Chicken can go bad much more quickly than other meats. This is because bacteria in food multiply much faster in moist foods. Chicken has a higher water content than other meats, and food-borne bacteria will thrive in the moisture of the chicken flesh.
Microorganisms like Salmonella, e-Coli, and Campylobacter multiply very quickly in protein-based, moist foods. So your delicious fried chicken is the perfect environment for them to grow.
How Long Can Fried Chicken Keep in the Fridge?
Fried chicken can keep for 3-4 days in the fridge. It is best to store your fried chicken on the top shelf of your fridge. Do not place it anywhere near any raw meat or chicken.
Raw meat and chicken all contain certain elements and bacteria. These will still be safe to eat after they have been cooked because these bacteria will be killed by high temperatures. However, bacteria are easily transferable, even in the fridge, and your fried chicken may become contaminated if it comes into contact with raw meat or chicken.
How Should You Store Fried Chicken?
Fried chicken will last longer if it is stored in a sealed, airtight container, or in sealed ziplock bags. Do not seal the bags or containers while the chicken is still hot. The steam must be allowed to escape and the chicken should only be slightly warm when sealing.
If using bags, try to release as much air as possible from the bags before sealing. It is a good idea to divide the chicken into smaller portions, in order to help it to cool down more quickly. Also, try to separate pieces by placing cling wrap between them. This will prevent the pieces from sticking together and ruining the coating.
Can You Freeze Fried Chicken?
The good news is that fried chicken freezes very successfully. Because it is such a popular dish in my house, I usually cook a large batch at a time and freeze the extra pieces. This kind of planning helps with time management and can simplify your life. It is so convenient to have a scrumptious meal in the freezer for those days when you know that you won’t have time to cook.
How Do You Thaw Fried Chicken?
Fried chicken should not be left out to thaw overnight. Bacteria can multiply very quickly and the chicken may go off if left at room temperature for an extended period. Place your frozen fried chicken in the fridge and leave it there to defrost overnight.
If you have forgotten to take it out the night before, and you need to use it urgently, you can defrost the fried chicken in the microwave on the defrost setting, but it may lose some of its flavors and will not be crispy. I suggest leaving it in the microwave only for long enough to defrost it, but not to heat it through.
How Do You Reheat Fried Chicken That Has Been Defrosted?
Once the chicken has defrosted completely, either overnight in the fridge, or at the last minute in the microwave, you can reheat it in the oven at about 350° Fahrenheit for 15-20 minutes, depending on how big the pieces are. Bigger pieces will take longer to heat through.
How Can You Tell if Fried Chicken Is Off?
Obviously, if you suspect that your fried chicken might have gone bad, you will not want to risk tasting it. Fortunately, it is possible to check if it is off without eating any of it. Here is how:
- Smell – all chicken, even when it is fresh, has a distinctive smell. However, chicken that has gone off will have a sour, unpleasant odor.
- Color – Cooked chicken that is fresh and good to eat will be either white or light tan in color, depending on which portions you have. On the other hand, chicken that is bad will start turning a greyish green. If it is seriously off it may even be moldy.
- Touch – Fresh chicken will be dry to the touch, while chicken that is off will feel slimy.
What Will Happen if You Eat Fried Chicken That Has Been Left Out For Too Long?
Eating food that has gone bad can make you severely ill. If the fried chicken has only just started going off, you might only get a mild case of food poisoning. You might have slight stomach cramps and vomit once or twice, and then feel fine a few hours later.
If the fried chicken has been left out for an extended period, and the bacteria have been multiplying furiously, you can get very sick and may even need to be admitted to hospital.
What Should You Do If You Get Food Poisoning?
If you were not sure how long fried chicken can stay out, and you inadvertently ate it after it has gone off, you will probably start to feel bad within a couple of hours. If you are not seriously ill, make sure to drink plenty of water, and rest for a few hours.
If you don’t start to improve, and you are throwing up copiously and have diarrhea, it is time to go to the doctor or emergency room. Vomiting and diarrhea can cause severe dehydration, which is potentially very dangerous. You may need to be treated with medication and be put on a drip to rehydrate your system.
If you are asking how long fried chicken can stay out, you have probably either already made or are planning to make some fried chicken. Be sure to follow safe practices when preparing and storing your fried chicken, and you can enjoy this delicious meal without any worries.