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How Long Does Deli Chicken Last? [Shelf Life Guide]

Deli chicken is one of the most popular food items in America, and with good reason.

The meat is usually cooked, shredded, or sliced, eaten on its own, or mixed into a sandwich.

But how long does deli chicken last? This post will answer that question and other important information about storing deli chicken for later use.

What is Deli Chicken?

what is deli chicken

Deli chicken is a pre-cooked product that can be eaten right out of the package or sliced and used in salads, sandwiches, wraps, pasta dishes, and more.

It’s great for busy people who don’t have time to cook a whole chicken but want to enjoy homemade flavors on their plates.

To better understand what deli chicken is, it’s easier to look at what it isn’t.

It’s not fresh or frozen, and unlike rotisserie, there’s no rotating spit involved.

Deli chicken is made from natural chicken breasts cooked by the foodservice industry and then flash-frozen into individual portions.

The cooking process that breaks down these breasts makes them tastier and helps remove fat during preparation so they can be served as an all-white-meat product (an excellent option for those watching their weight).

When you buy deli chicken in the store, you’ll see “pre-cooked” on the label.

This means that someone else has already done the work for you, so it takes about the same amount of time to prepare a box of frozen chicken breasts.

All you have to do is heat it in the microwave or oven and serve.

Deli chicken has become so popular that producers are constantly looking for new dishes to use this high-quality protein.

Since these companies started using the word “deli” in their product names, consumers got confused with what they were purchasing; now, a host of new terms are being used just like deli chicken:

Deli-style chicken: Chicken breasts that are not pre-cooked or flash frozen.

They are usually only partially cooked and require cooking time after thawing in the fridge before being served.

Pre-marinated deli chicken: Delicately seasoned already marinated in the oven to create a tender texture with authentic homemade flavor.

Sauced deli chicken breast: Marinated chicken breasts packed with sauce for those who like their meals ready to serve and eat.

Some sauced products can be baked right out of the package.

Storage and Care of Deli Chicken Meat?

storage and care of deli chicken meat

There are many ways to store deli chicken meat.

The first is by using the refrigerator.

This should be done as soon as possible after purchasing the product.

Some foods like celery, cucumbers, and tomatoes can be placed in the same container as the deli chicken for optimal storage capabilities.

The second way of storing deli chicken meat is to freeze it.

This should be done as soon as possible after purchase also for optimal freshness.

If this is not possible, then freezing it is still better than not storing it at all.

This should be kept in mind when storing deli chicken.

This is because when store for too long, the quality of the meat will deteriorate, and it will not taste as fresh as intended by the manufacturer.

Another way to store deli chicken is by using a freezer rather than a refrigerator.

The reason for this is that there are no harmful ingredients and preservatives that can affect the authentic flavor of the meat.

In addition, if you use frozen storage, then juiciness can be preserved, and moisture content maintained at all times.

It would still taste fresh and moist when thawed out, unlike stored in a refrigerator where these things tend to spoil much faster.

By following these guidelines on storing your deli chicken, then you can be assured of longer-lasting freshness.

In addition, you can rest assured that your meat will taste as it is intended to by the manufacturer.

How Long Does Deli Chicken Last?

how long does deli chicken last

Many grocery stores carry ready-to-eat, pre-cooked deli items in addition to their fresh meat and produce bins.

Pre-cooked meats like chicken, turkey, ham, or roast beef are available in various forms, such as sandwiches made with bread like wheat or rye.

To keep these frozen foods cold, they must be kept at the store’s refrigerator temperature, typically 38 degrees F (3 degrees C).

Whether you’re looking for sliced or shredded meat to put on a sandwich or planning an event that requires catering service from local grocery stores, it’s essential to know how long specific deli provisions will last before they spoil.

A grocer should have some “sell by” date stamped onto all refrigerated products so that you can use this to determine how long chicken, for example, will last.

You must check the date before heading home with your grocery items – it shouldn’t be stamped on the actual packaging itself since this could mean that the provision wasn’t refrigerated until after it was cooked and packaged.

And you don’t want a package of pre-cooked deli meat sitting on your kitchen countertop while it spoils.

The sell-by dates are required by law so that grocers know how long each food item is suitable for, and consumers also use them as a signal of quality.

It is essential to be aware of the sell-by date on all refrigerated products at the store.

The USDA recommends that deli-chicken should be eaten within 3 to 5 days.

If you are not going to eat it right away, place the package in your freezer for up to 2 months.

The older a food is, the higher the chance that it could be contaminated and cause illness, so trust your senses.

Tips for Eating or Preserving Deli Chicken?

tips for eating or preserving deli chicken

Deli chicken is smoked and dried, providing you with an inexpensive source of protein anytime.

The process of smoking the chicken is designed to kill bacteria that may cause it to spoil.

If you buy deli chicken or make your own, here are some tips for eating and preserving it safely.

Don’t eat or use meat that has a sour smell of powdery mold on it.

Don’t let the chicken sit at room temperature longer than 2 hours before cooking it.

Throw out any remaining portions if this happens.

Once you’ve cooked the chicken, be sure to consume it within one week.

If you don’t plan on cooking it immediately, freeze the chicken in either a vacuum-sealed package or freezer-safe bag for up to one month.

Keep it at a temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit or less.

Contrary to popular belief, you can freeze deli chicken for later use.

To do so, cool it quickly in the refrigerator after cooking it.

Vacuum seal the chicken or wrap it tightly with plastic wrap and aluminum foil and place it in a freezer bag.

This will help prevent freezer burn that can ruin the taste and texture of your food.

Freeze deli chicken for up to 2 months if properly stored.

How to Tell if Deli Chicken Meat is Bad?

how to tell if deli chicken meat is bad

You’ve just purchased a rotisserie chicken from the deli.

You plan to have it for dinner, but you’re not sure if it will be fresh or spoiled.

How do you tell?

The best way to see if your chicken is bad is by checking its smell and color.

If the meat has a foul odor, this may indicate that bacteria have grown inside it and caused spoilage.

Spoiled meat can also appear darker than usual in color – either light brown or dark brown – while the fresh chicken is usually pinkish-white in color with some yellow undertones.

Another giveaway might be an ammonia-like smell coming off the meat when you open up its packaging; this can also signify spoilage, as it’s the smell of ammonia that bacteria emit.

If you notice any strange odors or discolorations in your chicken, throw it out and bring the packaging back to the deli counter for a refund or replacement.

The meat should have some form of texture and elasticity to it.

If it seems too rubbery or “gummy” to the touch, this is a sign that the chicken has gone bad.

Check out the Packaging date and sell-by date on the products package (it’s a great way to check how long foods have been sitting around).

If an expiration date is passed, you might want to reconsider buying.


In conclusion, it’s essential to know how long deli chicken lasts because it can go bad if not stored properly.

The best way to keep your food is in the fridge; however, this isn’t always possible depending on where you live and what type of refrigerator or freezer you have access to.

When storing at room temperature, make sure that your food doesn’t come into contact with other foods like raw fish or meat, which will cause spoilage faster than usual.

If you’re unsure about whether a piece of deli chicken has gone bad, check for signs such as sliminess or mold growth before eating it.

does deli chicken go bad

How Long Does Deli Chicken Last? Does Deli Chicken Go Bad?

5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Shelf Life
Servings 1 Serving


  • Deli chicken
  • Air-tight containers or Ziplock bags
  • Labels and markers


  • Read the guide thoroughly to learn how long it lasts.
  • Check the u0022Best-by-dateu0022 to know when it expires.
  • Make sure to store in an airtight container in a cool, dark place (pantry or fridge).
  • Always check for signs of spoilage before using.
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