Baked chicken is as easy to prepare for one person as it is for 10, and having leftover baked chicken in your refrigerator or freezer makes preparing a satisfying meal fast and easy. Proper storage is key to keeping your leftover baked chicken flavorful and safe to consume, so know how long you can store baked chicken and how to safely reheat it in order to reap the full benefits of your effort.
Provided that the chicken was thoroughly cooked initially -- that is, to an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit -- baked chicken lasts 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator. While baked chicken can be stored indefinitely in the freezer, the flavor and texture begins to deteriorate after 3 to 4 months. These guidelines are applicable to any cut of chicken as well as whole cooked chicken.
In order to keep bacteria and moisture out, and to preserve baked chicken's flavor and texture, proper storage is key. As soon as possible, and no later than 2 hours after cooking, wrap the chicken in plastic wrap, aluminum foil or seal in an airtight container and put it in the refrigerator or freezer. Note that when the ambient temperature reaches 90 F or higher -- an outdoor picnic for example -- chicken must not be kept out for longer than 1 hour.
You can reheat your chicken by almost any method -- such as with the stove, oven or microwave -- as long as the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165 F. Do not attempt to reheat leftovers in a slow cooker or chafing dish, as these may not get hot enough. While it is not necessary to thaw frozen baked chicken before reheating, keep in mind that frozen chicken takes longer to heat than thawed chicken.
When to Toss
Regardless of proper food handling techniques, if your baked chicken begins to show any signs of spoilage, throw it out. Use your senses to determine whether the chicken has gone bad: if it develops a sour or foul odor, you see mold or other discoloration, or if it feels slimy, err on the side of caution and dispose of the chicken in order to avoid potentially-serious food-borne illness.
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