How can you freeze cooked chicken? Let’s find out !

Are you a foodie with an inclination toward any form of meat recipe?

If yes, chicken ought to be a staple ingredient in your household! I mean obviously, who wouldn’t love high protein content food! At times, we tend to cook in bulk, have weekend leftovers, or have store-bought chicken at our home.

Throwing away is unquestionably not an option. So, Can you freeze cooked chicken?

The shortest answer would be, yes you can freeze cooked chicken. In fact, you do so for up to four months but it may lose its taste. Don’t forget to mark the date on the container or bag you’re storing the chicken in. 

Can you freeze cooked chicken of different sizes?

Cooked chicken can be frozen in the shape that you choose to consume it in or in a state that will allow you to use it in a dish. However, while freezing cooked chicken breasts, keep them whole if you intend to use them in future meals.

On the other hand, if you have leftover chicken and you want to use the flesh in savory pie fillings, chicken salad soups, or stews, you might want to think about freezing chicken meat that has been shredded or chopped into bite-sized, skinless, and boneless pieces. (The bones can also be used to make stock or broth.)

How to freeze cooked chicken?

1. Allow it to cool down

Whether you roast it or poach it, cook your chicken as usual, and then let it (in parts or in whole) cool to room temperature. According to USDA, this needs to be done for no longer than two hours because if the chicken is left out past that period of time, potential hazardous germs may develop to such a level that it might cause you to become ill. We advise either boiling your chicken off the bone or removing it from the bone when freezing cooked chicken.

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2. Removing and cutting

While the chicken has cooled down perfectly, it is important for you to remove any fat, skin, or bones, and cut the chicken in the way you want for your recipe.

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3. Flash-freeze

Place the chicken on a baking sheet along with parchment paper and quickly freeze it (about one hour).

4. Sealing it in containers

In the next step, place the frozen chicken in a freezer bag or an airtight container after removing it from the baking sheet.

5. Wrap, label, and freeze

If you are worried about air leaking in, wrap the container in a layer of foil or clingfilm. The cooked chicken must be stored in an airtight container. While storing your containers or bags in the freezer, be sure to mark them and use the first in and first out principle.

And, it’s as simple as that! Just some steps and you’re done! However, the key elements you need to focus on are making certain that your chicken has perfectly cooled down and thereafter is frozen in something airtight. Just a little point that you need to keep in mind while freezing cooked meat is- the portion size. Smaller quantities will be less likely to go to waste and will be easier to manage when you defrost them in the future.

Tips for freezing cooked chicken

Now that you are well adept with freezing cooked chicken, how about some additional amazing tips that you can incorporate?

1. Consider the ways in which you’re likely to use it

Think how you would typically prepare and then freeze chicken. For instance, if you seldom cook with entire chicken breasts and would rather use them diced, then there is no use in freezing them. Any food that is frozen should be done so for convenience and to simplify your life.

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2. Freeze it raw

The chicken can be frozen without having to cook it first. Uncooked chicken also freezes well. Moreover, chicken that has been marinated and is ready to cook can be frozen.

3. Prepare some dishes

If you want some ease in your life, consider making your cooked chicken into a ready-to-eat dish. Chicken pie, chicken soup, and chicken stew can all be easily and effectively frozen.

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How can you defrost cooked chicken?

You can remove cooked chicken from the freezer when you’re all set to use it and defrost it in the refrigerator for up to four days. Although we don’t advise it, you can even defrost the frozen chicken in the microwave if you’re in a hurry. Watch out for the cold spots in the meat’s center while using this technique. Also, you may notice that the edges of the meat seem overcooked and appear to be dried out due to uneven defrosting.

The USDA recommends you to reheat defrosted chicken on the hob or maybe in the oven until it reaches the minimum internal temperature of 165°F (73.9°C). It is important for you to always check the interior temperature of food using a food thermometer. Remember, it is not a good idea to reheat cooked frozen chicken on a steam table, in a slow cooker, or in a chafing dish because those appliances are food warmers. Alternatively, the interior temperature of the meal will remain in the danger range (between 4°C and 60°C, or 40°F and 140°F), allowing germs to thrive and raising the possibility of food poisoning.

How to find out if the chicken is spoiled?

Generally, when you apply these steps properly, there are very less chances for the chicken to be spoiled. Still, there are a few warning signs that you need to be conscious about. Here’s the list:

  • Discoloration of the chicken into a grey-green color
  • Development of a slimy texture
  • Development of a foul odor
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1. Does freezing cooked chicken affect the taste?

Ans: Raw chicken can be safely preserved in the freezer for 9 months. But cooked chicken can be safely frozen for up to four months. Food that has been burned in the freezer won’t harm you, but it won’t taste as it usually does.

Q2. Why is my frozen chicken chewy?

Ans: Your chicken may be chewy for a number of reasons, all of which could be determining factors. These might include under or overcooking the meat, as well as keeping it out for too long, which essentially dries the flesh off.

Q3. Why is frozen chicken tasteless?

Ans: It is beyond a shadow of a doubt that the flavor will be lost if you freeze chicken. Food that has been frozen loses moisture from its surface, resulting in the formation of ice crystals from water molecules.

Q4. Why is frozen chicken watery?

Ans: When water freezes into ice crystals with sharp edges, it spreads into the surrounding tissue and ruptures the cells in meat and poultry. The water inside the cell walls is first leached out when the water outside the cell wall freezes. The product thereby naturally becomes watery once it has been defrosted as water seeps into the packaging.

Q5. Is KFC chicken fresh or frozen?

Ans: The truth is that every day of the week, fresh chicken parts are brought at KFC, wherein each piece is hand-breaded by a skilled cook. To ensure that the chicken is as fresh as possible, every piece is fried within 5 to 10 minutes of being breaded.

The Bottom Line

In the current times, when we are all huddled up in the rat race, cooking chicken from scratch every morning will be a hassle. The best possible way to avoid this is to go for the frozen cooked chicken as it’s a huge time-saver!

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Archana Bisht

Archana Bisht

A foodie with a flair for talking non-stop. You can find me hogging down food or browsing Pinterest for more recipes in my free time. My favorite cuisine is Italian. That being said, I am an excellent pasta cook and love experimenting with ingredients. You can also find me petting strays and feeding them every chance I get