Last Updated on February 14, 2024 by Shari Mason
Storing chicken in the fridge is not uncommon. However, the question arises – is it okay to refrigerate warm chicken? Though it’s generally easier to let it cool before refrigerating, this topic often evokes a bit of debate.
Keep reading to learn about the risk of storing chicken and hot meals in the fridge and the best way to approach it.
Is It Ok to Put Warm Chicken in the Fridge?
Yes, it is ok to put the warm chicken in the fridge. Letting food cool inside the fridge might prevent it from spoiling. However, you can keep a cooked chicken in the fridge depending on the freezing system and its high temperature inside the fridge.
Warm food and other warm items are somewhat above room temperature, which is still safe to be kept in the fridge.
But a scorching hot chicken is not recommended to be put straight in the fridge because it might thaw other food. So, ensure that the hot food items are only slightly warmer than the room temperature and not very hot.
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What Happens If You Put It In The Fridge?
Slight Change in Texture and Taste
Storing chicken or other foods in the fridge for a week might go bad. If you leave cooked chicken in the refrigerator and forget to take it out, it could result in some changes. It may alter the texture, taste, and quality.
If it has a slimy texture or color changes, these are some signs that it has gone bad. Also, a spoiled chicken has a strong foul odor. You can dispose of the food item once you notice these changes.
Your Fridge Will Do Extra Work
Your fridge might consume more energy if hot food is stored. Although the refrigerator is invented to chill foods, the high temperature will significantly affect its efficiency.
Also, the repeated opening and closing of the door can increase the internal temperature.
As hot air rises and cold air falls, high temperatures will have less impact on the food. The hotter the cooked foods, the longer a refrigerator needs to return to its original temperature.
So, consuming more freezer work will lead to energy efficiency concerns and is costly.
How Long Will Chicken Last in The Fridge?
Its storage time will depend on whether it is cooked or raw. A chicken will last about two to four days in the fridge.  It will go bad if you leave it in the refrigerator for more than four days.
On the other hand, you can store the fresh chicken in the refrigerator for one to two days. Longer than this, the raw chicken might have salmonella bacteria known to contaminate exposed food and could result in food poisoning.
Proper Way of Storing It
It Should Be at Room Temperature
There are proper ways and rules to store cooked chicken. You can store a warm cooked chicken at room temperature for two hours. Or you can put hot food under cold air or a fan to speed up the cooling process.
However, leaving it out too long can cause bacteria.  It might spoil faster in a warm environment without cooling.
Excess moisture from a hot meal leads to mold growth over time. The harmful bacteria might grow potentially every 20 minutes. These bacteria could cause illnesses such as food poisoning if consumed.
Use an Airtight Container
Storing a chicken in a plastic wrap, cling film, or an airtight container will help to keep the chicken’s quality for up to five to six days.
But heated food in the fridge with shallow containers isn’t the ideal combination. It might have food-borne chemicals escaping, making it unsafe to eat.
So, it is recommended to use quality high-heat containers. However, refrigerating cooked food in containers will not guarantee that the food will last longer and be safe to eat.
You can put labels on the container to help monitor the food’s safety. To ensure it is still in good condition, regularly check it.
Can You Freeze Warm Chicken in the Fridge?
Yes, you can freeze a warm chicken in the fridge. But a warm or cooked chicken can last up to four days in the refrigerator.
If the sole idea is to freeze the chicken, you can put it in the freezer instead. It can last around two to six months, while a whole raw chicken could last up to one year in the freezer storage period.
However, storing smoldering chicken with the same baking tray in the freezer might damage the interior of your freezer. The best way is to let the chicken cool down for a few hours before freezing it. Find out how long you can keep marinated chicken in the fridge here.
How long should chicken cool before refrigerating?
For a cooked chicken, the rule of thumb is to rest and cool it down for about two hours before refrigerating.
If the cooked chicken stays longer than two hours, it could enter the ’danger zone.’ In this danger zone phase, bacteria are active and can contaminate the food.
How long does warm chicken last in the fridge?
A warm chicken can last around three to four days in the fridge, but leaving it further in the fridge might be contaminated by bacteria.
You can lengthen its shelf life in the freezer if you don’t want to throw it away. But you have to make sure it has not gone bad yet.
Leaving a warm chicken too long outside the fridge could create some problems for food safety. Storing it in airtight containers could help to keep the chicken’s quality for up to six days in the fridge.
However, freezing chicken and other food is a good option if you want to extend their shelf life. So even if you want to store chicken or cool down hot soup, remember to monitor its storage span to ensure it’s in great condition.
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