How to Cook

Can Cooked Chicken Be Left Out Overnight?

All people like to have nice and tasty meals. One of the common choices of many people is a cooked chicken. It can be prepared in various ways and thus has various tastes. Let’s imagine you have managed to prepare nice chicken but could not eat it at the moment. You deal with your errands and forget about the meal. Then you find out that you have left the chicken out overnight. What is there to do? Can it be eaten safely, or should you throw it out immediately? This informative article answers this and some other vital questions.

In case you leave cooked chicken out overnight, you should NEVER eat! Do not give it even to your dog (if you have one). The reason for that is plain. It gets infested by hazardous bacteria. They multiply in a blink of an eye. If it gets into the human system, it will surely cause some problems with digestion. There were cases when it took the lives of people who consumed that late.

cooked chicken left out overnight

How Long Can It Be Kept Out of the Refrigerator?

Many folks wonder, “how long can cooked chicken sit out?” It is always a great pity to throw the entire meal into thrash, and people want to know whether there is some hope. Indeed, hope truly exists! A lot depends on the time your chicken was left outside the refrigerator.

You may eat chicken that has stayed outside the fridge for 2 hours or less. If it was outside for 2 hours and more, it has already gathered malicious bacteria that multiply extremely fast. Cooked chicken left out overnight or 12 hours, the risk of getting sick is 100%! Such chicken is surely spoiled, and you should get rid of it immediately! Do not risk eating it or giving it to a pet. It may cause life-threatening events.

Chicken bought in a store is thawed and sealed. It keeps bacteria at bay for some time. However, you should not delay and place it into the fridge as soon as possible (unless you want to cook it immediately). It will be stored there for a pretty long period of time until its consumption data is over.

If you cook your chicken but do not eat it immediately, let it cool down. If it is hot and placed into the fridge, it will get spoiled due to a sudden change in temperature. Once it’s cold enough, insert it into a container to keep other smells away. Afterward, put it into the fridge until you decide to eat it.

Mind that you should also keep an eye on the room temperature. If it’s too hot, any meat and many other products will get spoiled much faster. It is not known for sure for how long they would hold on. Nonetheless, do not risk and place all the products into the fridge as soon as possible. The common temperature that allows for keeping cooked chicken is 90 Fahrenheit.

What If It Is Marinated?

There is one popular myth that must be reviewed in this article as well. Many people believe that if the chicken is marinated in sauces, it will endure longer. This myth is a lie! If your chicken left out overnight is marinated with any kind of sauce, it will get spoiled as quickly as if it was without any sauce. Do not trust people who try to prove this statement wrong! They are mistaken!

Can Frozen Chicken Left Out to be Thawed?

Many people also wonder about chicken left to be thawed. If you buy it in a store, it will surely thaw. If you do not intend to cook it instantly, put it into the fridge. Otherwise, it will be spoiled. You can put it in the freezer to prolong its lifespan.

When you are ready to cook it, pull it out and let it thaw. Such chicken can also be left overnight. Nonetheless, it should be stored in the fridge! No exceptions are allowed. Otherwise, it will be spoiled and dangerous for you.

can cooked chicken be left out overnight


Many people ask questions which are quite similar to our topic. Accordingly, we would like to clarify them to be sure everyone is informed properly. This matter is very serious and must be taken with due respect. Here are 2 popular questions:

What Happens If I Eat Chicken That Was Left Out Overnight?

In case you have cooked chicken, have not eaten it, and have left it out overnight, you should never eat it, even a single piece. The reason is very simple. It is left exposed to bacteria that quickly multiply. Such chicken will be infested with them, and when they get into your system, you may be sick with various infections from the part of your digestive system. You should throw out this chicken straight away. Make sure no one else from your household does eat it.

Can You Eat Cooked Chicken Left Out For 12 Hours?

Here again, the answer is “NO!” 12 hours is the time that is dangerous for your consumption. Only 2 hours after your chicken, you may eat it. Afterward, it must be stored in a container and in the fridge. In case it was left for even 3 hours, it gets infested with dangerous bacteria. They may cause various kinds of infections and make you very sick. If the choke chicken was left for 3+ hours out of the fridge, throw it into the trash.

The Bottom Line

We have reviewed the issue of leaving cooked chicken out of the fridge overnight. It is permitted by any expert or a smart person. If your chicken is out of the fridge for more than 2 hours, it is potentially dangerous because microbes multiply on it and may induce various infections that are even life-threatening. If it stays for the entire night or 12 hours, it is surely spoiled and full of bacteria. Throw it away and make sure even a dog or cat does not eat it afterward. It is very dangerous!

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