6 Ways to Tell If Chicken Is Bad

We consulted the head chef at HelloFresh, Claudia Sidoti, for the lowdown on how to check Tainted chicken can be deadly. Maybe it isn’t that serious, but the chicken that has gone bad is not welcome to anyone’s stomach.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 48 million people get sick from a foodborne illness each year. We’ve got a few ways of how to tell if the chicken is bad, and how you can ensure a good quality chicken-eating experience.

how do you know if chicken is bad

6 Ways to Tell When Chicken Has Gone Bad

1. Check The Date

The date on your chicken is one of the best places to start when trying to determine if the chicken is okay to eat. If the date has passed, the quality might not be great anymore. It might still be okay to use, but it’s best not to take any chances. If it’s within a day or two of the expiration date, you can probably still use it without worry.

2. Gray

One easy way to tell if your chicken is good to eat is the color. Raw, fresh chicken should be a pink, fleshy color. You’ll notice more of a gray color when it is going bad. If the chicken starts to dull in color, be cautious. Once it turns gray, it’s time to throw it out.

3. A Slimy Texture

It might sound strange but feel your chicken. In its natural state, chicken has a slippery texture. Once it’s gone bad, it usually has a slight layer over that texture. It might feel sticky and thick to the touch.

how to know if chicken is bad

4. The Sour Smell

Raw chicken has a very potent odor that smells a bit sour to most people, but it shouldn’t have a strong, foul smell. If your chicken emits a sour or unpleasant odor, it’s a sign of spoilage.

5. Weird Growths

Check out your chicken for any signs of mold. If you see mold, it’s already gone bad. Even if you just remove the parts with mold, you could still be exposed to sickness. Mold means things have gone bad, and it should be a bit smelly as well.

6. Storage Conditions

You always need to consider the way your chicken is stored before you eat it. If you bought it raw, it should be placed in the refrigerator or freezer immediately. You can leave it in the refrigerator for three days before you cook it.

If it’s a cooked chicken dish, it should be put in the fridge within two hours after cooking it.

How to avoid chicken going bad

how to know if chicken is bad

Don’t Leave It Out Too Long

Leaving food out for too long isn’t good.

Yes, you need to thaw it.

No, you don’t need to thaw it all day!

If you’re carrying food to a friend’s house, place it in an insulated cooler. It should be kept at 40 degrees or below.

Remove the chicken from the cooler right before you put it in the oven or on the grill. If it’s above 90 degrees outside, do not leave the chicken out for longer than an hour. Also, keep it hot at 140 degrees or warmer until it is served after cooking it.

Using a Slow Cooker Safely

Slow cookers and instant cookers are popular to just throw in your frozen meat. The risk with frozen meat is that it may not reach a safe internal temperature evenly, increasing the risk of foodborne illness. It might save you some time on food preparation, but you don’t want to get sick.

Your chicken might not cook evenly or at all. Always thaw your chicken thoroughly before placing it in any type of cooker. Then you need to preheat the cooker before adding all of the ingredients.

Don’t Wash Your Chicken

how to tell if raw chicken is bad

Many people think you need to clean your chicken by washing away the germs before you cook it. You don’t. Raw chicken does have bacteria, but washing it with water does nothing for it. Washing your chicken can even spread this bacteria around your kitchen.

The running and splashing water get everywhere. The only way to eliminate all bacteria on the chicken is to cook it to the proper temperature. Chicken, at a minimum, should be cooked to 165 degrees. Use a meat thermometer to get a proper reading when cooking your chicken.

Be Careful When Buying Chicken

If you’re browsing the shelves for the best chicken, there are a few things to look for. A good quality chicken will look fresh and smell nice. There are so many different types and sizes on the shelves. You don’t want a slimy chicken either. Ensure that the chicken appears plump and fresh before purchasing. Always make sure the date is far enough from when you plan to prepare it.

How long will Cooked Chicken last in the refrigerator?

how to tell if raw chicken is bad

You’ve got the chicken cooked, but how long will it last in the refrigerator? Cooked chicken should be consumed within four days. This is if it is properly stored. You can store it in the freezer if you need a longer period of time. It should last about three months when frozen. Again, always check the texture and smell before consuming any meat.

The Effects of Eating Bad Chicken

If you accidentally eat bad chicken, it’s not a death sentence. The worst things about rotten chicken are salmonella and E. coli. These things can make you extremely ill. Some toxins survive the heat when cooked. It depends on your body as to how it will react.

Some people get food poisoning and dehydration. If this happens to you, make sure to take small sips of water and follow a bland food diet.


There are many ways to tell if the chicken is bad. There may be occasions when you consume spoiled chicken without realizing it, while at other times you may identify it as spoiled before cooking. Make sure to always watch the expiration and keep your senses alert when preparing chicken. If you have any hesitation, always throw it out. This way you don’t have to worry about food poisoning.


what does bad chicken smell like

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