Ground chicken is a highly perishable food item — you need to handle it following all the safety rules and store it properly for it to last up to two days in the fridge.
But how to tell if ground chicken is bad? Ground chicken is bad if it has a foul smell and a slimy texture. Spoiled ground chicken may also have grey-brown hues. Once cooked, spoiled ground chicken has an off-putting flavor.
In this article, we tell you how long raw and cooked ground chicken lasts, how to store it to make it last longer, what happens if you eat bad ground chicken, and more.
Does Ground Chicken Spoil Faster Than Other Meat Cuts?
If you buy meat often, you may have noticed that ground meat spoils faster than whole cuts of meat.
For example, raw ground beef lasts 1–2 days in the fridge, while beef cuts can last up to 5 days when properly refrigerated. This is explained by the fact that ground meat has more surface exposure to air, which causes it to spoil faster.
Unlike beef and other common red meats, chicken lasts a maximum of 2 days in the fridge whether it is ground or whole — this is because raw chicken has a higher moisture content and a low pH value.
So, while ground chicken is more susceptible to spoiling, it doesn’t necessarily go bad faster than a whole chicken!
How To Store Raw Ground Chicken
As mentioned above, ground chicken spoils rather quickly — it is important to store it properly to prevent it from going bad too soon. If the packaging of store-bought ground chicken is undamaged, refrigerate it in its original packaging.
If using a resealable bag, make sure to push out the excess air from the bags — doing this will help to preserve the quality and flavor of the ground chicken.
Never leave refrigerated ground chicken uncovered. Not only will it make your fridge smell bad, but it will also absorb other odors from the fridge.
How To Store Cooked Ground Chicken
Refrigerate cooked ground chicken as soon as it cools. Don’t transfer the chicken into airtight containers when it is still hot or warm as the steam will create condensation in the container — you want to avoid excess moisture.
Can You Store Ground Chicken In The Freezer?
You can freeze both raw and cooked ground chicken — freezing extends the shelf life of ground meat significantly.
If you are going to freeze ground chicken, do it as soon as possible so that the chicken doesn’t have a chance to go bad:
- Divide the ground chicken into portions. Freezing ground chicken in portions helps you use it more efficiently. Meat frozen in small portions takes less time to defrost, too.
- Place ground chicken in airtight containers or bags to prevent it from getting freezer burn. Using freezer bags is more space-efficient as you can flatten the bags and stack them on each other.
- Label the bags with the date the ground chicken was frozen, then place them in the freezer.
How Long Does Raw Ground Chicken Last?
Raw ground chicken stored at room temperature is good for only 2 hours.
Store-bought raw ground chicken last 1–2 days in the fridge. If you are grinding your own chicken, store it in the fridge for 2 days only if the chicken was fresh at the time of grinding it.
If you have raw ground chicken that you won’t be using within the next two days, either freeze it or cook it. It is best thawed overnight in the refrigerator and should be used immediately.
How Long Does Cooked Ground Chicken Last?
Cooked ground chicken can ease the preparation of many dishes. You can use it to make stews, casseroles, chicken lasagna, etc. However, cooked ground chicken should not be left at room temperature for longer than 2 hours.
If you have cooked the ground chicken and won’t be eating it, refrigerate it as soon as it cools. Properly stored cooked ground chicken will last up to 4 days in the fridge. Frozen cooked ground chicken lasts even longer in the freezer.
Ground chicken frozen in an airtight container or bag lasts up to 3 months in the freezer. Provided that the temperature in your freezer is stable, the cooked ground chicken will remain safe for consumption past that time too.
Once you defrost cooked ground chicken, use it within 3–4 days if you have defrosted it in the fridge. However, as in the case of raw ground chicken, the sooner you use frozen cooked ground chicken the better.
Use thawed cooked ground chicken immediately if you have defrosted it using other methods, such as the microwave and the cold water method.
How To Tell If Raw Ground Chicken Is Bad
Telling if ground chicken has gone bad may not be easy. Ground meat and poultry take on a gray or brown hue when they start to spoil, but these color changes are not as noticeable on a ground chicken especially if it has just started to spoil.
Ground chicken will have a very noticeable dull, grey-brown color if it is a few days past the expiration date.
Even if you don’t notice any color changes, give the ground chicken a sniff. Discard ground chicken if it has a sour or sulfur-like smell.
Aside from the smell and color, inspect the texture of the ground chicken. Bad ground chicken may have a slightly slimy, sticky texture.
With this said, even if your ground chicken looks and smells normal, don’t use it if you have had it in the fridge for more than 2 days.
As for frozen ground chicken, it is best to defrost it and only then check it for any signs of spoilage.
How To Tell If Cooked Ground Chicken Is Bad
Give the cooked ground chicken a sniff to see if it’s good or not — discard it if it has an off-putting smell. If the cooked ground chicken looks and smells good, give it a taste test.
Discard ground chicken if it has been sitting at room temperature for longer than 2 hours or if you have had it in the fridge for more than 4 days.
How Long Do Cooked Ground Chicken Dishes Last?
As mentioned above, cooked ground chicken lasts up to 4 days in the fridge.
Dishes made with ground chicken, such as chicken lasagna, pasta, and casseroles, should be refrigerated and consumed within 4 days so long as the chicken used in the dish was freshly cooked.
Can You Make Ground Chicken Last Longer?
If you want to maximize the shelf life of ground chicken, here are a few safety tips you should follow.
- Always buy fresh ground chicken.
- Not only should you check the date on the packaging, but also use your senses to decide if the chicken is good or not.
- Fresh ground chicken has a light pink color.
- Smell the ground chicken if possible. Fresh ground chicken either shouldn’t smell like anything or should have a very mild raw chicken smell.
- Get a package of ground chicken that feels cold to the touch and is undamaged.
- Add the ground chicken to your shopping cart at the very end of your shopping trip. Raw meat shouldn’t be left unrefrigerated for longer than 2 hours, and your shopping time certainly counts!
- Make sure the ground chicken doesn’t touch other items in your cart. While the chicken may be well-packaged, it is always good to take extra measures to prevent cross-contamination.
- Refrigerate ground chicken as soon as you get home. While it is considered safe to leave ground chicken at room temperature for up to 2 hours, always err on the safe side and refrigerate it as soon as possible.
- When freezing ground chicken, make sure the packaging is airtight. If the chicken is still in the original packaging, wrap it with a layer of plastic wrap to ensure the meat doesn’t get exposed to the cold air of the fridge.
- Always thaw frozen ground chicken in the fridge. Never defrost ground chicken and any other meat at room temperature or in hot water.
- Use thawed ground chicken immediately if you have used the microwave or the cold water method to defrost it.
What Happens If You Eat Spoiled Ground Chicken?
Eating bad ground chicken should be avoided at all costs — bad chicken can cause food poisoning.
If you have eaten bad chicken, you may experience such symptoms as abdominal pain, upset stomach, and fever.
Now that we’ve learned all about ground chicken, how long it lasts, and how to tell if it’s gone off, here are some additional questions that we thought you might have.
Why Is Ground Chicken Sticky?
Good ground chicken feels slightly sticky to the touch. But if your ground chicken feels sticky and slimy, discard it. The slimy texture is an indicator that the chicken is bad.
What Happens If You Cook Spoiled Ground Chicken?
Cooking spoiled ground chicken is not recommended — cooking does not kill the harmful bacteria in bad chicken. You are running the risk of getting food poisoning if you decide to cook spilled chicken.
If you cook bad chicken without knowing that it is bad, you most likely won’t eat it due to the off-putting flavor and texture.