Crispy, saucy chicken wings are always a crowd-pleaser. But how long do they last in the fridge before going bad? This post shares guidelines on refrigerator shelf life for various types of prepared wings, plus storage tips to maximize freshness and flavor.
How Long Do Cooked Chicken Wings Last in the Fridge?
According to the USDA, cooked wings will last 3-4 days stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, assuming the fridge is kept at a proper temperature below 41°F (5°C). For the best quality, texture, and taste, aim to eat leftover baked or fried wings within a couple of days.
Just like with whole chicken breasts, these storage guidelines assume the package is within the expiration date. If it has expired, it's time to discard it.
It's a good idea to let cooked wings cool to room temperature before refrigerating so they don't raise the fridge temperature, but be sure to chill them within 2 hours of cooking to prevent bacteria growth.
The temperature range of 40°F (4.4°C) and 140°F (60°C) is considered the danger zone, where the growth of bacteria multiplies rapidly. So keep the time at these temperatures minimal to mitigate your risk of food poisoning.
How Long Do Raw Wings Last in the Fridge?
Raw chicken wings, whether they’re fresh or thawed from frozen, will last in the fridge for 1-2 days. The 1-2 days goes into effect as soon as the meat is fully defrosted.
To ensure that your raw chicken stays as fresh as possible, keep it in its original packaging and only open it when you’re ready to use it.
Freezing Cooked Wings
If you have leftover wings and you don’t think you’ll be able to eat them within a couple of days then your best bet is to freeze them! It's safe to keep them frozen for up to 9 months. But for the best texture and flavor, you should aim to enjoy them within 3 months.
To freeze your cooked wings, let them cool to room temperature (again, no longer than 2 hours), then lay them out on a parchment-lined baking sheet and freeze them for a couple of hours.
Once they are solid, pack them up in a freezer-safe container or a freezer bag. This will help keep them as fresh as possible and prevent freezer burn!
When you’re ready to serve the wings again, thaw them overnight in the refrigerator, then reheat as desired. You should not cook them frozen. They do need to be thawed first.
Once the chicken is thawed, make sure you use it within 1-2 days.
How to Tell if Wings Are Bad
You'll likely know by sight and smell if wings have gone bad. Look for these signs of spoilage:
- Color: Fresh raw wings will be a lighter pink color with some white pieces. Cooked wings should be white/tan with no pink remaining. If you notice any discoloration or a pale grayish or green coloring, then the chicken is past its prime.
- Texture: Raw or cooked chicken that is sticky, slimy, overly soft, or rubbery is no longer good to eat. If it’s still fresh, it will be firm.
- Smell: The smell may be the most identifiable way to tell if chicken is bad. If it smells bad, it is bad! Raw chicken should have almost no scent at all, while cooked chicken is going to smell primarily like the spices or marinade you cooked it with.
Remember the old adage, "When in doubt, throw it out." It's not worth contracting foodborne illnesses.
Reheating Cooked Wings
There are a couple of great ways to reheat your cooked wings! First thing first, if your wings are frozen, make sure you thaw them overnight in the fridge so they’re ready to go.
To reheat the wings you have a couple of options:
- Oven: Preheat your oven to 350ºF (177°C) and line the wings up on a baking sheet. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until heated all the way through. The total time will depend on the size and thickness of the wings.
- Air Fryer: Line the leftover wings in a single layer in the air fryer basket. Air fry at 350ºF (177°C) for 6 minutes, adding time as needed until heated all the way through.
Whichever way you choose to reheat your wings, make sure they are heated back to a minimum temperature of 165ºF (74°C). Heating to the proper temperature will kill off the bacteria that may have formed. Use a meat thermometer to verify that your crispy wings have reached a safe internal temperature before serving again!
For more information, check out my post on how to reheat cooked wings!
The best way to store wings is in an airtight container, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap or foil, or by using vacuum sealing.
If you’re storing wings in the freezer, place them in a freezer bag to prevent them from getting freezer burn.
When you store chicken in the freezer, I recommend dating the bag or container so you can easily keep track of how long they have been stored.
I don’t recommend it. USDA Guidelines recommend reheating and enjoying wings within 3-4 days of cooking.
Yes! As long as you are reheating your wings within the recommended time and following all of the recommended guidelines, then heating them should kill off any bacteria that has formed.
No, I definitely do not recommend eating wings that have been sitting out for more than 2 hours. If they aren’t stored properly within those 2 hours, harmful bacteria can form that even reheating will not eliminate.
I think we can all agree that we want our chicken wings to be at their very best! And we want our chicken wing leftovers to last as long as possible and to stay as fresh as possible.
With all of the proper storage, leftover chicken wings can last for 3-4 days in the fridge or for 2-3 months in the freezer.
Be sure you are always following the proper food storage recommendations and reheating recommendations to maintain the best quality chicken!