How Long Can Raw Chicken Sit Out? Until When Is It Safe?

How Long Can Raw Chicken Sit Out

How long can raw chicken sit out? Raw chicken should always be in the refrigerator for up to two hours. In high heat, experts tell against leaving chicken at room temperature. It’s best to cook or refrigerate it within an hour. 

If you plan to cook the chicken after it has been sitting out for a while, make sure to check its internal temperature with a meat thermometer. The internal temperature of cooked chicken should reach at least 165°F (74°C).

If you leave the raw chicken out for longer than two hours, it is best to discard it. Leaving chicken at room temperature for too long can allow bacteria to multiply and cause food poisoning. Even if the chicken still looks and smells fine, consuming it can be risky.

Factors Affecting Raw Chicken’s Safety at Room Temperature

Several factors can affect how long raw chicken can remain at room temperature before cooking. These include:


The warmer the temperature, the faster bacteria will multiply on the surface of the chicken. If it is hot outside (above 90°F/32°C) or in your kitchen, make sure not to leave out raw chicken for more than one hour.


Moisture helps bacteria grow, so if you live in a humid climate, it is best not to leave raw chicken at room temperature for more than one hour.


Ensure your kitchen and the utensils that come into contact with raw chicken are clean to prevent cross-contamination.


If chicken sits out for over two hours, toss it, even if it seems fine.

How to Refrigerate Raw Chicken

Learn how long can raw chicken sit out. Once you bring raw chicken home from the grocery store, refrigerate it immediately to keep it from spoiling. Place the chicken in an airtight container or a sealed plastic bag and store it in the coldest part of your refrigerator (below 40°F/4°C). 

Consume raw chicken within two days of buying, but it can last up to one week if stored. It is also essential to keep your refrigerator supplied with raw chicken. Having too much raw chicken stored in the fridge can raise the temperature and result in bacteria growth. 

Generally, never leave raw chicken out of the refrigerator for more than two hours or one hour when temperatures are above 90°F/32°C. 

How to Freeze Raw Chicken

It is best to freeze if you won’t use raw chicken within two days of buy. Place the raw chicken in a resealable plastic bag and press out any air before sealing. Label the contents with the storage date to track when to discard them. 

Frozen raw chicken can last up to nine months, but it’s best to consume it within one month after thawing for optimal safety and taste. Placing the chicken in the refrigerator overnight is best when thawing frozen raw chicken. 

Never defrost raw chicken at room temperature, which can promote bacterial growth. Cook the chicken before eating once it has melted. The internal temperature of cooked chicken should reach at least 165°F (74°C). 

Safe Handling Practices for Raw Chicken

Taking the necessary precautions to avoid cross-contamination is essential when handling raw chicken. This includes washing your hands with soap and water before and after handling the chicken. 

Additionally, clean any surfaces that come into contact with it. Use separate cutting boards for raw chicken to prevent bacteria from spreading. 

It is also important to cook chicken to kill any bacteria that may be present. The internal temperature of cooked chicken should reach at least 165°F (74°C). 

When checking the temperature, insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the meat without touching the bone or fat. By following these safety guidelines, you can ensure your raw chicken is safe and bacteria-free. 

The Dangers of Bacteria on Raw Chicken

Raw chicken often carries bacteria, including Campylobacter and Salmonella. Bacteria can multiply when storing chicken at room temperature. How to Store Raw Chicken

Store raw chicken in the refrigerator below 40°F (4°C). Always keep it in a sealed container to avoid cross-contamination with other foods. 

Safe Handling of Raw Chicken 

Always wash your fingers earlier than and after dealing with uncooked chicken. Wash your hands before touching anything else to prevent bacterial spread. If you marinate the raw chicken, discard any leftover marinade that has been in contact with the raw meat.

Tips for Cooking Raw Chicken 

When cooking chicken, use a meat thermometer to ensure it reaches the safe internal temperature of 165°F (74°C). Remember, color is not a reliable indicator of doneness for chicken. Always rest the chicken for a few minutes after cooking before cutting it, as the internal temperature continues to rise during this time. 

What to Do If You’ve Left Raw Chicken Out Too Long

If you’ve left raw chicken out for more than two hours or one hour in hot temperatures, it’s safest to discard it. Remember, it’s better to be safe than sorry for food safety.


Q: Do you need to refrigerate cooked chicken? 

A: Refrigerate cooked chicken within two hours of cooking or freeze it for extended storage.

Q: How long can I store raw chicken in the refrigerator? 

A: Raw chicken lasts 1-2 days in the refrigerator. For best results, use it within one day of buying. 

Q: What is the best way to thaw raw chicken? 

A: The best way to thaw raw chicken is in the refrigerator. Never leave it out on the counter or submerge it in water. 

Q: Can you consume chicken that someone left out? 

A: Eating chicken left out of the refrigerator for over two hours is unsafe. Leaving chicken out too long can cause bacteria to multiply, leading to food poisoning.

Q: What should I do if I’m cooking chicken and the temperature doesn’t reach 165°F (74°C)? 

A: If the internal temperature of cooked chicken does not reach at least 165°F (74°C), continue cooking until it does. 

Final Thought

How long can raw chicken sit out? Always follow food safety guidelines when handling raw chicken. This includes not leaving it out for more than two hours and cooking it to a safe internal temperature. Always practice good hygiene when preparing and storing raw chicken to avoid the risk of food poisoning. Following these steps will ensure that your meals are both delicious and safe!

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