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How To Store Chicken

Have you ever wondered about the best way to store chicken? Whether you’re a cooking newbie or a seasoned home cook, mastering the art of storing chicken is essential to maintain freshness and ensure food safety.

In this guide, we will walk you through the steps of storing chicken the right way.

Raw chicken breast on parchment paper on the counter.

How To Properly Store Chicken


Store raw chicken in the coldest part of your refrigerator, which is usually the back. Cooked chicken can be stored in the refrigerator for 3-4 days or frozen for up to 6 months.

Raw Chicken

Raw chicken should be stored in the coldest part of the refrigerator, which is usually the back. The ideal temperature for storing raw chicken is 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below.

You do not want to store raw chicken in the door of the refrigerator, as the temperature in the door is not as cold as the rest of the refrigerator.

The bottom shelf is the best place to store raw chicken because if the juices happened to leak it won’t contaminate the other foods in the fridge.

Cooked Chicken

Cooked chicken can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. After that, the chicken will lose its flavor and texture.

It is best to cook and eat chicken within the first 2 days of buying it for optimal freshness and flavor.

To store cooked chicken, place it in an airtight container or bag to prevent it from drying out. Cooked chicken can also be frozen for longer storage.

Freezing Chicken

Freezing is your best bet if you want to store chicken for more than a couple of days. It’s a common misconception that freezing chicken compromises its taste or texture.

When done correctly, freezing can help preserve the quality of the chicken for an extended period of time.

Before freezing chicken or any other meat, you want to ensure that your chicken is appropriately packaged. Use a freezer-safe bag or wrap it securely in plastic wrap to prevent freezer burn.

For added protection, you could also place the wrapped chicken in a freezer-safe container. This way, your chicken can last up to 9 months in the freezer!

How To Defrost Chicken Safely

Defrosting chicken is as crucial as storing it. Never thaw chicken at room temperature, as it creates a breeding ground for bacteria.

Instead, plan ahead and thaw the chicken in the refrigerator. Depending on the size of your chicken or chicken parts, this could take anywhere from a few hours to a day.

If you are in a hurry you can use the defrost function of your microwave. However, remember to cook it immediately after to prevent any bacterial growth.

If you’d like a guide on how to reheat chicken or more specifically how to reheat fried chicken check out my post that will walk you through different methods and steps.

How To Know If Your Chicken Is Safe To Eat

Ensuring that your chicken is safe to eat is as important as buying fresh and storing it properly. Here are a few tips to determine if your chicken has gone bad or if it is safe to eat.

  1. Color: Cooked chicken should be white and opaque throughout. If you see pink, it’s a sign that your chicken may not be fully cooked.
  2. Texture: Raw chicken that feels slimy or sticky even after washing might be unsafe. Cooked chicken should feel moist, not rubbery or tough.
  3. Smell: Spoiled chicken often has a sour or foul smell. If your chicken smells off, it’s best not to risk it.
  4. Expiry Date: If your packaged chicken is past the sell-by date, it’s likely unsafe to eat.
  5. Cooking Temperature: The internal temperature of cooked chicken should reach at least 165°F (74°C) to ensure it’s safe to eat.

When in doubt, it’s always better to err on the side of caution. If you suspect your chicken may not be safe to eat, it’s best to throw it out. Better safe than sorry!

The Importance Of Proper Chicken Storage

The importance of proper chicken storage can’t be overstated. Besides maintaining the quality and flavor of the chicken, safe storage practices also prevent foodborne illnesses.

Poultry, including chicken, can carry harmful bacteria like Salmonella and Campylobacter, which can cause serious food poisoning if not handled correctly.

What To Look For When Buying Fresh Chicken

Buying fresh chicken is the first step to effective storage and great cooking. Fresh chicken not only tastes better, but it also stores better. Here are some key points to consider when purchasing your poultry:

  1. Expiration Date: Always check the ‘sell-by’ date. The further away it is the fresher the chicken.
  2. Color: Look for chicken with a pinkish hue. Avoid any chicken that looks gray or dull.
  3. Smell: Fresh chicken should have a mild scent or no smell at all. A strong, foul odor is a clear no-go.
  4. Packaging: Ensure the package is cold, with no leaks, tears, or excessive liquid.
  5. Texture: The chicken should feel firm and plump to the touch, not slimy or sticky.

Tips For Cutting Chicken

Frequently asked questions about how to store chicken

Fresh chicken can be safely stored in the refrigerator for about 1-2 days. If you don’t plan to cook it within this time, consider freezing it to extend its shelf life.

It is generally not recommended to refreeze chicken that has been thawed in the refrigerator. However, if the chicken was defrosted in the microwave or cold water, it can be refrozen after it has been properly cooked.

Spoiled chicken often has a strong, sour smell and a slimy texture. The color might also turn grayish. If your chicken displays any of these signs, it is likely spoiled and should not be consumed.


By following these straightforward guidelines, you can ensure that your chicken remains fresh, tasty, and safe to eat. Good storage practices mean less wasted food and more delicious meals – so start implementing these tips in your kitchen today!

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