Wondering what to do with that perfectly cooked chicken leftovers from your dinner? It doesn’t have to go to waste. A great way to prevent food waste is freezing.
You can freeze cooked chicken for later use. All kinds of cooked chicken leftovers are frozen and returned to the host during large family dinners and parties.
Is it safe to store a lot of chicken? Can you freeze cooked chicken at home? Would it be as good as freshly cooked chicken? How would you thaw your frozen cooked chicken? Does it smell bad when defrosted? Will freezing cooked chicken change its taste and texture?
We’re here to answer all your queries about how to freeze your cooked chicken at home. Let’s start by understanding why it’s important to freeze your cooked chicken.
Why Should You Freeze Cooked Chicken?
Freezing cooked chicken is the safest way to prevent food spoilage. Cooked Chicken is prone to get spoiled within two hours when left at room temperature. Infinite germs and harmful bacteria attack your cooked chicken in the open-air environment. So, it’s better to freeze extra chicken than leave it out in the open.
Freezing helps to preserve the cooked chicken and saves it from bad taste and unpleasant smell. You can easily freeze your cooked chicken in the deep freezer for a few months.
If you want to store the cooked chicken until the next meal, you can keep it packed in an airtight container in the fridge. The fridge keeps your chicken safe for a day or two, or three days at maximum. Therefore, you should freeze the cooked chicken in a deep freezer if you plan to preserve it for the long term.
Which Tools Do You Need For Freezing Cooked Chicken at Home?
To freeze cooked chicken at home, you must buy a few necessary kitchen tools. This includes major kitchen utensils and some frozen bags.
- A large tray or dish
- Set of Knives
- Huge-sized silicone freezer bags/ ziplock bags
- vacuum sealers
- A pack of freezing labels
- A large roll of plastic wrap.
- Parchment paper / baking sheet
- Paper towels
- Plastic containers
Note: Different kitchen tools are used for freezing different types of chicken. The above list contains a general collection of kitchen tools you can use to freeze any chicken.
How to Freeze Different Types of Cooked Chicken at Home—A Stepwise Guide!
Are you ready to freeze your cooked chicken? Once you’ve gathered all the necessary tools, it’s time to start. Just follow through with the simple steps of our step-by-step guide to freeze your chicken leftovers.
The good thing is that you can freeze any cooked chicken you’ve prepared at home. Be it the chicken wings or whole chicken breast. Roll up your sleeves, and let’s start!
Steps to Freeze Whole Chicken
When dealing with whole chicken meat, it’s a good idea to be quick. The whole chicken starts to get spoiled by the growth of bacteria. It would be best not to let the chicken sit in the open. Freeze it within 2 hours to preserve its texture.
- First things first, wash up the chicken as a whole with clean water.
- Now, peel the chicken skin away from the carcass using a sharp knife.
- Put the entire chicken pieces in a large airtight bag. You don’t need to cut them into small pieces.
- vacuum seal it after removing as much air as possible.
- If you’re freezing cooked whole chicken, absorb all its moisture before packing it. You can use paper towels to remove excess air and water.
- Pack it in freezer paper and place it into the frozen package bag.
- Freeze the bag in your deep freezer.
- You can cut the chicken into pieces if you don’t have enough space inside the freezer.
- The good news is you can store it for up to 4 months.
Steps To Freeze Cooked Chicken Breasts
The process stays similar whether you’re freezing cooked chicken breasts or raw meat. The best way is to remove the fats and chicken bones from the raw chicken breast. Then, you can freeze the whole cooked chicken breast at once.
- Firstly, let your cooked chicken breast come to room temperature.
- Next, ensure that the chicken breast has a low moisture content.
- Use a paper towel to absorb all the excess moisture from the chicken.
- Take two parchment papers and roll them neatly around the cooked chicken breast.
- Now, surround your chicken breast leftovers with a thick layer of plastic wrap to avoid freezer burn and ice crystals.
- Use a freezer-safe container for freezing the chicken breast in your deep freezer.
- Don’t forget to label the container with the use-by date.
- You can store the cooked chicken breast for up to 3 months.
Steps to Freeze Cooked Shredded Chicken
Shredded chicken is more prone to bacterial growth and causes foodborne illness. Therefore, you should freeze shredded cooked chicken as soon as possible.
Don’t leave it unattended for more than 2-3 hours. Even then, make sure to keep it in a large airtight container. Here’s how to freeze shredded chicken at home:
- After boiling your chicken, remove its skin and bones.
- Shred the leftover boneless chicken using a shredder into smaller portions of whole pieces.
- Let it come to room temperature.
- Transfer the chicken shreds onto a paper towel to absorb moisture.
- Dab it until it has the lowest moisture content.
- Divide the dried shredded chicken into small chicken portions and fill them with a ziplock bag.
- Vacuum seal the plastic bag and label it with the freezing date.
- Store the bag in the deep freezer for long term storage.
Can You Freeze Cooked Chicken—Final Thoughts
Can you freeze cooked chicken? Yes! It’s very easy to freeze cooked chicken leftovers. When you’ve cooked a delicious chicken dinner, but in too much quantity, you can safely freeze it for later use.
The process is similar for al main dish recipes of chicken. Whether you’re freezing cooked chicken breast, chicken nuggets, chicken wings, or shredded chicken.
You don’t have to throw away all the tasty cooked chicken just because no one is ready to eat it immediately. You can store your tasty chicken meal to eat it another time.
Can You Freeze Cooked Chicken—FAQs
Can You Freeze Raw Chicken?
Yes, you can freeze raw chicken the same way you’ve frozen the cooked chicken. You should use aluminum foil to wrap the raw chicken before placing it inside a plastic bag. Vacuum-seal the bag and store it in a freezer.
How to Thaw Frozen Cooked Chicken?
There are multiple ways to thaw frozen cooked chicken. Instead of placing the frozen meat flat on your kitchen counter, you can defrost the cooked chicken using the following three methods.
- Use your microwave (let your frozen chicken rest at room temperature for 10-15 minutes before placing it inside the microwave on defrost setting)
- Use the refrigerator (place your frozen chicken in a bowl and keep it inside it for 24 hours. Refridgerator gives the best results).
- Using a cold water technique. (Place your frozen chicken bag in a big bowl full of lukewarm water at room temperature for 30-45 minutes).
How Long Can You Freeze Cooked Chicken In The Freezer?
You can safely freeze cooked chicken for up to 4 months if it is in an air-tight container with no moisture or air. If you take longer than that, the chicken starts to lose its taste and texture due to freezer burn. So, you’ll be left with tasteless chicken.
Is It Better To Freeze Raw Chicken Or Cooked Chicken?
You can store both types of chicken in your freezer for advance meal prep. However, raw chicken can be frozen for a much longer period because it has a better shelf life. Unlike the cooked chicken, raw chicken can last up to 9 months in the freezer.
Can You Refreeze Cooked Chicken?
Refreezing cooked chicken is not a great idea if you have frozen it once in your freezer. Next time freezing may backfire and cause food poisoning. The cold air of the freezing process affects the chicken even after using the heavy-duty freezer bags.
Delicious Ways to Cook Your Frozen Leftover Chicken
After defrosting your frozen chicken, you can cook a tasty meal for your family. Here are some exciting chicken recipes you can try to prepare for a delicious dinner at home.
You can make chicken stir-fry dishes or cook a steaming hot bowl of chicken soup, chicken pot, fresh chicken salad, chicken noodles, or your favorite pasta dish with spicy pasta sauce.
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