Chicken is a popular staple amongst meat eaters. There is so much you can do with it that it can’t be called boring. Roast chicken with all the trimmings makes a good Sunday lunch.
You can make stews and casseroles with chicken, stir-fries, risotto, curries, and burritos. You can have a cold chicken and mayo sandwich if you have leftovers.
However, what if there is a sale on at the store or you simply want easy meals when you come in from a hard day at work? Is it possible to batch cook it and then freeze it? The simple answer is yes, and in this article, we will tell you how to freeze cooked chicken and how to defrost it.
How To Freeze Cooked Chicken
You can freeze any cut of chicken and this is the way to do it:
1. Cook and cool down the chicken.
Remove the chicken from the hot pan and put it in a cold dish to speed up the cooking process. You don’t want to leave the chicken out at room temperature for longer than two hours as, after this time, bacteria can start to form. You also don’t want to put it in the freezer while it is still warm as it will bring up the temperature in the freezer and other food may start to defrost. When it refreezes, it may spoil. The chicken also might go off if you don’t cool it down completely
2. Take the chicken off the bone.
It is better to freeze chicken without the bones as they take up space and it also makes it more difficult to reheat the chicken when you have defrosted it.
3. Put the chicken in an airtight container or freezer bag.
It is a good idea to divide the chicken into meal-size portions as then you will only defrost what you need for a meal. If you are using a freezer bag, squeeze out all the air so that freezer burn doesn’t occur. Freezer burn ruins the taste and texture of your food and strips it of its nutrients. If you are using a container, you can wrap it in cling film to be doubly sure that air doesn’t seep in. Put labels on the bags or containers with the date.
4. Put the containers or freezer bags in the freezer.
Let’s now take a look at how to freeze a couple of different cuts of chicken.
How To Freeze A Cooked Whole Chicken
It isn’t dangerous to freeze a whole chicken but we don’t recommend doing so as it will take a long time to defrost. It is much better to shred the chicken.
1. Roast your chicken and let it cool.
Make sure that it cools down within two hours. Transfer the chicken from the hot roasting pan to a cold dish to cool down.
2. Shred the chicken.
You can joint the chicken first as it will then be easier to shred or slice the meat. Whether you shred or slice depends on what you intend to use the chicken for. If you plan to make a stir fry or risotto, shredding is a good idea but if you want to make chicken breasts in something like a creamy white wine sauce, slicing is better.
3. Put the chicken in freezer bags.
Divide the chicken into meal-size portions and put it in the freezer bags. Squeeze out all the air from the freezer bags so that freezer burn doesn’t occur. Put labels on the bags with the date.
4. Put the freezer bags in the freezer.
How To Freeze Cooked Chicken Breasts
It is easy to freeze chicken breasts as you can freeze them whole. This is the way to do it:
1. Cook and cool down the chicken breasts
2. Wrap each chicken breast in a layer of greaseproof paper and then a layer of cling film.
This will help to protect the chicken breasts against freezer burn.
3. Put the chicken breasts in airtight containers or freezer bags.
If you are using a freezer bag, squeeze out all the air to prevent the chicken breasts from freezer burn. You can divide the breasts into meal-size portions. Put a label on the bags or containers with the date.
Tips For Freezing Chicken
- Squeeze out all the air from the freezer bags to prevent freezer burn.
- Don’t freeze cooked chicken with bones.
- You can also freeze raw chicken. It freezes as well as cooked chicken. You can even freeze raw chicken in a tasty marinade. It will be packed full of flavor when you come to defrost and cook it.
- Think about how you are going to use the chicken and freeze it in that way. For example, you might want to make a chicken casserole. Cubed chicken goes well in a casserole so cut the chicken into cubes.
- You can freeze chicken dishes such as chicken pie, chicken casserole, chicken soup, or chicken curry.
For How Long Can You Freeze Cooked Chicken?
You can freeze cooked chicken for up to four months. After this time, it will start to become stringy even though it will still be safe to eat. In addition, if you keep it in the freezer for too long, freezer burn may occur even if you have packed it correctly.
How Do You Defrost Cooked Chicken?
The best way to defrost chicken is slowly and steadily. You should put your frozen chicken in the fridge and leave it to defrost overnight.
When you come to reheat a cooked chicken, you must ensure that it is heated through otherwise you risk food poisoning. The internal temperature of the chicken should be around 165 F.
Can You Refreeze Cooked Chicken?
We strongly recommend that you don’t refreeze chicken as it can cause bacteria to form and you could become sick when you come to eat the chicken. It is advisable to freeze the cooked chicken in meal-size portions so that you only defrost as much as you will eat. If you do this, you won’t have any need to freeze chicken for a second time.
However, if you have frozen raw chicken and cooked it in a dish, you can freeze the dish.
Is It A Good Idea To Freeze Chicken?
Yes, it is. Cooked chicken does freeze well but you do need to be careful as it is so easy for bacteria to develop. Cool down the chicken as quickly as possible, wrap it well, and then freeze it. Just remember that the cooked chicken will only last for around four months in the freezer. Afterward, the taste and texture of the chicken will deteriorate. The sooner you defrost it, the better it will taste.
Frequently Asked Questions
Hopefully, you now know all there is to know about freezing cooked chicken but in case you are still curious, we have answered a few questions here.
Can you freeze chicken in a creamy white wine sauce?
We don’t recommend freezing this dish. Cream doesn’t freeze well as it tends to split. Wine also doesn’t freeze well. It is better to just freeze the chicken and make the sauce fresh.
Can you freeze sweet and sour chicken?
Sweet and sour sauce does freeze well but it is better to freeze it in a separate container from the chicken. This is because it can make the chicken go soggy.
Can you freeze rotisserie chicken?
It’s not a good idea to freeze the whole rotisserie chicken as it will take ages to defrost. Also, it will take up a lot of space so you would need a big freezer to accommodate it. Instead, shred or slice the chicken and put it into freezer bags, squeezing out the air to prevent freezer burn.
Can you freeze coronation chicken?
You can freeze coronation chicken but you will probably find that the texture changes. Because it contains mayonnaise and creme fraiche, the sauce can split. There is no way that you can whisk or blend the sauce as it is already in the dish. The best thing to do is to make the coronation chicken up to the step when you add the dairy products. You can put these in when you come to reheat the dish.
Can you freeze chicken soup?
Yes, like most soups, chicken soup can be frozen although we would recommend that you don’t put in cream until you come to defrost it and reheat it. It will keep for between four and six months in the freezer.