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Why does cooked chicken smell bad after being refrigerated?

I cook chicken breast at home and then take the leftovers to work. I usually put it on a salad, and often when I open up the container to eat my lunch it smells almost sulphuric. I've noticed this before, even when the chicken has been marinated or cooked in sauce. Is there a reason this happens? Is it unhealthy? Thanks!

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    1. Huh?

      No, seriously. Doesn't anyone else think that chicken smells funny when it's leftover? Is it bacteria or is it just that chicken smells funny?

      1. re: Bidnezz

        Yes! I have often wondered this myself. I remember a couple of times I did food presentations in hs and brought in cooked chicken that I was scared no one would eat because it smelled so bad. Tasted great tho and was refrigerated properly.

        1. re: Bidnezz

          I do, though I wouldn't call it sulfuric. Can't really put my finger on what it smells like, but it is stinky to my nose.

          As far as I know, it's not a bacterial problem. I've been eating leftover chicken all my life and have been just fine. I think it's just a stinky chicken thing.

          1. re: Bidnezz

            I agree with you completely. It's even more pronounced in turkey IMO

        2. I've never noticed, but I've also never sniffed my leftover chicken.

          1 Reply
          1. re: luniz

            My gosh, man, it stinks up the whole kitchen! How could you not notice???

          2. I have recently developed a very intense dislike of chicken and it is based almost entirely on the smell of raw and cooked chicken (roasted not a sauced or stewed recipe, I can handle that). It limits my menu at home greatly but luckily I am skilled in the ways stewing and braising! I do love chicken broth, soup and any preparation made with those ingrdients but you are right... Roasted chiken smells like FART!

            2 Replies
            1. re: bolivianita

              I have come to think of chicken this way, too. I've been thinking about making coq au vin lately, but when I think it through, the idea of refrigerated leftover chicken legs the next day just grosses me out. I had a shopping list prepared for today that comprised all the things I need for CAV, but when I thought about it, I decided to make salmon tonight instead. Mikie gave me a recipe for Tuscan salmon I've been wanting to make, and I _love_ cold salmon.

              Chicken just doesn't appeal to me anymore. Maybe if I didn't live alone...

              1. re: Jay F

                Aversions are contagious--so I will have to stop reading these posts. But it is true about the smell.

            2. We need a food scientist here-- leftover chicken does stink, but there must be some way to retard the development of that smell.... Isn't milk used offset some meat smells?

              1. I am totally cluless here folks, have no idea what you're talking about (and we eat a lot of chicken). Does leftover turkey smell bad to you, too, or is it just chicken?

                9 Replies
                  1. re: Bidnezz

                    Could it be the the hormones or the feed that has something to do with it.

                    Lately I went to a Mexican Restaurant here in town and I ordered a large tostada salad bowl with chicken. I loved everything in the salad except the chicken. It was gamey or the only way I can describe when the palette and the nose connected, was "sweaty chicken - like a barnyard" I have had that happen only in Mexican restaurants before and I don't think its only from roasting. I just want to make that point.....I wonder organic and free range smells any better. Currently using Fosters for the most part.

                    1. re: chef chicklet

                      No added hormones in US chicken. That has been against the law for years. Antibiotics, maybe, but no hormones.

                  2. re: pikawicca

                    For us (me and my husband) they both develop a reasonably strong smell, but chicken is worse. We always thought it was something to do with the chicken fat, but not if you noticed it on skinless, boneless breast meat. And it hasn't gone bad, it just smells.

                    1. re: cgj

                      Exactly! I've been going to Whole Foods lately, but I've noticed it with other brands, and from other stores. Also if I get chicken at a restaurant the leftovers smell. I know it isn't bad, but it just makes me not want to eat it.

                      1. re: Bidnezz

                        I notice that the smell seems worse when the chicken is cold. When I heat it up, it doesn't seem to smell so bad. So I just hold my nose until I get it heated up!

                        1. re: QueenB

                          coldness tends to dull odors, not elevate them.

                          1. re: hotoynoodle

                            Yar. Vibrations and physics and the nature of the universe.

                            Perhaps whatever is funky in the chicken can get airborne at lower temperatures. I always get a little awkward cooking with wine, because the alcohol boils off first. Maybe whenever the chicken is hot, there just so many stronger fragrances that we never notice the funk?

                            I put a lot of aromatics in my chicken salad and love it cold, but when I'm shredding the chicken cold for the salad, I notice the funk sometimes.