Modern life is pretty great, isn’t it? Well, apart from the fact that most of us barely have enough time to cook a full chicken in our day. Half of us don’t buy fresh food anymore, we don’t have the time to cook fresh now!
Freezers are our best friend, they save so much time and make life so much easier, and all the things that we can cook from frozen now. It’s just a dream come true for many people.
However, meals do not always go well, and sometimes our busy schedules mean that we completely forget to take our food out of the freezer. If it’s chicken, it simply won’t be cooked in time for dinner!
Mom’s voice rings through your head. “Never cook chicken from frozen!”.
You try to work out what to do, you could have takeout, but the cost of living is so high, and there’s a perfectly good chicken just sitting in your freezer, why waste the money?
To The Point
The reason we are here telling you this is because we know just how dangerous incorrectly cooked chicken can be.
Food poisoning as a result of the consumption of undercooked chicken has an effect on around 1,000,000 people in the U.S. each year.
Most of the reasons for these incidents are down to the improper care and handling of cooking, or improper techniques in cooking.
Preparing a chicken from frozen is not something that you want to get wrong. Today we are going to look into why doing so is riddled with risk, and how you can do it safely avoiding issues.
Of course, we also want to tell you just what you want to avoid when it comes to catering with chicken.
So, what are the points we need to know about cooking chicken from frozen?
Here are the most vital things to know.
- Eating chicken that is undercooked can be dangerous as it causes food poisoning due to the bacteria found inside the meat.
- While it is okay to boil chicken from frozen, remember that not every method is safe to use on a frozen chicken.
- If you cook chicken from frozen you avoid the long defrosting time, however, you will also need to add 59% onto the standard cooking time as well.
- Be certain that the center of the meat needs to reach 165 degrees (Fahrenheit), don’t rely on guesswork, get a meat thermometer to actually check the temperature properly.
Why Is Frozen Chicken A Bit Of A Risk?
But why is it a risk?
Remember what mom always said? You should never cook a chicken from frozen?
Raw chicken is a possible host for many types of bacteria, these include Campylobacter, Salmonella, and Clostridium perfringens.
Should we end up eating these bacteria as we consume our food, they can cause typical symptoms of food poisoning ranging from abdominal cramping, fever, diarrhea, and so on.
However, some cases of food poisoning can get very serious very fast. This is why it is vital to ensure that we get rid of these bacteria. How?
It is important to know that these bacteria are capable of surviving while frozen, so the chicken in the freezer has as many of these bacteria as a fresh chicken that is raw will.
The best way to get rid of them is via heat. Should you expose bacteria to 165 degrees Fahrenheit at least this will be enough heat to kill the bacteria on the meat.
This may make it sound like it is fine as long as it is cooked to that temperature, but this is not the case.
The issue that we have with cooking chicken from a frozen state is that the outside will simply cook much faster than the inside will.
This means that the outside parts, or the skin will be crispy and cooked, or may look burned, but the meat inside will have barely even have defrosted yet. Thus, it will still be giving those bacteria an environment in which to survive.
Food is in the ‘danger zone’ when it is between 40 degrees to 140 degrees, and if it stays this temperature for over 2 hours then the bacteria are actually able to multiply in number. This makes the food even more of a risk!
So, if you need to cook a chicken from frozen, you need to ensure that whatever method you pick is one that heats the meat inside and outside evenly, so your food is safe for consumption.
Should You Defrost It First?
Does this mean that defrosting the chicken is the best thing to do?
Well, yes, technically. Cooking a chicken which has completely thawed is much easier to cook correctly than if the chicken is frozen.
However, plenty of people do manage to mess up the defrosting process just as much as the cooking.
The USDA states that when you are defrosting a chicken to use later, you should thaw it either in the refrigerator, or in cold water, as this will keep the chicken out of the danger zone by keeping it below 40 degrees.
Of course, you could also defrost it in the microwave if you need to cook it soon. The only issue there is that a chicken is not recommended to be cooked right after it has thawed, and it should not be left in a warm state either. It’s a catch 22.
However, so many people will leave out a frozen chicken on their counter to thaw. They may even defrost it in warm water, so it happens faster.
While a good idea at first glance, we are just allowing the bacteria to grow more and more, and present danger to us even more so.
So, in truth, if you lack the time for a proper defrost, you are probably safer to actually cook it from frozen, by doing so in a safe manner than leaving it on the counter, putting it on the counter, or leaving it in warm water.
Cooking Chicken From Frozen: The Right Way
We are now all aware of why we have to be so careful when it comes to cooking chicken from frozen, and what the dangers are when we try to cut corners when defrosting.
So, what are the safe ways of cooking a chicken from frozen?
First we want to note what the USDA says on the matter.
- You should always check the temperature of the inside of your chicken to ensure that it is not undercooked. A food thermometer should be used for this, inserted into the thickest part of the meat, often found at the breast or thigh. A safe temperature will be 165 degrees or higher.
- Note that a frozen chicken will need 50% more time to cook than a fresh/ thawed chicken will take to cook.
So, considering this, what is safe?
First of all, boiling. This is the safest method. You can boil a chicken from frozen on your stove, a low simmer is best as it will apply a gentle heat to the chicken allowing for cooking to take place more at the center.
You can sear the meat quickly when you first put it in the pan, but you need to add stock or water and then to turn the head down to a gentle simmer.
It will usually take anywhere from 1:30 to 3 hours to cook a whole chicken from frozen, the specific time depends on the size of the chicken.
If you intend on cooking a chicken breast or legs from frozen it could take an hour to hour and a half.
Whatever you intend for your recipe, ensure that you add on an additional 50% to the time that you would have intended for a thawed chicken, also do not forget to delay when you add your vegetables, or cook the food pairings.
You should get a meat thermometer, so you are able to check the temperature of the meat to ensure that it is safe to eat.
Secondly, you could roast it. Not everyone loves boiled chicken, so roasting it is another option, just like you would for a fresh chicken.
This will take longer than it usually would. It will typically take 3 hours at around 350 degrees, instead of 2 hours.
When doing this you can season it as normal, and as it defrosts as it cooks it will absorb the seasoning into the skin and meat.
You could also prepare a baste for your chicken, applying it halfway through your cook (1.5 hours in) as this will be then the chicken has thawed.
Things Not To Do When You Cook Chicken
So, what should you not do? We have spoken plenty about what you should, but what about what you shouldn’t do?
Well, in order to keep you in the know, here are some things we strongly do not recommend.
We love slow cookers, and they can be absolutely amazing in so many scenarios, but keep them away from your frozen chicken.
Why? Well there is a temperature curve that happens in a slow cooker.
You see, that danger zone is the reason, when a chicken is frozen or fresh it needs to get out of that zone as fast as possible.
If the chicken is fresh it will bring it out of this within a couple of hours. Yet, if the chicken is frozen, it will take longer, and it can actually take several hours for your chicken to leave the danger zone.
Letting your chicken sit in the danger zone for this amount of time will not lead to a happy family dinner, so don’t even think about the slow cooker.
Honestly, we wouldn’t recommend microwaving chicken on a good day. Microwaves are great for frozen meals and plenty of other things, but they are hell-sent when it comes to frozen chicken.
The temperatures which a microwave produces is not consistent, and your chicken will definitely not be cooked evenly on the outside and inside.
Of course, it could still play a part in defrosting the chicken if needed, but keep it away from the actual cooking process for your own health!
Grilled chicken is delicious, but not from frozen. Barbecues and grills are amazing, but even when meat is fresh it carries so much risk.
There is such a high likelihood of the outside being more cooked than the inside with this method.
When you grill, the grill is always going to cook the outside faster, which means that the outside can get burned before the inside is even cooked!
The risk of this happening will multiply tenfold with a frozen piece of meat. And this goes for every meat, not just chicken.
No matter what meat you are handling with your grill, you need to be absolutely sure it is thawed before it goes on the grill.
We will put smokers in this category as well, as some people love smoking meat too, even if you smoke the chicken instead of grill it, the same problem still applies. Just thaw it first!
Food hygiene is absolutely pivotal. Some things pose less of a danger to use if they are not fully cooked, and some meats such as beef steaks, can even be eaten without full cooking.
However, chicken is not one of these, and it absolutely has to be cooked all the way through.
Chicken comes with risks in the form of bacteria which can cause food poisoning, the USDA posts plenty of helpful guidelines to help you stay far away from food poisoning risks.
While it might not be ideal in every situation, getting sick is much more of an issue!
Frequently Asked Question
Can You Boil Frozen Chicken Without Defrosting It?
Yes, you can boil frozen chicken without defrosting. You need to start the process by thawing the chicken in the fridge and then boiling it.
Removing parts of the chicken that will not be cooked is essential, such as the liver and intestines. After boiling, it’s best to rinse the chicken in cold water, which will cool it down faster.
How Long Should Frozen Chicken Be Boiled?
Chicken can be boiled for different lengths of time depending on the size of the chicken. Boiling chicken for 15 minutes will result in a chicken that is cooked throughout and is safe to eat.
How Do You Defrost Your Frozen Chicken Quickly In Boiling Water?
You can defrost chicken quickly by cooking it in boiling water. The water will begin to steam, and the heat will cause the chicken to defrost quickly. It is a simple, easy-to-follow method that works.