How Long Does Smoked Chicken and Meat Last (& still be safe)


While there are many ways to keep food fresh and flavorful, smoking meat and chicken is undoubtedly a great method. This cooking method adds a fantastic smokey flavor to the meat, but does it extend the shelf life? And if so, how long does smoked chicken last?

As a general rule, smoked chicken will last up to 4 days in the refrigerator and up to 4 months in the freezer. To maximize the shelf life of smoked chicken, place it in an airtight container or tightly wrap it in plastic wrap or aluminum foil.

Using a vacuum sealer can add 1 additional day to refrigerated smoked chicken.

It’s important to note that the quality of the smoked chicken may decrease over time, so it’s best to consume it as soon as possible.

Allow your cooked chicken to cool completely before freezing or refrigerating. For optimal freshness, you should eat your smoked chicken within 4 days of smoking it.

How long does smoked chicken last in the freezer?

Up to 4 months, depending on how it was prepared and stored. When storing chicken, freezing is one of the best methods for ensuring that it stays fresh for longer. Smoked chicken, in particular, has a longer shelf life than regular chicken when you store it in the freezer.

If the smoked chicken was cooked correctly and cooled to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit, you could store it in the freezer for up to 4 months. However, if you cook the chicken, it will spoil more quickly and should be frozen for up to two months.

It’s essential to store your chicken correctly in the freezer to ensure it stays safe to eat.

Start by wrapping the chicken in aluminum foil or freezer-safe plastic wrap. Next, place the wrapped chicken in an airtight container or freezer bag labeled with the date. Finally, take the chicken out of the freezer as soon as you’re ready to use it so it doesn’t get freezer burn.

Once you’ve taken the chicken out of the freezer, you should cook it to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit to be safe to eat. If you store the white meat in the freezer for four months, you should discard them.

When ready to use the smoked chicken, ensure it thaws before cooking.

To do this, move the chicken from the freezer to the refrigerator overnight. Once it has melted, you can cook the chicken as usual. Avoid refreezing the chicken after thawing at room temperature, as this can make the chicken unsafe to eat.

Does smoked chicken last longer than cooked?

Yes! When it comes to preserving chicken, smoking is a way to help the meat last slightly longer.

This is because smoking chicken helps reduce the meat’s moisture content, which prevents bacteria growth. This means that smoked chicken can last much longer than cooked chicken, as the bacteria can’t grow and cause the meat to spoil.

Smoked chicken has a much longer shelf-life than cooked chicken due to the smoking process, which involves subjecting the meat to very high temperatures over a long cook time.

This drying process is a great way to help break down proteins and reduce the moisture content, both of which slow down the growth of bacteria.

Appropriately storing it is key to ensuring that smoked chicken lasts longer than cooked chicken.

You should refrigerate smoked chicken immediately after smoking to ensure it does not spoil. It is also important to wrap the chicken tightly in a plastic bag or container to prevent moisture from escaping and bacteria from entering.

If you plan to store the smoked chicken for an extended time, it is best to freeze it to ensure it stays fresh. When it comes to the shelf life of a smoked chicken, it can last up to 4 days in the refrigerator, depending on the type of smoker and the smoker’s temperature.

However, if you plan to store the smoked chicken for a long time, it is best to freeze it and store it in an airtight container for the best results.

Does smoked chicken need to be refrigerated?

Yes, smoked chicken needs to be refrigerated if not consumed within 2 hours of being removed from the heat.

The low temperature will help to slow the growth of any bacteria or foodborne pathogens that could be present. If it is not refrigerated, it can spoil quickly, leading to food poisoning or foodborne illnesses.

To ensure the safety of smoked chicken, refrigeration is an essential meat preservation technique.

You should store smoked chicken in the refrigerator below 40°F (4°C). When refrigerating smoked chicken, it should be stored in an airtight container, freezer paper, or wrapped tightly in plastic wrap.

This will help to deter the chicken from coming in contact with other food items and help to maintain its freshness. It is also a good idea to label the container with the date of purchase so that you can use the smoked chicken before its expiration date.

When reheating a frozen smoked chicken, a general rule of thumb is that it should heat to an internal temperature of 165°F or higher. This will help eliminate any bacteria introduced during the smoking process. It is also vital to ensure to reheat the chicken throughout before serving.

Although you don’t need to cook smoked chicken again, it is still a good idea to follow safe food handling and storage practices when used. Modern refrigeration will help to ensure that it is safe to eat and will also help to maintain its freshness.

As long as the smoked chicken is stored and handled correctly, it should be safe to enjoy.

How long does smoked chicken last unrefrigerated?

Up to 2 hours. Like any other cooked chicken, you should always refrigerate for up to two hours. After this two-hour window, the risk of bacteria growth and potential food poisoning increases. This is especially true for smoked chicken, as the smoking process does not kill all bacteria.

It’s important to remember that smoked chicken is already cooked and exposed to high temperatures during the smoking process. This means it may contain bacteria that can quickly multiply when stored at room temperature. In addition, moisture in the chicken, such as from condensation, can lead to bacterial growth.

That’s why it’s so important to store your smoked chicken in the refrigerator as soon as possible. If you’re transporting it from one place to another, it’s a good idea to keep it chilled with a cooler or ice pack to keep it at a safe temperature.

Taking longer, you could be at risk of bacterial growth and spoilage.

If you need to store the smoked chicken for longer, you can refrigerate or freeze it. Generally, smoked chicken can last in the fridge for up to four days and in the freezer for up to four months. To thaw it, you should move it to the refrigerator the night before you eat it.

It is important to remember that the time frames mentioned above are just a guideline. Bacteria can still grow on smoked chicken, whether refrigerated or frozen. If you notice any indications of spoilage, such as an off smell or unusual color, the good idea is to discard the chicken.

Cooking fried chicken is a popular dish for many people, but it can be challenging to know when to throw away leftovers.

If you plan to cook fried chicken for your next family dinner and need help determining how long to keep these meats sitting out, visit my most recent article.

Here I explained some of your critical questions, like how long you can keep the meats sitting out, if it is okay to leave your fried chicken sitting out overnight and if you can get salmonella from the cooked chicken left out.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

How long will vacuum-packed smoked chicken last in the fridge?

1- 2 weeks if you purchased it already vacuum-packed. Smoked vacuum-packed chicken can last up to two weeks in the refrigerator.

But if you smoked it yourself and then vacuum sealed it, it’s still ideal to consume it within 5 days in refrigeration.

The vacuum-sealing process removes most of the oxygen from the package and prevents the growth of bacteria. This also helps to lock in the flavor of the chicken for an extended period. But when you do it at home, it’s not always as sterile of an environment as they have in poultry processing plants.

However, it is essential to note that the two-week storage life is only applicable if the chicken was purchased and stored in the refrigerator immediately after purchase.

If the chicken has been frozen and then thawed, the storage time will be significantly shorter. For best results, you should store the chicken in its original packaging, which will help keep it fresh.

When ready to prepare your meal, take the chicken out of the package and discard the packaging, as it can become a breeding ground for bacteria. Also, it is vital to check the expiration date on the packaging to make sure that the chicken is still safe to eat.

Additionally, it is crucial to ensure that the chicken is stored in an airtight container so that it does not become exposed to air and moisture, which can cause the chicken to spoil more quickly.

When it comes time to eat the vacuum-packed smoked chicken, it is crucial to ensure it is cooked thoroughly before eating. This will ensure that any bacteria that may have grown during the storage period is killed off before it can make you sick.

Does smoked chicken last longer than smoked meat?

Yes, smoked chicken does last longer than smoked meat.

This is because chicken is a leaner type of meat and contains less fat. This lack of fat means the chicken will not spoil as quickly as the fattier meats. In general, smoked chicken can last up to four days in the refrigerator, while smoked beef can last up to three days.

However, it is also significant to note that the time that smoked chicken or smoked meat can last in the refrigerator depends on a few other factors. These include how the quality of the meat, how you prepared the food, the type of smoker, the smoking method used, and the storage conditions.

When preparing smoked chicken, the best way is to cook the chicken to an internal temperature of at least 165°F.

If the chicken is cooked to a lower temperature, it increases the risk of foodborne illnesses. When smoking the chicken, use a smoker designed for smoking foods. Charcoal smokers, electric smokers, and pellet grills are all excellent options.

The raw meat smoking method also affects longevity.

Hot smoking, which involves cooking the meat at high temperatures, kills bacteria and preserves the meat for longer. On the other hand, cold smoking, which involves smoking the meat at lower temperatures, does not kill bacteria, and the meat will not last as long.

Finally, the storage conditions are essential when it comes to determining how long smoked meats will last.

For example, if you store the meat in a cool, dry place, it will stay fresh longer than stored in a warm, humid environment.

Additionally, vacuum-sealed packages of smoked meats can last up to three times longer than packages that are not vacuum-sealed. Cooking a smoked turkey is a great way to enjoy a delicious meal without spending hours in the kitchen.

However, if it’s your first time, smoking turkey can be rather challenging.

If you are planning to enjoy the experience of cooking your dinner and need help figuring out how to start, visit my most recent article.

Here I explained some vital considerations you might need to know about, like How long you cook an already-smoked turkey, how long it takes to smoke a raw turkey, and how to keep it moist.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

How to tell if smoked chicken is bad

There are a few ways to tell.

First, if it’s pre-smoked chicken, you should always check the package’s expiration date to ensure the chicken is safe to eat. If you bought raw chicken and smoked it yourself, make sure the chicken purchased was within the best-by date and, ideally, still had a few days to go.

To ensure food safety, you can also look for signs of spoilage, such as a sour or off smell, slimy or discolored skin, or a slimy texture.

Another thing to look for when inspecting smoked chicken is the color. 

Freshly smoked chicken should have a light pink to gray-brown color. If the outside of the meat seems gray, discolored, or has an off-putting smell, it isn’t good, and you should discard it.

The next thing to look at is the texture. 

Freshly smoked chicken should be firm and moist, with no slimy or sticky texture. If the chicken feels slimy, sticky, or rubbery, it’s likely spoiled, and the only way forward is to throw them away.

Finally, it would help if you inspected the packaging. 

You should always store smoked chicken in a sealed container with an expiration date on the package. If the box is open or torn, or the expiration date has passed, you should discard the smoked chicken. If you smoked it yourself and stored it in Tupperware, use a marker to write the date you smoked it or the expiration date on the container.

Smoked chicken can be a delicious and convenient meal, but it’s essential to make sure it’s still safe for human consumption.

You’ll be able to tell if your smoked chicken is terrible and avoid any potential health risks if you take note of these tips.

Final Thoughts

Smoked chicken and meat are great options for cooking a delicious meal. Their smoky flavor and texture make them a popular choice among many.

Smoked chicken and meat can last for quite a while if stored correctly.

Generally, smoked meats will last a few days in the refrigerator and up to four months in the freezer. However, the shelf life can vary depending on the type of meat, the cooking method, and its packaging.

Therefore, it is essential to store smoked meats properly and check for signs of spoilage to ensure they remain safe to eat.


Ready to eat by quiddle. is licensed under CC2.0 and was cropped, edited, and had a text overlay added.

Jeff Campbell

Jeff was a leader for Whole Foods Market for over 2 decades and is now a recovering foodie. When he's not spending time in the kitchen, he can usually be found with 3 daughters, practicing martial arts, making music, or blogging on his other sites. Click to learn more about me

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