Raw chicken, left in the refrigerator, should be cooked or frozen within 1 to 2 days. Frozen, raw chicken will last from 9 months to 1 year.
To safely thaw meats, never leave them on the counter at room temperature. This can inhibit bacteria growth, making the chicken unsafe. The Food Safety and Inspection Service of the United States Department of Agriculture recommends thawing meat in one of three ways: in cold water, in the microwave or in the refrigerator.
The refrigerator is the safest way to thaw poultry overnight. Thawing chicken in cold water requires placing it into a watertight bag and placing it in cold water, changing the water every 30 minutes. If poultry is thawed in the microwave, it must be cooked immediately after thawing.