How Long Is Chicken Actually Good in the Fridge?

updated Aug 15, 2023
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Credit: Joe Lingeman

It happens to us all: We hit the grocery store over the weekend with the best intentions to cook our way through the week, but the days get the best of us. By Saturday, we’re left with half-empty containers of milk and packages of raw meat that we didn’t get to. But just how long can raw meat last? In terms of raw chicken, here’s how long it’s good in the fridge.

Quick Overview

How Long Will Raw Chicken Stay Good in the Fridge?

One to two days maximum. That’s according to the USDA and U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and applies to raw chicken regardless of if it’s whole; in pieces such as breasts, thighs, drumsticks, and wings; or ground. If the chicken was previously frozen, this timeline goes into effect after the meat is fully defrosted.

When in Doubt, Freeze It

If you’re unsure whether you’ll get to cooking that raw chicken before this timeline of one to two days is up, your best bet is to freeze it. You can either leave it in the original packaging, or buy some freezer bags if you’re splitting up the meat for different meals.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

How to Tell if Raw Chicken Is Spoiled

While this timeline is quite reliable, it’s still smart to use your senses to detect if the chicken you’re about to cook is safe and not spoiled. Here’s how to tell if raw chicken is spoiled:

  • The “best by” date on the pack is long gone.
  • It smells foul and pungent.
  • The meat changes colors to a grayish hue.
  • The chicken has a slimy texture.

If the chicken you’re about to cook has one or all of these, it has most definitely gone bad and should be tossed.