It is true to say that safety and health are a concern when talking about freezing, reheating, and cooking foods, particularly poultry.
For most meats, both raw and cooked, freezing cooked chicken is the best way to extend their shelf life.
So is this true for cooked chicken? Can you freeze cooked chicken? Let’s read on to get the correct answer!
Can You Freeze Cooked Chicken?
Keeping cooked chicken in a freezer will be great.
Whether it’s raw or cooked, keeping extra chicken in a freezer is always a good thing. Your chicken is easy to freeze and defrosts if stored properly.
You can toss any cooked chicken into your freezer and expect it to last up to four months if stored properly.
Also, it is essential to label the date on your freezer bag or container before freezing your cooked chicken.
Here are some simple steps you will need to stick to ensure it is safe.
You would start by placing your unused cooked chicken into airtight containers before putting it into your fridge. Thanks to that, it will cool before freezing.
It will limit the reproduction of bacteria on your chicken that can make you sick. It can stay well for two days in your fridge. After that, putting it in the freezer is the way to go if you want to prolong its lifespan.
For freezing your chicken, you will need to place it into airtight containers, Ziploc bags, vacuumed sealed bags, etc.
If you have a large batch of chicken, we recommend breaking your chicken into smaller portions. In that way, you can defrost the proper amount for each meal.
If you use a Ziploc bag, it is essential to squeeze all the air out before sealing this bag.
How to Freeze Your Cooked Chicken
How to freeze cooked chicken.
The process is straightforward with five steps: prep, cool down, portion, package, and throw into your freezer. Here is how to do it!
Step 1: Prep
Boneless freeze is best and is the most versatile to prepare after defrosting. So we recommend removing any bones.
Shredding your chicken meat is a good idea because it will allow you to portion your chicken easily. Plus, defrosting shredded chicken is much faster. Plus, defrosting shredded chicken is also much faster.
Step 2: Cool Down
Generally, the faster you cool down your chicken, the better.
While some people throw their still hot cooked chicken into a fridge for cooling, we recommend avoiding this.
It will significantly increase the temperature inside your fridge, which will affect other food and contents stored there.
So, you should spread your chicken in an even layer and let them sit at room temperature for at least half an hour.
In that way, you will speed up the cooling process significantly. Moreover, putting your cooked chicken into a fridge within two hours of cooking is safe and okay.
Once you have cooled down your cooked chicken, it is time to transfer it into a fridge for an hour or more to lower its temperature further. You should leave your chicken in your fridge overnight.
Step 3: Divide Your Chicken Into Smaller Portions
When portioning your cooked chicken, you should think about how you will use it for upcoming meals.
While dividing your chicken into meal-size portions is ideal, figuring out how much the right meal-size portion should be is not easy.
Many small portions are typically a better option than one or a few big ones. In that way, it is easy to defrost more portions if required.
Step 4: Package
If you freeze only the chicken, it is okay to utilize freezer bags. These bags will take less space in your freezer. Don’t forget to label each bag with a date and name.
If you freeze your chicken as a part of each meal, we recommend using food containers. These food containers will let you separate and layer your food more efficiently.
Step 5: Put Your Packaged Cooked Chicken Into a Freezer
Generally, your cooked chicken tends to last indefinitely in the freezer. However, its quality should slowly drop over time. As a result, we recommend consuming your cooked chicken within three months.
How Long Does Your Cooked Chicken Last in a Freezer?
How long does cooked chicken last in your freezer?
Before putting your chicken into a freezer, it is essential to label the date you put it into your freezer. Thanks to that, you will know when to use it or throw it.
Ideally, you should use your cooked chicken within three months from the date you put it in your freezer.
Your frozen chicken might last longer in some cases. Yet, you are exposing it to the risk of freezer burn.
That’s when its flavor is released as you put it in your freezer for too long. Although it would still be safe to consume, it will not be as pleasant to eat.
How to Defrost Cooked Chicken
There are several ways to defrost your cooked chicken, and it should depend on your time constraints and needs.
If you’re starving or don’t have much time to prepare, using a microwave to defrost your cooked chicken is alright. You should go with short increments and stir it once possible.
Many people say that you shouldn’t defrost your cooked chicken at room temperature as it allows bacteria to multiply if you leave your chicken at room temperature for too long.
Leaving it at room temperature will work if you want to defrost your chicken within several hours, and do not bother with another method. However, it is not the safe way, and you will have to accept it at your own risk.
Using a water bowl will allow you to shorten the required defrosting time. So, you should dip the frozen bag or container in a bowl of lukewarm water and change the water when it gets colder (about after half an hour).
Overnight in a Fridge
It is the method that we appreciate the most. All you need to do is transfer your frozen chicken from a freezer to a refrigerator.
Leave it overnight. Then, the following day, it will be ready.
If you want to speed things up, you can put the bag or container with the frozen chicken into a bowl with warm water.
Throw Your Chicken Into Frozen
If you want to make a stew or a soup, you can add your frozen chicken when cooking the dish.
However, you will need to cook your meal longer as your chicken needs time to defrost first. Also, don’t forget to give your chicken often a stir and then separate your clumped chicken pieces.
If you use your chicken as a part of a meal or a stir-fry cooking on your non-stick pan, it is also okay to throw it in frozen as an option.
Ensure you begin at reasonably low heat to give your chicken time to defrost.
How to Tell if Your Chicken Has Spoiled?
How to tell if your chicken has gone bad?
When defrosting your chicken, you need to look for some warning signs. If you spot these signs, your chicken might have gone bad. Eating it may lead to some severe health conditions.
First, if you notice your chicken has been discolored, it may have been affected by bacteria. In this case, it typically turns into a gray-green color. In addition, the presence of green spots can also signal mold development.
In addition, a change in texture may also indicate that your chicken is no longer safe to consume. Specifically, if your chicken develops a slimy feel, it is highly likely to be affected by bacteria.
Last but not least, if your chicken starts developing an unpleasant smell, such as ammonia, it may be time to toss it in the trash.
Can You Freeze a Cooked Chicken Breast?
Can you freeze cooked chicken breasts? The good news with chicken breasts is that it is okay to freeze and reheat them when needed. There is no cutting or slicing. Here is how to do it:
Step 1: Wrap Each Breast.
Step 2: Place Into Containers.
Step 3: Freeze.
Can I Freeze Raw Chicken?
The bag your chicken comes in is not suitable for freezing in most cases. You will need to take the following steps to freeze it:
Step 1: Take apart the packaging that comes with your chicken. Avoid washing chicken before doing this.
Step 2: Wrap your meat in aluminum foil.
Step 3: Seal the package into airtight Ziploc bags
Cooking your chicken in bulk is a great way to save time and effort. And even if you don’t use it all in one meal, you can safely freeze any excess cooked chicken.
So if you have cooked too much chicken and do not want it to go to waste, you can freeze it and use it later. If you freeze it properly, you can expect it to be safe and delicious for up to three months.
Thank you for reading!