This Is How Long Cooked Chicken Lasts in the Fridge

You should be safe for this window of time.

Picking up a rotisserie chicken is an easy solution when you don’t have time to cook. But a lot can happen between the time the chicken was prepared and when you put it in your mouth.

This is the number one food that causes food poisoning.

Cooling cooked foods improperly is one the most common causes of foodborne illness, according to the USDA. When the foods’ internal temperature dips below 140˚ Fahrenheit, bacteria such as E. coli and salmonella can thrive. Some signs your rotisserie chicken may have entered the “danger zone” between 140 and 40˚F and encouraged bacterial growth? It looks slimy or smells bad, Still Tasty reports. (Discover more signs that your chicken has gone bad.)

So how long is cooked chicken good for?

“Cooked chicken, including rotisserie chicken, stays fresh in the fridge for three or four days,” says Christy Brissette, MS, RD, and president of 80 Twenty Nutrition. Make sure the temperature of your refrigerator is set to 40˚F or colder to stay out of the danger zone.

There are other precautions you can take to make sure your cooked chicken lasts as long as possible. Start in the store with the selection of the chicken, says food safety consultant Jeff Nelken.

“Go for the ones that are hotter as opposed to the ones that are cooler, because you know this one has been receiving adequate temperature,” Nelken told Fox News 11. “And usually they’ll even have a dot that tells you how long that chicken has been there.”

Once you’ve got your chicken, make sure you get it home as soon as possible. Then, either eat it or refrigerate it within two hours. If you decide to store it, removing the meat from the bones can help it cool more quickly. Read up on the items food poisoning experts never eat.

If you’re not going to be able to eat your chicken within three to four days, freeze it. That gives you an additional two to six months to eat it, Brissette says. Then when you reheat the chicken, make sure it reaches an internal temperature of 165˚F before eating.

Now that you know how long cooked chicken is good for, find out exactly how long these other types of meat last in the fridge.

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Originally Published on Reader's Digest