How Long Can Buffalo Chicken Dip Sit Out?

Whether it’s a football game or a holiday party, there’s one delicious dip that always seems to make an appearance: buffalo chicken dip.

If you’re the person who brings this fantastic dip to the party, you’ve probably asked yourself at least once or twice: how long can this dip sit out?

In general, buffalo chicken dip should not sit out at room temperature for more than two hours due to the perishable nature of the meat and cheese ingredients in the dip.

That timeframe varies for dip kept in a crockpot, where it remains at a safe temperature for up to six hours after it has finished cooking, provided you stir it consistently to prevent the dip from crusting or burning. However, you can’t keep buffalo chicken dip in the crockpot indefinitely since it can dry up and burn after constant heating. So once you see the dip start to crust and dry up, it’s about time to move it to the fridge or throw it out.

As with most prepared cheese and meat dishes, you can safely keep buffalo chicken dip in the refrigerator for up to five days after cooking it, but you shouldn’t keep it longer than that to prevent risks of food poisoning.

Keep an eye on your dip if it has remained in the crockpot for more than six hours. Usually, you’ll want to refrigerate or throw it out at that point.

Buffalo Chicken Dip Ingredients And Room Temperature

Buffalo chicken dip traditionally contains four main delicious ingredients, shredded cheese, chicken, cream cheese, and buffalo chicken sauce.

Unfortunately, three of the four ingredients make buffalo chicken dip one snack that can’t stay out at room temperature too long.

The USDA has a handy way of determining what temperatures are dangerous for food to sit at. They call it “The Danger Zone,” consisting of temperatures between 41°F and 140°F.

At these temperatures, pathogenic bacteria grow well on food. And, of course, room temperature just happens to sit in the Danger Zone at a toasty 72°F. 

The Dangers Of Room Temperature, Cheese, And Chicken

At room temperature, foods like cooked chicken and melted cheese begin to develop pathogenic bacteria that can cause food poisoning.

Because room temperature allows bacteria to grow, it’s best to keep chicken dip in either the fridge, where it’s too cold for pathogenic bacteria to grow, or in a crockpot where it can stay at about 160°F where bacteria cannot grow.

The Two Hour Limit

If you have made a fresh pot of buffalo chicken dip and have it sitting in a pretty serving bowl or tray, plan on putting it in the fridge after two hours sitting out.

After two hours, the USDA notes that bacteria can develop in the food.

Exceptions To The Two Hour Rule

If you keep your buffalo chicken dip in the crockpot or slow cooker, you can usually keep the food out for six hours or more.

However, the buffalo dip must stay at 140°F to prevent bacteria from developing in the dip.

As long as you keep the buffalo dip at 140°F and the dip doesn’t start to dry out or get crusty, you can keep the dip in the crockpot.

You can typically keep buffalo chicken dip in the crock pot for up to six hours after it has reached its cooked consistency and texture.

Warning Signs Buffalo Chicken Dip Has Gone Bad

Most of the time, buffalo chicken dip will keep its texture, flavor, and safe from bacteria as long as it is kept in the fridge or in a crockpot.

But when dip sits out too long in the crockpot or at room temperature, it’ll start going bad. 

Dried Up Dip Isn’t Always Dangerous

Look for signs of crusting, burning, or drying of the dip that indicates the dip has started to dry up.

You won’t want to keep a dip that has dried up, as you can’t typically save the dried-out chicken. However, eating dried dip won’t make you sick; it just won’t taste very good. 

When Dip Is Dangerous, You’ll Know

If the dip has sat out at room temperature for more than two hours, consider it dangerous.

Otherwise, look for signs of bacterial growth or mold, including strange smells, discoloration, or sour tastes. 

Additionally, you should consider any dip left in the fridge for more than five days dangerous.

While the refrigerated dip is less prone to growing bacteria, it will develop what the USDA calls spoilage bacteria. After a week, the dip will go rancid and cause food poisoning.

Signs Of Foodborne Illness From Listeria And Other Bacteria

Signs of salmonella and other food poisoning illnesses consist mainly of nausea, vomiting, and intestinal upset.

But listeria poisoning manifests with different symptoms. In pregnant women, symptoms present as flu symptoms, muscle aches, and fatigue.

However, in extreme cases, pregnant women can suffer a miscarriage. For individuals not pregnant, they may experience stiff neck, muscle pain, convulsions, and confusion.

If any of these symptoms crop up, you’ll want to head to a doctor right away. 

Buffalo Chicken Dip Left Out All Night

We’ve all accidentally left food out on the counter all night it happens. But, if buffalo chicken dip has sat out all night in a bowl or container, it’s not safe to eat.

However, if the dip was left in a slow cooker on low heat all night, it might be alright to eat. 

If you want to try and salvage dip left in the crockpot overnight, grab a food thermometer and check the temperature.

If it’s over 140°F, it’s probably safe to eat. Just make sure to check for any burnt edges or mold before diving in for a bite. For safety tips on slow-cooker use overnight, click here.

Refrigerating Buffalo Chicken Dip

If you want to make buffalo chicken dip last for more than a day, it’s best to refrigerate it.

You’ll want to keep your buffalo chicken dip in either a sealable bowl or covered in plastic wrap.

Don’t keep buffalo chicken dip in a crockpot bowl in the fridge. It’s better to move it from the crockpot into a separate bowl. 

Don’t keep your buffalo chicken dip in the fridge for more than five days. After five days, you need to discard it to avoid food poisoning or consuming spoiled food. 

Reheating Buffalo Chicken Dip

You can safely reheat buffalo chicken dip in the microwave or on the stovetop. Simply place the dip in a microwave-safe bowl and heat until the dip reaches 140°F.

Stir the dip frequently to ensure even reheating. 

If you choose to reheat on the stovetop, reheat on low and stir frequently. You can serve the dip after it has reached 140°F.

You’ll know it is ready by either testing the temperature or when the dip starts bubbling into a deliciously smooth mix.

Freezing Buffalo Chicken Dip

Don’t worry if you’ve made too much buffalo chicken dip (yes, it can happen!); you can freeze it and save some for later.

If you want to freeze buffalo chicken dip that you’ve already cooked it let the dip come to room temperature before placing it in a freezer-safe container.

The dip will last for up to three months in the freezer. Check out more tips on freezing cheese-based dips here.

Don’t Refreeze Buffalo Chicken Dip

You should never refreeze buffalo chicken dip after it has defrosted. Doing so can mess up the consistency and texture of the dip and can also introduce harmful bacteria to the dip itself.

After you have thawed and reheated buffalo chicken dip for the first time, you can keep it in the fridge for up to five days. After the five-day mark passes, you’ll want to toss any leftovers. 

Make-Ahead Freezer Buffalo Chicken Dip

If you’d like to make a batch of buffalo chicken dip to freeze and save for an event you have coming up later in the month, it’s pretty easy.

Just put the dip together in a mixing bowl, but don’t heat it up. Instead, place it in the freezer.

Buffalo Chicken Dip

When you’re ready to make the dip, defrost it in the fridge before placing it in the crockpot or on the stovetop for cooking.

Thawing Buffalo Chicken Dip

If you need to thaw frozen buffalo chicken dip, it’s best to do so by placing the dip in the fridge and letting it defrost over twenty-four hours.

If you don’t have that time, you can place the dip in a bowl of cold water and let it defrost enough so that you can scoop the dip out of the container and put it in the crockpot or saucepan for reheating.

Best Practices For Serving Buffalo Chicken Dip

You should always serve your buffalo chicken dip on a heating element designed for food (like a buffet food warmer.) Keeping the dip in the crockpot or over a heating tray is an excellent way to keep the dip warm enough to prevent bacteria from growing in the mixture. 

When serving dip, ensure that your guests keep the lid on the dip when not serving themselves.

Keeping a cover on the dip will prevent the dip from drying out too quickly.

When you have finished serving up buffalo dip, it’s best to put the remaining dip in the fridge and reheat as necessary. 

Cleaning Up Buffalo Chicken Dip

If you’ve made buffalo chicken dip in a crockpot or slow cooker before, you know it can pose a real challenge to clean up.

You can save yourself a headache by using a crockpot liner to make cleanup a breeze. 

Simple Buffalo Chicken Dip Recipe

If you need a simple buffalo chicken dip recipe, give this one a try. 

Mix one package of cream cheese (8 oz.), 1 cup of sour cream, and ½ cup of buffalo chicken sauce in a microwave-safe bowl or slow cooker.

Then, add about three cups (24 oz) of shredded, cooked rotisserie chicken or ready-to-eat canned chicken into the bowl.

Microwave on high for about four minutes, stirring every minute until smooth. Or, if using a slow cooker, cook on medium heat and frequently stir the mixture until it becomes smooth. Serve and enjoy!

Final Thoughts

Thanks to slow cookers and heated serving buffets, buffalo chicken dip can sit out on your next party table for several hours.

But remember, if you don’t have the dip on a heating element or in a crockpot, put it in the fridge after two hours to prevent bacterial growth.

And if you end up with more dip than you can eat, you can always freeze it. Yum!

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