How Long Can Grilled Chicken Be Left Out?

Grilled chicken is a delicious and popular choice for BBQ and grill enthusiasts. However, it’s important to know how long you can leave the grilled chicken out to ensure food safety and maintain its taste.

In this article, I will explore the topic in detail and provide helpful tips for storing grilled chicken.

How Long Can Grilled Chicken Be Left Out

How Long Can Grilled Chicken Be Left Out?

According to the USDA, grilled chicken should not be left out at room temperature for more than 2 hours. If the ambient temperature is above 90°F (32°C), it should be refrigerated within 1 hour.

Storing Tips For Grilled Chicken

To maintain freshness and prevent bacterial growth, it’s crucial to store grilled chicken properly. Follow these tips for safe storage:

  1. Cool it down: Allow the chicken to cool for a few minutes before storing.
  2. Wrap it up: Wrap the chicken in aluminum foil or plastic wrap to retain moisture.
  3. Use an airtight container: Store the wrapped chicken in an airtight container to prevent air exposure.
  4. Refrigerate promptly: Place the container in the refrigerator as soon as possible.

Factors Affecting Grilled Chicken When Left Out

  1. Ambient temperature: Higher temperatures can cause bacteria to grow faster, shortening the time grilled chicken can be left out safely.
  2. Humidity: High humidity can contribute to bacterial growth, so it’s essential to store grilled chicken in a cool and dry place.
  3. Exposure to air: Oxygen can promote bacterial growth and spoilage, so always store grilled chicken in an airtight container.

How Long Does Grilled Chicken Last in the Fridge?

Grilled chicken can last in the fridge for approximately 3 to 4 days when stored properly.

It is crucial to transfer the grilled chicken into an airtight container or wrap it tightly in aluminum foil or plastic wrap before refrigerating.

Make sure your fridge temperature is set below 40°F (4°C) to inhibit bacterial growth. If you notice any signs of spoilage, such as a foul odor or slimy texture, discard the chicken immediately.

Can You Freeze Grilled Chicken?

Yes, you can freeze grilled chicken to extend its shelf life. For freezing, wrap the grilled chicken tightly in aluminum foil or plastic wrap, or place it in a freezer bag.

It is advisable to divide the chicken into individual portions for easy thawing later. Properly stored, grilled chicken can remain safe and maintain its quality for up to 4 months in the freezer.

When ready to consume, thaw the frozen grilled chicken in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.

How Do You Reheat Grilled Chicken?

To reheat grilled chicken, there are a few methods you can use. One recommended method is to preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C).

Wrap the chicken in aluminum foil to prevent it from drying out, and place it on a baking sheet. Bake for approximately 15-20 minutes or until the chicken is heated through.

This method helps retain moisture and ensures even heating. Alternatively, you can also use a microwave or stovetop for reheating, but be cautious to avoid overcooking, which can lead to dry chicken.

How Can You Tell If Grilled Chicken Has Gone Bad?

There are several indicators that grilled chicken has gone bad. The first sign is a foul or off odor. If the chicken smells sour, rancid, or generally unpleasant, it is a clear indication of spoilage.

Another telltale sign is a slimy texture on the surface of the chicken. If the chicken feels excessively slippery or sticky, it is best to discard it. Lastly, taste the chicken.

If it has an unusual or off-taste, it is advisable not to consume it. When in doubt about the freshness or safety of grilled chicken, it is always better to discard it rather than risk foodborne illnesses.

Can You Eat Cold Grilled Chicken?

Yes, you can safely eat cold grilled chicken as long as it has been stored properly and within its safe storage timeframe.

Cold grilled chicken can be a refreshing addition to salads, sandwiches, or eaten as is. However, it is important to note that cold chicken should be consumed within the recommended storage period, which is typically 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator.

If the chicken has been stored for longer or shows signs of spoilage, it is best to discard it to avoid any potential health risks.

Do’s and Dont’s for Storing Grilled Chicken


  • Cool the chicken before storing it to prevent condensation.
  • Wrap the chicken tightly to retain moisture.
  • Store in an airtight container to protect from air exposure.
  • Refrigerate or freeze promptly to prevent bacterial growth.
  • Label the container with the storage date.


  • Leave grilled chicken out for more than 2 hours at room temperature (1 hour if above 90°F or 32°C).
  • Store grilled chicken in the fridge for more than 3-4 days.
  • Refreeze grilled chicken that has been thawed in the refrigerator.
  • Reheat grilled chicken more than once.


Understanding how long grilled chicken can be left out and following proper storage techniques are essential for maintaining food safety and enjoying delicious, fresh-tasting meals.

BBQ and grill lovers can benefit from these guidelines to ensure that their grilled chicken remains safe to consume and retains its quality.

Remember to keep track of storage times and conditions, and when in doubt, it’s always better to err on the side of caution and discard any questionable chicken.

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