How to Tell if Chicken is Bad?

How To Tell If Chicken Is BadIn the huge pool of edible meats out there, chicken is surely the most popular one out of the bunch all around the world. That is due to the wide variety of tastes that you can apply to a chicken while cooking it, how relatively cheap chicken is in comparison to other meat, and its convenience when it comes to cooking.

I don’t know about you, but in my house, we eat chicken about 3 times a week, if not more. It got to the point where I thought that I knew every tiny detail about the anatomical structure of a chicken, and how to safely prepare it for cooking. But like most assumptions made in the kitchen, I was wrong.

One night, after having a wonderful and delicious family dinner, all my family members and I started feeling slightly sick and one by one, we rushed to the toilet. This alerted us, so we decided to give the hospital a visit just in case.

The first question that the doctor asked us is what we had for dinner, and as soon as we told him that it was chicken, he didn’t seem surprised.

Due to the fact that I had prepared and cooked that chicken myself, I felt this sudden guilt and kept asking myself why I haven’t noticed that the chicken was bad. And to avoid such a thing from happening again, I ran to the good old savior, the internet, for some answer on how to tell if the chicken you’re preparing is bad. And I’m about to share my findings with you all.

How to Tell If the Chicken Is Bad

First things first, I hope that you never had to experience the sickness that I felt that day, and wish you a strong and healthy life, especially when it comes to eating. However, it is safe to assume that at some point through your journey in life, you have interacted with some rotten food and simply avoided it through the smell of it or how it looks.  And it’s even worse when you realize that the food is bad after spending a decent amount of your time preparing it. I mean, preparing a chicken perfectly takes more than an hour in most cases, and to have to throw it in the Garbage Disposal after spending an hour preparing it is just a horrible thing.

Imagine this happening to you when you have guests and you’re in the middle of preparing a lunch or a dinner for them with chicken as the main dish. I mean, improperly following a recipe from a Cookie Cookbook can be bad, but poising your guests would be a shame, especially if you’ve prepared your fancy Glassware Set, right?

If you seek to avoid facing such horrible scenarios, you should always make sure that your chicken is fresh and well before even starting to prepare it. This way you save your precious time and effort instead of wasting it on some rotten meat, and consequently, keep the health of your loved ones and guests intact.

Hopefully, through this guide, you’ll learn how to tell if the chicken is bad before placing it on your Cutting Board, Deep Fryer, or Compact Refrigerator. I’ve made sure that it also includes a way of telling if an already prepared chicken, that you were served in a restaurant for example, is rotten.

Raw Chicken

Out of all the states of Chicken, raw chicken has the highest risk of being rotten due to it staying in the display of stores for extended periods. In other words, you can easily stumble on chicken that has already gone bad and buy it.

To avoid committing such a grave mistake, look for the following warning signs in a chicken:

The meat’s color

When determining if the chicken has good bad already, the color is an easy factor to interpret, the optimal color for a chicken is bright pink and the moment you notice some gray shades in the meat, don’t buy it.

‘’Expiration’’ date

This is the first thing that you should check before buying chicken simply because stores, both big and small ones, sometimes forget to check their products and remove the expired ones. And although most stores make sure to do that, you should be vigilant nevertheless.

In addition, it’s highly recommended to not come anywhere close chicken with an expiration date that is somewhat close to the current day. Basically, buying a chicken that’s been recently put on the shelf is your safest bet.

The Smell 

Although checking the smell of chicken can be redeemed useless due to the fact that you can’t really smell a packed chicken in the store. You still can after opening it at home, and just because you wasted your money on it, doesn’t mean that you should put your health and your family’s health at stake.

A strong odor

Most fresh chickens have a somewhat undetectable chicken odor (the unpleasant smell of chicken meat), but if yours happens to have an overwhelming and strong odor, then you should probably throw it in the garbage as soon as possible.

If you’re still not certain that your raw chicken is safe to consume, try using your hands and touch it to make sure that the meat is not sticky nor slimy in any way. Once you get it home, make sure to put the chicken in a FoodSaver or a quality Food Storage Container if you cannot consume it directly. Better yet, through it in the refrigerator or an Ice Bucket if the other options aren’t available.

Frozen Chicken

With the fact that chicken can go bad at any given time, most people, me included, freeze it thinking that it is the most effective and safest way to store it. It is just that, but, it’s not a fully safe procedure, as cases of a gone bad frozen chicken do exist.

First, in order to tell if the chicken has gone bad or not, as soon as you take it out of the freezer, unwrap it, then simply make sure that it doesn’t have an unpleasant odor smell.

If you haven’t noticed any odor, then let it thaw for a minute or to then touch it to make sure that there isn’t a layer of sticky slime covering the surface.

As previously mentioned, color can also be a sign, if your frozen chicken happens to have pale or dark spots, then be careful, because that’s usually a sign of it going bad.

Although none of these signs guarantees that the chicken isn’t edible anymore, it’s better to throw it away than to risk your health and that of your loved ones.

Cooked Chicken

If you happen to be at a restaurant or something, then you most likely haven’t had a look behind the scenes while it was being prepared for you, especially when the flavor is covered because of the over usage of the Olive Oil Dispenser and Salt and Pepper Grinder Set. In that case, the warning signs are very similar to those of raw & frozen chicken:

  • Make sure to check the color of the cooked chicken meat by cutting a piece, if it’s white then you’re all good, but if it’s gray, then you should probably stay hungry than eat it.
  • Even though this one specific sign is a rare one, you should check for it anyway, after cutting a piece of the meat make sure that there are no signs of mold. It’s usually black or green spots that are very easy to spot and a definite sign that you should stay away from the chicken.
  • Another obvious trick that works every time is checking the smell, some people think that when you cook meat that’s already gone bad, it loses its horrible smell but that’s not the case at all.

If you detect any unpleasant odor smell (which usually smells like rotten eggs) then avoid eating the chicken at all costs.

Even if you haven’t noticed any of these signs, you should always keep in mind that the chicken may not be fresh or healthy. That’s why I recommend having a small first bite, as it can be the determiner of whether a chicken is bad or not. And if the unfortunate happens to be the case, then you probably just avoided getting sick by taking that small bite instead of swallowing a big piece.

How to properly store your chicken

When dealing with an already cooked chicken at a friend’s house or at a restaurant, you have limited knowledge of what happened to it before it made it to the place in front of you.

But, if you’re the cook, then you are fully responsible for it, and be responsible, I mean making sure that’s it’s both safe to eat and delicious. At the end of the day, both of these requirements are rather connected, quite frankly because you can’t really have a delicious chicken meat that’s gone bad.

To eliminate such problems, the first and probably most important thing is storing the chicken properly.

Chicken, unlike other types of meat, has a rather short shelf life which means that storing it properly is a must by both the manufacturer and you!

Let’s say you went to the store and bought a properly packaged & fresh chicken, meaning that the manufacturer has done his job properly, the moment it passes through the counter, it becomes your responsibility and you’re expected to preserve it for the longest period possible, if you wish to keep it edible and delicious.

If you happen to have bought the chicken on a hot day, make sure to head home as soon as possible and avoid making any unnecessary stops along the way, in other words, the quicker you put it in the refrigerator the better.

Based on personal experience and research, I’d say that you can keep in there for about 3 days maximum but that depends on how fresh it was when you first got it. This whole thing can be easily dealt with by simply buying chicken the same day you’re going to cook it, but at the end of the day, it’s up to you what to do with it.

One thing that the sources I stumbled on in my research shared is the fact that freezing the chicken the moment you get home and making sure to take it out of the freezer for a few hours before cooking it is the safest option of them all. Unfortunately, this method comes at a cost, that is, the chicken will not really taste the same after having been in the freezer for a couple of hours.

It will inevitably feel dry and loose that fresh smell that everyone enjoys, to put it in a nutshell, the longer you keep the chicken frozen, the worse it will taste once cooked.

I also don’t recommend reheating the chicken because it will not only destroy most of the protein found in the meat, but it will also cause some digestive problems. A solution for this is to simply use the cold chicken in a sandwich or a chicken salad.


Remember, if you have any suspicions that your chicken is bad when preparing it, throw it away immediately, for the safety of both you and your family/friends.

One more reason to be highly vigilant when dealing with chicken is having children at the family table, simply because they don’t have a fully developed immune system and that’s never a good thing against sickness.

So, even if you had horrible past experiences with chicken, just make sure to follow all the steps that I have mentioned above, and it’ll hopefully go as smooth as possible, and you’ll get to enjoy some delicious chicken for the rest of your life, whether you’re preparing it in a Roaster Oven (remember to use your Oven Mitt), an Indoor Grill, or the Microwave!

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