Can You Grill Frozen Chicken? (Yes, but…)

Want to grill some tasty chicken but don’t have time to defrost it? You’ve come to the right place!

In this article we will cover:

  • Whether or not you can grill frozen chicken
  • Tips for grilling frozen meat
  • And much more!

Can You Grill Frozen Chicken?

It’s been one of those days and you forgot to take your chicken out of the freezer before you went to work. Can you grill it as is? Or is your dinner ruined?

It’s always better to thaw chicken before cooking it. However, if you don’t have enough time or conditions to defrost it, you can definitely grill it while frozen. You should keep in mind that you’ll need more time to grill a frozen chicken than a fresh one.

In this article, we’ll share some helpful tips to grill chicken without defrosting it first. However, safety comes first. So, we’ll first talk about what you should always avoid so that you and your family stay safe.

Related >> Can You Refreeze Chicken?

Is it Safe to Grill Frozen Chicken?

As mentioned above, it is indeed safe to grill frozen chicken. In fact it may be better to grill frozen chicken than to try to hastily thaw it as this can cause a rubbery texture or expose the meat to unsafe thawing methods. 

The main reason most people choose not to grill frozen chicken is because of the difficulty marinating it and the length of time it takes to cook. Remember, all chicken must be grilled to a temperature of 165°F to be consider safe, whether you start cooking it while it is fresh or frozen.

Frozen Chicken

What is the Best Way to Defrost Chicken?

The best way to defrost chicken is by planning ahead and putting it in your fridge overnight. Unfortunately that does you little good the moment when you realize you need to cook your chicken now and there isn’t time to defrost it in advance.

Slow cookers and microwaves are not suitable for defrosting or cooking frozen chicken. The slow cooker will leave the chicken in the “danger zone” (40°F-140°F) for too long, while the microwave will burn its outer layer quickly and leave the inside raw.

Therefore we recommend if you have not defrosted your chicken in advance, to grill it while it is frozen rather than to try and defrost it last minute. 

But if you’re in a bind, we do have a post on how you can defrost chicken quickly.

Related >> How Long Does Chicken Last in the Fridge?

How to Grill Frozen Chicken

So, now that you know your dinner isn’t ruined, let’s look at how you can grill your frozen chicken. 

Step 1: Get a Digital Thermometer

Whether an experienced home chef or a novice cook, we always recommend using a digital meat thermometer. This kitchen gadget is very useful because you won’t burn your hands while checking on the chicken, you won’t have to try a slice of it to check whether it’s done, and you’ll be sure that the chicken has reached the necessary temperature of 165°F.

It’s important to note that you should poke the chicken with the thermometer as close to its central point as possible. Keep in mind that you’re grilling a frozen chicken, meaning the outer layer may look cooked, but the inside of the chicken is probably still raw and even frozen.

Step 2: Wipe off the Chicken

If you don’t have time to defrost the chicken, we recommend you take a dry clean cloth or paper towel and gently rub the bird. This will remove any excess ice or moisture bits. 

Step 3: Grill Smaller Piece of Bird

We already mentioned that cooking frozen chicken takes longer than cooking a fresh one. Therefore, grilling an entire bird would be extremely time-consuming. If you were planning to grill a whole bird, unfortunately you should probably abandon these plans, order dinner, and save the bird for another night when you can defrost it. 

If you are cooking chicken breasts, see if you can cut them into smaller pieces. If its drumsticks or wings that are frozen, it is fine to put them directly on the grill from the freezer as cutting them any smaller won’t make a difference. 

Step 4: Preheat the Grill

While you are cutting the bird, allow your grill to preheat. Set it at a temperature about 20% less than you would normally use. This will allow the chicken to cook fully on the inside without burning the exterior. 

Of course, this doesn’t mean you should slow-cook the chicken, but you should avoid a too-high temperature, avoid direct heat, and allow it to cook evenly. This way, you’ll get the necessary internal temperature, but the outside of the chicken won’t get burned.

Step 5: Calculate How Long it Might Take

Frozen chicken needs around 50% more time to cook than a fresh one. For instance, if you need about 20 minutes to grill fresh pieces, you’ll need about 30 minutes to grill frozen ones.

Therefore, increase the grilling period by around 50%  and plan to check back in on your chicken periodically. Only remove your chicken from the grill once it has reached a safe temperature. 

For more on that, we’ve got a whole guide on how long it takes to grill chicken.

And if you want to do something a little differently next time, try smoking a whole chicken.

Photo of author

Hope Davis

Born in Denver, Colorado as the oldest of 5 children, I learned at a young age that the grill was one of the best ways to prepare food for a crowd. And during the winter storm months, when the snow was likely to knock out the power to our house, the propane grill was a lifesaver! You wouldn’t believe the number of things you can cook on a grill when necessary. With parents who couldn’t tell salt from pepper unless you told them, I spent my late teen years making my own seasoning mixes and marinades to dress the meat before barbecues. It wasn’t long before I developed a secret marinade that people still beg me to make for them today! When I was 21 years old I bought my first smoker. Picked up some cedar chips for making a cedar plank salmon...and well, the rest they say is history! I’ve been grilling and smoking all kinds of creations ever since and I’m always excited to share my passion with others through my favorite medium--writing!

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