How Long Does Cooked Chicken Last in the Fridge?

updated Sep 2, 2022
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Credit: Christine Han/Kitchn; Food Stylist: CC Buckley/Kitchn

Maybe you got ahead and cooked a whole bunch for boneless, skinless chicken breasts to eat on salads and in sandwiches all week long. Or perhaps you simple cooked way more chicken chili than your family could eat in one sitting. Whatever the reason, leftover cooked chicken is something so many of us face week in and week out. It’s totally great and convenient to have it in the fridge (chili is always better the next day anyway), but how long can cooked chicken be stored in there and still be safe to eat?

Credit: Joe Lingeman

Cooked Chicken Stored in the Refrigerator Should Be Eaten in 3 to 4 Days

After chicken is cooked, it should sit out at room temperature no more than two hours before being refrigerated to slow down bacteria growth. Once stored in the fridge, leftovers should be eaten up within three to four days because bacteria can still grow even at refrigerator temperatures.

To help you remember how long something has been in the fridge, we recommend labeling it with the date it was cooked to help you keep track. Then keep it on a middle shelf, within eyes’ reach, so you don’t accidentally push it to the back of the fridge and forget about it. If you think you won’t eat the food in three to four days, throw it into the freezer to eat at a later date.