How Long Raw Chicken Can Hang in the Fridge

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By: Christian Chereau


Are you a meal prepper or just trying to plan ahead for your next chicken dish? Whatever the reason, it’s important to know how long you can safely store raw chicken in the fridge

Raw chicken that is stored improperly or for too long can be a breeding ground for harmful bacteria, leading to foodborne illness. 

So, how long can you store raw chicken in the fridge? In this guide, we’ll explore the factors that affect the shelf life of raw chicken, how to properly store it, how to tell if it’s gone bad, and tips for safe handling and cooking. Let’s chill out and dive in!

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Factors Affecting Chicken Shelf Life in Fridge

How Long Raw Chicken Can Hang in the Fridge

There are several factors that can affect the shelf life of raw chicken in the fridge:


Temperature is one of the most important factors as bacteria grows rapidly between 40°F and 140°F (4°C and 60°C). 

Therefore, it’s important to store raw chicken in the fridge at a temperature below 40°F (4°C) to slow down bacterial growth


Packaging also plays a role in chicken shelf life as it helps to protect the meat from air and moisture. Vacuum-sealed packaging or airtight containers are recommended for optimal storage


The freshness of the chicken is also a critical factor, as fresher chicken will have a longer shelf life than chicken that has been sitting in the store for a few days

Bacterial contamination

Finally, bacterial contamination can significantly reduce the shelf life of raw chicken. It’s essential to handle and store chicken properly to minimize the risk of contamination.

Safe Storage of Raw Chicken

How Long Raw Chicken Can Hang in the Fridge

Proper storage of raw chicken is crucial to ensure food safety. When storing raw chicken in the fridge, it’s essential to follow some best practices. 

First, always store raw chicken in the coldest part of the fridge, which is usually the bottom shelf. This helps to minimize the risk of cross-contamination with other foods. 

It’s also important to keep raw chicken in its original packaging or an airtight container to prevent any leaks or spills. 

To further prevent cross-contamination, it’s recommended to use separate cutting boards and utensils for raw chicken and other foods. 

Lastly, keeping your fridge clean and organized can also help to prevent bacterial growth and keep your food safe. Make sure to wipe down shelves and surfaces regularly and toss out any expired or spoiled food.

Shelf Life of Raw Chicken in the Fridge

The maximum recommended storage time for raw chicken in the fridge

The maximum recommended storage time for raw chicken in the fridge is typically around 2-3 days. However, this can vary depending on the freshness of the chicken, the temperature of the fridge, and other factors such as packaging and handling. 

It’s always important to check the expiration date and the appearance and smell of the chicken before consuming it. 

Shelf life of different parts of chicken in the fridge

It’s worth noting that different parts of the chicken can have different shelf lives in the fridge. 

Whole chickens and chicken pieces with bones tend to have a longer shelf life than boneless, skinless chicken breasts. This is because bones help to insulate the meat and keep it fresh for longer. 

Generally, raw chicken parts with bones can be stored in the fridge for up to 2-3 days, while boneless, skinless chicken breasts should be consumed within 1-2 days.

It’s important to store each part of the chicken properly to maximize its shelf life. For example, whole chickens should be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap or placed in an airtight container. 

Make sure to use separate containers or wrap for each piece to prevent cross-contamination. 

Additionally, it’s important to check the chicken for any signs of spoilage before consuming it. If in doubt, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and throw it away.

How to Tell If Raw Chicken Has Gone Bad

When it comes to raw chicken, it is important to always prioritize food safety. There are a few key signs to look out for when determining if your chicken has gone bad: 

  • Visual signs of spoilage: Pay attention to any visual changes in the appearance of the chicken. If it looks slimy or discolored, it could be a sign of spoilage.
  • Smell and texture changes: Similarly, changes in texture, such as a sticky or tacky feel, can indicate that it is no longer safe to eat.
  • Using a food thermometer to check the internal temperature: Another way to ensure that your chicken is cooked properly is to use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature. 

The USDA recommends cooking chicken to an internal temperature of 165°F.

Practicing these food safety tips can help ensure that your chicken stays fresh and safe to eat.

Click here for more signs of spoiled chicken.


Can I freeze raw chicken to extend its shelf life?

Yes, you can freeze raw chicken to extend its shelf life. The USDA recommends that it should be frozen within 2 days of purchase and used within 4 months for optimal freshness. 

Can I marinate raw chicken while it’s in the fridge?

Yes, you can marinate raw chicken while it’s in the fridge. However, be sure to discard any used marinade and keep the chicken covered to prevent contamination. 

Moreover, if you choose to reuse the same marinade for multiple batches of chicken, make sure to bring it to a full boil before using it again. 

Is it safe to eat raw chicken that’s been in the fridge for more than 3 days if it still looks and smells okay?

While raw chicken may still look and smell fine after 3 days, it’s generally best to discard it. The longer the chicken sits in the fridge, the more bacteria can spread and increase your risk of food poisoning. 

Thus, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and throw out any uncooked chicken that has been sitting in the fridge for more than 3 days. 

Can I store raw chicken in the fridge with other foods?

Yes, you can store raw chicken in the fridge with other foods. However, it’s important to keep them separate and use different containers or wrap them separately to prevent cross-contamination. 

Be sure to also check the temperature of your refrigerator regularly and ensure that it stays at or below 40°F. 

Can I store raw chicken in the fridge on the top shelf or in the door?

The top shelf of the refrigerator is typically the coldest part and should be used for storing raw chicken. Additionally, it’s best to store raw poultry on the bottom shelf or in the door to avoid any cross-contamination onto other foods. 

When storing raw chicken, make sure that all sides of the container are covered properly to prevent any bacteria or juices from coming into contact with other foods. 

How do I properly clean and sanitize my fridge after storing raw chicken?

To properly clean and sanitize your fridge after storing raw chicken, it’s important to first remove all food items from the refrigerator. 

Next, you should use a mild detergent and warm water to thoroughly wash the interior surfaces of the fridge. Be sure to pay special attention to any spills or crumbs that may have collected in the refrigerator.

Once you’ve finished washing, use a fresh paper towel and a sanitizing solution to disinfect the surfaces of your fridge. This will help ensure that any bacteria from the raw chicken is removed and that your food stays safe and healthy. 

How do I safely thaw frozen raw chicken in the fridge?

The safest way to thaw frozen raw chicken is in the fridge. To do this, place the frozen chicken in a container or on a plate to catch any drips, and then place it on the bottom shelf of the fridge. 

Allow the chicken to thaw in the fridge for 24-48 hours, depending on the size of the chicken. Once the chicken is thawed, cook it immediately or store it in the fridge for up to two days before cooking.

Take Home Message

All in one, remember that the maximum time raw chicken can stay in your fridge is two days. After this period of time, bacteria levels become high and you should dispose of the chicken immediately. 

Taking these tips into account as well as general good practices when preparing food such as washing hands and cutting boards will greatly reduce health risks associated with consuming store bought chicken. 
Always remember: when it comes to raw meat, safety first! Chill Out: A Guide to How Long Raw Chicken Can Hang in the Fridge is here to guide you on this path!

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Christian Chereau

Christian Chéreau is a fourth generation French Pastry Chef born in France on December 20th, 1951. Chéreau cultivated his passion for the art of Pastry as a child in his grandfather’s acclaimed pastry shop, “Chéreau” in Sandillon, France

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