So you planned on making chicken for dinner only to find out you forgot to thaw the chicken overnight. And the microwave gives the chicken that weird white look…
In today’s post, I’m answering the question that went through your mind, can you cook frozen chicken without defrosting it first?
Chicken dinners are always a winner at my house, and I’m sure they are at yours too since it’s one protein that’s easy to find and everyone tends to enjoy.
When it comes to turning chicken into a delicious meal, I’ve learned a few tips and tricks, one of my favorites being cooking frozen chicken.
I’ve been doing this for years and recently learned from feedback in my post, 3 Ways to Thaw Chicken Safely, that many wondered if chicken could just be cooked frozen.
If learning that you can cook frozen chicken brings you relief- let’s get cooking!
Is it Safe to Cook Frozen Chicken?
According to the USDA and quote, “chicken can be cooked from the frozen state in the oven or on the stove,” so yes, when you’re stuck with a frozen pound of chicken 1 to 2 hours before dinner, you can still make that dish you planned.
Unfortunately, the slow cooker and microwave are not safe options for cooking frozen chicken, so stick to the oven or stove, to keep your food safe to eat.
Watch this video to see how to cook frozen chicken on the stovetop or in the oven!
How to Thaw Chicken Safely
When it comes to thawing chicken, the microwave is one of the top options. Compared to the other two methods, it’s also the quickest.
To defrost a pound of chicken:
- Refrigerator = 1-2 days
- Water soak = 2-3 hours
- Microwave = 10-15 minutes
So if you have time between discovering your chicken is still frozen and dinner time, check out this post on how to safely and successively defrost the chicken or watch this video below.
How Long Does it Take to Cook From Frozen
If making a recipe with frozen chicken, you can expect the cooking time to increase by 50%, e.g., if the original cooking time was 30 minutes, plan for 45 minutes. However, depending on the size of the chicken breasts, the cooking time could be longer or shorter.
This is another reason I like to “prep” my chicken before freezing it. When it’s already sliced, cut, and ready to go, it will cook faster and is easier to add to a hot skillet, oven, or defrost.
To prep raw chicken:
- Remove the chicken from the store packaging.
- If using boneless, skinless pieces such as chicken breasts and thighs, slice or cut the meat to the preferred size. Place in a freezer-safe bag and freeze for up to 2 months.
- If you’d like to leave pieces wholes, such as chicken breasts, thighs, and leg quarters, freeze them in separate bags by wrapping each piece with plastic wrap and sealing in a zip bag. Freeze for up to 2 months. When the times comes, you can cook each piece of chicken evenly instead of a ball of frozen chicken.
Can You Season It?
Absolutely! Chicken is nearly always essential to season for best flavor and cooking frozen chicken is no different.
To season before you freeze chicken:
1.Place chicken in a bag and add seasonings or sauce.
2.Label the bag and the contents for later
Do you add more seasoning to the frozen chicken when cooking? The short answer is that many prefer to do this because some recipes thicken can lose its flavor.
If you’re cooking plain frozen chicken following a recipe, just add a little extra seasoning to adjust for any that will be lost while cooking.
How to Cook Frozen Chicken
As mentioned above, frozen chicken is best cooked on the stove-top or in the oven. I recommend using frozen chicken for recipes like stir-fry’s, fajitas, or baked sheet pan dinners.
In the Oven
- Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease a large baking dish or sheet pan with olive oil or cooking spray.
- Place the chicken breasts, thighs, leg quarters, or drumsticks onto the baking sheet in a single layer.
- Season as desired with your choice of spices and/or sauce.
- Bake for 50% longer than the original recipe calls for, depending on the cut you are using, or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165F for white meat and 175F for dark meat cuts.
- Remove from the oven and allow to rest 5 minutes for serving.
To ensure even cooking and tender chicken, I recommend this method for boneless, skinless cuts only.
- In a large skillet, heat 1-2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat.
- Add the chicken, and cook for 10-15 minutes on one side.
- Flip, season with spices and sauce of choice, and cooking for another 10-15 minutes or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165F for white meat and 175F for dark meat cuts.
- Remove from the heat and allow to rest 5 minutes before slicing and serving.
Last Minute Frozen Chicken Recipe Ideas
Looking for meal ideas with the cooked chicken, here are a few examples of recipes that you can add the cooked chicken to directly or in the final stages.
- Greek Chicken Farro Bowls– top with sliced, cooked chicken
- Santa Fe Chicken Salad– top with sliced, cooked chicken
- Easy Chicken Stew– add cooked and shredded chicken during the final 10 minutes of cooking
- Chicken Fajitas– cook with frozen chicken breasts or thighs
- Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya– cook with frozen chicken breasts or thighs
- Chicken & Vegetable Teriyaki Bowls– cook with frozen, diced chicken breasts