One of the things we buy most often to end up in the freezer is chicken. Not only is it an ingredient that you can use in a ton of recipes, but it’s one that you can buy in bulk for not a lot of money. So, can you freeze chicken?
If you do not want to waste food, putting extra chicken in the freezer may be the best thing you can do, second to cooking another dish.
Can You Freeze Chicken?
One of our readers has sent us a message regarding whether or not chicken can be frozen. Here’s what they wrote:
I’m a big fan of buying in bulk, and when chicken was on sale for half-price, I stocked up! Now my fridge is full of chicken and I’m starting to worry that I shouldn’t have bought so much. Can you freeze chicken?
Absolutely! In fact, chicken freezes really, really well. Even better, thawed chicken retains most of the same texture and flavor as fresh.
Since chicken has the potential to grow harmful salmonella bacteria, proper handling of chicken during the freezing and thawing process is important for safety. When properly frozen, raw chicken can last up to a year in the freezer.
How Can You Freeze Chicken?
To freeze chicken, you need to go through a few steps:
- Wrap your chicken carefully in plastic wrap or butcher paper so that the meat is completely covered.
- Place the wrapped chicken in freezer-safe plastic containers or freezer bags and remove excess air.
- For best results and to avoid freezer burn, consider using a vacuum sealer to remove all the air from the package.
- Label and date freezer bags.
- Place the chicken in the freezer for about 30 minutes to firm up before stacking chicken packages so that the chicken freezes in its original shapes.
- If you plan to use individual pieces of chicken, consider wrapping individual pieces so that a piece can be removed from the freezer and thawed without thawing all the other pieces.
How to Keep Frozen Chicken for Longer?
If you want to make sure that your frozen chicken will last for longer is to use a vacuum sealer. These appliances suck out the air from the bags or containers and create a perfect seal so no air remains.
We have a whole list of vacuum sealers you can check out, but our personal favorite is the FoodSaver V4840 2-in-1 Vacuum Sealer Machine. This one works with both freezer bags and containers, so you can store your chicken in any of these.
How to Thaw Chicken?
To thaw chicken, you have to go through a few steps to make it work.
- Remove the package from the freezer and thaw the chicken in the fridge for several hours or overnight.
- Never thaw chicken on the counter, as uneven thawing can lead to warm spots in the chicken and lead to dangerous salmonella growing, which can cause food poisoning.
- Thawed chicken should be kept refrigerated until used, ideally within 2-3 days of being thawed.
- Chicken should always be cooked according to package directions to ensure that harmful bacteria is killed and the chicken is safe to consume.
Can You Freeze Cooked Chicken?
Cooked chicken can also be frozen. It’s much less likely to stick together when frozen, so cooked chicken can be placed in a freezer bag without being wrapped in plastic wrap first.
Cooked chicken will lose moisture faster than raw chicken, so it should be used within 2-3 months of being frozen. To thaw cooked chicken, place it in the refrigerator until thawed completely. Cooked chicken can also be added from frozen to dishes while they’re cooking, such as soups and stews.
Consider freezing cooked chicken sliced or pulled for easier addition to recipes directly from the freezer.
You can also read more about freezing chicken noodle soup, chicken broth, chicken stock, chicken and rice casserole, chicken salad, or marinated chicken. More about freezing cooked chicken can also be read here.