Can You Put Warm Chicken in the Fridge?

It seems to have been a contentious issue for a long time, but does it have any factual basis? If you are still paying attention to what your granny told you, you could be making a big mistake. Why not put a warm chicken in the fridge or even hot chicken in the fridge?

In this article, we will clear up the issue of if you should place warm chicken in the fridge or not and find what’s behind the reasons this notion has been perpetuated for so long.

Let’s get into it.

Can you put Hot chicken in the fridge straight away?

No. Here is the reason why. You may have the idea that food needs to cool quickly to prevent bacteria growth, and to some extent, your premise is correct. 

However, bacteria will not establish a foothold on piping hot chicken straight from the oven. The internal temperature of the chicken is 165-175℉. It is far too hot for bacteria.

If you are adamant that you want to place your freshly cooked chicken in the fridge straight from the oven, you are creating two problems.

Your fridge is cool at around 40℉ if you follow guidance from the FDA. As soon as you place the hot chicken in the fridge, the inside temperature rises dramatically, and your fridge takes a while to reach the desired temperature. You are running the risk of bacteria contaminating every item in the fridge.

Your fridge will become filled with condensation tainted with the odor of cooked chicken, and it’s not what you want for your cookies or dessert.

So to be clear, it is a bad idea to place hot food in the fridge.

How long should chicken cool before refrigerating?

Every piece of advice on the internet will tell you to wait two hours before placing a cooked chicken in the fridge. This is good advice but has one serious flaw.

It will depend on the ambient temperature of the storage area, which is likely to be the kitchen. You should cover your chicken when it comes from the oven, this will help prevent bacteria from establishing, but the truth is that the temperature of the chicken counts and not the amount of time it has been resting post cooking.

You could be confused if your chicken needs to reach 140℉ to be deemed safe to pace in the fridge and the kitchen is 176℉ or 80℃.

So this is how to proceed, wrap your chicken in foil and palace it on a plate. After two hours, place it on the top shelf of the fridge. If your kitchen is cool, you can check every thirty minutes to check the temperature of the chicken is ok for the fridge.

If your chicken stays out longer than two hours, it is considered in the danger zone, and you risk a bacteria plume and food poisoning.

What temperature is considered to be the danger zone for cooked chicken?

Between 41°F and 135°F is the danger zone for temperatures. The temperature risk zone for TCS (temperature control safety) food must be passed through as rapidly as feasible. Food should be kept cold and hot, respectively. To monitor the internal temperatures of food, always use a thermometer.

What is the 4-hour 2-hour rule?

It is a standard that environmental health inspectors use when visiting retailers such as supermarkets and food outlets. It means that food held between 5℃ and 60℃ for less than 2 hours can be used, sold, or put back in the refrigerator to use later. 

 Food held between 5℃ and 60℃ for 2-4 hours can still be used or sold but can’t be put back in the fridge. Food held between 5℃ and 60℃ for 4 hours or more must be thrown away.

If you can adopt this concept of food safety in a domestic kitchen, you will be protected from food poisoning.

Can I put warm chicken breast in the fridge?

Yes, but to get the most out of your chicken, it’s best to place the chicken breast in an airtight container in the fridge. The airtight container will prevent the chicken from dehydrating and the chicken odor permeating other foods in the fridge.

The USDA advises that any cooked chicken can be refrigerated for four days and be okay to eat. After four days, the cooked chicken should be discarded.

This applies to domestic and commercial kitchens.

Can you put warm rotisserie chicken in the fridge?

Here is the problem with rotisserie chickens, they have been kept ticking over at the correct temp while waiting for a customer to purchase the chicken. This means the chicken has lost some of its latent heat by the time you want to serve the meal at home.

You can be all means palace the chicken in the fridge in an airtight container, but you will need to reheat the chicken to 165℉ before serving.

How long is stuffed chicken good for in the fridge?

If you have stuffed your chicken, then the same rules for temperature and cooking apply. Your chicken will take longer to cook due to the lack of air circulation inside of it, but the stuffing has to reach 165℉ before it’s cooked, and the bacteria is killed off.

According to guidance from the FDA, the chicken and stuffing mixture is good for three or four days. When your chicken is cooked, wrap it in foil and leave it on the side for two hours. After this time, you can place it on a plate on the fridge’s top shelf.

Can you freeze cooked chicken?

You often see cooked chicken slices in the deli section at the grocery store but never in the freezer. Can you freeze cooked chicken?

The good news is it is fine to freeze cooked chicken. You will need some freezer bags and an airtight container. Wrap the cooked chicken in the freezer bags to avoid freezer burn, and then place the chicken in the airtight container.

Freezing cooked chicken will add a decent amount of life to the chicken. You can keep the frozen chicken for up to four months, and it will still be fine to eat.

Reheat the chicken when thawed for a perfect snack or lunch.

Can you freeze cooked chicken after it has been in the fridge?

Chicken that’s been cooked and chilled in the refrigerator for two days can be transferred to the freezer, and it’s advisable to remove the chicken from the bone and maybe slice the chicken thinly or shred it; this way, the chicken will thaw quickly.

Does cooking chicken kill the bacteria?

Your chicken is covered with bacteria, and so are your hands and every surface in your home, making it essential to cook your chicken thoroughly. 

There are many ways of cooking chicken, from roasting to frying, grilling on the BBQ, or sauteing with some butter in a frying pan.

The key to cooking chicken safely is to cook at the right temperature, which is not done by the appearance of the chicken. It’s got crispy skin; It must be cooked. On the contrary, it may not be cooked all the way through.

The only way to be 100% sure your chicken is cooked properly is to take the temperature of the chicken with a thermometer probe.

Place the probe between the legs and the chicken thighs. If the temperature is 165-175°F, your chicken is cooked and bacteria-free.

Does brine chicken kill bacteria?

No. Placing your chicken overnight in water, salt, and maybe a few other botanicals will undoubtedly keep your chicken juicy and plump and impart some flavors. But it will not kill bacteria.

There are schools of thought that you shouldn’t even wash a chicken when it’s oven-ready, the bacteria spread as the water droplets ricochet off the chicken, and the bacteria stays on your hands to be spread further around the kitchen.

Will cooking chicken again kill bacteria?

You can reheat the chicken that has been refrigerated. However, you will need to reheat the chicken back to 165℉ to kill the bacteria.

If your chicken has started to smell funky, you should discard it without delay. Cooking chicken that is on the turn may kill the bacteria on the chicken, but it will not kill the pathogens left by the bacteria.

It is a dangerous practice that could see you food poisoning.

How long do you have to cook the chicken to kill salmonella?

The temperatures at which different bacterial microbes are killed vary, but salmonella is killed off at a relatively low cooking temperature. 

Salmonella, for instance, is destroyed by heating food to 131 F for an hour, 140 F for a half-hour, or 167 F for ten minutes.

What temperature is best for roasting a chicken?

Go low and slow if you want to fall off the bone, with tenderness and soft skin. Start the oven at 350℉ for 1 ½ hour to 2 hours.

A good rule of thumb for cooking a chicken perfectly is to start with a preheated oven as high as it goes, then reduce the temperature to 350℉ and then allow 20 mins per pound cooking time. Plus, a further 20 minutes after you have reached the desired time.

This cooking method is tried and tested and should give you a chicken that is easy to carve and slightly firm to bite.

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