Can You Put Defrosted Chicken Back In The Fridge? [Complete Guide with Q&A]

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When you’re stumped about what to cook for dinner, the frozen chicken comes to your rescue. 

A versatile meat and rich source of protein, chicken can be turned into varied meals using different cuts, cooking styles, seasonings, and recipes. 

But as you prepare to thaw your frozen chicken, raw or otherwise, you might wonder whether;

You can put the defrosted chicken back in the fridge?

Yes. According to both the American Food Safety authorities and food experts, thawed food can be placed back in the fridge but under one condition. The food should not have been sitting at room temperature for more than two hours. 

You should also try to cook your defrosted raw chicken or reheat cooked chicken within a couple of days to retain freshness, texture, and flavor.

With this storage guide on defrosted chicken guide, I hope to answer your queries. This includes advice on whether refreezing thawed food is better than refrigerating it.

Before we get into these details, let’s find out: 

What happens when you forget to place the defrosted chicken back in storage within the stipulated time?

Improper Storage of Defrosted Chicken Makes You Sick

Storing thawed chicken in your fridge is convenient, particularly when you plan on using it soon.

However bacterial contamination and food poisoning are real possibilities. When the chicken is stored in the freezer or fridge, the colder temperature prevents bacteria from multiplying. 

The disease-causing food germs are simply hibernating, not completely eliminated. Bacteria thrive in warm and moist conditions. When you keep thawed meat outside, the germs begin multiplying in your food and turning it toxic.

Food safety advice warns against thawing meat at room temperature. In fact, the USDA recommends that you avoid keeping it at a warm temperature for longer.

Many people wonder whether it is safe to refrigerate chicken after it has been defrosted.

This guide helps you understand whether refrigerating thawed chicken is a good idea. 

You also need to ensure this “bringing it to room temperature” has been done properly the first time around. 

How To Safely Defrost Frozen Chicken?

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and other food safety sites, you have three safe ways to thaw your cooked and raw meat including chicken.

Defrost in the fridge:

This is by far the safest and best way to thaw chicken, particularly raw meat. The frozen meat is defrosted at or below 40°F (4.4°C).

While this is an easy and no-mess way, it takes time from 24 to 48 hours for most meats to thaw.

Thaw in the microwave:

If you want to cook the meat on the same day, then using the defrost option of your microwave is the way to go. Thaw the meat using a microwave-safe dish unless there are no frozen clumps left.

Bring to room temperature with cold water:

A messy and elaborate way of defrosting, this works when want to cook raw meat immediately.

You add the frozen meat container to a bowl of cold water. Keep replacing this water every 30 minutes until the meat is fully defrosted.

For more information on whether eating room temperature meat is safe, read our article: Can you Eat Chicken Left Out Over Night?

Are There Unsafe Methods of Thawing?

Definitely!  Thawing at room temperature on your countertop is a strict no-no as this allows harmful bacteria to accumulate on your food.

Defrosting meat in warm or hot water is another invitation for bacteria to grow rapidly in warm and moist conditions, 

Besides, using these methods means that the center may remain frozen while the outside surface reaches room temperature.

Should You Cook Thawed Food Before Chilling It?

When you defrost food in the fridge, you don’t have to cook it before keeping it in the fridge. As long as you follow the “under 2-hour” time limit, the meat is safe to use or store.

When you thaw chicken with the other two safe methods – microwave and cold water, there is always a possibility of some bacteria growing on it. 

In such cases, it is better to cook the chicken or reheat the defrosted cooked food well before you store it in the fridge or refreeze it. 

This ensures that your chicken doesn’t enter the danger zone between 40 and 140 degrees. This zone is where food poisoning and illness cause germs to flourish.

Is It Safe to Store Defrosted Chicken In The Fridge? 

If you’ve read our earlier guides on chicken, you realize that raw chicken spoils faster when kept out. This applies to both defrosted and fresh meat.

Place it in the fridge to keep the safe from salmonella and other bacterial growth.

Timing matters:

For freshness and taste, refrigerate unfrozen chicken within two hours of keeping it at room temperature. Thawed raw chicken lasts for two days and cooked defrosted chicken for four, beyond this, they are likely spoilt or go bad. 

Temperature effect:

Always store defrosted meat at or below 40°F (4.4°C). This prevents bacteria from growing and meat from turning rotten.

Packaging right:

Use air-tight packaging. Sealing chicken tightly can help prevent freezer burn caused by prolonged exposure to air. Freezer burn can negatively affect taste, texture, and color.

Place it correctly:

Store your defrosted raw and cooked chicken separately. Place the cooked meat in an airtight container on a higher shelf. Add the raw chicken to a leak-proof container and keep it on a lower shelf in the fridge.

Is Refreezing Thawed Food Better Than Refrigerating It?

You can safely store your defrosted meat, raw and cooked, in the fridge if you plan on cooking or serving it within a few days. 

Maybe your plan for a chicken dinner got canceled or you defrosted more chicken wings or stew than needed. The freezer is ideal for restoring this chicken meat or meal when you have no immediate plans to use it. 

You can store the cooked chicken for up to four months and raw meat for up to a year.  This makes the freezer a better option for storing thawed food long term. 

Better still, defrost only the required portion of uncooked chicken or your frozen chicken dish, the next time around.

Check out: Can You Freeze Chicken Salad? [Full How-To Guide + FAQs]

Final Thoughts

You can both thaw your chicken in the fridge and store it in the fridge for longer.

This goes for both raw and cooked chicken although the duration of safe storage is less for raw and more for cooked meat.

But, two hours is the maximum time your frozen and thawed food should remain at room temperature. Any longer, and you’re probably cooking or eating bacteria-riddled food. 

To use this meat later on, store it in the fridge for 2 to 4 days or refreeze it.  

There you have it. All the information you need about placing defrosted chicken back in the fridge.

Have you eaten chicken that has been defrosted and refrigerated again? What about frozen meat thawed in the microwave and chilling in the fridge?  

Tell us about your experiences in the comments.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

I tried to answer some common questions on defrosting and storing that you may have.

Can you cook 5-day-old defrosted raw chicken stored in the fridge?

Tawed raw chicken, whole, cuts or marinated, last for two days at the most. Older defrosted chicken can contain disease-causing bacteria and should be chucked away.  

Freeze the meat within two days to make it last longer.

Is my defrosted refrigerator chicken edible?

If your marinated food smells off or tastes weird, throw it away. Any sign of mold and lumpy texture is an indication of spoiling. Don’t ever cook that piece of chicken.

Should I restore my defrosted cooked chicken in the fridge or the freezer?

Unless you serve the chicken dish within 4 days, place it back in the freezer. 

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