In this article, we’ll answer the question, “How long can marinated chicken be kept in the fridge?” as well as “How long can you marinate chicken in buttermilk?”

How long can marinated chicken be kept in the fridge?

In the fridge

Chicken Pieces 1-2 days, Chicken Whole, 1-2 days

In the freezer

Chicken Pieces 9-12 months, Chicken Whole, 1 year

Marinated chicken can be refrigerated for as little as 2-3 hours or as long as 24 hours. If you want to know why you shouldn’t marinate your chicken for more than 24 hours in the fridge, keep reading.

Chicken shelf life

The chicken, whether raw or cooked, should not be kept on the counter for more than 2 hours at temperatures ranging from 40°F to 140°F. The table below shows the estimated shelf life of whole chicken and chicken pieces under various storage conditions.

How long can chicken be marinated in buttermilk?

Buttermilk marinate, in addition to imparting flavor, provides a crispy outer coating. The buttermilk marinade penetrates the chicken, making it tender and juicy. It’s best to marinate the chicken in buttermilk for at least 24 hours.

Marinating the chicken for more than 24 hours is not recommended because it increases the risk of spoilage. If you don’t want to marinate your chicken for 24 hours, 12 hours is a good starting point.

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How long can chicken be marinated in lemon juice?

The best Asian style chicken is lemon-flavored, sweet-and-sour chicken. You can marinate the chicken with lemon alone, but other seasonings also work well and add a variety of complex flavors.

The best deal is to keep the lemon marinated chicken in the plastic bag in the refrigerator overnight. Some people, however, agree on a 2-hour marination time for all citrus marinades, including lemon. It all comes down to personal taste.

Just don’t use too much lemon juice if you plan to keep it overnight. Keep in mind that a little goes a long way!

What happens if the meat is marinated for too long?

Any meat marinade should contain three basic components: rich oil, salt, sugar, and tangy acid. Acid sources in the marinade include yogurt, lemon juice, and vinegar.

The acid is supposed to dissolve the tough and chewy muscle protein, transforming it into tender, juicy, and flavorful protein. However, exposing the meat to acid for an extended period of time can turn it into a mushy mess.

Furthermore, marinating chicken for extended periods of time poses serious food safety risks. According to the USDA, raw chicken should not be kept in the refrigerator for more than 1-2 days.

When the 2-day safe storage window expires, the refrigerated raw chicken goes bad before you know it.

The marinade only accelerates the process. As a result, it is critical not to leave the chicken in the marinade for more than 24 hours. This is especially true for more tender meats like shrimp and salmon (seafood).

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How should marinated meats be meal-prepped?

If you like to meal prep, marinating the chicken overnight and cooking the refrigerated chicken the next day will come in handy. You can even freeze the marinated chicken for long-term storage and thaw it whenever you want.

Last but not least, if your plans change, you can always rinse the marinade within 24 hours. This will keep your meat from becoming overly mushy.

How do you defrost a chicken?

In the refrigerator

This is the most secure and recommended method of thawing any type of meat. Remove the frozen chicken from the freezer and place it in a container or dish, then place it in the refrigerator.

The plate will catch the drippings from the meat during thawing, preventing cross-contamination. To avoid cross-contamination, always store thawed meat on the lowest shelf of the refrigerator.

In cold water

Fill a bowl halfway with cold water and submerge the packaged chicken in it. Every 30 minutes, change the water. Continue to do so until the meat is completely thawed. Meat that has been thawed in this manner must be cooked immediately.


This method is not recommended because it causes cold spots in the meat. It may partially cook the outer layers of the meat, creating an ideal environment for bacteria to grow.

To avoid overcooking, use the microwave’s defrost setting to thaw the chicken and check at regular intervals. Meat that has been thawed in this manner must be cooked immediately.


We answered the question, “How long can marinated chicken be kept in the fridge?” and “How long can you marinate chicken in buttermilk?” in this article.

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