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How Long Can Fried Chicken Sit Out?

Fried chicken is a delicious, crispy treat that can easily be the star of any picnic or backyard gathering. But exactly how long can fried chicken sit out unrefrigerated before it becomes unsafe to eat? Here’s a detailed guide to fried chicken food safety.

The Dangers of Leaving Fried Chicken Out

Fried chicken left out at room temperature provides an ideal environment for bacteria like salmonella and E. coli to grow. These bacteria multiply rapidly between 40°F and 140°F.

Eating fried chicken that has been left out too long can cause foodborne illness, with symptoms like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and fever. Vulnerable groups like pregnant women, young children, elderly people, and those with weakened immune systems are at higher risk for complications.

Related post: How hot does fried chicken need to be?

How Long Can Fried Chicken Sit Out Safely?

The USDA recommends discarding all perishable foods that have sat out at room temperature for longer than 2 hours. This includes fried chicken. After sitting out for more than 2 hours, fried chicken enters the danger zone of 40-140°F where bacteria can quickly multiply. Discard leftover fried chicken if it has exceeded the 2 hour limit.

Some important notes on the 2 hour rule:

    • The 2 hours includes preparation and cooking time.
    • When outdoor temperatures are above 90°F, cut the time down to just 1 hour.
    • Discard chicken sooner if it smells or looks bad.
    • Don’t let cooked chicken sit out for more than 2 hours total, even if you put it back in the fridge in between.

Storing and Reheating Fried Chicken Safely

To extend the shelf life of cooked fried chicken:

    • Let fried chicken cool to room temperature, then refrigerate within 2 hours.
    • Store fried chicken pieces in airtight containers or resealable plastic bags.
    • Refrigerate for up to 4 days.
    • Freeze for longer storage, up to 4 months.

When reheating fried chicken that has been properly stored?

    • Reheat to an internal temperature of 165°F.
    • Use within 3-4 days for best quality.
    • Do not reheat chicken more than once.

So, How long can you leave fried chicken out?

Fried chicken should not be left out at room temperature for more than 2 hours total. According to food safety experts, perishable foods like fried chicken need to be refrigerated or discarded within this 2 hour timeframe to prevent bacteria growth.

Leaving fried chicken to sit out for longer than this timeline can allow dangerous pathogens to quickly multiply, increasing your risk of foodborne illness. For optimal safety and quality, refrigerate or toss fried chicken within 2 hours of cooking.

FAQs
Can you eat fried chicken left out overnight?

No, it is not safe to eat fried chicken that has been left out overnight at room temperature. Fried chicken can only sit at room temperature for up to 2 hours before dangerous bacteria like salmonella start multiplying quickly.

Consuming fried chicken left out all night puts you at risk of food poisoning. Even if it looks and smells okay, it is best to discard fried chicken that has been unrefrigerated for more than 2 hours. Do not take risks with food safety.

Is it safe to eat food left out for 4 hours?

Food that has been left out at room temperature for more than 2 hours (or 1 hour above 90°F) is considered unsafe to eat by the USDA. This 4-hour timeframe is well past the recommended 2 hour limit.

Foods like fried chicken, meat, cooked dishes, cut fruits and vegetables create an environment for rapid bacteria growth when left between 40°F and 140°F. 4 hours falls right in the danger zone. To prevent foodborne illness, it is best to throw away perishable foods rather than risk eating anything that has sat out for over 2 hours.

Is chicken good if left out for 6 hours?

Chicken that has been left out at room temperature for 6 hours is considered unsafe to eat and should be discarded. Poultry like chicken is especially prone to bacteria growth. After sitting out for more than 2 hours, chicken enters the danger zone of 40-140°F where bacteria multiplies quickly.

6 hours far exceeds this limit. Consuming chicken left out for this long puts you at high risk of food poisoning, even if it appears or smells normal. Do not eat chicken that has been unrefrigerated for longer than 2 hours.

How long can fried chicken be kept?

Properly stored fried chicken can be kept refrigerated for 3-4 days. First let it cool to room temperature within 2 hours after cooking. Then refrigerate fried chicken in air-tight containers. Reheat within 3-4 days to 165°F. Freeze for longer storage up to 4 months.

Do not refrigerate for more than 4 days or reheat more than once. Always discard fried chicken that is past its prime and has an odd odor, appearance or texture. Follow expiration dates for store-bought fried chicken.

How long does fried chicken last unrefrigerated?

Fried chicken will last for no more than 2 hours unrefrigerated. The perishable nature of foods like fried chicken means they need to be chilled to prevent bacteria growth and potential foodborne illness.

If fried chicken is left out between 40°F and 140°F for more than 2 hours, it has surpassed its limit of safety and should be discarded. Refrigerating fried chicken within 2 hours is vital for it to last.

How long can fried chicken wings sit out?

All types of fried chicken, including wings, tend to follow the same food safety guidelines. Do not let fried chicken wings or any other fried chicken sit at room temperature for longer than 2 hours before refrigerating or discarding.

Storing fried chicken properly, refrigerating within 2 hours, reheating thoroughly, and using it by the expiration date are the best ways to prevent foodborne illness. When in doubt, throw it out. Don’t take risks with fried chicken that may have been left out too long.

 

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