‘How long can I keep cooked chicken in the fridge’ is a popular question we’ve been asked time and time again. This is why we’re resurfacing this article once again in case you’re still unsure.
Dear Lifehacker, I’ve been wondering about the appropriate cold storage instructions for cooked poultry. If refrigerated right after cooking, how long does cooked chicken last in the fridge? All the U.S. government sites suggest 3 to 4 days, but I can’t find any reference points for Australia. Can you help? Thanks, Aspiring Colonel.
Good question. The first point is that the basic rules of refrigerating food aren’t going to vary dramatically between the U.S. and Australia. The second point is that guidelines are just that: guidelines. The effectiveness of your refrigerator and the way you have cooked the chicken can both make a difference.
With that said, the CSIRO has a handy set of guidelines on how to store food. This recommends no more than 3 days for poultry, and 3-5 days for leftovers, presuming your fridge is running at between 0 and 3 degrees Celsius.
If you want to reduce the risk of food poisoning, our previous advice — wait until the cooked food has stopped steaming, and then freeze it immediately — remains the best option. You won’t have the convenience of being able to eat it straight from the fridge, but you should be safe from any unexpected bacteria.
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This article has been updated since its original publication.