How Long Can Marinated Chicken Stay In The Fridge – Handling It The Safe Way

The origin of the word marination refers to the use of brine in the pickling process, which led to the technique of adding flavors by immersion in liquid.

If you’re a chicken lover, you’d know how important it’s to bite into a flavorful and juicy piece of meat at the same time.

Therefore, how to maintain the quality and safety of the chicken, should you keep marinated chicken in the freezer or refrigerator? How long to keep it and what are the signs of spoiled chicken? Let’s find out!

Why To Marinate Chicken?

The secret behind the perfectly cooked chicken is its marinade. The marinade is a mixture of oil, spice, acids and other similar ingredients. The meat should be soaked in that mixture for some time to flavor or soften it.

chicken with seasoning

Marination adds flavor to foods and makes them tender by beginning the breakdown process of the tissues of the meat. So, it serves two purposes: as a flavor enhancer and as a meat tenderizer.

You can do it by adding acidic ingredients like juice, vinegar or even enzymatic components like papaya, guava, ginger and pineapple.

How Long Can You Keep Marinated Chicken in the Fridge?

According to the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture), you can safely leave and keep marinated chicken in the fridge for up to 2 days.

Most recipes for marinating meat and poultry recommend for six hours up to 24 hours. It is safe to keep the feed in the marinade longer, but after two days it’s possible that the marinade can start to break down the fibers of the meat. That causes mushy meat.


Should You Keep Marinated Chicken in The Fridge or Freezer?

It is best to keep the chicken in the refrigerator while marinating to ensure there is no bacterial growth. So, always marinate chicken in the refrigerator, and boil the used marinade if you want to brush it on the meat or poultry while it’s grilling. Don’t save the used marinade.

Keep marinated chicken covered while it’s in the refrigerator.

How to Tell if Chicken Has Gone Bad?

Of course, chicken can spoil and that can affect its taste and texture, and in some cases caused health issues. That’s why it’s important to recognize whether the chicken has gone bad. You can look for certain signs to make sure you’re eating chicken that is safe to consume.

  • Appearance and Color – Raw chicken should have light pink color with white fatty pieces. If the flesh is grey or green or if the fat is yellow, this is a sign of spoilage. On the other hand, the cooked chicken should be white without pink pieces.
  • Smell – Raw, fresh chicken will have a very mild smell or none at all. If the chicken has a very apparent smell, such as a sour or sulfur-like smell similar to rotten eggs, throw it out. However, you should never rely on smell alone, because people’s sense of smell can vary.
  • Texture -Fresh, raw chicken has a glossy, somewhat soft texture. It shouldn’t be slimy, sticky or tacky.
  • Purchase and Expiration Date – Along with clear signs of spoilage, you should check the expiration date as well as consider when you purchased the chicken.

raw chicken

How To Marinate Chicken?

There are two methods of marinating chicken: wet marinating and dry marinating.

  1. Wet Marinating – You need to completely immerse a piece of meat in a marinade liquid. The three types of wet marinades are enzyme marinades, acidic marinades and dairy marinades.
  2. Dry Marinades – That includes mostly BBQ spices like dried herbs, spices, popular dry rubs include Cajun, tex-mex and Jamaican.

Guide To Marinating Chicken

Follow this step-by-step guide and marinate chicken like a pro! 😀

First, you should combine all the ingredients in a bowl. Don’t use aluminum, because acids react with the metal, to give unnatural color. Then add a chicken and coat evenly – it’s important to ensure the flavors get into the meat. Let it sit in the fridge for at least 1-3 hours or overnight. Finally, when you take the chicken out, you should cook it asap.

Two Chicken Marinade Recipes You Can Freeze

You can make your meal easier with these two make-ahead chicken marinade recipes. It is important to note that these marinades work for 1-1.5 pounds of meat. So, if marinating more, prepare the additional marinade.

Lemon Garlic Rosemary Marinade
For this marinade, you need to combine the following ingredients into the jar or air-tight container. Shake well or whisk together in a bowl. The leftover marinade can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

  • 1 lemon, zest and juice
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tsp fresh rosemary, minced
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper

Honey Garlic Chicken Marinade
Combine the marinade ingredients into a jar and shake them well. Or whisk together. This leftover marinade can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

  • 1 tbsp rice winer vinegar
  • ¼ cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes (optional)

Can You Safely Reuse Marinade?

Let’s say you marinated some chicken yesterday and still have a fair bit of marinade leftover. Is it safe to reuse it?

It is not as simple as reusing the marinade after you’ve removed the meat. So, you’ll need to cook it first to eliminate bacteria like Salmonella and E.coli. Then and only then is it safe to reuse as a sauce or glaze. Also, it should be constantly refrigerated before cooking.

marinade sauce

Marinade that’s been used on raw meat contains raw juices that may contain bacteria and make you ill. It’s not worth doing that.

If you want to reuse marinade, first, remove all meat from the marinade, pour the marinade into a saucepan, and bring it to a boil on the stovetop. Boil for 5 minutes. Now, it’s safe for use. Be sure not to use a brush that has touched raw meat with the newly-boiled sauce.

Handling Chicken The Safe Way

Proper handling and storing are essential to ensure safety when working with chickens. Salmonella is one of the causes of foodborne illness. These guidelines will help you to handle the chicken properly.

  • Cleanliness – It’s imperative to have a clean working environment when dealing with raw chicken. So wash your hands and clean the work area.
  • Handling – The raw chicken shouldn’t be exposed to warm temperatures and you should place it in a secure plastic bag to avert any drip which could contaminate other food in the fridge.
  • Cooking Safety – Always check the internal temperature using a meat thermometer to ensure the chicken is done and cooked thoroughly.

To Wrap It Up

Marination is the process of soaking or injecting meat with a solution to flavor and tenderize it. The timeline depends on what marinades you use, as various marinades call for different durations.

Ivana is always desirable for adventures so she was working in restaurants on the Croatian coast, participated in Caffe barista tournaments, led a gardening business, and more. She is a healthy food enthusiast, prefers vegetarianism, and practices yoga. In her free time, she likes to study ancient Buddhist scriptures as well as psychology.