Chicken is one of the most frequent meats in our diet. There are a lot of recipes we like to execute with it, and it never fails to satisfy our appetites and tummies. Chicken flesh is always the main attraction in any meal, whether it’s boiled, stewed, made into a soup, grilled, or roasted. But, can you freeze cooked chicken?
Yes, you can safely freeze the cooked chicken in the freezer if you over-prepare. Sometimes we over-prepare and have a lot of leftovers or want to keep the chicken for future use; yes, frozen cooked chicken is safe to store in the freezer. However, it isn’t as simple as putting it straight into the freezer. Chicken can be frozen for up to four months once cooked. To freeze cooked chicken, allow it to cool before wrapping and storing it in airtight containers. You may also freeze all forms of grilled chicken. To ensure food safety and optimal storage, follow these steps.
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How to Freeze Cooked Chicken
It’s straightforward to freeze cooked chicken. There are five phases to the procedure: preparing, cooling down, portioning, packaging, and freezing. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to freeze cooked chicken:
- After defrosting, cook the most versatile and best-freezing of all chicken cuts: boneless. Because of this, start by removing any bones. Remove or leave the skin on, depending on your preference. Chicken meat can be shredded to make portioning much easier and thaws faster.
- The faster you can chill the chicken, the better. While some authorities recommend putting the cooked chicken straight into the refrigerator to cool, I wouldn’t recommend it. Leave the chicken in the fridge for an even longer time than recommended, which would cause the temperature inside to rise considerably. Instead, start by laying out the chicken in a uniform layer and allowing it to sit at room temperature for at least 30-40 minutes. This lowers the rate of cooling substantially. The chicken should be kept in the refrigerator, of course. Also, as long as you put the bird into the fridge within two hours after cooking, you’ll be fine. After the initial cooling down is completed, place the cooked fowl in the refrigerator for at least an hour to lower its temperature even more. I usually keep it overnight in the fridge.
- Consider how you’ll be using the chicken in the future while portioning it. Portions of a meal are ideal, but determining what constitutes a meal-size portion is difficult at times. Rather than a few significant portions, try several small ones. You may thaw one more piece if necessary in this manner.
- If you’re only freezing the chicken, use freezer bags. Freezer bags take up less room in the freezer. Make sure to mark each bag with a name and a date. If you’re freezing chicken as part by part of a dinner, use food containers to organize everything. Food containers make it easier to layer and separate the items.
- Frozen cooked chicken will keep indefinitely, albeit its quality gradually deteriorates over time. It’s therefore suggested to use it within three months.
How to freeze whole cooked chicken
Although it is beautiful to freeze a thoroughly cooked chicken, we do not recommend it. Instead, if you’d like to store a whole cooked chicken, we advise shredding the flesh off the bones after cooking it.
When frozen, the bones won’t help you. Instead, they’ll take up precious freezer space and make it more challenging to reheat. We’ve detailed exactly how to freeze your cooked chicken in the steps below:
- Tear the flesh with two forks or cut it as you would any other piece of meat. It’s easier to joint the chicken before shredding the flesh. For example, nothing stops you from shredded leg and thigh meat while slicing the breast meat for sandwiches.
- Grab a few small freezer bags, and portion out your shredded and sliced chicken. We recommend storing it in parts since defrosting it will be difficult because it frequently forms a clump when frozen.
- Before placing them in the freezer, seal the bags as tightly as possible, removing as much air from the bags as possible.
Few tips for Freezing Cooked Chicken
You must now know how to freeze cooked chicken, so we’ll offer you three of our top recommendations for getting the most out of your frozen chickens:
- Consider how you typically prepare chicken and then freeze it this way. If you never cook with whole chicken breasts, for example, and prefer them diced, there’s no sense in freezing them intact. It should be about convenience and making your life simpler when freezing any food.
- You don’t have to cook the chicken before freezing it. Chicken can also be frozen uncooked. You may also freeze prepared chicken for future use.
- Consider converting your cooked chicken into a ready-to-eat product if you’re looking for simplicity. Chicken pie, chicken soup, and chicken stew may be frozen successfully and quickly.
How to Defrost Frozen Cooked Chicken Meat
There are a few defrosting options for cooked chicken, depending on your needs and time constraints:
Overnight in the fridge
It’s the best option. Chill the chicken in the freezer and leave it to thaw overnight. It’ll be ready to eat in the morning. To make things go more quickly, place the cooking container or bag with the chicken in a bowl of lukewarm water likewise as you would thaw frozen raw chicken.
According to many sources, defrosting chicken at room temperature is not a good idea. Bacterial growth is more probable when the chicken is left sitting at room temperature for too long.
If you need to thaw the chicken in a few hours but don’t want to go through the hassle of other methods, room temperature is an option. However, it is a choice that you should use at your own risk.
The procedure is the same as in the first alternative, with one exception: Because a water bath shortens the time it takes for the chicken to defrost, it’s worth keeping this one handy. Submerge the container in lukewarm water and replace it after it has become frozen (like every half hour or so).
I generally forget to thaw the chicken overnight before I cook it, and I’ve never had any problems with it. But maybe I’m just lucky.
Use a microwave oven
Some modern microwave ovens have the option of defrosting frozen meats or meals. If you don’t have time to thaw the chicken yourself, pop it in the microwave for a few minutes to unfreeze it. When it comes to microwave cooking, you should consider a few things. Just be wary of the temperature and don’t leave the meat there for too long.
When defrosting meat in a microwave, it’s very common for the flesh to dry out and cook slowly. Never alter the settings or switch it to “defrost.” Defrost your items in phases of not more than 5 minutes at a time.
You may add the frozen chicken to a soup or stew as it cooks. Make sure you cook the meal for longer to thaw properly for the defrosted chicken. Also, remember to mix it now and then to separate clumped chicken pieces.
If you’re going to use the chicken in a stir-fry or as part of a meal cooked on a non-stick pan, it’s best to defrost it first. You may also thaw frozen chicken in this manner if you’re using it in a recipe that requires cooking on a non-stick pan. To defrost the chicken, make sure you start on low heat so that it has time to thaw.