As a meat-eater, chicken is likely to be a staple ingredient in your household. But can you bulk buy and batch cook chicken and store it in the freezer or should freezing cooked chicken be avoided?
Cooked chicken can be frozen for up to 4 months. To freeze cooked chicken, you need to cool the chicken, portion it out into airtight containers before sealing and freezing. You can freeze all cuts of cooked chicken.
Can You Refreeze Cooked Chicken? No
Does Cooked Chicken Freeze Well? Yes
How to Freeze Cooked Chicken
If you want to freeze cooked chicken correctly and safely then follow these simple instructions:
- Cook and Cool
Cook your chicken as you normally would then allow it to cool to room temperature. When freezing cooked chicken, we would recommend either cooking your chicken off the bone or removing it from the bone once it has cooked.
- Place Into Containers
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.
- Label and Freeze
Add a label to the container. Finally, place the wrapped containers into the 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 is frozen in something airtight as soon as possible.
How to Freeze Cooked Chicken Cuts
The above method is our straightforward way of freezing cooked chicken.
But with chicken, there is an incredible amount of versatility. You might have marinated chicken. You might have a whole roasted chicken. You might have wings or thighs. Below, we have outlined how to freeze a range of chicken cuts:
How to Freeze a Cooked Whole Chicken
Although it is safe to freeze a whole cooked chicken, it’s not something we would advise. Instead, 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, follow these instructions:
- Shred the Meat
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 from shredding the leg and thigh meat while slicing the breast meat for sandwiches, for example.
- Bag Up
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 and Freeze
Seal the bags up, removing as much of the air from the bags as possible before placing them in the freezer.
How to Freeze Cooked Chicken Breasts
The good news with chicken breasts is that you can freeze them whole and then reheat them 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:
- Wrap Each Breast
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 Into Containers
Place the wrapped breasts into an airtight container and seal it up.
Add a label to the container then place the airtight container in the freezer.
3 Tips for Freezing Cooked Chicken
Now you know how to freeze it, we’ve got our 3 top tips which we strongly recommend following when freezing cooked chicken to have the best results:
Think about how you normally eat chicken and then freeze it in this way. There’s no point in freezing whole chicken breasts if you never cook with them whole and prefer them diced, for example. Freezing any food should be about convenience and making your life easier.
Try Freezing Raw
You don’t have to cook the chicken to freeze it. Chicken will also freeze well uncooked. You can also freeze marinated chicken so that it’s packed full of flavour and ready to be cooked.
If you really want convenience then consider turning your cooked chicken into a ready-to-eat dish. You can freeze chicken pie, chicken soup and chicken stew all successfully and with ease.
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.
Can You Refreeze Cooked Chicken?
We would strongly avoid refreezing cooked chicken. It can harbour bacteria and may result in you becoming sick. Instead, try to freeze the cooked chicken in suitable portions so that you can easily grab one portion at a time.
If you have frozen raw chicken and then cooked it then you can refreeze this chicken. Generally speaking, you can freeze an ingredient twice: Once in its raw state and once when cooked.
Does Cooked Chicken Freeze Well?
Cooked chicken does 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.
If you’ve still got questions about freezing cooked chicken or chicken in general, then these may help:
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!
Can You Freeze a Rotisserie Chicken?
Although it is likely to be safe to do so, unless you have a large freezer it won’t make sense. Instead, we would advise shredding the meat from the rotisserie chicken before placing the meat into bags then freezing.
That way, you can grab a bag of perfectly roasted meat as and when you need it.
Can You Cook Frozen Chicken Then Refreeze It?
You can cook frozen chicken then freeze it again provided that it was frozen raw. Generally speaking, you can freeze a food item twice.
You can freeze it once raw and once cooked. It is not a good idea to freeze cooked chicken, defrost it, reheat it and then freeze it again.
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