How Long Does Cooked Chicken Really Last In the Fridge?

Find out if it's time to toss those leftovers.

Whether it was roasted on a rotisserie, fried in a skillet, or baked in the oven, any type of cooked chicken is a good thing to have on hand in the refrigerator. Even if the rest of the fridge is almost bare, you can still cobble together a simple chicken salad out of cooked chicken and a few pantry staples. Shredded rotisserie chicken can also upgrade your usual tossed salad from side dish to entrée. And if you haven't experienced the joy of eating a piece of cold fried chicken straight from the fridge, you should fix that right now.

Just make sure you know how long the chicken has been in there. If stored properly (in a ziplock storage bag or sealed container), the USDA says that cooked chicken can last three to four days in the refrigerator. And that goes for any type of cooked chicken—store-bought, homemade, or restaurant leftovers.

Freeze It.

If you have a lot of leftover chicken and don't think you will eat it within four days, your best bet is to freeze it. Place the chicken in a ziplock freezer bag and press out as much air as possible before sealing it. Then freeze the chicken for up to four months. If frozen properly, the chicken will be edible indefinitely, but the longer it sits in the freezer, the higher the chance that the flavor and texture will deteriorate.

Defrost It.

Defrost frozen chicken overnight in the refrigerator, then reheat on the stovetop or in the oven as needed. You can also reheat the chicken in the microwave. Cut the chicken into smaller pieces if possible and spread a single layer on a microwave-safe plate. Cover with a lid or damp paper towel before reheating.

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