How long can cooked chicken wings stay in the fridge? It depends on the storage type and condition but normally, cooked chicken can last for 3 to 4 days in the fridge.
Some people are skeptical of eating leftover chicken and rightly so. Eating refrigerated chicken older than 4 days contains a lot of harmful microorganisms such as bacteria. Eating them can lead to food poisoning and at least a disturbed stomach.
It is always helpful to know how long you can keep the leftover chicken in the fridge. It allows you to minimize food wastage while planning your meals. More importantly, it reduces the chances of eating bad food and getting sick.
All parts of chicken remain edible for only 4-5 days even if you refrigerate them. You should throw them away if you don’t use them within this period. However, you should reduce the time to only 2 days if you have cooked chicken that is already not very fresh.
How Long Do Cooked Wings Last in the Fridge?
First of all, you should not leave cooked chicken wings or leftovers on the countertop for long. Ideally, you must put them in the refrigerator as soon as you are done eating. Cooked chicken left open in the kitchen is more likely to have bacteria.
You can expect cooked chicken to remain fresh for up to 4 days if you promptly placed it in the fridge. Similarly, the fridge should maintain a temperature of 40°F or lower all the time. You can also slow bacterial growth and increase the life of chicken by storing it in the coldest part of the fridge.
How Long Can Cooked Chicken Wings Sit Out?
Some people leave their cooked chicken wings out overnight. Leaving your cooked chicken out for more than 2 hours is a recipe for disaster. It provides bacteria with a great opportunity to grow rapidly. Therefore, you must refrigerate or freeze cooked chicken within two hours of cooking. It prevents bacteria from proliferating or at least decreases their rate of growth.
It is better to transfer the cooked chicken to the fridge within one hour if the temperature is considerably high such as greater than 90°F. The earlier you put the chicken in the fridge, the longer it will last.
It is not recommended to refrigerate warm chicken wings as well. Cool them down to room temperature before transferring them to the fridge.
How to Tell if Cooked Chicken Wings are Bad?
Now, you know how long cooked chicken wings are good for both in the fridge and open. But – they will eventually go bad and the following signs will help you identify the spoiled chicken.
Change in Texture
The texture of bad wings changes considerably. Fresh wings are firm but bad ones may become mushy which indicates that they have already started to decompose.
Development of Mold
Mold is the greatest nemesis of all meat products including chicken. A bad chicken will have mold developed on it which appears in the shape of white, green, or pale blue spots.
Bad foods always have a rancid smell. But – frozen or refrigerated foods don’t smell that much even if they have gone bad. The best way to ensure whether or not chicken wings are edible is to let them warm up on the countertop. The warmer the chicken gets, the more smell it will release. It is no longer safe to eat if the smell is really bad.
Keep in mind that you should never taste a chicken if you think it is bad. Throw it out just to be safe. Always remember prevention is better than cure.
Similarly, you must also discard chicken wings that look and smell fresh even after spending four days in the fridge. Sometimes, chicken does not show any visible signs of decomposing. Therefore, it is better to cook fresh chicken instead of eating a few days old wings if you don’t want to visit the hospital anytime soon.
How to Store Chicken Wings
Besides putting them in the coldest part of the fridge, you must also pack them in an airtight container. It will minimize the airflow, significantly decreasing the rate of bacterial growth. Similarly, the chicken will not contaminate other foods in the fridge and vice versa. As a result, the chicken has a greater chance of lasting long.
Exposure to oxygen reduces chicken’s shelf life. It also becomes hard or dry and loses most of its taste and texture.
Can You Freeze Cooked Chicken Wings?
You can prolong the life of cooked chicken wings by freezing them. They can remain in the freezer indefinitely but you must consume them within 6 months. They start deteriorating in quality and texture after that period. Try to eat them as soon as possible to fully enjoy their flavor and texture.
Don’t refrigerate cooked chicken wings if you want to freeze them. Cooking kills most of the bacteria but they can quickly regrow in the refrigerator. You can kill bacteria’s chance of growing quickly but putting the wings directly in the freezer.
However, chicken wings can develop freezer burns if you don’t pack them in freezer bags or airtight containers. It will also destroy their flavor and texture while leaving them dry and sour.
Can You Reheat Cooked Chicken Wings?
Reheating cooked chicken wings is safe provided they reach an internal temperature of at least 165°F. It is the best temperature to kill the bacteria according to USDA.
Some people only heat chicken wings twice including the initial cooking. Warm environments are conducive for bacteria to grow rapidly. Bacteria can profligate your chicken wings once they start cooling down after cooking.
Heating chicken wings multiple times means bacteria have more favorable conditions to grow. However, storing chicken wings below 40°F and as soon as possible after cooking allow you to reheat them twice or thrice.
The best thing to do is to reheat only a small portion of frozen chicken wings. You should eat it right away instead of reheating all the chicken and freezing the leftovers once again.
Cooking and reheating chicken wings multiple times also have adverse effects on their texture and flavor. For example, they no longer remain crisp and become dry and soft.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I eat cooked chicken after 5 days?
No, you should not eat 5 days old chicken wings even if you refrigerate that during all that time. Chicken older than 4 days tends to have a lot of bacteria and therefore, is not safe to eat. Eating it will result in food poisoning and related symptoms.
Can you eat cooked chicken after 7 days in the fridge?
You must eat refrigerated cooked chicken within 3 – 4 days according to USDA. Similarly, you must keep it at 40°F or lower in the fridge all the time. Putting chicken in the fridge will slow down bacteria growth but does not fully stop it.
Should you reheat the chicken or eat it cold?
Eating cold chicken involves a lot of risks as it is chock full of bacteria. You must properly reheat it before eating. However, ensure that you thoroughly heat the chicken and it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F.
You can always refrigerate or freeze cooked chicken wings to increase their life. However, they can only last for 3-4 days in the fridge and up to 6 months in the freezer. You must eat them within this period. After that, they not only start losing their flavor and texture but also become increasingly unsafe to eat.