Chicken is a versatile and economical staple that most households keep on hand. However, raw chicken has a relatively short shelf life and can go bad quickly if not stored properly. Freezing is an effective way to extend the shelf life of raw chicken so it stays fresh and safe to eat for longer. But how long can you actually freeze chicken before it is no longer good?
In this article, we’ll provide a comprehensive guide to freezing chicken, including how long different types of chicken will last in the freezer. You’ll learn how to determine if frozen chicken has expired and is no longer safe to thaw and cook. With the helpful information here, you can freeze chicken confidently and utilize your freezer to make this healthy protein last.
Can You Freeze Chicken?
The first question that often arises is whether freezing chicken is safe and effective. The answer is a resounding yes! Freezing chicken is not only safe but also an excellent method for preserving its quality. However, proper storage techniques are crucial to maintain its taste and texture as properly frozen chicken can last for several months without losing its quality.
Chicken Freezing Durations
Different types of chicken have varying freezing durations, such as cooked chicken, ground chicken, grilled chicken, etc. Following is a brief table of
|Type of Chicken
|Freezer Storage Time
|Up to 1 year
|Up to 9 months
|3 to 4 months
|2 to 6 months
|Up to 6 months
|Up to 6 months
|Up to 6 months
|Up to 4 months
|Up to 4 months
|Up to 3 months
|Up to 3 months
How Long Does Thawed Chicken Last in the Fridge
Thawed chicken typically lasts in the refrigerator for 1-2 days. You can refreeze thawed chicken, but if it was thawed in the microwave or in cold water, it must be cooked first. If the chicken was thawed in the refrigerator, then it can be refrozen raw within two days of thawing.
Moreover, chicken remains safe in the freezer indefinitely, but its taste may be affected. For the best quality, refreeze chicken as soon as possible in air-tight packaging at or below 0°F (-18°C) and use it within 4–12 months.
Can You Freeze Chicken after Thawing
Yes, you can refreeze raw chicken that has thawed in the refrigerator within two days. The chicken must have been defrosted below 5°C and not for more than 24 hours. If the chicken has thawed in the microwave or cold water, it must be cooked before refreezing. The USDA says that once food is thawed in the refrigerator, it’s safe to refreeze without cooking. However, there may be a loss of quality due to the moisture lost through thawing. Therefore, it’s best to use the chicken immediately after thawing if possible to maintain its quality.
How to Freeze Chicken
Before freezing chicken, it’s essential to prepare it properly. Here’s a step-by-step guide on the best way to freeze chicken:
- Prepare the Chicken: Make sure the chicken is clean and dry before freezing.
- Portion the Chicken: Divide the chicken into suitable portions based on your needs.
- Wrap it Up: Wrap each portion tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil to prevent freezer burn.
- Store in Containers or Bags: Place the wrapped portions in airtight containers or freezer bags.
- Label and Date: Label the containers or bags with the date of freezing.
- Freeze: Store the chicken in the freezer at 0°F (-18°C) or below.
By following these steps, you can freeze chicken safely and ensure it stays fresh for longer.
How to Prevent Freezer Burn
When freezing chicken, it’s important to take steps to prevent freezer burn, which can negatively impact the quality and taste of the meat. Make sure to seal the chicken in airtight packaging like freezer bags or plastic wrap, squeezing out any excess air. You can also place the wrapped chicken inside a rigid airtight container to provide an extra layer of protection. Avoid overfilling your freezer and allow space between items for proper air circulation. Use freezer paper or foil as an outer wrap if freezing chicken for more than 2-3 months.
Freezer burn happens when air reaches the surface of the chicken, so keeping chicken completely sealed is key. Check periodically that packaging remains intact. With the proper precautions, you can keep frozen chicken free from freezer burn for maximum freshness and flavor.
Beyond freezing individual chicken portions, you may also wonder about freezing different forms of chicken. Here’s what you need to know:
Can You Freeze Chicken Broth
Yes, you can freeze chicken broth. Freezing chicken broth is a convenient way to store it for future use. Make sure to cool the broth completely before transferring it to freezer-safe containers or bags. Leave some space at the top of the container for expansion as the broth freezes. Label the containers with the date before placing them in the freezer.
Can You Freeze Chicken and Dumplings
Yes, you can freeze chicken and dumplings. Freezing chicken and dumplings allows you to enjoy this comforting dish later. Make sure the dish is completely cooled before transferring it to freezer-safe containers. Label the containers with the date and store them in the freezer. To reheat, thaw the dish in the refrigerator overnight and warm it up on the stove or in the microwave.
How Can You Tell if Chicken has Gone Bad?
Here are some ways to tell if chicken has gone bad:
- Color: Fresh chicken is light pink and has white fat. If it has a grayish cast, or has turned yellow, green, or gray, it has gone bad.
- Smell: Fresh chicken has little to no odor, though it may have a slight “funky” odor if it’s been sealed with its juices. If the chicken has a sour, ammonia-like smell, or if it starts to smell bad while it’s cooking, it has gone bad. Other signs of spoilage include a fishy, sulfur-like smell, or a smell that reminds you of rotten eggs.
- Texture: Fresh chicken is soft and moist, while spoiled chicken is slimy or mushy to the touch.
- Other Signs: Spoiled chicken may also have mold or other foreign substances.
If you observe any of these signs, it’s best to discard the chicken to avoid the risk of foodborne illness.
Freezing chicken is a safe and effective way to extend its shelf life while maintaining its quality. By following proper storage techniques and taking precautions to prevent freezer burn, you can ensure that your frozen chicken remains fresh and flavorful for future use. Whether you’re freezing raw chicken, chicken broth, or chicken and dumplings, proper handling and labeling are essential for optimal results. By knowing how to recognize signs of spoiled chicken and practicing safe thawing and cooking methods, you can confidently utilize your freezer to make the most of this versatile protein.
Hey, I am Vanessa from U.S. – a die-hard food lover to try and share my tasty tidbits with you people! I may not have a Master’s in food tech, but my this love affair let me explore the diverse culinary options around me, and here I am, sharing my journey with you.