If you made a meal using chicken or simply cooked a whole chicken, you may end up with some leftovers. Keeping chicken in the fridge will only keep it fresh for a couple of days. What if you need to store the chicken longer than that. Would the freezer be an option for freezing cooked chicken?
Can you freeze cooked chicken? Yes, you can freeze cooked chicken and they actually freeze very well. Cooked chicken needs to be handled and prepared properly to avoid foodborne diseases. This means after the chickens have cooled down to room temperature, store them in the freezer right away.
Should You Freeze Cooked Chicken?
If you cooked a large chicken for dinner, more than likely, you will have plenty of leftovers. Keeping cooked chickens in the fridge will last for only a couple of days. If you need to store them longer, then freezing is the best option to preserve cooked chicken.
Other times, you may want to store cooking chickens to save time when cooking a meal later. Chicken does take quite a long time to cook. By cooking the chicken first, you can use them later to add to a meal or use it to make a delicious chicken salad.
Does Cooked Chicken Freeze Well?
If it’s properly stored, cooked chicken freezes very well. When it’s cooked, the meat will be more compacted and lose most of its moisture. This means the meat will less likely expand and can withstand the freezing temperature for a long time.
However, you’ll want to make sure that it doesn’t sit in the freezer for a very long time. Prolonged storage in the freeze could cause the cooked chicken to lose their flavor and texture.
How To Freeze Cooked Chicken?
When it comes to freezing cooked chicken, it’s pretty much straightforward. However, if you want the chicken to stay fresh in the freezer for a long time and still retain their texture and taste, you have to prepare them correctly first.
Below are the instructions on how to freeze cooked chicken correctly and safely:
- Start by cooking the chicken as you normally would. There are many different ways to cook them. Just make sure it’s fully cooked first.
- Place the cooked chicken on a plate and allow it to cool down to room temperature.
- Cut the chicken into smaller pieces. You can leave the bone in there or remove the bone out. Leaving the bone will help hold the structure of the chicken.
- In an airtight container or freezer bag, place the chicken parts in there.
- If using a freezer bag, squeeze out the air from the bag and seal it tightly.
- With a cling wrapper or aluminum foil, wrap the bag or container with it. Double wrapping will ensure no air leaks into the container and destroy the meat.
- Label the bag or container and place it in the freezer.
Even though it’s sealed tightly, air will still leak into the container or bag over time. Therefore, make sure to use the chicken within 3 months for best quality.
Can You Freeze Whole Cooked Chicken?
Yes, you can freeze whole cooked chicken. However, it’s not recommended to do so due to two reasons. The first one is freezing whole chicken will take up a lot of space in the freezer. Most people will have a lot of food stored in the freezer. By storing a whole chicken in there, it will prevent you from storing other foods.
The second reason is that it will take a very long time for the cooked chicken to thaw. Due to the large size and compact meat, thawing them will take an entire day. When it does thaw, you may end up with some part of the chicken thawed and some part not.
Due to the long time it takes to thaw, there is a huge risk the cooked chicken will become contaminated with foodborne diseases.
Can You Freeze Cooked Chicken Breasts?
Chicken breasts that are already cooked can be frozen. You can either freeze the chicken breasts as a whole or sliced into smaller pieces.
After the chicken is cooked, make sure it cooled down first before freezing it. Otherwise, you can cause additional moisture buildup in the container or freezer bag when placed in the freezer.
Freezing cooked chicken breasts is straightforward. Below are the simple instructions to do it:
- Cooked the chicken breasts until it’s fully cooked.
- Once it’s cooked, let it cool down to room temperature.
- With each breast, wrap it in a layer of wax paper or baking sheet.
- Then wrap the chicken breast again with cling film. This will help prevent the meat from freezer burn.
- Place the wrapped breasts into an airtight container or freezer bag. You can put more than one breast in each container if you want.
- If using a freezer bag, press on the bag to remove excess air in there and then seal it.
- Label the bag or container with a date and place it in the freezer.
How Long Can You Freeze Cooked Chicken?
Due to the texture of the chicken, the longer that it’s stored in the freezer, the more it will become stringy and spongey. Therefore, cooked chickens will be at its best quality for 3 months.
After that, the chicken is still safe for eating, but the quality will diminish a bit.
If it’s stored even longer than 6 months in the freezer, freezer burn will likely occur to the cooked chicken. Again, the chicken can still be consumed, but it won’t taste as quite tasty as it should. Also, the meat will be mushy and break apart.
How Do You Defrost Cooked Chicken?
Defrosting frozen cooked chicken is pretty much straightforward. Remove the chicken from the freezer and place it in the fridge. Allow it to thaw overnight or at least 6-8 hours before using it. For smaller pieces of the chicken, it will take just 2-3 hours for it to completely thaw.
Allowing it to thaw in the fridge will help prevent loss in texture and flavor.
Never let cooked chicken defrost at room temperature. The chicken will not thaw evenly throughout. The outside will thaw, while the inside will still be frozen. If you do, you can run the risk of harmful bacteria growth on the chicken.
Can you freeze leftover KFC chicken?
Yes, you can freeze KFC chicken. For best results, freeze the chicken properly in an airtight container or a heavy-duty freezer bag. For added insurance to avoid freezer burn, wrap the chicken in aluminum foil first, then place it in the container or bag.
Can you freeze cooked barbecue chicken?
Yes, you can freeze cooked bbq chicken. Allow the meat to cool down to room temperature first. Then place it into an airtight container or freezer bag and seal it tightly. Place it in the freezer and use it within 3 months.
A passionate cook and stay-at-home mom. Since I spend most of the time in the kitchen, keeping the pantry clean and organized is a top priority. Besides being a clean freak, I enjoy gardening, hiking and other activities under the sun.