Yes, you can freeze cooked chicken! But you do need to be careful. Like a lot of products, if you leave them to cool at room temperature and then don’t store them immediately there is a huge risk your cooked chicken will become contaminated with foodborne diseases. This is when cooked chicken isn’t safe. It’s not the freezing that makes it unsafe but the way it was cooled and stored beforehand.
Provided that you follow our guidelines below, freezing cooked chicken is both doable and safe.
Use the table of contents below to navigate through this article to answer some of the most common questions people have when it comes to freezing cooked chicken:
How to Freeze Cooked Chicken
If you want to freeze cooked chicken correctly and safely then follow these simple instructions:
- Cook your chicken as you normally would then allow it to cool to room temperature. When cooking chicken, we would recommend either cooking your chicken off the bone or removing from the bone once it has cooked.
- As soon as it has cooled down, place it into an airtight container. You could use freeze bags instead.
- Wrap the container in a layer of clingfilm or foil if you are concerned about any air seeping in then place into your freezer.
That’s all there is to it – no complicated methods here. The key elements to focus on are ensuring your chicken cools down and then it is frozen in something airtight as soon as possible.
Can You Freeze Cooked Whole Chicken?
You certainly can. However, we wouldn’t advise throwing a whole chicken into the freezer. If you want to freeze a whole cooked chicken then we would actually recommend shredding the meat from the bones once you have cooked it. Keeping the meat on the bone when frozen won’t give you an advantage. Instead, it will take up important space in the freezer and will make it harder to reheat.
We’ve outlined exactly how to go about freezing your cooked chicken below:
Before we get started, you’ll need to roast your whole chicken and then allow it to cool. As soon as it is at room temperature, following these instructions:
- Simply shred the meat with two forks or slice it off as you would normally carve it. It can be easier to joint the chicken before shredding the meat. There’s nothing to stop you shredding the leg and thigh meat while slicing the breast meat for sandwiches, for example.
- Now grab some small freezer bags and portion out your shredded and sliced chicken. We would recommend storing it in portions as you will struggle to defrost just a little at a time as it will often freeze into a clump.
- Seal the bags up, removing as much of the air from the bags as possible before placing in the freezer.
Can You Freeze Cooked Chicken Breasts?
The good news with chicken breasts is that you can freeze them whole and then reheat when you need them. There’s no shredding or slicing involved. Again, we must insist that you store your chicken correctly, allowing it cool before immediately following these instructions:
Freezing cooked chicken breasts is, thankfully, very straightforward. Here goes:
- Once the chicken breasts have been cooked and cooled, wrap each breast in a layer of greaseproof paper then a layer of clingfilm. This will ensure it doesn’t get impacted by oxidation or freezer burn.
- Place the wrapped breasts into an airtight container and seal it up.
- Place the airtight container in the freezer.
How Long Can You Freeze Cooked Chicken?
Frozen chicken can become a little stringy and spongey if it is stored for too long in the freezer. That’s why we would advise limiting the time it is in the freezer to around 3 months. It will be perfectly safe to eat beyond this but texturally it can be off and the risk of freezer burn will increase over time.
It will be safe to eat with freezer burn but it won’t be quite as tasty.
You Can Freeze Cooked Chicken for Around 4 Months
How Do You Defrost Cooked Chicken?
You probably know already how careful you have to be with cooking chicken. The same applies to defrosting and reheating cooked chicken. You need to take time with defrosting your cooked chicken. The approach to take is to place your cooked chicken in the fridge the night before you need it. This will give it time to slowly thaw out.
When reheating, you simply need to ensure it is heated through.
Does Cooked Chicken Freeze Well?
Provided that you take care to store your cooked chicken properly and don’t let it sit at room temperature then it will be perfectly safe to freeze your cooked chicken, thaw it out and then cook it. If you leave your cooked chicken in the freezer for too long, however, you do risk the texture being slightly off so bear in mind that you won’t want to store it for too long.
Other Questions about Cooked Chicken
Below are a few of the other common questions we have come across when it comes to cooked chicken – some related to freezing and some not. If you’re still sat there with a question or two about cooked chicken then drop a comment at the bottom of this article and we’ll aim to help out as much as possible.
Can You Freeze KFC?
You’re probably aware that you shouldn’t refreeze any product that has been frozen before. That’s actually why we would avoid freezing KFC. Some reports claim that the chicken they use is shipped in, frozen. We cannot confirm or deny these reports. But therein lies the problem. If you don’t know whether something has been frozen before or not, you’re best simply not freezing it.
If you do risk it and freeze it, you’ll then have a textural issue. KFC is popular because of its crunchy coating. If you freeze and then thaw KFC, you’ll probably find the batter becomes soggy. That’s not what you want!