Did you know which is the safest and best method to preserve food? Yes. Your guess is right, freezing. So how long can you freeze chicken?
Back to the matter at hand. The answer to this question isn’t really straightforward.
According to most sources, you can freeze chicken meat indefinitely. Well most meat, and poultry can be stored indefinitely while frozen.
However, the key to this is freezing the chicken meat the proper way.
The amount of time you can store chicken while frozen depends on whether you’re freezing the whole chicken, parts/ pieces of the chicken etc. Another factor that plays a role is whether the chicken is raw or cooked.
In this article this is what you can expect regarding how long you can freeze chicken.
- How long can you keep chicken meat in the freezer?
- How long can you freeze chicken wings?
- Can you freeze cooked chicken and reheat?
- The proper way to freeze chicken meat.
- The concerns on food poisoning from frozen chicken meat; in addition to when it is really necessary to freeze chicken meat.
1. So how long can you keep chicken meat in the freezer?
No, that wasn’t a typo. You can keep chicken meat in the freezer indefinitely, so long as it’s frozen the entire time you are storing it.
Well these are not my own words. This is a fact according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
However, there is a catch to this. While you can store chicken meat in the freezer indefinitely, after a certain a certain period, the taste won’t be that amazing.
So unless you don’t mind the change in taste, for the frozen chicken meat, you might want to check on this table below.
How to cook chicken wings? Check it out here.
The amount of time chicken can be frozen for best taste and texture.
|Amount of time/period|
|Raw whole chicken||1 year|
|Raw chicken parts i.e. breast, thighs||9 months|
|Raw giblets and ground chicken||3 to 4 months|
|Cooked chicken||4 months|
|Cooked chicken nuggets||1-3 months|
|Cooked chicken in casserole, or in broth/gravy||6 months|
2. How long can you freeze chicken wings?
You can freeze raw chicken wings for up to 9 months. As you can see in the table above, raw chicken parts can be stored frozen for 9 months.
However, if you don’t mind any difference in texture and taste of the meat, you can store chicken wings for more than the 9 months.
Just remember to properly prepare the chicken wings for freezing before putting them in the freezer.
3. Can you freeze cooked chicken and reheat?
Yes, it is possible to freeze cooked chicken then reheat it later on.
However, you run the risk of food poisoning if you take this literally.
While it is completely safe to freeze cooked chicken, how you reheat the chicken is another matter.
To avoid any case of food poisoning, never reheat the chicken in an oven or instant pot directly from the freezer.
The correct way is, first thawing the frozen chicken in a refrigerator before reheating it.
The reason for this, according to the USDA is, when you reheat the frozen chicken before thawing it, it will take a long time for the chicken core to attain the critical temperature of 70oC.
Simply, bacteria that had been dormant won’t be killed by the heat fast enough. This gives them some time to multiply in the chicken, causing food poisoning.
4. The proper way to freeze chicken meat.
The need to freeze chicken meat properly can’t be reiterated enough.
If not done the right way, the chicken meat may decline in quality, suffer from freezer burn or even go bad.
- When storing for a short period, you can use the original packaging the chicken meat comes with.
- However, if you’re storing the chicken for a longer period, you’ll have to wrap over the original packaging with aluminum foil.
- However, the best way to store the chicken is by removing the chicken from its original packaging, whether it’s plastic container or polythene wrap. Put the chicken in a freezer bag, taking care to remove almost all the air in the bag. This can be done by squeezing.
- If the chicken comes packed vacuum-sealed, you can put it in the freezer with its packaging.
Concerns on food poisoning arising from freezing chicken.
While freezing is a much better way to preserving food, even when compared to canning; there’s never a failsafe method of doing anything.
To this end, it is best to acknowledge that food poisoning could arise from freezing chicken. Particularly, how you handle the frozen chicken.
There are two major ways to preventing this:
- Ensure that you thaw the frozen chicken in a refrigerator before cooking or reheating the chicken.
- Before putting the chicken in the freezer, whether raw or cooked, always put the chicken in a freezer bag. Alternatively, you can also put the chicken in any airtight container, then put it in the freezer.
Things to note when freezing chicken.
- Once you have reheated frozen pre-cooked chicken, you should never refreeze the chicken.
- You can’t be really sure whether the frozen chicken is still fit for consumption. You’ll need to ascertain on the chicken’s condition. Visually, the chicken will change color to a green-gray if it has gone bad.
After thawing the frozen chicken, check on the chicken’s texture. A firm consistent texture means the chicken is still fit for consumption. A slimy texture, well, this means the chicken has gone bad
That’s it for how long you can freeze chicken.
Thawing the frozen chicken is not only necessary when reheating chicken. It is required for all food whether pre-cooked or raw.
Just in case anything goes wrong while freezing, here are tell-tale signs that your chicken has gone bad.
- The chicken has an offensive acidic smell to it.
- After thawing the chicken, it is slimy when touched.
- The chicken has a green-gray color to it.
Check my other post on how to cook chicken breast in an oven.