How Long Can Raw Chicken Sit Out?

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If you have raw chicken at home and you are wondering if you want to cook it today, then you may want to keep it out. Now it is important to know how long you want to keep it out.

raw chicken

 Raw chicken is more perishable than cooked chicken, so there needs to be a careful tab on how long it can sit out.

Generally, it is preferred to keep the raw chicken out for less than 2 hours. However, different factors contribute to the amount of time it can be kept at room temperature. 

It will be easily spoiled when exposed to air for a long time. If the room temperature is a little hotter, keeping it for a shorter time is advisable.

In this article, we will dive a little deeper to know more about the allowed duration to keep the raw chicken out. We will also cover other related topics, like how you handle raw chicken and how you thaw it, etc. 

This will give a good idea of how you preserve raw chicken and what you do with it when you cook it.

How Long Can Raw Chicken Sit Out?

raw chicken

Harmful bacteria breed and grow in raw chicken that sits at room temperature easily. Raw chicken is supposed to be kept at a temperature below 40 degrees F.

If you keep raw chicken for more than 2 hours, then it is better to discard it in the first place. Eating it would throw open a lot of chances for your health to decline and make you sick.

However, some factors impact handling raw chicken and how long it is supposed to be out. Let us discuss all those factors one by one until we make ourselves adept at preserving the chicken.

1. Temperature

The room temperature must be at most 72 degrees F. If you are anywhere in the zone that is hotter than that temperature, keep the raw chicken inside the fridge for an hour.

Warmer temperatures are enemies for perishable meats and are easily prone to food poisoning.

The bacterias inhabit the meat’s surface sooner when it is sitting out and starts breeding on top of it if it is kept at any temperature between 40 to 140 degrees F. If you are planning to keep the chicken out, you better plan to cook it faster.

2. Exposure

This is a very important factor when it comes to keeping the raw chicken just out. If you plan to keep it out for two hours, make sure to wrap it or cover it with a plastic bag or even a lid that seals the meat without any leaps.

This will prevent the bacteria from easily accessing the surface of the chicken while also slowing down the spoilage of the meat.

Make sure you also don’t bring it close to any harmful or dirty substances, which would hasten the contamination to a large extent.

Clean the kitchen properly, and more importantly, clean where you will preserve the raw chicken if you plan to keep it out.

3. Quality Of The Chicken

All the above pointers will hold water only if you have a chicken worth preserving. If you buy a chicken that has almost lost its validity at the time of purchase, then there is no point in preserving it.

So make sure the chicken is fresh and deserves a good storage culture to cook and eat. If you have a fresh chicken, you can keep it at room temperature for a minimum of 2 hours. However, if your chicken is slightly old, it is better to cook it immediately than later.

How To Preserve Raw Chicken?

raw chicken

Leaving the raw chicken at room temperature ensures cooking it sooner. However, if you want to keep it any longer, you need to look at other ways of preserving it, and here come the better alternatives.

1. Freezing

This is the best way to preserve a chicken. You have to freeze it immediately if you have no intention of cooking it any sooner. Bacteria do not grow in frozen chicken, keeping the chances of contamination minimal this way.

It is also advisable that the chicken preserved this way is sealed and closed at all edges.

Sealing the meat reduces the easy access of microbes from the food while also taking care of the intrinsic moisture of the food item. The seal should be tight to leave no possibility of air intrusion at any cost. This way, the food will not be spoiled that easily.

2. Canning

This is another valuable way of preserving the chicken, given the efficacy of this procedure. The fat from the chicken is pressed out and then sliced to fit inside the can. You can boil it before it can be used, or if you prefer to use it raw, that is also fine.

If you have a half-boiled chicken, then can it as much as possible, but leave some head space for the juices to occupy. Raw chicken should be preserved dry and probably vacuumed. Bone chicken needs a longer time to be canned.

Pre-cooking the chicken before dehydrating it is advisable. If you don’t, the residual moisture will allow the bacteria to breed on the surface.

An electric dehydrator can be used to suck out the water in multiple cases. Ensure you do this until the chicken is extremely dry and seal it in an air-tight bag. 

Ways To Handle Your Raw Chicken

raw chicken

Having a raw chicken makes you vulnerable if you don’t know how to handle or preserve it. The temptation to eat raw chicken is so strong that you may want to try all ways to handle it safely. Below are the guidelines to do that.

1. Keep Other Foods Away From The Chicken.

When dealing with chicken at home, ensure you keep it away from other foods. The kitchen tools you use to handle your raw chicken should not be used in other ingredients by any chance. 

Choosing an unwashed knife to cut the onions after cutting the chicken will also spoil the other food item. The juices from the chicken will get inflicted on the other items easily, and vice versa is also possible.

This will contaminate the chicken, and the chances of other food items getting spoiled are very high in this case.

2. Don’t Rinse Your Chicken.

The practice of washing your chicken is followed in many households. However, this can be avoided at best. Washing your chicken leaves room for other foods to catch the bacteria on the chicken. You can simply prefer to wipe the chicken with paper towels.

3. Wash Your Hands

Hands are the most vulnerable place for bacteria to juggle anywhere they want. Touching anything without washing hands would contaminate the item immediately.

Washing hands before and after you handle the chicken is very important. Touching anything after handling the chicken will allow all the other food items to spoil.

4. Don’t Keep The Raw Chicken At Room Temperature For A Long Time

The chicken can stay at room temperature for more than 2 hours maximum. It is better refrigerated if it crosses that threshold of 2 hours. Keeping it out is going to invite lots of bacteria to set camp on the surface of the meat rendering it completely useless.

5. Thaw Properly

If you have a frozen chicken at home, then thawing it completely is going to help you leverage it. There are ways you can follow to thaw it and make sure you do it right.

A half-defrosted chicken is as bad as spoilt chicken and cannot be used for any culinary application to the least. 

How Do You Know If The Raw Chicken Is Spoilt?

raw chicken

There are many ways to know that the chicken is spoilt. However, leaving it the room temperature for a long time is a signal to throw it out or even to conclude that the chicken is spoilt.

1. Smell

If the chicken has a rotten smell, then it is clear that it is spoilt. Sometimes, it would not emanate any smell, or the smell would be mild. In that case, the smell would not be the apt indication. You have to look for other prominent signs. 

2. Texture

It would have developed white or gray patches with color changes that are quite visible. Moreover, it would look dry and slimy on the touch, indicating it has gone bad.

3. Expiry Date

The expiry date is a sure-shot indication to know whether the chicken has gone bad. An outdated chicken is no good even to be tested for validity.

It has to be discarded immediately without second thoughts. This way, you would not risk your health anyway.


Having a raw chicken at home ensures keeping it safe. Just tossing it on the kitchen counter is not going to help prolong its shelf life. If you intend not to waste and eat it by any chance, preserving it properly serves right.

This article is a step towards knowing the right methods and the allowed duration to keep the chicken out at room temperature. Have a read and get acquainted with storage concepts that benefit you in the long run.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How long can raw chicken sit out?

Generally, it is preferred to keep the raw chicken out for less than 2 hours. However, different factors contribute to the amount of time it can be kept at room temperature. 

How to preserve raw chicken?

Freezing it or refrigerating it in a sealed container is the right way to preserve the raw chicken. It can also be canned.

What are the ways to handle your raw chicken?

Keeping the chicken in a separate place, washing the hands, and not keeping it in the room temperature, are some ways to handle the chicken.

How do you know if the raw chicken is spoilt?

Smell, texture and expiry date are the factors that indicate that the chicken is spoilt. If it is kept at the room temperature for a long time, then it is better thrown out.

What are the factors that affect the chicken at room temperature?

Air exposure, temperature, and the quality of the chicken are the factors affecting the chicken at room temperature. The spoiled chicken is the breeding place for the bacteria and it has to be immediately discarded. 

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