I really like Chinese food. Aside from ordering it from restaurants, I sometimes even make homemade Chinese food if I have some extra time, and, believe me, I never regret it.
Whether it is my favorite Kung Pao Chicken or some other type of Chinese food like chow mein, Lo mein, or fried rice, it is always yummy.
However, I’m a big foodie, so… But, let’s get back to the point. No matter whether you are dealing with takeout or homemade Chinese food, you have to know that it is food after all and food spoils.
So, if you want to preserve it, it is important to know some facts about it. From there, the main question arises and it is “How long is Chinese food good for?”.
Here in the introduction, I will just add that it depends on the way you handle it.
If you are really curious, continue reading.
How Long Is Chinese Food Good For?
As I already said in the introduction, the exact shelf life of Chinese food mainly depends on how you store it. It can be stored on the kitchen counter, in the refrigerator, and in the freezer for long-term storage.
How Long Can Chinese Food Sit Out?
In most cases, leaving any type of food at room temperature for too long is not a good idea. The same goes for Chinese food.
The main reason for this is the fact that room temperature falls in the “temperature danger zone (40-140 degrees Fahrenheit)” where food tends to spoil quickly.
So, if you don’t want to achieve harmful bacteria growth in your favorite Chinese food, it is not a good idea to let it stay at room temperature for more than 2 hours.
So, take a closer look at your clock.
How Long Can Chinese Food Stay In The Fridge?
A much better place for your Chinese food to be is definitely the refrigerator. It is because the temperature of the refrigerator is below the temperature danger zone, i.e. most likely about 32 degrees F, so your Chinese food won’t spoil that easily.
More precisely, Chinese food that has been stored in the fridge properly will most probably stay good for up to 3-4 days.
However, I would recommend you keep it in the fridge for a maximum of 3 days to keep it on the safe side.
How Long Does Chinese Food Last In The Freezer?
If you are up for long-term storage of your Chinese food, then it is probably best to freeze it.
Most types of homemade Chinese food freeze quite well and, if stored properly, can last up to 3 months in the freezer.
Chinese takeaways, on the other hand, will last in the freezer for up to 1-2 months.
Below, you will be able to find out which types of Chinese food do not freeze that well and which types are perfectly suitable for the freezing process.
How To Store Chinese Food Properly?
If you have any leftover Chinese food, you shouldn’t worry because there are ways to efficiently freeze them.
If you want to consume your Chinese food the next day or in just a couple of days, it is best to store it in the fridge. If you are up for long-term storage, a freezer is the best solution.
Refrigerating Chinese Food
In my opinion, refrigerating it is the best because it can extend the shelf life of your Chinese food and still preserve its quality in terms of flavor and texture. So, here are a few tips on refrigerating Chinese food.
• You first need to make sure that the temperature of the refrigerator is right. In order for your Chinese food to last longer, the temperature must be below 40 degrees F because that is out of the temperature danger zone.
However, the ideal temperature for Chinese food is 32 degrees F.
• Make sure to refrigerate your Chinese leftovers as fast as you can and don’t let them stay for too long at room temperature. If they are left out on the countertop for more than 2 hours, do not refrigerate them, but rather throw them out.
• You can not just put your Chinese food in any container when refrigerating it. Those Chinese leftovers must be stored in some airtight environment and the best place is definitely an airtight container.
Keeping the air out will ensure the safety of the food in terms of protection from possible freezer burn.
• One big container is not an ideal solution when it comes to storing Chinese food. It is a much better idea to make small potions of it and store them in small, uniform containers.
The main reason for this is the fact that, if you store Chinese food in a large batch, it won’t cool so quickly in the center making that area ideal for harmful bacteria growth.
• Wrapping your leftover food from China isn’t a bad idea as well because protecting it from air is the most important thing if you want to preserve its freshness and quality. If you eventually decide to wrap it, it is best to use cling wrap.
• And one more note. If you are dealing with takeout Chinese food, make sure that you don’t leave it in the takeout container if you want to refrigerate it.
It is a much better idea to transfer the food from the takeout container to an airtight container so that it is protected from air.
Freezing Chinese Food
If you are up for long-term storage of your Chinese food or Chinese leftovers, freezing is your best bet.
The freezer will extend the shelf life of your leftover takeaway for up to 1-2 months. And if you freeze homemade Chinese food, it will last even longer, i.e. for up to 3 months.
Here are a few helpful tips for freezing Chinese food.
• First things first, it is not a good idea to freeze food that has a lot of oil or leftover rice that has been fried. Just like is the case with freezing mayonnaise, oily food doesn’t preserve its quality after the freezing process, especially in terms of texture.
• It is a good idea to freeze homemade Chinese food because it freezes better than takeaway leftovers. But you have to make sure that it cools down before the freezing process. Hot food is prone to freezer burn if frozen immediately.
• Don’t leave Chinese food at room temperature for more than 2 hours before the freezing process. According to USDA, Chinese food that has been left on the countertop for more than that time frame is prone to harmful bacteria growth.
• If you are dealing with leftover takeaways, it is best to freeze it immediately because you never know how long it has been sitting out in the restaurant.
• Before you freeze your Chinese food, it is best to store it in a container that is airtight and freezer-friendly.
When it comes to the material of the container, the most suitable one is plastic, but you can also use one made from aluminum. Make sure it is sealable and, of course, that it is freezer-friendly.
• Although freezer-friendly plastic bags are also an option, I wouldn’t recommend them because they are not so safe and they require more work as they can be quite messy.
Namely, you have to suck out all the air from the bag before putting it in the freezer, and, if you don’t have a vacuum sealer, that won’t be an easy process.
• Finally, although I am sure that you are aware of this one, I have to emphasize that it is important to label the container or the bag with the exact date of storage in order to know when you can defrost your Chinese food.
How To Thaw Leftover Chinese Food?
When you eventually decide to use your frozen food, that food needs to be defrosted properly. The same goes for Chinese food of course.
Experts agree that the best way to defrost your frozen Chinese food is to do that in the fridge.
All you need to do is to transfer the container with Chinese food from the freezer to the fridge and leave it there overnight to thaw slowly.
That way, you won’t be risking any bacteria growth. Never defrost Chinese food at room temperature because the quick process of thawing can dramatically increase the risk of harmful bacteria growth.
If you are truly short on time, defrosting Chinese food in the microwave can also be an option. However, I wouldn’t recommend that because it can seriously degrade the quality of your food, especially in terms of texture.
How To Reheat Your Chinese Food?
Reheating Chinese food, whether it is General Tso’s Chicken or orange chicken, or some other type, is probably the most important part of the process in terms of preserving its flavor and texture.
There are a few ways to reheat leftover Chinese food and I will briefly present them below.
1. Reheat It In The Wok: Since most Chinese food is cooked in a wok, it is logical that it is best to reheat it in a wok as well.
All you have to do is to add a bit of oil and heat it on medium heat. When the internal temperature of Chinese food reaches 140 degrees Fahrenheit, the process of reheating is officially done.
2. Reheat It In The Microwave: Although it isn’t an ideal option, you can reheat your Chinese food in the microwave as well.
And, if you decide to do that eventually, you first have to let your Chinese food reach room temperature before putting it in the microwave.
When it reaches room temperature, put it in a microwave-safe bowl and add a little water because it will easily get dry.
This is especially the case with rice which tends to dry out easily in the microwave. Put the bowl with Chinese food in the microwave and reheat it at one-minute intervals.
3. In The Oven: Finally, you can reheat your Chinese food in the oven. In order to do that, you first need to let the food reach room temperature and then put it in a baking dish or oven-safe container.
Seafood, sauce-covered meat, noodles, and fried rice are better off in a shallow baking dish. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and put it in the oven. Reheat it for about 2-10 minutes until the internal temperature of the food reaches 165 degrees F.
How To Know If Chinese Food Is Bad?
Every type of food is prone to spoilage and Chinese food is not an exception. It is quite important to know if your food is bad because of the harmful bacteria that can cause food poisoning or foodborne illness.
However, it is not easy to recognize bad Chinese food based on its appearance because there can be so many different ingredients incorporated into that Chinese dish.
Fortunately, there is one major spoilage sign that can tell you if your Chinese food has developed harmful bacteria.
If you sense any bad smell from your food, that is definitely a sign that it has gone bad. That smell is usually a foul, oily sort of smell.
So, before you start consuming your Chinese food, always check the smell.
Is 5-Day-Old Chinese Food Safe To Eat?
5-day-old Chinese food is only safe for consumption if it has been properly stored in the freezer. On the other hand, if your Chinese food has been sitting on the countertop for 5 days, it is definitely bad after that time frame.
Also, if it has been stored in the fridge, it is not suitable for consumption after 5 days because it can stay good for only 3-4 days if stored properly in the refrigerator.
When Is Chinese Food Safe To Eat?
Chinese food is safe to eat if the initial ingredients are good, if it has been cooked properly (according to the recipe), if it hasn’t been left on the countertop for more than 2 hours, and if it has been stored in the freezer or refrigerator the right way.
It can stay in the fridge for up to 3-4 days and, if it is stored properly in the freezer, its shelf life will be extended for up to 1-2 months if it is a takeaway. If it is home-cooked, Chinese food will remain good for up to 3 months in the freezer.
Final Verdict On Chinese Food Shelf Life
The question was “How long is Chinese food good for?” and you were able to find out that it mainly depends on the way you store it.
If Chinese food is left out at room temperature, it is good for up to 2 hours. If it is refrigerated in an airtight environment, it will probably be good for up to 3-4 days.
And if you freeze it properly, your Chinese takeaway will remain good for up to 1-2 months. On the other hand, if you freeze your home-cooked Chinese food, it will last a bit longer, i.e. for up to 3 months.