If you’re wondering if you can refreeze chicken, you’re in the right place.
In this TheGrillingDad.com guide, you’ll learn:
- How to Refreeze Chicken
- Is it safe?
- Tips for refreezing
- And much more..
Many people will store chicken in the freezer, oftentimes because of the savings that can be achieved through buying in bulk.
However, what can you do if you have a whole frozen chicken but only want to use the legs?
What if you’ve thawed the chicken for dinner- only for your partner to surprise you with take-out?
Once it’s out of the freezer, is there any going back? Can you refreeze chicken?
In this article, we’ll break down the situations where you can refreeze thawed chicken, and tips to do so safely and get the best results!
Can You Refreeze Chicken? A Quick Answer
Yes, it is possible to refreeze chicken IF the chicken was thawed correctly. However, proper storage and handling are essential to minimize the health risks.
Related >> How to Safely Thaw Chicken
Tips And Guidelines For Refreezing Chicken
If you’ve safely thawed your chicken by putting it into the refrigerator from the freezer and it’s less than two days since it has thawed, you can refreeze the chicken.
However, just because it’s safe to do so doesn’t mean the quality of the chicken will be precisely the same.
The flavor and consistency will most likely be changed, due to formation of ice crystals in the meat, loss of moisture, and other factors.
Here are some tips for getting the best results when refreezing:
Refreeze at Peak Quality
Firstly, if the raw chicken that has been thawed has been in the fridge for more than two days: Consider it spoiled, and throw it out!
Cooked chicken will last a bit longer (up to four days). The closer it is to the point of thawing, the better the taste and texture will be preserved.
Therefore, if you only want to use part of the chicken, thaw it just enough so that you can cut through or break it apart, and then immediately get the unused portion back in the freezer.
Store at or below 0°F
Frozen chicken will last indefinitely as bacteria cannot grow at this temperature.
However, it must be below 0°F, so ensure that your freezer is set correctly! This will not only stop it from spoiling, but is also the best condition for keeping the quality of the meat high.
Freeze Chicken Quickly
The longer it takes for the chicken to reach a frozen state, the larger the ice crystals will be inside the meat.
Large ice crystals can toughen or dry out the meat, leaving it with an unpleasant texture.
One way to ensure a quick freezing time is to wrap smaller pieces individually.
For example, if you are freezing four chicken breasts, put each one in an individual freezer bag instead of putting them all into a large container together.
They’ll not only freeze faster as smaller portions- they’ll also be fresher the next time you want to cook chicken, as you can just thaw what you need!
Use Airtight Packaging
Any exposure to air in a freezer can lead to dreaded freezer burn. While not harmful, it can make any food very unpleasant to eat!
Meat dries out, changes color, becomes grainy, and generally just tastes tough and awful when it suffers freezer burn.
The condition can completely ruin the chicken, so it’s vital to ensure that air cannot get to the meat in order to prevent this from happening.
To safeguard the meat’s integrity, either use a high quality container, freezer bag with the air pushed out and seal intact, or some aluminum foil tightly folded with no openings.
Once the chicken is frozen, you can store it safely forever- just know that the taste will likely be affected after a year.
Finally, raw chicken freezes better than cooked chicken, which should be kept for four months at most. It’s always best to label food you’re freezing with the date, so that you can keep track!
Related >> Can You Refreeze a Thawed Turkey?
How Soon Should You Cook Chicken Once It’s Thawed?
The answer to this will depend on which of the three thawing methods you’ve used.
If you microwaved or used the cold water method to thaw your chicken, some part of the meat likely reached above 40°F.
At this temperature, bacteria grows very quickly. Therefore, you should cook the chicken immediately once thawed. Otherwise, it will spoil rapidly!
Even if you’re not planning on using it all, you can still cook the whole portion and then refreeze the cooked meat.
If you’ve thawed the chicken in the fridge, then there’s a bit more time for you to work with. You’ll have up to one to two days to cook the chicken once it’s thawed.
It also takes one to two days to fully thaw in the first place, so it’s important to know exactly when the chicken has finished thawing, as this is when the clock starts!
Final Thoughts on Refreezing Chicken
Chicken is a finicky thing. There are many things to consider when it comes to the safety of preparing this popular protein.
With proper planning and process, you can absolutely thaw and refreeze chicken. However, it’s vital to use the correct methods!
First, it must be slowly thawed in the fridge at under 40°F. Secondly, it must be refrozen at under 0°F within two days of thawing, and adequately sealed as well.
Alternatively, portion it into the smallest possible portions when first freezing the chicken so that you can use and freeze them separately. This way, you can thaw only what you need in the future.
Happy cooking, and stay safe!