Do you have some leftover breast chicken you want to save for later? Are you interested in discovering the proper way to safely freeze cooked chicken? Keep reading to know if you can freeze your cooked chicken breast and understand how long cooked chicken remains good in the freezer.
Chicken is a beloved meal in countless households. Also, it is cherished for its versatility, delectable flavor, and high protein content. If you’re a fan of preparing large batches of chicken dishes, freezing cooked chicken is an excellent way to extend its shelf life.
Here, you will get to know the proper steps for freezing cooked chicken. Also, we will show you the right methods for thawing it when you’re ready to use it.
Can You Freeze Cooked Chicken Breast?
Yes, you can freeze cooked chicken breast. The practice of freezing cooked chicken, and cooked food in general, revolves around the concept of convenience. In the midst of a schedule, preparing meals in advance is a time-saving strategy.
Additionally, when you properly freeze and store leftovers, you can significantly reduce food waste. Also, by freezing your chicken, you can ultimately save money in the long term.
Can You Freeze Any Kind of Cooked Chicken?
Yes, you can freeze any kind of cooked chicken. When freezing cooked chicken, it’s advisable to freeze it in the form that you intend to consume it. For instance, if you’re planning to enjoy whole-cooked chicken breasts in your upcoming meals, freeze them just as they are, without disassembling them.
If you find yourself with leftover rotisserie chicken, you can include them in your soups, stews, or savory pie fillings. It’s a wise choice to freeze the chicken meat after shredding or cutting it into bite-size pieces, sans the skin and bones.
Don’t forget that you can use the leftover bones to create a flavorful stock or broth.
How Long Does Cooked Chicken Last in the Freezer?
When stored correctly, cooked chicken has the potential to maintain its quality in the freezer for as long as six months. This is indicated by the USDA’s Cold Food Storage Chart.
However, if you mix the cooked meat into soups and stews, the recommended storage time shortens to about two to three months.
Beyond this suggested timeframe, the meat’s overall quality may begin to deteriorate. When it deteriorates it could become more susceptible to freezer burn.
How Do You Defrost Frozen Cooked Chicken?
When you’re ready to use your frozen cooked chicken, there are several methods for dissolving and reheating it. The most recommended approach to dissolve a frozen cooked chicken can take up to four days.
If you’re in a rush, you can opt to defrost the frozen cooked chicken using the microwave, though this method is not ideal. When using the microwave, be vigilant for cold spots in the center of the meat. Also, be aware that there may be uneven defrosting, potentially leading to overcooked and dry edges.
After the meat is fully defrosted, it’s essential to reheat it on the stovetop until it reaches an internal temperature of at least 165°F. Always employ a food thermometer to verify the internal temperature for safety.
Reheating frozen cooked chicken on a steam table is not advisable, as these appliances serve as food warmers. This means that the food’s internal temperature may linger in the danger zone, between 40°F and 140°F.
Can You Refreeze Previously Frozen Cooked Chicken?
Even if you’ve taken the time to portion your frozen cooked chicken, you will still find yourself with leftovers. This raises the question: can you refreeze previously frozen cooked chicken?
Once your chicken meat has been cooked, frozen, thawed, and reheated, it’s advisable not to refreeze it. This is because with each handling, bacteria can multiply. The general rule of thumb is to cook, freeze (or refrigerate), defrost, and reheat your food just once.
If you have leftover previously frozen cooked chicken that you can’t finish, it’s safer to discard it rather than risk potential food poisoning.
How Can You Tell if Frozen Cooked Chicken is Still Safe to Eat?
Although frozen cooked chicken can generally be safely stored in the freezer for up to six months. However, it’s essential to recognize that its safety may not always be guaranteed once it’s thawed. To ensure its edibility, be vigilant for signs of spoilage.
Has the color of the cooked chicken meat changed? When thawed, does the meat appear slimy or emit a foul odor? If yes, the best course of action is to discard your cooked chicken meat to avoid any potential health risks.
What’s the Best Way to Use Frozen Cooked Chicken?
Elevate your frozen cooked chicken to a delectable meal by getting creative with it. Once it has thawed, consider incorporating the chicken into soups, stews, and casseroles for added flavor and protein.
If you happen to have frozen cooked chicken wings, you can reheat them in an oven, an air fryer, or an Instant Pot to enjoy their crispy goodness once again.
Why Freeze Cooked Chicken Breast?
Freezing cooked chicken breast is an effective method to maintain its freshness. When stored properly, frozen chicken retains its taste and texture, making it an excellent option for future meals.
Freezing allows you to prepare meals in advance, saving time on busy days. Having pre-cooked chicken in the freezer can be a lifesaver when you need a quick and nutritious dinner.
How to Freeze Cooked Chicken Breast
Freezing chicken breast is a straightforward process that ensures your poultry remains safe and delicious. Here’s a proper way to freeze cooked chicken breast:
1. Cool Down First
Before freezing, allow the cooked chicken breast to cool down to room temperature. This prevents moisture from forming inside the packaging, which could lead to freezer burn.
2. Portion Control
Divide the chicken into portions suitable for your future meals. This step will make it easier to thaw only what you need.
3. Wrap it Well
Use airtight containers or heavy-duty freezer bags to package the chicken. Remove as much air as possible to prevent freezer burn. Label the containers with the date to keep track of freshness.
4. Quick Freeze
Place the chicken in the freezer, ensuring it’s laid flat and not stacked on top of one another. Quick freezing helps preserve the chicken’s quality.
In conclusion, freezing cooked chicken breast is a practical way to extend the shelf life of this delicious protein while reducing food waste.