Skip to Content

How to Tell if Cooked Chicken is Bad

Virtually everyone loves chicken! We enjoy the tasty, sumptuous deliciousness of the white meat, whether fried, boiled, sautéed, roasted, or grilled. And many times, we like to cook some for future use. But chicken, like every other type of food out there, goes terrible for lots of reasons.

Many reasons can make the cooked chicken go spoilt. Perhaps you didn’t realize you used raw chicken close to its expiration date. Or maybe it’s the most common reason being poor storage in the fridge. Whichever the case, you need to understand the signs to look out for to know if cooked chicken has passed its consumption state.

Chicken Nutrition Facts

How to Tell if Cooked Chicken is Bad

Cooked Chicken Gone Bad – Why You Must Know

Both raw and cooked chicken is prone to foodborne pathogens like E. coli and salmonella. And these microbes thrive on food items that have gone bad. When such is consumed, it can cause various illnesses to the body. These diseases range from fever to nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, cramps, or even respiratory complications.

Signs Cooked Chicken Has Gone Bad

Knowing how badly spoilt chicken can affect you, you must learn to notice it before it’s too late. And below are the most notable signs;

Color and Appearance

When cooked, chicken must appear white and be free of pink hue; otherwise, it’s considered undercooked. And this state is expected regardless of whether it’s boiled, roasted, deep-fried, baked, or grilled. But if you store cooked chicken under poor conditions, it’s bound to change color and appearance. For instance, you may notice mold growth on the skin or that the shade has turned greenish-grey. If you see this on your stored, cooked chicken, you may want to think twice before reheating it for dinner.

Of course, sometimes, you can’t tell from the color if the chicken is heavily seasoned. So, it’s best also to combine this note with some other signs as well.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Ro Sierra (@rockitroro)


One of the most apparent signs of spoilt cooked chicken is the smell. Most times, after the chicken is cooked, you can perceive an inviting scent from a combination of the cooked meat and seasonings. And when the chicken is spoilt, this aroma tends to be replaced by a foul, sulfur-like smell similar to rotten eggs.


When cooked, chicken tends to come out firm and almost free of moisture, unlike how it looks when raw. So if you notice your leftover cooked chicken has developed a wet, mushy state, take a closer look. The texture of spoilt chicken mostly leans to the sticky, slimy side, sometimes with mushy softness, and may even exhume residue. If you see any of these things, toss them in the trash at once.

Making Sure Cooked Chicken Stays Good

Of course, you may wonder why you should keep leftovers if they’ll eventually go wrong. But the fact remains that most times, the cooked chicken gets spoilt due to poor storage conditions. The proper storage temperature for cooked chicken in the fridge is about 40F or less in a sealed container. And such food needs to be consumed within three to four days; otherwise, it leans towards going bad. But if you’re storing cooked chicken in the freezer, they’ll hold for up to four months.

If you have leftover cooked chicken, it’s always best to store it in the fridge within two hours after eating. And if it’s newly cooked, keep it in the fridge immediately or within an hour after cooking if it’s still hot. Note that leaving cooked chicken or any other kind of meat at room temperature for more than four hours risks contamination from bacteria.

If you need to know more about cooking chicken that has gone wrong, watch this video.

Subscribe to Blog Chef for the easiest recipes and cooking tips. Signing up gives your consent to emails and personalized ads. See privacy policy.