Can You Put Hot Chicken In The Fridge?

Can you put hot chicken in the fridge? Yes, but it depends on how hot the chicken is. Scalding hot chicken shouldn’t be put straight in the fridge because it can defrost other foods and potentially break the temperature motor of your refrigerator.

You can store warm, or even slightly hot chicken in your fridge to keep it fresh or to chill your chicken and bring it down in temperature.

Making a hot chicken dish and then storing it in the refrigerator to chill it down might seem like a convenient alternative, but is it really worth it?

When I was a chef we used to prepare lunch or dinner service by steam-cooking chicken in massive batches. We needed to bring it down in temperature as fast as possible, and the best way to do that was by setting the tray of cooked chicken on a bench for 20-30 mins to let it cool. We then would have put them into plastic containers and set them in the refrigerator to help bring them down in temperature.

Find out more about the dos and don’ts to store fresh chickens in your refrigerator and the best way to approach it, as well as some key guidelines to remember!

Storing Hot Food In The Fridge

Refrigeration is a revolutionary invention that has enabled us to prolong the shelf life of food products while being safe from the harmful growth of bacteria.

Bacteria love food as much as we humans (if they are not more) which is why every health organization urges people to keep food items at the right temperature and time to prevent the growth of bacteria.

However, is there any evidence for the idea of storing hot food in the refrigerator? Shouldn’t we be told not to do this?

The truth is that the notion that you shouldn’t keep hot food in your refrigerator is just that: A myth. This is the reason: Most people do not give their refrigerators the recognition it deserves!

The function of your refrigerator is to provide a continuous flow of cold air that keeps food cool It’s obvious, isn’t it? You’ll be amazed by how many people overlook this basic fact.

If you do include any hot food in the fridge, it will be able to continue doing its job, without being “overburdened” or without malfunctioning as some would think.

The temperature inside the fridge may be a little higher but it’s unlikely to alter the quality of other foods stored in the refrigerator.

Keep in mind that the majority of modern refrigerators come with an inboard system that continually checks the temperature inside the storage compartment, i.e., where you store all your food.

For instance, in the case of refrigerators that use inverter technology, the inboard system will boost the capacity of the compressor to accommodate the temperature change that is occurring in the surrounding area and even though your fridge might “work” a bit more than normal, however, it will return to its normal level within a matter of minutes.

Even if you’ve got an ordinary fridge at home You can count on it to keep food chilled even in the face of “tough odds.”

A normal fridge might require greater effort to lower the temperature back to normal however it won’t result in any adverse effects on the food that is stored in it or even the hot chicken!

How Hot Is Too Hot? What To Do And Don’t Do

In relation to freshly cooked chicken, there are a few aspects you should be aware of.

Don’t Store Sizzling Hot Food

As a first step, and is also recommended by a majority of health authorities, the ambient temperature in a refrigerator should be around 40 degrees F, and the freezer compartment needs to be maintained at a chilled zero degrees.

Also, you shouldn’t cook hot and scalding chicken directly in the refrigerator. The reason behind this is pretty simple. Steaming hot food can result in an extreme change in the temperature of the refrigerator and, if the food is hot, it can alter the quality of the other food items around it.

In any case, your refrigerator isn’t to blame. In fact, the constant flow of cool air inside the fridge is perhaps the easiest way to bring down the temperature of the food but unless you are in an emergency, we wouldn’t recommend putting fresh-out-of-the-oven-hot food.

Don’t Leave Food Out Far Too Long

As you wouldn’t place hot and steaming food items in the refrigerator and you shouldn’t put them in the fridge for too long to store food items either.

If you’ve cooked a fresh batch of chicken that you don’t intend to eat right away, it is best to wait just a couple of minutes (15-30 minutes) before placing it in your refrigerator.

This allows the meat to chill enough to avoid causing any major temperature difference within the refrigerator.

Bacterial growth occurs when the temperature of food is between 40 and 140 degrees F. This means that when the temperature on the surface of the chicken exceeds 160degF it is necessary to transfer it to the refrigerator in order to stop it from becoming worse.

Keep in mind that under ideal conditions, bacteria can multiply exponentially each 20-minute period. That means that you shouldn’t leave food out in the room for longer than two hours. this period is shorter for those living in areas with hotter temperatures.

Do Keep A Thermometer In The Kitchen

The most precise method to store hot chicken is using a cooking thermometer (we are in love with this multi-purpose thermometer available on Amazon). Chicken is typically cooked between 375 and 450 degrees, so it would not be logical to add very hot chicken to the refrigerator.

The best approach is to rest for just a couple of minutes until the food is at an approximate temperature of 160-180 degrees F.

Be aware that the majority of cuts of chicken meat need been cooked to ensure that the temperature reaches 160F. This ensures it is completely cooked and there are no bacterial traces within or surrounding the meat.

By using a thermometer for cooking, you can keep food in the refrigerator without doubt, and we can assure you this instrument can go a long way toward a healthy and safe diet!

Do Keep The Food Unwrapped When Not Cooking

After taking the oven out remove the chicken from its wrapper and take off any foil that is that is covering it. This will stop the chicken from becoming too cooked and can also aid in lowering the temperature.

Although you may be tempted to keep the chicken in foil to save time but this could work against the taste and quality that the chicken has.

In case you do not want a wet as well as “washed out” chicken, then allow it to air out.

Airing the chicken won’t just help in bringing the temperature down, but it will also aid in the reabsorption of some of the flavors and juices which were released from the pan during cooking.

After the chicken is cool down, you can put it on a foil cover and store it in the refrigerator – even if the bird is still warm.

The Best Method For Storing Hot Chicken

Here are a few specific steps to store warm chicken items in the refrigerator:

  1. After the chicken has been cooked Remove the foil and allow the chicken to cool to room temperature. Check the temperature inside the chicken. It should be around 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. If you’re trying to get your chicken in order, you can place the chicken in the fridge for 10 minutes. Don’t leave the chicken in the open for more than two hours!
  3. After cooling to a comfortable temperature and yet warm, wrap the chicken (if it is necessary) and place it in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

Freezing Hot Chicken

The freezing of hot chicken is a different subject that is often a bit confusing. How can you store hot chicken right from the oven and into the freezer?

This question isn’t easy because there are plenty of factors to take into consideration. However, we’ll attempt to provide the most important points.

One thing to keep in your mind is that keeping food items that are hot in the freezer is only going to be accomplished in the event that your refrigeration unit is operating at full capacity and there aren’t any other food items that could be affected by the heat generated by the chicken.

The reason this technique is feasible is that the freezer compartment is able to circulate extremely cool air that can take heat from the chicken and reduce it to the desired temperature in just only a couple of minutes!

Consider how quickly hot food gets cooler when you blow it around. The same is true for freezers. when there is a constant circulation of extremely cold air, there is no possibility for the heat that escapes increasing the temperature inside the freezer compartment.

However, even then you must be extra cautious prior to storing hot chicken inside the freezer.

We would not advise you to keep hot, smoldering chicken on the same baking tray straight after you take it out of the oven, as it could damage the interior of your freezer.

The most effective method to accomplish this is to transfer your chicken to a larger container and then freeze it. However, it is also necessary to ensure that the storage container is freezer safe and is rated for high heat.

Combining plastic containers with hot food isn’t the most ideal choice because the container may let food-borne chemicals escape which could make it dangerous and possibly unsafe.

If you want to store hot steaming food items, we’d suggest carefully moving and storing your chicken inside a high-end storage container.

Another option is to put it off for a couple of minutes before chilling the bird. This option is generally reserved for those who do not intend to serve the bird on that day.

Freezing is a great method to preserve the meat while keeping it from becoming rotten. For example, if the time for the chicken to be stored in the fridge is a couple of days, you can achieve 2-6 months of storage time when you store it in the freezer!

But, like the refrigerator method, there are some things to remember. Here are some detailed instructions on how to keep hot meat in the freezer:

  1. When the chicken is cooked remove the foil, and let it let the air out.
  2. This step is especially crucial when you freeze the chicken, as taking off the foil will enable the chicken to absorb the juices in a more efficient manner by evaporating the excess liquid that has accumulated around the outside.
  3. Keep in mind that the drier you are on the outside, the lesser chances of getting freezer burn! The cause of freezer burn is excessive moisture and substantial temperature variations. It may cause white, icy patches on the food’s surface which can result in extreme dryness, and loss of flavor and texture.
  4. When the chicken is warm (but not boiling) Move it into a freezer-safe container that is freezer-safe.
  5. The chicken should be kept in the coldest area of the freezer. This is typically in the back, far from the door.

Alternative Steps

  1. When the chicken is cooked, take the foil off and carefully place the chicken in heat and freezer-safe container, with the steam lid. Place the container in the rear of the freezer.
  2. The lid with steam will prevent the accumulation of pressure inside the container. It will also ensure that the chicken has enough moisture to absorb the liquids that are not needed.
  3. In the following 45 minutes, you can seal your steam cover by pressing on it.
  4. This will form an airtight seal that helps in the preservation of the chicken in the long term. Check the instructions for your airtight container for further information about steam lids and the best way you can seal them.

Tips And Tricks

Here are some crucial tips and strategies to be aware of:

  • If you are storing warm or hot chicken in the refrigerator ensure that the refrigerator is empty and you have the space to be full so that the chicken is able to be cooled without impacting other food items around it.
  • To get the most coverage, place the chicken on the top of the compartment, to ensure it receives the direct circulation of cold air. A majority of fridges have a cooling fan on top that is able to blow air into and around the inside of the chamber.
  • Explore different cooling settings to counter the difference in temperature caused by placing your hot bird in the refrigerator. Certain refrigerator models come with a “turbo” or “quick cool” option that increases the capacity of the refrigerator and cools the chicken more quickly than the standard.
  • Refrigerators with no frost are great to cool food that is hot. They function by removing moisture and air in the fridge. They are more effective at keeping the temperature constant.
  • Make sure your fridge is regularly maintained to get the optimal outcomes. It is not a good idea to keep warm chickens in your refrigerator and then let it cool off after 3-4 hours! Keep in mind that 40-140degF is the risk zone! The less time your chicken has to travel between these two temperatures the more efficient!
  • Do not check frequently on the food items once they are in the freezer or fridge. The repeated opening and closing of the door can result in the internal temperature of both compartments increasing!
  • Be aware that placing hot food in the refrigerator or freezer will not prolong the storage time of food items but could impact its texture and flavor over the long run.

Other Questions Asked

The storage of warm or hot food in the refrigerator is safe, it could also be a good option to avoid any growth in the number of bacteria particularly if you don’t intend to eat your food the very next day!

After you have learned the basics of storing hot food items in your fridge, let us look at a few related concerns:

Can put chicken that has been microwaved in the refrigerator?

Yes. So long as the chicken doesn’t pose the risk of “splatter danger” you may put it in the freezer or fridge.

A better method to preserve the meat is to allow it to cool for around 10 minutes to ensure that it has the chance to evenly absorb all flavor and nutrients prior to freezing or cooling it down.

How long will it take for a hot chicken to cool in the freezer or fridge?

This is dependent upon how effective your refrigerator is. If your fridge is operating at 40 degrees and doesn’t have a history of poor cooling, then you could anticipate a significant increase in temperature within 10 minutes.

This effect can be twice as strong when keeping hot food items inside the freezer. 0 degrees F!

Do you need to cool hot chicken in the refrigerator before putting it into the freezer?

Yes! This is an excellent method to reduce the growth of bacteria and let the chicken cool without risking the chicken getting freezer burned. This will also permit you to freeze your chicken with greater efficiency without losing taste or texture!

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