Storage Chart

Ground Chicken 1 Day 2-3 Months
Whole Chicken 2-3 Days 12 Months
Chicken Pieces 2-3 Days 6 Months
Cooked Chicken 3-4 Days 2-3 Months

*Number of days from the “packaged on” date, or the purchase date if you buy from a full service butcher.

Storage Tips:

  • Keep your fridge temperature between 40F (4C) and 32F (0C).
  • Keep your freezer temperature below 0F (-18C).
  • As soon as you get home from the store, put wrapped chicken into the meat compartment or on a plate on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator so it can’t drip onto other foods.
  • If you won’t be using ground chicken within 1 day, freeze it.
  • If you buy large family packs, divide them into individual or meal-size packages. Wrap for the freezer and label with the date, type of chicken and weight of each package or number of servings.

Storage Q & A

Q: I don’t know how long this chicken has been in my freezer. Is it safe to eat?
A: If your freezer has been working properly (no power failures, water damage etc) it’s safe to eat chicken that has been in the freezer longer than what the Storage Chart recommends. However, expect the chicken to be drier and tougher after cooking. For the best result use the chicken in a recipe that has lots liquid – soup, stew, chili, pot pie – rather than roasting or grilling it.

Q: I bought previously frozen chicken. Can I refreeze it?
A: No. Instead, put it in the fridge and cook within 1-3 days (as specified in Storage Chart) OR cook it then freeze it.

Q: Why does frozen chicken sometimes have dried-out white patches?
A: This is “freezer burn” and is caused by poor packaging and/or leaving foods in the freezer too long. Freezer-burned chicken is safe to eat, but it may be less juicy and tender. To prevent “freezer burn”, wrap the package in plastic freezer bags or heavy-duty aluminum foil. Squeeze out as much air as possible before sealing. Freezer burned chicken is best used in soups and stews.

Q: My freezer quit and the chicken is starting to thaw. What should I do?
A: Ground chicken should NEVER be refrozen. If partially or completely defrosted but still cold, cook first and then freeze if necessary.

If the chicken is still full of ice crystals, it can be safely refrozen.

If the chicken is completely thawed but still very cold, refrigerate it immediately. Cook it that day. Freeze the cooked chicken if necessary.

If the chicken is no longer cold, throw it out.

Q: I left chicken on the counter to defrost and forgot about it. It isn’t cold anymore. Should I cook it?
A: No – throw it out. Thawed chicken left at room temperature is a perfect place for bacteria to grow. And the number of bacteria doubles every 20 minutes! Cooking kills bacteria but you may have contaminated surfaces and other foods while you prepared the chicken for cooking.

Q: How long can cooked chicken stay at room temperature?
A: Maximum 2 hours. The sooner you get it into the fridge the better. Remove meat from the bones and take the stuffing out of the cavity of a whole bird. Divide large quantities of food (soup, stew, chili etc) into smaller portions or spread out in shallow containers to chill more quickly. Although cooking destroys bacteria, new bacteria in the air and on surfaces can recontaminate the food. These multiply quickly at room temperature.

Q: Can I put a pot of hot chicken soup (or stew or chili) directly into the fridge to cool?
A: No. A pot of hot soup, stew, and chili will not cool quickly enough in the fridge. Plus, everything else in the fridge will warm up while the soup is cooling down. Instead, put the pot in the sink and partially fill the sink with cold water (adding ice cubes is optional). Stir the soup, stew or chili until it stops steaming. You may have to change the water once or twice to keep it cold. Once the food stops steaming, transfer it to shallow containers and put them in the fridge.