Cooking chicken is probably one of the easiest to do especially when you have enough time to thaw, cut, and so on. Unfortunately, some days are different — it can be very busy and you are left with no choice but deal with cooking frozen chicken. But the question is, is it safe to cook a frozen chicken?
Chicken is definitely one of my favorite foods to eat. Regardless of the recipe, for as long as it’s made with chicken, I can deal with it. In fact, I can last a week just eating chicken-based dishes!
Although chicken is one of the easiest food to cook, unfortunately, there are days when we are left with no choice but deal with frozen chicken, due to time constraints because of busy schedules and all, we are left with no other choice but cook frozen chicken.
Although experts say that storing uncooked chicken in the freezer is a good idea because it slows down the reproductive cycle of dangerous bacteria such as salmonella, the challenge comes when defrosting it prior to cooking. Apparently, it has to be done properly or there’s the risk of letting those salmonella bacteria run rampantly.
With that said, there lies the question – is cooking frozen chicken safe at all (if only to be able to get rid of salmonella bacteria)?
Cooking Frozen Chicken
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), cooking frozen chicken is generally safe as long as you follow a couple of rules, which include the following:
- Plan to cook the chicken for at least twice as you might have done it with a thawed chicken. For example, if a recipe requires cooking the chicken for 15 minutes with thawed chicken, you will have to cook it for 30 minutes if the chicken is frozen.
- This technique though is only applicable to individually frozen chicken pieces, which you can spread out into even layer, and not with a big lump of chicken that has been frozen altogether.
- Just like any dish, make sure to use an instant-read thermometer to ensure that the chicken is cooked with the required temperature.
Meanwhile, the biggest challenge you will have to face though when cooking frozen chicken is making sure that it gets cooked all the way through. Just so you know, undercooked chicken can be dangerous to you and your family’s health as it may lead to food poisoning. Needless to say, it is not fun to eat at all.
Do Not Use Slow Cooker
According to the food safety experts at the U. S. Department of Agriculture, it is not advisable cooking frozen chicken using a slow cooker. Experts say that slow cookers were designed to cook at low temperature since the chicken is frozen, it might not get hot enough all the way to 165 F, which is the minimum temperature required for a chicken to fully cook, and also to be able to kill any dangerous bacteria. In addition, cooking it in a slow cooker might even give bacteria the chance to multiply, which is not good.
Furthermore, USDA does not differentiate between old slow cookers, new, middle-aged, or any other designation there is like the so-called “hot cooking” slow cookers or whatever you have. One thing is sure, a slow-cooker is a slow-cooker, and from the point of view of food-safety experts, none of them are suitable for cooking frozen chicken.
Methods Suitable for Cooking Frozen Chicken
Having said that, perhaps you are already wondering what methods are the most appropriate to use when cooking chicken.
Well, experts say that the safe way to cook a frozen chicken is by cooking it in the oven or on the stovetop, which basically includes whole chickens and any other smaller portions whether it be boneless or not.
Now, when we say cooking frozen chicken in the stovetop, we basically mean simmering. Please note that adding a frozen chicken or any other kind of food for that matter into a pan of hot oil can be very dangerous. Why? Well, the water will make the hot oil spit out at you, which can cause you burns and other more serious issues or conditions. So, yeah, never ever try to saute a frozen chicken whatever the part is.
Meanwhile, grilling frozen chicken is not a good idea as well. What happens is, the high temperature of the grill can cause the outside part of the chicken to burn before the interior part of the chicken gets fully cooked.
Now, to give you an idea of how to cook frozen chicken whether it be breast part, leg or wings, here are some of what experts consider as the most suitable methods of cooking frozen chicken. The instructions though are from The Spruce Eats (published as is):
Roasting a Whole Frozen Chicken
This technique will work for a smallish (4-pounds) whole frozen chicken.
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- Position the chicken breast-side up on in a roasting pan with a rack. IF YOU CAN: Remove the bag of giblets, and stuff the cavity with sliced lemon, fresh herbs, aromatic veggies, etc. If the bird is too frozen, do this later.
- Brush the bird with olive oil, and season with Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Roast uncovered for 90 minutes. You should be able, after about 1 hour, to remove the giblets and add your herbs and aromatics (but don’t repeatedly open the oven to check).
- Increase oven temperature to 450 F and cook another 15 to 30 minutes, or until the skin is browned and the temperature in the deepest part of the thigh registers at least 165 F on an instant-read thermometer (although 175 F at the thigh is better).
- Rest the bird for 15 to 20 minutes, then carve and serve.
Simmering Frozen Chicken
You could also cook frozen boneless chicken breasts by simmering them in your favorite jarred or homemade sauce. Allow 50 percent additional cooking time. For frozen boneless chicken breasts, cover and simmer for about 30 minutes, but check for doneness either with an instant-read thermometer or by slicing (there should be no pink).
For frozen bone-in chicken thighs, drumsticks or whole leg pieces, plan on simmering for about 90 minutes. The advantage with dark meat sections is that when the meat falls off the bone, it’s done.
Cooking Frozen Chicken Breasts in the Oven
For this technique, if you are preparing multiple frozen breasts, they must be separate, not frozen together in a single slab.
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- Arrange the breasts in a single layer on a sheet pan.
- Brush the breasts with olive oil, mustard, yogurt or melted butter, and season with Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Optional: top with a mixture of seasoned breadcrumbs and grated Parmesan.
- Bake for 30 to 45 minutes or until their interior temperature reaches 165 F.
Additional Cooking Time
When cooking frozen chicken, the general rule is that it will take 50 percent longer than the usual amount of time you need to cook a thawed or fresh chicken. As I have mentioned earlier, if for example, you cook a thawed chicken for just 15 minutes, when cooking frozen chicken, you will have to double the time, which means you will have to cook it for 30 minutes instead.
With such requirements, this makes cooking frozen chicken at a slightly lower temperature not a bad idea at all. So, for instance, ideally, you cook a thawed chicken at 400 F temperature in the oven, when the chicken is frozen, you can adjust it to 375 F instead. However, make sure not to go lower than 350 F.
Key Steps in Cooking Frozen Chicken
Now that you already know the rules when it comes to safely cooking chicken that is frozen, let’s proceed to some of the key steps in cooking a frozen chicken, which includes the following:
- A tasty topping. – Depending on the recipe that you are going for you can choose different kinds of ingredients to make a tasty, delicious topping.
- Coating the chicken in olive oil (or whatever your preference are). – Coating the frozen chicken with oil helps protect the exterior part of the chicken from drying out while the interior cooks.
- When cooking separately the parts of the chicken, make sure to spread the parts out into an even layer. – By doing so, it helps ensure that the piece of chicken cooks evenly from all sides.
- Make sure the chicken is well-done. – Depending on the part of the chicken (especially breasts and drumstick parts), it can take a while before it properly cooks. So, make sure to a lot enough time for the chicken to cook. Do not forget to ensure the chicken reaches an internal temperature of not lower than 165 F.
Frozen Chicken Recipes
After knowing the rules and steps in making a delicious recipe out of frozen chicken, this time around I will be sharing with you a few frozen chicken recipes that you and your family will surely love and enjoy.
Here we go –
Frozen Chicken Breast
Source: The Kitchn
1/2 finely grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 ounce)
1/4 cup dry breadcrumbs
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 individually frozen chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 pounds total)
Measuring cups and spoons
Heavy-duty aluminum foil
- Heat the oven and prepare a baking pan. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with heavy-duty aluminum foil.
- Mix together the Parmesan, breadcrumbs, and garlic powder. Place the Parmesan, breadcrumbs, and garlic powder in a small bowl and stir with a fork to combine.
- Coat the chicken in the crumb mixture. Coat the top of each chicken breast with about a teaspoon of olive oil. Sprinkle generously with the crumb mixture, then pat and press to make sure the coating sticks.
- Roast the chicken uncovered for 30 to 40 minutes. Roast the chicken breast uncovered for 30 to 40 minutes. I know that seems like quite the range, but smaller, thinner breasts cook more quickly. Start checking the chicken for doneness at about 25 minutes.
- Test for doneness. Insert a probe thermometer into the thickest part of the breast, probing from the side rather than the top if possible. Be sure to check every single breast before removing it from the pan to a plate to rest; you want an internal temperature of 165°F in the thickest part.
- Cool before serving. Cool the chicken for about 5 minutes before slicing and serving.
Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
Easy Frozen Chicken Breast
2 -6 frozen chicken breasts, 1 per person
1 1⁄2 cups barbecue sauce or 1 1/2 cups pasta sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon honey
1⁄2 cup carrots (any veggies) or 1/2 cup potato (any veggies)
2 -6 slices cheese, 1 per chicken breast
- Preheat oven to 375.
- Spray baking dish with non-stick spray.
- Place frozen chicken breast in dish.
- Top with sauce.
- Bake for 45 minutes.
- Options: Add veggies for a one-dish meal.
- If using cheese, put it on the last 2 minutes of cook time. This gives it time to melt and brown if you like it that way.
Frozen Chicken Parmesan
Source: The Cookful
1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. coarse black pepper
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 medium frozen boneless skinless chicken breasts that were frozen individually and are not attached to each other now
1/3 cup tomato sauce, divided
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- Preheat oven to 425ºF. Lightly oil a baking sheet.
- In a small bowl combine 1 tablespoon cooking oil, Panko, salt, black pepper, garlic powder and Parmesan cheese.
- Place frozen chicken breasts in a single layer on prepared baking sheet and brush the top of each with 1 teaspoon of tomato sauce. Top each with one-quarter of the breadcrumbs.
- Bake until cooked through to 165ºF, as read on an instant-read thermometer, 30-40 minutes.
- Remove from oven and preheat broiler. Top each breast with 1 heaped tablespoon of tomato sauce and 2 tablespoons of shredded mozzarella. Broil until cheese is melted, 2-3 minutes.
Frozen Roasted Chicken
Source: Blend of Spice
Frozen (or Fresh) With Skin Whole Chicken
1/4 c. Olive or Coconut Oil
1 tbsp Cajun Seasoning
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp Paprika
2 Fresh Springs or 1 tsp Dry Thyme
1 to 2 tbsp Butter
1/2 a Fresh Lemon
2 Garlic Cloves (unpeeled)
2 Fresh Sprigs or 1/2 tsp Dry Thyme
Method for Frozen Chicken:
- Preheat oven to 500’F.
- Lay chicken breast side up on a greased foil-lined baking sheet.
- Brush chicken liberally with oil all over.
- Top with seasonings and rub it in.
- Add pats of butter
- Put in 500’F degree oven for 30 mins (this will ensure crispy skin and succulent meat underneath).
- Pull Chicken out of the oven, open cavity and stuff chicken with stuffing ingredients.
- Place back in oven for an hour this time on 400’F degrees until crisp golden and juices run clear.
- Let rest covered 15 mins before serving.
Homemade Frozen Chicken Fingers
Source: Food Network
For Chicken Fingers
2 cups corn flake cereal
2 ounces whole-wheat melba toast
1/3 cup finely grated Parmesan
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley, optional
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
2 large egg whites
2 pounds chicken tenders
For the Red Pepper-Basil Dipping Sauce
1/2 cup 2-percent Greek Yogurt
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons chopped roasted red pepper
1/2 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1 small clove garlic, grated
Nonstick cooking spray
For the chicken fingers:
- Combine the cereal, melba toast, Parmesan, parsley if using, paprika and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a large resealable bag and, using the bottom of a skillet or rolling pin, crush into a coarse meal. Dump out into a shallow dish. Whisk the egg whites with 2 tablespoons water in another shallow dish.
- Dip the chicken tenders into the egg white, shake off the excess, and coat thoroughly in the coating. Bake immediately, or refrigerate up to 1 hour before baking. To freeze, arrange the breaded chicken tenders on a baking sheet and freeze until hard, 1 to 2 hours. Store in resealable freezer bags for up to 1 month.
For the sauce:
- Combine the yogurt, basil, red pepper, 1 tablespoon water, vinegar, garlic and salt to taste. Wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Fit a rimmed baking sheet with a baking rack and spray with cooking spray. Generously spray the fresh or frozen chicken tenders all over with cooking spray. Arrange on the baking rack and bake, flipping halfway through, until golden and crispy and cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes (if frozen, 20 to 25 minutes). Remove from the oven and season with salt. Serve with the dipping sauce.
Chicken is probably one of the easiest ingredients or food to deal with. While you can do a lot of different recipes with a fresh or thawed one, sometimes, due to time constraints and other circumstances, you are left with no choice other than cooking frozen chicken.
While the recipe choices using frozen chicken are just very few, good thing is, food safety experts allow cooking frozen chicken as long as using the right methods.