Skip to Content

Left Cooked Chicken Out for 4 Hours – Is It Safe to Eat?

Left Cooked Chicken Out for 4 Hours – Is it Safe to Eat?

Cooking chicken is a popular way to prepare a meal, but what happens if you accidentally leave it out on the counter for 4 hours? Is it still safe to eat?

In this blog post, we will teach you about the dangers of leaving cooked chicken out and how to store it properly so that you don’t have to worry about food poisoning.

Can You Eat Cooked Chicken After 4 Hours?

Chicken is no longer safe to eat after it has been left out at room temperature for more than four hours. When chicken is left out at room temperature, bacteria can quickly multiply and cause food poisoning. The best way to avoid getting sick from eating spoiled chicken is to cook it properly and store it safely.

Left Cooked Chicken Out for 4 Hours - Is it Safe to Eat?
Left Cooked Chicken Out for 4 Hours – Is it Safe to Eat?

How Long Should You Leave Cooked Chicken Sit Out?

When chicken is left out, bacteria starts to form inside the meat and it multiplies over time. The longest you can leave a cooked chicken sit out is two hours. Since there is no way to tell how much bacteria has formed in the meat inside this time, the quickest you preserve it, the better.

Chicken needs to be at 140 degrees Fahrenheit to be considered fully cooked. If it falls below this temperature, this is when bacteria can form. If chicken is left out for more than four hours, the chances of you getting food poisoning rise exponentially.

The temperature can affect the amount of time it takes for bacteria to form inside your chicken meat. If it’s hot outside, around 90 degrees, the chicken won’t be good any time longer than one hour.

The longest time you can leave chicken out is 2 hours, 1 hour if the room is warmer.
The longest time you can leave chicken out is 2 hours, 1 hour if the room is warmer.

What Is the Cooked Chicken Danger Zone?

Scientists have figured out that if you leave cooked food out without proper storage, it will enter the “danger zone.” The danger zone is between 40-140 degrees Fahrenheit. This range of temperatures is where bacteria can multiply quickly and cause food poisoning.

To prevent sickness, it’s best to keep your food properly stored so that it drops below the danger zone temperature as quickly as possible.

What Affects Cooked Chicken That Sits Out?

There are two main types of bacteria that form on chicken that sits out, pathogenic and spoilage bacteria. Pathogenic bacteria causes foodborne illness while spoilage causes the food to deteriorate.

Spoilage bacteria can still grow once the food is in a colder environment so even if you properly store the chicken, it still may not last very long.

The best way to ensure that your chicken is still safe to eat is to cook it properly in the first place. Use a meat thermometer to check that the internal temperature of the chicken is at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit. This will kill any bacteria that may be present in

You won’t be able to spot the bacteria forming with the naked eye. There are certain signs that show up but they won’t appear fast enough to save the chicken. After two hours, it is better to throw out the chicken and start over than risk getting sick.

Two types of bacteria can contaminate chicken that sits out - pathogenic and spoilage-causing bacteria.
Two types of bacteria can contaminate chicken that sits out – pathogenic and spoilage-causing bacteria.

What Risks Are Involved With Eating Bad Chicken?

The types of bacteria that form in the meat are usually coli and salmonella. These can cause food poisoning which leads to symptoms like, diarrhea, vomiting, and a fever. In some cases, the illness can be much more severe.

It is possible to get food poisoning from chicken that has been properly cooked but was left out for too long before being stored. Once the bacteria has formed, refrigerating it will not get rid of it. The only way to be sure that the chicken is safe to eat is to cook it properly and store it immediately.

If you think you may have gotten food poisoning from chicken, it is best to see a doctor as soon as possible. Most symptoms will cause dehydration and cannot be treated unless you see a doctor.

Eating bad chicken can lead to food poisoning.
Eating bad chicken can lead to food poisoning.

How to Store Cooked Chicken Safely

The best way to store cooked chicken is in an airtight container in the fridge. If left open without any protection, the chicken will end up spoiling quickly.

If you plan on eating it within four days, it will be safe to take out and reheat but if you want it to last longer, you can always freeze it.

When freezing cooked chicken, make sure to wrap it tightly so that no air gets in. Using a wrap that can enclose the chicken at the skin level. This will help it last for up to six months in a freezer.

When you’re ready to reheat your refrigerated chicken, you can take it out and start using it immediately, or wait for half an hour for it to warm slightly.

Reheat the chicken until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. You can use a meat thermometer to check this or cut into the thickest part of the chicken to make sure that it is cooked all the way through.

If you don’t have a meat thermometer, make sure that there is no pink in the chicken and that the juices run clear. Once it’s fully reheated, you can start using it in your recipes.

Using airtight containers to store your cooked chicken in fridge allows them to retain best quality and taste for a few days.
Using airtight containers to store your cooked chicken in the fridge allows them to retain their best quality and taste for a few days.

How Can You Tell If Cooked Chicken Is Bad?

There are some clear signs you’ll be able to use to tell if your cooked chicken has gone bad.

An unpleasant taste or odor is usually the first sign that chicken has gone bad. If it tastes sour, off, or just not like chicken, it’s best to throw it out.

The texture of the chicken is also a good indicator of whether or not it has gone bad. If it feels slimy or tacky, this is a sign that bacteria is starting to form and it is no longer safe to eat.

The chicken should also be a uniform color. If you see any changes in color, this is another sign that it has gone bad and should be thrown away.

If you’re unsure whether or not the chicken is still good, it’s always better to err on the side of caution and throw it away. It’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to food poisoning.

Frequently Asked Questions to Left Cooked Chicken Out For 4 Hours

How Quickly Does Cooked Chicken Go Bad?

Cooked chicken can go bad within two hours if it’s not stored properly. Make sure to refrigerate it in an airtight container and use within four days or freeze for up to six months.

What Should I Do if I Ate Bad Chicken?

If you think you may have gotten food poisoning from chicken, it is best to see a doctor as soon as possible. Most symptoms will cause dehydration and cannot be treated unless you see a doctor.

Letting Chicken Sit Out

It’s not safe to ever leave chicken out for an extended period of time. This is especially true if you are leaving it outdoors where the temperature is hot. Four hours is way too long and you should ideally not leave it out any longer than two hours in good conditions.

Author Bio

Daniel Iseli (Head Chef)

Hi, my name is Daniel and I am passionate about cooking. I have been cooking for the past 20 years and am happy to share my best recipes and cooking-related knowledge with you.