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Shelf life of a cooked chicken?

My wife and I had an umm disagreement the other day. I had a 6 day old roasted chicken in the fridge that I was going to eat. She said that she thought it too old to be safe. I said, basically it is cooked, as long as it smells ok, it should be ok. When I pointed out that we eat lunch meat that is that old all the time, she said that is because it is full of preservatives (which i don't think is always the case).
Nevertheless, I ate the chicken, the wife and kids stayed away and no ones mind was changed.
So, is there a rule of thumb for leftover poultry? Anyone?

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  1. Well, I would have thought it was too old, but after my husband ate 10 day old chicken pot pie, with no ill effects, I'm not sure any more!

    3 Replies
    1. re: MMRuth

      your husband sounds like a man after my own heart.

      1. re: TroyTempest

        I always buy packaged chicken called "Perdue: Short Cuts" which is chicken breasts processed and packaged for convenience in the kitchen. It's great stuff. They package it in three plastic wrapped portions per container and the package makes the claim of "No Preservatives". The portions aren't even shrink wrapped so there's nothing special about the packaging. The container of it that I bought the other day is dated to expire Sep 29. I bought it on August 16. Now this is only refrigerated stuff, not frozen. So even though I wouldn't eat any chicken that I cooked and have had kicking around in my 'fridge for a month and then some, I feel pretty okay about using the chicken that I'm currently making chicken soup out of which I cooked up a week ago. That's why I looked up this site, to see what other people said about keeping cooked chicken around for a week and then using it. I was going to use it anyway because of what is stamped on my Perdue package, but I figured I'd check. Growing up as poor as I did my mother would have killed any of us for throwing out a chicken that was ONLY a week old, but those were extreme circumstances. Good luck though I sure you know by now whether your chicken was still good or not.

        1. re: PalOfTheWorld

          I'm still kicking. I suffered no ill effect from the chicken, that i know of

    2. If it didn't sit out cooling for too long, was adequately wrapped in the fridge, wasn't exposed to a lot of bacteria, it would probably be OK. Wouldn't go too much further though.

      1. Aside from how long it sat out without refrigeration, the amount of salt makes a LOT of difference. If I cook chicken from scratch, I don't use much, and leftovers start to smell sour in a few days. Home-brined chicken leftovers last a couple of days longer. Last summer I brought home a Costco rotisserie chicken but since I overbought, it sat unused in the fridge, in its original container, for a week. By the time I opened it I was expecting I'd be boiling it up and feeding it to the dogs, but to my surprise it smelled and tasted fine. I took it apart and removed the bones and skin, which went into the freezer for future stock-making, then froze what remained after dinner in individual portions. The Costco birds taste saltier than ones I cook myself.

        1. They say to refrigerate chicken for 3 days max. I too have eaten chicken a week old- and had no ill effects. They tell you 3 days because you can be pretty sure if handled correctly it will have no problem lasting AT LEAST that long. But you wanna be safe rather than sorry. I have thrown stuff away when I thought it was ok - smelled ok and all- but knew I was chancing it. But bad items DO NOT ALWAYS SMELL BAD.
          Bottom line- If you do get sick it surely isnt worth it in the end. You can break the rules a bit and do ok. Just because someone eats chicken 6-10 days later and they dont get sick - DOES NOT MEAN IT WILL WORK THE SAME WAY NEXT TIME. All it means is they got away with it that one time. Bigtime rule of thumb with food - It is always way better to be safe than sorry. ( original posts from 2009- but I just saw it tonite first time.)

          1 Reply
          1. re: TexasBBQer

            Yes, I follow the 3 day rule for ALL refrigerated leftovers. If I want to keep it for longer I put it in the freezer as soon as it is cooled down.

          2. Someone else mentioned this also, but the amount of salt is very important in determining the shelf life. A well seasoned cooked chicken will last a week in the fridge easily. If it wasn't seasoned, it might not make it.

            But yeah, give it a whiff and your brain will tell you whether it's good or not.