Last Updated on September 12, 2023 by Shari Mason
We’ve all encountered the age-old warning: “You can’t eat chicken left out overnight.” But is this culinary caution based on fact, or is it a longstanding myth?
So, I decided to do some tests to find out the real deal.
In this blog post, we’ll explore the truth behind this myth and answer the question: Can you eat chicken left out overnight?
Is It Safe To Eat Chicken Left Out Overnight?
No, it is unsafe to eat chicken left out overnight. According to the USDA, eating chicken left at room temperature for not more than two hours is unsafe.
Cooked chicken should be consumed or refrigerated within two hours after cooking to prevent bacteria growth.
“Keep cooked chicken cool; remember two hours rule.”
–Eat Pallet Restaurant & Food Advice
However, there are some safe tricks I usually do when consuming chicken that was cooked last night.
For example, I usually keep cooked chicken in a cold environment (below 40 degrees Fahrenheit), such as in a refrigerator or cooler; it may still be safe to eat.
Ultimately, it is essential to use your best judgment when deciding whether to eat chicken left out overnight.
How To Store Leftover Chicken
One of the most important things I usually do is to thoroughly cool the chicken before storing it in the fridge. The hot chicken will cause the other foods in the fridge to spoil more quickly.
Next, I place the chicken in an airtight container or wrap it tightly in plastic. It will help to prevent harmful bacteria from growing on the surface of the chicken.
Finally, I consume leftover chicken within three days. We don’t consume leftover chicken stored in the fridge for more than three days because the risk of food poisoning increases significantly.
Following these simple tips, you can enjoy delicious leftover chicken without worries.
Will You Get Sick If You Eat Cooked Chicken Left Out Overnight?
Yes, you might get sick if you eat chicken left out overnight.
Leaving cooked chicken overnight is dangerous because there is a high chance of food poisoning and foodborne illness, including vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps. In severe cases, you may also experience a high fever.
If you think you’ve gotten food poisoning from eating leftover cooked chicken left out overnight, you should see a doctor as soon as possible. Treatment will vary depending on the severity of your symptoms.
In most cases, however, you’ll need to drink plenty of fluids and get rest. You may also be given medication to help relieve your symptoms.
Signs That It Has Gone Bad
Here are some signs that I look to identify spoiled chicken:
- The chicken has a sour or unpleasant odor.
- The chicken is slimy or sticky to the touch.
- The chicken has changed color, often becoming darker.
- The chicken meat is beginning to separate from the bone.
If you notice any of these signs, it’s best to throw out the cooked chicken and start again.
Is It Okay To Eat Rotisserie Chicken Left Out Overnight?
No, it is not okay to eat Rotisserie chicken left out overnight. However, rotisserie chicken  left out overnight may be safe to eat depending on how it was stored.
If left at room temperature for over two hours, the chicken should be thrown out. It is because bacteria can grow rapidly on poultry not kept at a consistent temperature.
When in doubt, it is always better to err on caution and throw out any chicken left overnight. But can you eat cold cooked chicken?
Will Reheating It Make It Safe To Eat?
Reheating chicken left out overnight does not make it safe to eat. Bacteria can survive and even thrive in the reheating process. So, if you forget to refrigerate your chicken, it’s best to err on caution and throw it out.
When it comes to food safety, there are a lot of myths and outdated information circulating. One common misconception is that reheating chicken will make it safe to eat.
The only way to ensure that your chicken is safe to eat is to cook it thoroughly and refrigerate it immediately.
So, next time you’re tempted to reheat that forgotten chicken, remember: when it comes to food safety, better safe than sorry.
Does it Matter if the Chicken is Left Covered or Uncovered?
It does not matter if the chicken is left out, covered, or uncovered. Covered or not, consuming chicken left out for two hours or even overnight is unsafe.
Some people believe eating chicken left out overnight is safe if it is covered. Do not be misinformed because leaving a cooked chicken for two hours or more gives you a high chance of bacteria growth, which may lead to food poisoning.
“Eat fried chicken every day as the angels go sailing by.”
– Ella Fitzgerald, Singer
Factors such as time, temperature, air, and light should be considered because they may result in food spoilage .
Can chicken be left out overnight to thaw?
Yes, you can leave the chicken out overnight to thaw but make sure to thaw it inside the fridge. Do not thaw chicken at room temperature or below 40 degrees overnight.
Make sure to place it in a container on a plate or bowl so that any liquid that leaks doesn’t contaminate other food. You can also defrost chicken in the microwave or cold water.
What happens if you leave the chicken out for 12 hours?
If you leave the chicken out for 12 hours, it will start to spoil. The chicken will develop a slimy texture and an unpleasant odor.
Can you cook bacteria out of chicken?
Yes, you can cook bacteria out of chicken. Cooking at high temperatures (above 160 degrees Fahrenheit) will kill most bacteria.
However, if the chicken is not cooked all through, it can still be a breeding ground for bacteria, so it’s important to ensure it is fully cooked before eating.
Is it safe to reheat chicken that has been left out overnight?
Yes, you can safely reheat chicken left out overnight if it was stored in a sealed container and did not reach a temperature above 40 degrees Fahrenheit. However, it’s a different case if you will reheat the chicken that you left overnight at room temperature.
When reheating the chicken, cook it until it is steaming hot throughout.
What is the Danger Zone for chickens?
The Danger Zone for chickens ranges from 40 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
The United States Department of Agriculture and Meat and Poultry Hotline advises everyone to never leave the raw and cooked chicken out of refrigeration for more than 2 hours to avoid reaching the Danger Zone.
How long can cooked chicken sit out?
A cooked chicken can sit at room temperature for about two hours.
If you wish to consume cooked chicken for up to four days, put the chicken in the fridge or freezer in an airtight container, then thaw cooked chicken for immediate consumption.
It is not generally recommended to eat chicken left out overnight. Also, reheating the chicken will not make it safe to eat.
However, if the chicken is refrigerated within two hours after cooking and has not been sitting above 40 degrees Fahrenheit, it should be safe to consume.
Frozen cooked chicken is safe to eat if it is stored in a sealed container to prevent freezer burn. Defrost cooked chicken before consumption.
If you are unsure about the safety of the chicken, throw it out to be on the safe side. When in doubt, always err on the side of caution regarding food.
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