It’s one the most popular take-out options, but how long is leftover Chinese food good for after you bring it home? And how long will it last in the fridge?
We get Chinese takeout at least every couple of weeks. And the leftovers are the best. They’re easy to store in the refrigerator, and easy to reheat. And you can mix and match the leftovers to make new dishes.
But how long does Chinese food keep in the fridge? And can you freeze leftover takeaway for long-term storage? Read on to find out.
- How long does Chinese food last in the fridge?
- What’s the best way to store Chinese food in the fridge?
- How do you heat up Chinese food leftovers?
- How long can Chinese food be left out?
- How do I know if my Chinese food has gone bad?
- Can you freeze Chinese food leftovers?
- How do you thaw out frozen Chinese food?
- The bottom line
- More food storage answers
How long does Chinese food last in the fridge?
You probably know the feeling. You order Chinese food, dive in, maybe have seconds, then you hit the wall. You just can’t eat anymore. So you need to save the rest.
It’s common to simply stick it in the fridge in the food containers it came in. And in most cases, your Chinese food will stay good for about 2 days in the refrigerator in its original containers. It may last a day or so longer, but the taste and texture likely won’t be as good.
What’s the best way to store Chinese food in the fridge?
If you want your Chinese food leftovers to last a bit longer, first, let them cool down, then transfer them from the original takeaway containers to an airtight container.
This way, your leftovers should last up to 4 days without sacrificing the texture or taste of the food.
Just make sure you seal the containers tightly so the leftover food doesn’t dry out and isn’t affected by odors from other food items in the fridge.
How do you heat up Chinese food leftovers?
The best ways to reheat Chinese food are in the microwave, on the stovetop, and in the oven or air fryer, depending on the type of food you’re warming up.
For foods like fried rice, or leftover noodles like lo mein or chow mein, the microwave can work well. With rice, it’s a good idea to sprinkle a bit of water over it first, so the steam can help re-fluff it as it warms up in the microwave.
In most cases, you can start heating these foods up for about 1 minute, then check it to see if it’s done. If it isn’t, simply keep heating it at 30-second intervals until it’s ready.
For Chinese dishes with meat, like chicken, shrimp, or beef, you’ll get better results heating them up on the stovetop. That’s because the microwave can make meats unpleasantly soft and can affect the taste if heated for too long.
To warm them up on the stove, simply add the leftovers to a pan or wok with a little oil over medium heat. Stir frequently to help prevent burning. After a few minutes, the food should be ready to eat.
Oven or Air Fyer
If you have crispy foods like egg rolls or spring rolls, the best options to reheat them are in the oven or the air fryer. That way you can help keep them from burning. And you can help get some of the original crispiness back into the food.
How long can Chinese food be left out?
As with most warm foods, you shouldn’t leave hot Chinese food sitting out at room temperature for more than 2 hours. After that, harmful bacteria can start to form in the food.
So anything longer than that, and you should store leftovers in the fridge in order to limit your risk of getting food poisoning or other foodborne illnesses.
How do I know if my Chinese food has gone bad?
To find out whether your leftovers may have started to spoil, check the smell, color, and texture.
If the food has a rotten, off smell — or other foul odor — that’s a sign your food may be starting to turn.
If the color has changed, for example if the food has gotten considerably darker or if you notice gray or green mold on it, those are more indications the food has spoiled.
And if the texture seems off, or if the food has developed a slimy film or it looks dried out, or has any other obvious signs of spoilage, the leftovers are likely bad.
In any of these cases, it’s best to simply throw out the old Chinese food.
Can you freeze Chinese food leftovers?
So what if you have a lot of Chinese food leftovers? Can you freeze them? The good news is you can store Chinese leftovers in the freezer for a fairly long time. It should keep for up to 3 months if stored properly.
The best way to do it is to move the food to airtight glass or plastic containers to prevent freezer burn. Then label them with the date you froze them.
You could also transfer small portions of the food to freezer bags. This works well with leftover rice, as you can smooth it into a flatter layer and store it in the freezer that way.
How do you thaw out frozen Chinese food?
The best way to defrost Chinese food is in the fridge. You can either move it from the freezer to the fridge the night before you plan to use it or in the morning, if you’ll be having it for dinner that day.
If you want to eat it right away, you can also thaw it out using the defrost setting in your microwave. The one drawback with this method is that there’s a good chance the food can become mushy.
To help prevent this, check it frequently when it’s defrosting so it doesn’t start to cook prematurely. Then once it’s thawed out, move it to the stovetop to finish heating it up.
The bottom line
Chinese food leftovers can keep for up to 3-4 days in the fridge if you store them properly. The shelf life of your Chinese food can be even longer in the freezer — up to 3 months.
The key to getting great-tasting leftovers is how you heat them up. You can use the microwave, but you may see the best results if you warm up Chinese leftovers on the stovetop instead. You’ll get a more even cook and you can crisp up the food a bit more.
More food storage answers
Get more answers to your food storage questions. Check out the posts below.
Leave a Reply