How Long Can You Freeze Chicken before It Goes Bad

Chicken is a staple. It’s healthy, delicious, and easy to cook. That said, storing it can pose a challenge. It has a high risk of bacterial contamination, so it’s essential to store raw chicken properly. If you plan on consuming it within a day or two of purchase, you can store chicken in your fridge. However, if you need to store fresh chicken for longer, you will need to store it in your freezer.

But, how long can you freeze chicken before it goes bad? How do I keep chicken fresh?

How Long Does Poultry Last in the Freezer?

How long raw chicken lasts in the freezer depends on how it has been cooked. You can freeze raw poultry (including chopped chicken) for as long as nine months, and an uncooked whole chicken can be frozen safely for up to one year.

However, cooked chicken doesn’t last as long as uncooked chicken, and it has a shelf life of about 2-6 months. This is still longer than it would last in the fridge – cooked chicken (including leftover chicken) is only safe for 3-4 days in the refrigerator.

How Long Can You Freeze Raw Chicken Breast?

Chicken breast halves are a popular cut of meat, so if you’re planning to buy them in bulk and freeze them, don’t worry. Freezing chicken breasts is safe for up to nine months.

How Can You Tell If Frozen and Cooked Chicken is Bad?

  • It is past the expiration date.
  • It has changed color and looks a bit gray. This is a sign of bacterial growth.
  • Spoiled chicken smells – it has an acidic smell similar to ammonia.
  • It has a slimy texture.

If the poultry you stored in the freezer is showing any of these signs, it’s time to discard it. Do not try to cook it, and avoid eating spoiled chicken – doing so can give you food poisoning.

Is Two Year Old Wrapped Frozen Chicken Still Good?

As long as it’s stored properly, frozen chicken is safe to eat indefinitely. However, long-term storage affects the quality of the meat, which is why people recommend cooking chicken and eating it within 9 months of freezing. Cooking and consuming chicken stored for under 9 months (up to a year in the case of a whole bird) will ensure it tastes fresh.

To prevent freezer burn, you should use a leak-proof container and store it in airtight packaging, such as airtight containers or freezer bags. The original packaging (usually plastic-wrapped containers) allows in air, which causes ice crystals to form. Though perfectly safe to eat, freezer burnt meat has an odd texture and taste.

Can Frozen Chicken Breast Go Bad?

While proper storage will keep it safe to eat almost indefinitely, it will go bad if the freezer is left open long enough that the chicken thaws. If you find your chicken defrosted, it will need to be cooked immediately and eaten. If ice crystals have grown over the surface of the meat or it looks dried out, it won’t taste fresh.

Final Thoughts

Storing chicken in the freezer is possible, but you must store it properly in a freezer bag or airtight container. If you notice it going bad, discard it immediately – keeping it risks contaminating other foods with harmful bacteria, including other poultry.


Hi there! My name is Caroline Stevens, and I am an American mom of three wonderful children. I started this blog to help everyday families be more sustainable and save money by preventing food waste. I currently live in Wisconsin, and enjoy crafting, cooking at home, and traveling. I have a degree in art and previously worked in the restaurant business.