How Long Will Chinese Food Last In The Fridge?
We’ve all done it. It’s been a few nights since you ordered out and popped that Chinese take out
food in the fridge, but you’ve had a long day and you don’t feel like cooking. You open the fridge
and those all too familiar Chinese cartons are staring you in the face. You quickly try to
remember what day you ordered. Was it Monday? Or was it Saturday? If it was Monday, it’s
probably okay to eat. But what about Saturday? Should I be eating this? This all leads to the
How long will Chinese food last in the fridge? Chinese food, like any leftover that you put
into the fridge, will last for three to four days before you should throw it out. Food does
not suddenly turn bad on the fifth day, but the risk of getting food poisoning has reached
a point where it is better to throw it out than try to eat. If you think that you will have the
food in the fridge for longer than four days, it is suggested that you freeze it.
But just knowing what day to throw out your leftover Chinese food doesn’t give you the whole
picture. Knowing why there is a four day limit on that Chinese and how to store it properly will
help you stay as safe as possible and enjoy a great meal for the second time.
Why You Should Throw It Out: Avoiding Foodborne Illness
Foodborne illness occurs when you ingest food that has been infested with harmful germs, like
harmful types of bacteria. These germs grow the best in temperatures between 40 and 140
degrees Fahrenheit. So, your goal is to keep your food out of that “danger zone” as much as
possible. You should not leave prepared food out for more than two hours. After that, you risk
the possibility that the germs have grown to a number that makes the food dangerous.
Most fridges maintain a temperature of around 32 degrees Fahrenheit. At that temperature, any
bacteria that is growing in your food will slow down. The quicker you get the food into the fridge,
the longer your food will be safe to eat.
Even better is the freezer. The temperature of most freezers will stop the growth of germs and
bacteria completely. It doesn’t kill them, it’s just like hitting the pause button. This means you
should pay attention to how long your Chinese food sat in the fridge before you put it in the
freezer. If you waited two days to freeze your General Tso’s Chicken, it will only be good for two
more days in the fridge when you thaw it out.
Here is a list of the amount of time your Chinese food should be in certain places…
● Kitchen Counter: Don’t leave any Chinese food out for more than two hours.
● Fridge: Make sure you throw out or freeze any Chinese food that has been in the fridge
for four days.
● Freezer: Food will stay safe forever in a freezer, but the quality of the meat will suffer
after a while. To maximize flavor and taste, you should eat any frozen meal before four
to six months.
The Best Way To Store Your Chinese Food
Admit it, almost all of us just throw the Chinese food into the fridge still packaged the way we
took it out of the restaurant. But this is far from ideal storage if you are looking to keep the food
long term. Chinese food containers let in air that will cause the food to become stale and will
allow bacteria to enter and grow.
To make your Chinese leftovers last as long as possible in the fridge, follow these tips…
● Get The Food In The Fridge: There is little value to keeping the food out on your
counter. Serve out the portion that you are going to eat, then immediately transfer the
leftovers to a container and put them in the fridge. The sooner you start slowing down
the bacteria growth, the better.
● Use Airtight Containers: When storing food, you want to keep as much air out as
possible. More air means more bacteria. Glass works best. Here’s an example of
containers that do the job great.
● Create Small Flat Portions: By using small portions and spreading them out you allow
for the most surface area to cool. If you store in large clumps, there is a good chance
that the middle of the portion will not cool in time and bacteria will continue to grow at an
● Check Your Fridge Temp: The key to making your Chinese food last long term is
controlling the temp it is stored at. You need to make sure that the Chinese food drops
under 40 degrees Fahrenheit so it moves out of the danger zone. To accomplish this,
you should ensure that your fridge is cool enough to keep all of your food around 32
How To Reheat Your Chinese Food
Some people end up throwing away their leftover Chinese food because it doesn’t taste as good
the next day, but there are ways to reheat them so you don’t lose flavor or texture. Here are
some tips that will allow you to allow your Chinese food to last in the fridge and taste great…
● Use A Wok: It is Chinese food after all. Just throw your leftovers in with a little bit of oil
at a low to moderate heat. Give it a few minutes to heat everything and you will find the
dish as flavorful as it was the first time. Remember, you want the food to get over 140
degrees Fahrenheit to make sure any bacteria that grew dies.
● Microwave If You Have Too: It is quick and easy. It might not be the same as the first
time around, but you are sure to kill growing bacteria after just a couple of minutes.
● Break Up The Rice: If you had a rice dish, the rice tends to clump and dry out in the
fridge. The microwave only makes things worse. Try breaking up the clumped rice,
sprinkle with a little water to moisten it, and put a bowl over the top when you put it in.
This will trap the steam and restore some moisture to the rice.
● Only Heat Up Once: The USDA says that each time you reheat your food to 165
degrees Fahrenheit, you are giving your Chinese food three to four more days. So, why
don’t you just reheat your dish every two to three days until it’s gone? Reheating also
destroys the quality of the food. You are going to lose flavor and crispness. Try to only
reheat food once by only reheating the portion that you are going to eat.
● Do Not Use A Slow Cooker: A slow cooker will not get all of your food up to 165
degrees Fahrenheit, so to be on the safe side just don’t use it.
Enjoying Chinese Food A Second Time Safely
If you’ve paid good money for it, you’re probably going to want to eat it. To best keep Chinese
food, follow the tips we lined out to ensure it is safe to eat a second time. That way, you will
keep your hard-earned money from simply going in the trash. But, if you are ever in doubt about
the freshness of your leftover Chinese food, always be on the safe side and throw it out.