How Long is Chinese Food Good For? What to Expect

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I always seem to order way too much Chinese food.  After my family finishes a meal, it often looks like we have enough food to feed a small army.  I hate wasting food and enjoy Chinese leftovers, but I never felt confident in how long they could safely be enjoyed.  I researched to answer my question about how long is Chinese food good for. I know I’m not the only one with this question, so I decided to share what I learned with you!

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How long is Chinese food good for?

If you have questions like, “how long can you leave Chinese food out on the counter,” “how long is Chinese food good for in the fridge,” or “can you store Chinese food in the freezer,” you’ve come to the right place.  In the next few sections, I’ll answer these questions and more.

How long can Chinese food sit out before going bad?

You should not leave Chinese food sitting on the counter for more than two hours.  The USDA established this “2-hour rule” as a safety precaution to prevent bacterial growth.  When food is left out too long, Staphylococcus, e-Coli, salmonella, and other bacteria can grow enough to cause foodborne illnesses and food poisoning.

If you’re serving food outside on a hot day over 90 °F, you should not leave the food out for more than one hour since bacteria will grow more quickly with the warmer temperature.

How Long is Chinese Food Good For? What to Expect

Best Way to Store Chinese Food

Storing your food properly is essential for helping it stay fresh for as long as possible.  Improperly stored food can dry out or spoil more quickly.  

Here are a few important tips for storing food:

  • Remove foods from their original takeout containers and put them in airtight containers.
  • Wrap food that won’t fit in airtight containers with plastic wrap to ensure they aren’t exposed to the air.
  • Refrigerate your food as quickly as possible and definitely within two hours of it being out.

How long is Chinese food good for in the refrigerator?

So, how long is Chinese food last in the fridge?  Generally speaking, Chinese food can last up to four days in the refrigerator.  The specific type of Chinese food you are storing, such as fried rice, chicken, or seafood dishes, can also impact how long it will stay good.  Additionally, as mentioned above, food stays fresh for longer if stored in airtight containers.

While leftovers may last for up to four days, it is a good idea to try to use them up more quickly than that.  Minimize your risk of foodborne illness by consuming your leftovers as quickly as possible.

How long is Chinese food good for in the freezer?

Can you freeze Chinese food leftovers?  And, if so, how long is the leftover food good for in the freezer?  Yes, you can freeze leftover food. If you haven’t thought about this, you’re not alone.  Many people don’t realize that freezing their leftovers is an option.

Depending on the type of dish and how it is frozen, Chinese food can last for 1 to 3 months in the freezer.  Generally speaking, leftover home-cooked Chinese food will last longer in the freezer than food brought home from a Chinese restaurant.

How Long is Chinese Food Good For?

How to Freeze Leftover Chinese Food

Getting your food to last for a few months in the freezer will only be possible if it is frozen correctly.  First, let’s look at some pointers for freezing foods, then I’ll go through the best ways to package your items.

  • Allow food to cool to room temperature before freezing it.  If you freeze hot Chinese food, it can cause a freezer burn.
  • Don’t let food sit out for more than two hours before freezing it.
  • Avoid freezing very oily foods.  They likely won’t reheat well and won’t taste as they should.  Aim to eat these foods fresh or store them in the fridge to be eaten within a few days.

Ok, now let’s look at the different ways you can package your leftovers before freezing them:

  • Freezer-safe zippered bags:  Using freezer-safe bags can work to store your leftovers, but if there is any air left in the bag when you put it in the freezer, it can cause a freezer burn.  Additionally, if you’re storing saucy items, you run the risk of the sauce leaking out before it is fully frozen.  
  • Vacuumed sealed bags:  As an alternative to zippered bags, you can consider investing in a vacuum sealer machine for food.  These machines use special bags and suck all the air out.  They also form a tight seal to prevent sauces from leaking.
  • Resealable plastic containers:  An airtight container is often the simplest way to store your Chinese leftovers.  The airtight seal should prevent freezer burn, and you shouldn’t need to worry about leaks with an upright container. 

Safely Thawing Frozen Chinese Food

It is also important to safely thaw your Chinese food when you’re ready to eat it.  The safest way to thaw Chinese food is to put it in the refrigerator the night before you plan to eat it.  Leaving frozen food on the counter or trying to thaw it in hot water can allow bacteria to grow.  

how long is chinese food good for

Warming Up Chinese Leftovers

Now that you know that your leftovers should be safe to eat within a few days, you may wonder how to reheat Chinese food like your dumplings, fried rice, lo mein, and other dishes. You want your reheated leftovers to taste like they were fresh, so it is important to warm them up properly.

There are two main options for heating Chinese leftovers:  woks and skillets or the microwave.  

Using a wok or a skillet is the best way to heat your Chinese food and ensure its original texture and taste.  After all, most Chinese food is cooked in a wok to start with, so it only makes sense that using a wok would be the best way to reheat it.

Reheating Leftovers in a Wok

Warm up your wok over medium-low and add a bit of oil.  Then, add in your Chinese leftovers and mix them until they are hot.  It is important to make sure that everything is fully heated through and has an internal temperature of at least 165 °F to make sure any harmful bacteria are killed.

Reheating Leftovers in the Microwave

While you can use the microwave to reheat Chinese food, it shouldn’t be your first choice.  Microwaving food is more likely to change the texture of the food or dry it out too much.  If you decide to microwave your Chinese food, here are a few pointers:

  • Break up leftover rice with your fingers before microwaving it.  You can also add a little water to the bowl with the rice or place a damp paper towel over it before microwaving.  This will help keep the rice moist and prevent it from drying out.
  • Let the food come to room temperature on the counter for a few minutes to help it heat up more evenly.
  • Only reheat your leftovers one time. If you don’t plan to eat all of your leftovers in one sitting, only reheat what you’ll eat right away. Reheating Chinese food leftover multiple times can negatively affect both its texture and taste.
  • Heat leftover Chinese food so that the internal temperature is at least 165 °F to kill bacteria.
This video shares some great tips to help your reheat and repurpose your Chinese food leftovers.

Can you tell if Chinese food has gone bad?

Sometimes, it can be hard to tell if Chinese leftovers have gone bad.  Even if bacteria have started growing on the food, they may still look and taste normal.  However, if you heat your leftovers and notice an unpleasant odor, it is safe to say that they have gone bad and should not be consumed.

Likewise, if you begin eating your leftovers and notice that they don’t taste right, do not continue eating them.

Enjoying Chinese Leftovers

Chinese leftovers can be revitalized and make a few more delicious meals, but it is important to consume them relatively quickly.  Generally speaking, your Chinese leftovers will only be good for up to four days, so have a plan in place for how to use them up or incorporate them into new dishes soon.

How Long is Chinese Food Good For?


How long can I eat leftover Chinese food?

How long will Chinese food last in the fridge?  Most Chinese leftovers last for up to four days.  Of course, every dish is different; some may spoil more quickly than others.  It is best to try to use up your Chinese leftovers as quickly as possible to prevent the potential for bacteria growth or foodborne illness.

Can I eat week-old Chinese food?

If you’re wondering, “how long is Chinese food leftovers good for” and whether you can still eat them after a week, you really shouldn’t.  Most Chinese leftovers are only good for up to 4 days.  While your ententrées may still look and smell normal, there is an increased likelihood that bacteria will have grown after a week.

Is it safe to eat leftover Chinese food?

Yes, as long as leftover Chinese food has been stored properly, it is safe to eat.  However, you should aim to finish up the leftovers within four days to lessen the chances of harmful bacteria growing.