Can You Eat Chicken Nuggets Left Overnight? (Not So Safe…)

Nuggies can also be made at home by breading or battering boneless chicken and baking or deep-frying it. 

Both store-bought and homemade chicken nuggets are not meant to be left out and eaten later. They are a lot more delicious and healthy when fresh. This is why it is advised to buy or make chicken nuggets that you can eat in a single sitting. 

However, if you didn’t finish them, you might be wondering whether you can still eat chicken nuggets left overnight. Just stick around and learn how to tell whether your nuggets are still consumable and how you can keep them safer for long. 

Can You Eat Chicken Nuggets Left Overnight?

Any chicken nugget left sitting out on the counter for 2 hours, or more is not safe to consume. This is because room temperatures are very conducive to the multiplication of the bacteria on your nuggets. At temperatures between 4 degrees and 60 degrees Celsius, bacteria increase, doubling their numbers every 20 minutes. 

Restaurant nuggets have preservatives that help them stay fresh a little longer, but they are still not safe to leave overnight. You should therefore ensure to refrigerate any leftover nuggets before going to sleep. If not, discard them. 

Owing to the rapid bacterial growth, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has declared that any food left sitting out for 2 hours or more at room temperatures, temperatures between 4 and 60 degrees Celsius, is in a ‘Danger zone.’ you should not eat food in this zone because it can cause food poisoning and spread other foodborne pathogens. 

Are Chicken Nuggets Still Good to Eat if Left Out Overnight?

No, chicken nuggets left overnight will not be safe to consume, following the two-hour rule by the USDA. Bacteria will always multiply when food is left out at 40 degrees and 140 degrees. Therefore, you’re advised to discard any chicken nuggets left overnight as they might cause food poisoning. 

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The population of bacteria doubles every twenty minutes because of the nutrients provided by your chicken nugget and the conducive temperatures in the room. Therefore, the longer you leave your food out, the greater the risk of food poisoning. 

Do not feed them to your pet either, as they also risk getting sick. 

Refrigerate your chicken nuggets. Storing the nuggets at cool temperatures hinders bacterial growth and keeps the safe-to-eat conditions on longer. Also, be sure to check out more food storage tips on CoookingBeFun

Remember not to eat food that is in the ‘danger zone. You can use leftover food as fertilizer for plants. 

How to Tell if Your Chicken Nuggets Have Gone Bad?

Did you leave your nuggets sitting out for too long? Are you wondering how to tell if they are still safe to consume?

You can tell your nuggets by looking, feeling their texture, or using your sense of smell. You can also tell by tasting them, though you should try and altogether avoid it. 

Bad nuggies have a sour taste. They also have a sharp, foul smell. If your chicken nuggets have lost their natural odor, do not put them in the trash or use them as fertilizer. 

The appearance of chicken nuggets also changes once they spoil. Their color changes and looks grayish. You might be able to observe moldy spots on the surface of the nugget. Do not cut the moldy parts off and consume the rest of the chicken. Mold is a fungus that can be invisible to the naked eye, so the nuggies are still unsafe for consumption. Discard them immediately. 

The texture of the nuggies changes from their natural texture into a slimy or gooey one. Throw away any nuggies that have an unnatural texture. 

Spoilt nuggies also have a sour smell. Sour-smelling nuggies should also be discarded. 

Nuggies bought from restaurants tend to have preservatives that make them appear fresh for a longer time. However, this deceptive appearance does not mean that they are safe to consume. Ensure always to refrigerate them early to keep them from going bad. 

If your chicken nugget appears fresh but you are aware that it has been sitting out for longer than recommended, we recommend disposing of them. Food poisoning can be really painful and even life-threatening; it is not worth the risk. 

How Long Is It Safe to Keep Chicken Nuggets at Room Temperature? 

Your chicken nugget can appear okay, smell okay, taste okay and even have the right texture, but at the same time contain sufficient bacteria to cause sickness. You might not even realize that you are sick until a few minutes or hours later when the symptoms show. 

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Chicken, just like all other types of meat, is considered perishable. This means that it is prone to bacteria that cause it to go bad very fast when left unpreserved. These bacteria and foodborne pathogens in spoilt nuggies can cause food poisoning and other foodborne illnesses. 

You should ensure to refrigerate your leftover chicken nugget if you do not plan on consuming it within two hours. The nuggies might appear safe to consume, but in reality, the bacteria present can be enough to cause illness.

Nuggies left sitting out at room temperatures for two hours or more have many bacteria that make them unsafe for consumption. In places with warmer climates and high humidity, bacteria grow even faster, causing your nuggies to go bad even faster.

Remember not to consume any chicken nugget that you left sitting out at room temperatures for too long. 

What Can Happen if You Eat Chicken Nuggets Left Out Overnight?

Chicken and all other types of meat are perishable and should not be left sitting out for too long. Your nuggies might appear okay after two hours, but the bacterial growth rate is so rapid at room temperatures that the nuggets are already considered a danger. You should not consume food in the danger zone. 

You might not immediately feel any lasting or drastic symptoms, but food poisoning can be painful. In some cases, it can even be life-threatening. 

The symptoms of food poisoning are nausea, abdominal cramps, stomach upset, headache, vomiting, and diarrhea. If you notice any of these symptoms, seek medical attention and ensure to stay hydrated. 

Remember not to risk food poisoning by eating spoilt food. Ensure to refrigerate your leftover nuggies if you do not plan to consume them within two hours. 

How Long Can Frozen Chicken Nuggets Sit Out? 

Freezing a chicken nugget can preserve for three months, but leaving it to defrost at room temperatures is still a bad idea. The temperature imbalance between the inside of the nugget and the surface causes bacteria to multiply rapidly on the warmer surface. 

Frozen nuggies go bad after 2 hours when left sitting out at room temperature. Such nuggies contain foodborne pathogens that can cause food poisoning and other foodborne illnesses when consumed. 

For a safer way to defrost nuggies, leave them in the refrigerator overnight or use cold water defrosting. 

It is also not a good idea to refreeze defrosted nuggies. The bacteria they accumulated while defrosting does not die. It simply becomes inactive and will immediately start multiplying again the next time you try to defrost the nuggies. 

Remember not to leave your nuggies sitting out for too long, whether frozen or not. Discard any that you left out for too long. 

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How Long Do Chicken Nuggets Last in the Fridge?

Nuggies can remain safe for consumption for up to two days after refrigeration. If they are packaged in an airtight container, they can even remain safe for consumption for up to 4 days.

If you buy some from the store but do not plan on cooking them immediately, keep them in their airtight packaging and refrigerate them immediately. Ensure always to follow the food storage guidelines when storing food in the fridge. This will keep them fresher for longer and helps ensure you stay healthy.

It is also recommended to put any warm chicken in the fridge. Chicken stored in the fridge while still warm is less prone to bacteria and stays fresh longer. 

When frozen, your chicken nuggets can stay fresh for three months. Remember to keep them in airtight packaging to preserve their freshness for as long as possible.  

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Mcdonald’s Chicken Nuggets Ok To Eat The Next Day?

No. Unless you refrigerate it, it’s not safe for consumption after leaving overnight. The United States Department of Agriculture considers any meat product perishable. If left sitting out for 2 hours or more, you should not consume perishable foods.

How Long Does It Take To Get Food Poisoning From Chicken?

Symptoms can start showing between a few hours, a day or two, or even a few weeks after consuming spoilt chicken. These symptoms can include stomach upset, abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. They can be excruciatingly painful and sometimes even life-threatening. 

If you have any symptoms of food poisoning, seek medical attention and ensure to stay hydrated. 

Can You Get Salmonella From Cooked Chicken Left Out?

Yes. Eating meat, fish, or chicken products can cause Salmonella infection. You can also get it from consuming cooked chicken/meat products that are not appropriately handled. Ensure to discard any chicken left out for too long. 

Can You Leave Chicken Unrefrigerated Overnight?

No, you should not leave chicken sitting out for too long. Chicken left out can only stay safe to consume for 2 hours, whether raw or cooked. This is because bacteria accumulate on the chicken due to the conducive temperatures for bacterial growth. Avoid consuming spoilt chicken. 

How Long Does Food Poisoning Last?

Symptoms can start just a few hours after consuming bad food and last between hours and a couple of days. You should seek medical attention.

Can You Cook Bacteria Out Of Chicken?

Yes, high temperatures can kill bacteria. To kill any accumulated bacteria, you can thoroughly cook chicken left out for more than two hours. 

About Sylvette Brown

Sylvette is a homemaker and is passionate about cooking and other kitchen-related stuff. She also loves to do home improvement related tasks and keeps on writing about food and cookware on her blog. When she is not writing, she keeps herself busy with her 2 little kids. :)