How to Store Raw Chicken

Wondering how to store raw chicken? Just avoid this one mistake to keep your meal safe and delish.

There are few kitchen tasks messier than handling raw chicken. It’s wet, slimy and makes it almost impossible to turn on the faucet to wash your hands without contaminating it. Fortunately, there are safe ways to handle and store raw chicken to keep it fresh and lower your risk of salmonella. And one of the easiest tips involves where you store chicken in the refrigerator.

How to Store Raw Chicken

After returning home from the grocery store, be sure to place your raw chicken in the fridge or freezer right away. It should not be sitting out on the countertops for any length of time. Raw chicken should only be stored in the refrigerator for 2 days before cooking or freezing, so be sure to have one of your go-to chicken recipes on hand.

Once you’re ready to store your chicken in the refrigerator, clear off the bottom shelf. One of the biggest mistakes is storing raw chicken on the top shelf of the fridge.

Why the Bottom Shelf?

It sounds gross, but juices from the package of raw chicken can leak out and drip down to the rest of your fridge. This is especially dangerous for produce that usually isn’t cooked, such as apples or carrot sticks. Just a tiny amount of raw chicken drippings can contaminate produce, and you may not even be able to see it.

To safely store your chicken, keep it in its original packaging and wrap it tightly in plastic wrap. I then place mine in a plastic grocery bag to catch any remaining juices and stick it on the bottom shelf of the fridge. Be sure it’s not sitting on top of any other food or drinks.

Plan to whip up your best chicken recipes within 48 hours to be sure that the chicken is safe to eat.

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Carrie Madormo, RN
Now a freelance health and food writer, Carrie worked as a nurse for over a decade. When she isn't hunched over her laptop with a baby in hand, you will find her cooking her grandmother’s recipes, lacing up her running shoes or sipping coffee in the bathroom to hide from her three young children.