How Long Can Frozen Chicken Sit Out? The Answer Will Surprise You!

We have had some people ask us – how long can frozen chicken sit out?

You may have brought your frozen chicken out of the freezer but then forgot that you left it sitting on the counter. In this case, you are probably wondering if it is still safe to cook and eat this chicken or not.

If you have frozen chicken left out overnight, or you are simply unsure of what to do next, keep reading. We are here to help you determine whether that chicken is still fit for consumption or something you should not eat anymore. Let’s get started.

Frozen Chicken Left Out Overnight

Can frozen chicken be left out overnight?

When it comes to meat such as chicken, it does not really matter whether it is cooked, uncooked, or frozen. It is not supposed to be left out of the freezer or fridge for a length of time. Otherwise, it can spoil.

Then, it is better to just toss it since it is already spoiled and no longer healthy to eat. But do take note that the signs are rather subtle.

frozen chicken left out overnight

Some people cannot easily tell if the chicken has gone bad already. Thus, they end up risking it by consuming the chicken that they thought was still fine to eat but in reality, it has already gone bad.

For the most part, you should never keep a chicken outside of the fridge for more than a couple of hours. If you have uncooked meat on the counter, then you should throw it away if it’s already been over two hours.

Moreover, if the room temperature is about 90 degrees Fahrenheit or warmer than that, then your chicken should not be left on the counter for an hour.

It is a perishable food that needs to be stored properly. Otherwise, they will not be fit to eat or cooked. The moment it is exposed to warmer temperatures, it becomes contaminated by bad bacteria. This happens even before signs of spoilage are present.

Additionally, you should check the date indicated on the package – when it was processed and not when it was sold. This will give you an idea whether the food has been processed for a long time already.

Can Frozen Chicken Be Left Out Overnight

how long can cooked chicken sit out

So how long can cooked chicken sit out, especially if it was once frozen?

As we have mentioned earlier, it should not take more than two hours. But in the case of a warmer temperature, then an hour is the maximum length of time for that chicken to stay out of the freezer or fridge.

At this point, bacteria should have already contaminated your chicken, which means you should not risk eating or cooking it anymore for your health’s sake.

There is also a particular range of temperature that is considered as harmful for meat. What this means is that between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit, cooked food becomes vulnerable to harmful bacteria.

So, if you have frozen chicken sitting on the counter, be sure it does not last for over two hours. You can also check the meat’s temperature to make sure. Once your temperature reads it is below 45 degrees, then the meat should still be safe to eat.

Yet, if it is not, you may then you have to rethink eating it. Moreover, if your frozen chicken that’s been on the counter has been inside a sealed container the whole time, it should still be safe to eat even if it has already been two hours.

But at the same time, you need to gauge it. More than anything, it is best to err on the side of caution. The last thing you want is to risk your health when you are uncertain about your decision.

One thing is for sure – if the temperature is warm, and the frozen chicken has been left out for a couple of hours or so, then just toss it. Don’t even second-guess or risk consuming something that may only make you sick.

Can Chicken Be Left Out Overnight To Thaw

We strongly advise against doing this. Why? Because frozen food should never be left out of the freezer for a few hours – and most definitely not overnight.

The best way to thaw chicken is in the refrigerator. You can simply take it out of the freezer, let it sit out for half an hour, then it should be fine to cook it.

If you decide to thaw it on the counter overnight, then spoilage can most certainly set it. You are only putting your health at risk by doing this and then thinking about consuming the meat.

The moment you expose the meat outside at a temperature over 40 degrees Fahrenheit, then this puts it at a high contamination rate. So, most definitely once it is on the counter, then your frozen – then thawed – chicken will only serve as a breeding ground for bacteria.

how long can frozen chicken sit out

The rule of thumb is that when it comes to raw meat, you can only keep it in the refrigerator for a maximum of two days. If it has been sitting in the fridge longer than that, then you should throw it away.

But if you have cooked chicken, it should be safe to eat even after four days of being in the refrigerator. When you keep it longer than that, then you should be worried about consuming it.

If you cannot possibly cook that chicken you bought immediately, then it should be safe to freeze it. But as for whole chicken, you may be able to keep it frozen for a year. As for cutlets, they can remain frozen for a maximum of nine months without any problem.

However, it is not the same with cooked chicken. With leftovers, for instance, they should not stay in the freezer for too long. You need to consume frozen leftovers within a couple of months up to six months. Plus, frozen leftovers don’t taste as good when thawed or defrosted.

So, we only recommend freezing when absolutely needed.

Tips On Storing Chicken Properly

With spoiled chicken – cooked or not – you can easily tell by the way it smells. Sometimes there may not even be visual signs. But at the same time, if it is already contaminated by Pseudomonas, a type of bacteria responsible for the spoilage of food, then it can get very risky.

There are also risks of other health issues including vomiting, nausea, and urinary tract infection. Another type of bacteria is Salmonella, which causes vomiting and diarrhea as the common symptoms. As for E coli bacteria, it can strongly impact your kidneys and even cause it to fail.

With this in mind, you need to store chicken properly. Always keep it in the freezer when you do not intend to cook or eat it right away. But be sure not to store it far too long since there is also a window for keeping meat in the freezer or fridge for a specific length of time.


Q: How Long Can You Keep Chicken In The Fridge

A: When it comes to raw chicken, you need to refrigerate for up to two days only. But if it is kept in the freezer in a vacuum-sealed and airtight container, it should be safe to defrost and eat for a maximum of nine months for cutlets and 12 months for an uncut, whole chicken.

With cooked chicken, there’s a bit more time. You can store it in the refrigerator for up to four days. When in a sealed container, it should be safe to store for up to four months, then thaw and reheat it.

There are ways to tell if the chicken is already bad such as the reeking pungent and off-putting odor. The chicken has also gotten gray instead of the normal pale pink. Plus, the texture is slimy and snotty, something similar to mucus.

As for cooked chicken, there may be mold growth on it, something like a green or black fuzz. Moreover, a discolored chicken is not a good thing to eat. So, when you are in doubt, you should discard it and not eat it.

Q: How Long Can Thawed Chicken Stay In The Fridge

A: You can only keep thawed chicken in the fridge for up to two days. When it is already past this timeline, the meat should start getting signs of bacteria contamination. Moreover, the timeline also depends on the way you defrosted the chicken, or whether it was cooked or raw.

Again, check for signs of spoilage as mentioned previously.

how long can thawed chicken stay in the fridge

Q: Can Cooked Chicken Be Left Out Overnight

A: Definitely not. You cannot safely leave cooked chicken out overnight since bacteria will soon start growing on it. It is important to refrigerate cooked chicken within a couple of hours of it being cooked. This way, you can be certain hat no bacteria begins breeding or growing in it.


Handling and storing meat are critical because you need to make sure that the right conditions are in place to prevent it from spoiling and causing health risks to you. This is why you should avoid leaving meat out on the counter or leave it in the fridge or freezer for a very long time.

By doing so, you can thwart bacteria growth and contamination and ensure your peace of mind each time you consume your food.

Leave a Comment