This comprehensive guide details step-by-step instructions, among other things you must know in order to freeze cooked chicken.
Without further ado, let us get right into the first method!
- Quick Answer: Can You Freeze Cooked Chicken?
- How to Freeze Plain Boneless Cooked Chicken?
- Freezing A Whole Cooked Chicken
- Freezing Cooked Chicken Breasts
- How to Freeze Chicken Salad
- How Long Can You Freeze Cooked Chicken?
- How to Store Frozen Cooked Chicken?
- How to Defrost Frozen Cooked Chicken?
- Can You Re-freeze Frozen Cooked Chicken?
- Does Cooked Chicken Freeze Well?
- Bottom Line
- Airtight heavy-duty resealable freezer container
- Cling film or aluminum foil
- No special tools needed
- Cook your chicken as per recipe – You can go with a recipe of your choice, but note that this method of freezing works best if your preparation is fairly simple and without too many fancy ingredients.
- Allow cooked chicken to cool while prepping it for freezing – It is essential to let all freshly prepared foods cool down entirely before you freeze them.
This can obviously be skipped if you are freezing leftovers.
While letting your cooked chicken cool down, you can start removing the chicken from the bone.
The alternative to this is cooking the chicken itself off the bone, as it is boneless chicken that freezes the best.
- Transfer into a large airtight container – By large, I mean use a container that fits all of the chicken you want to freeze without leaving too much space for air.
You could also use freezer bags, but a container is recommended more highly. Also, make sure it has a tight-fitting lid.
Once the chicken has been packed inside, snap the lid on tightly and securely.
- Wrap the container tightly in cling film or aluminum foil – This added step protects your cooked chicken completely from freezer burns.
- Label and freeze – Label the container. It is ready to be kept in the freezer!
Freezing A Whole Cooked Chicken
Time Taken: 20-30 minutes
What You Need:
- Airtight heavy-duty resealable freezer bags
- Two forks
While you technically can freeze a whole cooked chicken safely, my advice would still be to follow the previous method instead, and separate the meat from the bones and then freeze.
That said, if you need to, follow these instructions well.
Cook the Whole Chicken as you Would and Wait for it to Cool Down Entirely
Here is a recommended recipe you can follow:
Again, you must wait for the chicken to cool down completely before prepping or attempting to freeze it.
Freezing any food that is still hot will spoil your food in the freezer. Obviously, this can be skipped if you are freezing leftover chicken.
Shred the Chicken
The most efficient way to do this, in my opinion, is to use two forks, but you can use any other method you know of. You can also slice it off, whichever you prefer.
For example, you can simultaneously shred the chicken thigh and leg, while slicing the chicken breast part for sandwiches.
Pack the Chicken in Portions into Airtight Freezer Bags
It is always recommended to freeze food in serving portions, as that makes it so much easier for you just to take, thaw and use the exact amount you need at a time without having to touch or get into refreezing the rest.
In this case, storing the chicken in portions is also highly advised as the chances are that you will struggle to defrost just a bit at a time.
The chicken is likely to freeze into clumps.
Seal, Label, and Freeze
Seal the airtight bags tightly and securely by squeezing out all the air from the first.
Following this, label the bags and freeze!
Freezing Cooked Chicken Breasts
Time Taken: 20-30 minutes
What You Need:
- Large airtight freezer-safe container with a tight-fitting lid
- Greaseproof paper
- Cling film
When it comes to cooked chicken breasts, the good news is that there is usually no slicing or shredding involved; you can freeze them whole and preserve them quite well for a good period of time.
If Freshly Cooked, Allow to Cool Down
This is not necessary if your chicken breasts are leftovers, but if you just cooked them, make sure they are cooled down first.
On that note, here is a guide on simple and delicious recipes with chicken breasts you could check out in case you need a refresher:
Wrap Each Chicken Breast Tightly in One Layer Each of First Greaseproof Paper and Then Cling Film
This double layering, first in greaseproof paper and second in cling film (both should be fairly easily available in the market), preserves your cooked chicken breasts well.
Not only do they give the chicken protection from freezer burns, but they also help work against impacts of oxidation, helping to preserve your cooked chicken breasts well for an extended period of time in the freezer.
Place Wrapped Chicken Breasts Inside an Airtight Freezer-Safe Container
Pick an appropriately sized container that is freezer-safe and has a tight-fitting lid, and place your wrapped chicken breasts inside.
Seal Securely, Label and Freeze
Seal the container securely by snapping on the lid tightly.
Label the container with the storage date to make sure that you do not forget about it and end up keeping the cooked chicken breasts in the freezer for too long, spoiling them.
There you go; your cooked chicken breasts are now ready to freeze! Take out as many as you need at a time without disturbing the rest.
How to Freeze Chicken Salad
Time Taken: 15-20 minutes
What You Need:
- Airtight heavy-duty resealable freezer bag/container
- A sturdy spoon or ladle
Chicken salads are quite possibly among the most baffling creations known to us: with endless nutritional value and health benefits and a delectable tasty flavor allowing you to bring out while experimenting with several combinations, it really is the whole package in one.
And thankfully, you can freeze it too! Just follow these instructions carefully.
It works best if you freeze chicken salad the day it was made itself if it is homemade.
If store-bought, prep to freeze it the day it was bought, don’t delay it further.
All you need is some good quality airtight freezer bags or containers, whichever you prefer working with.
Transfer the Chicken Salad into the Bag or Container
Using a sturdy spoon, transfer the chicken salad in small quantities into an airtight freezer bag or container.
Be sure to not fill to the brim; leave out some space at the top.
Seal Securely, Label and Freeze
Make sure you squeeze all the air possible out of the bag, and try your best to make sure there is no excess air left in the container before you seal it tightly and securely.
Label the bag or container, and your chicken salad is ready to freeze!
Just ensure that the container or bag stays in the freezer and the temperature is maintained.
You should be able to keep it in freezer storage for up to 3 months, given you store it carefully.
How Long Can You Freeze Cooked Chicken?
If frozen properly following the right method, with all the steps having been followed properly, and if made sure that the bags or containers have been sealed carefully, your cooked chicken can be frozen for two to three months.
However, it bears mentioning that the longer the chicken sits in the freezer, the greater are its chances of a deteriorating consistency and texture and even flavor.
So, it is a good idea to finish up your chicken at the earliest since freezing.
In the case of cooked chicken, the drop in the flavor, taste, and texture is gradual but definite.
So, while you can technically freeze cooked chicken indefinitely, there will be a drop in quality over time.
This is also why we recommend always freezing with the storage date labeled.
This way, you do not end up keeping the cooked chicken in the freezer for too long.
How to Store Frozen Cooked Chicken?
As discussed, cooked chicken can be kept in freezer storage in airtight containers with tight-fitting lids, whether leftover or freshly made or in portions, in different cuts and kinds, in small airtight freezer bags.
Whichever method you go with, the sealing and freezing need to be done very carefully; good quality airtight and watertight freezer-safe containers need to be used, and it needs to be ensured that the cooked chicken is frozen at the same, consistent temperature in the freezer.
Remember that your cooked chicken may not hold up well in the freezer even beyond a few weeks if the storage is not done properly, following all the instructions correctly and meticulously and making sure you use the best quality materials.
How to Defrost Frozen Cooked Chicken?
This depends on how you are going to be using your frozen chicken for.
In some cases, you can add it directly to your dish (for soups and stir-fry dishes), or you even microwave to reheat it; or the safest bet is to just let the chicken thaw in the fridge overnight.
As mentioned, your safest bet is to go with the time-tested and fail-safe method of letting the cooked chicken thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
If you are in a hurry, in some cases, you can also defrost your frozen cooked chicken in the microwave and use the defrost option.
Check the meat and in the middle to see if the chicken has thawed properly.
Never defrost frozen chicken while keeping it at room temperature.
Avoid re-heating your frozen cooked chicken, as this increases the time and chances for the growth of bacteria.
Also, once defrosted, do not keep the cooked chicken for beyond a few hours. Eat immediately and discard any leftovers.
Can You Re-freeze Frozen Cooked Chicken?
It is not recommended to re-freeze frozen cooked chicken, as, to freeze and thaw it once would already take a toll on its consistency, texture, and even flavor.
But to repeat that whole process once more might render the chicken ruined beyond salvation.
Try your best to use up all of it the first time around that it is thawed.
In the case of leftovers, it is best to discard them as chances are that they are no longer suitable for consumption. The risk of bacteria is too high.
This is also the reason that I advise you to freeze cooked chicken, or any food for that matter, in serving portions, or together at once only if you are confident that you can use it all up at one go.
Refreezing is really not worth it.
Does Cooked Chicken Freeze Well?
If stored, frozen, and thawed correctly, you have nothing to worry about when it comes to cooked chicken.
It freezes quite well and holds up well in the freezer for a good two to three months.
Just be sure to keep a close eye on the chicken at all times, especially during thawing and reheating.
Regular stirring should help regain most of its original consistency, if it was a gravy preparation.
Otherwise, just follow the instructions well and thaw carefully.
Note that when reheating the chicken, you only want to get some heat back into it; you do not want to cook it again, so always keep a close watch and be careful.
You can cook the chicken again after it has thawed, if necessary.
Other things to note and make sure so that the cooked chicken freezes well is that the freezer temperature stays consistent and that the containers and freezer bags used are of good quality and sealed very tightly and securely before freezing.
Now, this is something strongly advised against. This is because there is no way for us to completely sure about what processes the chicken has already gone through – if it has already been reheated once or twice. It is best, therefore, to avoid freezing takeaway chicken.
Freeze cooked chicken only when you yourself know for sure the processes that the chicken has gone through since being prepared. So, it is best to freeze chicken that you have cooked safely at home.
As with all other frozen foods, it is highly advised that you check for signs of spoilage before consuming frozen cooked chicken.
In the case of chicken, if you see discolorations of the surface in the form of greyish-green tinges, it indicates the growth of molds and bacteria.
Discard the chicken immediately.
Another sign to look out for is the texture. If the chicken feels excessively soft or even slimy, the chances are that it has gone bad.
If the slimy feeling does not go away even after rinsing the chicken, it is a good idea to discard it as it is no longer safe to consume.
Lastly, the most common warning sign of spoilage is the smell.
If the frozen cooked chicken develops a nasty, ammonia-like smell, it is very likely to have gone bad.
Yes, most types and kinds of chicken can be frozen without any hassles. \
However, you need to spare an extra thought before freezing a meal or dish that has chicken as one of its ingredients.
All the other ingredients may not freeze well at all. So, check carefully before making any decisions.
Yes, you can, but like other foods, it also requires a good deal of preparation.
For example, you have to remove the packaging it came in to seal it tightly and carefully in aluminum foil or cling film, put it inside an airtight freezer bag, and then freeze it.
Most experts recommend keeping raw chicken in freezer storage for no longer than six months to, at the most, a year.
Yes, marinated chicken also freezes quite well and has its fair share of advantages. You can check out this video for more information and instructions on how to freeze marinated chicken safely and successfully.
Freezing readymade chicken meals or dishes is greatly beneficial as it helps save time, effort, energy, and even freezer space!
You can freeze chicken soup, chicken stew, chicken salad (method given here in this guide), and chicken pie, to mention just a few!
You should be able to use frozen and thawed cooked chicken in every meal and any way that you would use the original cooked chicken in.
However, lots of people do not really prefer it as the taste can be even a little bit different from freshly cooked chicken.
You can also, in that case, try out soups, stir-fry meals, stews, and so on and so forth with your frozen and defrosted cooked chicken.
We hope this comprehensive, step-by-step guide covering the best methods to freeze cooked chicken successfully at the safety and ease of your home has helped you!
For any further questions you may have regarding freezing cooked chickens, please do let us know by reaching out to us!
If you have any other tips and tricks, feel free to reach out and let us know; we will add them to this guide so they can help more people!
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