How long does cooked chicken last in the fridge?

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How Long Does Cooked Chicken Last In the Fridge?

Plus, genius ways to use up cooked chicken.

October 03, 2022

By Layla Khoury-Hanold for Food Network Kitchen

Grilled or smoked chicken breast with bone and skin on a cutting board

VeselovaElena/Getty Images

Close-up of grilled chicken breast and vegetables of baked sweet potato,  boiled broccoli on a black plate on a dark concrete background with sour cream, radish, and spinach, horizontal orientation

from_my_point_of_view/Getty Images

Layla Khoury-Hanold is a contributor at Food Network.

If you’ve ever meal prepped chicken breasts or found yourself with leftover roast chicken, you’ve probably wondered how long cooked chicken is good for. Here, we break down how long cooked chicken lasts in the fridge and share tips for using it up.

How Long Is Cooked Chicken Good For In the Fridge?

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) recommendations, leftover cooked chicken should be refrigerated at 40 F (or less) and used within 3 to 4 days. The USDA notes that while refrigeration slows bacterial growth, it does not stop it.

How to Store Cooked Chicken In the Fridge

Once the chicken is cooked and cooled, refrigerate it within 2 hours of sitting at room temperature. Store leftover chicken in an airtight container in the refrigerator (at 40 F or less). Be sure to label the container with the date and contents.

How Do I know When Cooked Chicken Has Gone Bad?

Cooked chicken should be firm and dry to the touch. You’ll know it’s gone bad if it has a slimy texture or is soft to the touch. The USDA states that spoilage bacteria can also cause poultry to turn a dark color or develop an objectionable odor, so toss it if it smells bad or darkens (or develops a greenish or yellowish cast). When in doubt, throw it out.

Con Poulos

How to Use Up Cooked Chicken

Leftover cooked chicken is a boon to have on hand for quick-fix lunches like grain bowls and salads, such as this elegant Spring Chicken Salad. Sandwiches are a good idea, too, whether you’re chopping leftovers destined for Chicken Salad Rolls, slicing it for Greek Chicken in a Pita or getting creative with a Chicken Bahn Mi with Apple-Kale Slaw (pictured above).

You can also use up cooked chicken in any recipe that calls for shredded rotisserie chicken, especially comforting classics like Chicken-and-Cheese EnchiladasChicken Pot PieChicken Cordon Bleu Quiche or Buffalo-Chicken Macaroni and Cheese. Speaking of comfort food, cooked chicken works wonders in cozy casseroles, including fan-favorites such as Chicken and Tater Tot Casserole and Chicken Tortilla Dump Dinner. Other clever ways to use up leftover chicken include Turkey Hand Pies with Butternut Squash and Kale (sub in chicken for the turkey), Teriyaki Chicken Fried Rice (just add the diced chicken toward the end of cooking to warm through), and these Healthy Chicken-and-Cheese Stuffed Sweet Potatoes. Looking for more inspiration? Check out our Leftover Chicken Recipes guide.

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