It’s possible to use chicken meat directly from its frozen state, not just on the stove top but in convection and conventional ovens as well and for a variety of recipes too.
Below we discuss in details how you can cook frozen chicken parts in different kitchen appliances. You’ll also learn how to do the “cooking time scaling” for toaster ovens and pressure cookers and incase you have more chicken parts than one.
Before we get to it, here is a brief paragraph discussing the kitchen appliances you can cook frozen chicken parts in.
You can cook frozen chicken part directly from its frozen state in the oven (convection or conventional), toaster oven, on the stove top, in the air fryer and also the pressure and slow cooker.
Starting from frozen state however means that the overall cooking time will have to be increased by as much as 50% the original cooking time.
Is it safe and recommended?
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) states on their websites that raw or cooked poultry parts can be cooked or reheated from the frozen state without any health implications.
The USDA is the number one go to for cooking tips, safety and precautions, therefore one can be reasonably sure of the authenticity and quality of the message coming out from them.
It’s also mentioned on their brief knowledge guide that it may take up to half the original cooking time added to the overall cooking time to cook from frozen state do. So you may want to pay careful attention to that if time really matters to you.
As far as whether the practice is recommended, in my opinion, it really doesn’t matter whichever way you end up going.
However, starting from frozen does reduce the risk of pathogenic growth as opposed to thawing and then using the meat at room temperature which can support bacterial growth at a rate dependent upon the mode of thawing.
Cold water thawing and microwave thawing are the illest ways of thawing when it comes to harboring bacteria growth.
It’s good to note though that the pathogenic growth problem may be eliminated by cooking the meat to above 165F at the deepest portion. At this temperature, all pathogenic bacteria are destroyed and what you’re left with is a clean meat for your guests to devour.
How to cook frozen chicken
Cooking frozen chicken directly in it’s frozen state is possible in almost every cooking appliance, but one thing you want to take note of to moisturize your meat very well so it comes out soft and moist as opposed to dry and uninteresting especially when you’re grilling, baking or roasting it.
When you’re cooking frozen chicken, it’s best to use techniques that involve coating the meat with sauce and flavorful mixtures and those that involve cooking in a quantity of liquid like broth, plain water, sauces or soups — i.e poaching.
You can even use those that involve slathering a couple tomatoes or butter over the meat. Anything that leaks moisture! These help the cut better retain some liquid which is a predominant consequence of cooking from frozen state.
And lastly, the size and type of cut you’re starting with is going to further influence the final cooking time. If its a boneless cut, the cooking time should be lesser than or close to the “original time plus half the cooking time”.
For bone in cuts, it should be at exactly that increment or exceed it by a little, and the only recommended way to keep check of the temperature so you don’t over cook or under cook your meat is to use a meat thermometer inserted into the deepest portion of the meat (touching the bone). Verify that it’s 165F or more before bringing it down from the heat.
If you’re using a recipe for conventional oven in a toaster oven, reduce the cooking time by 20 minutes and begin checking it once it hits the reduced time. Keep incrementing by 5 minutes until you arrive at a fully cooked chicken if you’re not there already.
Use the same time as a convection oven and increment by 5 minutes until your chicken is fully cooked.
Follow recipe instructions and increase cooking time by 30 to 50 % depending on the number and type of cut. I’ll suggest you start with the lower range especially if you’re using a smaller cut (or small number of cuts) than mentioned in the recipe, or you’re cooking parts like feet or neck
These are faster than convectional ovens and thus the cooking time for a recipe meat for convectional oven must be decreased by 15 to 20 minutes when experimented in a convection oven.
Add 50 % of the overall cooking time to the total cooking time for bone in parts like breasts and thigh. For boneless and smaller cuts, add only 20 to 30 % and work your way up from there.
Slow cooker and Air fryer
Add 50 % of the overall cooking time to the total cooking time.
Grill frozen chicken meat with an addition of 50 % to the overall cooking time.
General tip: For a single piece of cut, always start with a 20 to 30 percent increment before working your way to a fully done chicken. It’s very easy to over cook them since they absorb cooking heat from every angle possible.
How to thaw frozen chicken fast
If thawing frozen chicken was the reason why you asked the question in the beginning, then good new for you. There are very fast methods you can use to arrive at a fully thawed chicken!
Use the microwave
For this method, use only small cuts like thighs, wings, necks and breast. Never put a whole chicken inside a microwave to defrost. That’s a sure way of partially heating it up for bacteria to thrive inside. When defrosting in the microwave, use the defrost settings or heat only for 2 minutes at a time (while making sure to turn chicken from side to side until it fully thaws).
Cold water bath
Retain the chicken in it’s original packaging and run under cold water until it defrosts. Alternatively, dip the chicken (with the packaging) inside a bowl containing iced water and allow it to sit for 20 minutes, then change the water. Repeat until the chicken fully thaws out. This can take one hour or more depending on the size of the cut or if it is a whole chicken.
Safety practices while handling chicken meat
- Never let chicken defrost on the counter. It can sit for long in the danger zone which can lead to the growth of pathogenic bacteria which in turn increases the risks of food borne illness.
- Never thaw chicken without its original freezer packaging or a new packaging.
- Wash utensils used to prepare chicken before using them on other food items to avoid cross contamination.
- There’s no rare or medium rare when it comes to poultry. So make sure to cook chicken meat to 165F or more to the destroy bacteria present as chicken meat isn’t as insensitive as beef or goat meat.
Cooking chicken from frozen is more than possible and can save you a lot of time when your pressed for it. It’s absolutely safe and the problem of dryness can be overcome by cooking the chicken using techniques that require simmering the chicken in liquids such as seasoned water or broth.
To cook chicken from frozen, simply take it out from the freezer and use it per the recipe instructions, making sure to cook the chicken with an extra addition of 20 to 50 % to the overall cooking time depending on the type, number and size of cuts.