What can’t you do with chicken? This protein-rich poultry is the ultimate ingredient for any home chef who lives for quick, healthy meals. It can be cooked in so many wonderful ways, which is why many people purchase in bulk.
Extra chicken wings, breasts, tenders and drumsticks should never go to waste. So, what if you have leftovers? Can you freeze cooked chicken? Thankfully, the answer is yes—in most cases.
How to Freeze Raw Chicken
The freezer is basically a magical chamber that halts time. It’s like pressing the pause button on foods until they are ready to be cooked. You can freeze all sorts of surprising foods.
But how do you safely freeze raw chicken? First, wrap the chicken tightly in freezer paper or plastic wrap. Then, wrap it in a layer of aluminum foil. Firmly seal the whole package in a freezer bag.
When you’re ready to cook, place the chicken—still wrapped—in the fridge. It’s important to let it thaw gradually, which can take 12 to 48 hours, depending on the cut size and amount that’s wrapped together. You can also take a shortcut and cook the frozen chicken in your Instant Pot.
Can You Freeze Cooked Chicken?
Cooked chicken is safe to freeze…sometimes. If you have any extra chicken that can be eaten later, immediately store the extras in an airtight container overnight. Don’t leave the chicken out at room temperature. Why is this step important? Quickly decreasing the temperature of meat will lower any risk of contamination and foodborne illness. After that, the chicken can be stowed away in the freezer to enjoy later.
How Long Can You Freeze Chicken?
When stored securely, raw chicken can be kept in the freezer for up to nine months. On the other hand, cooked chicken can spend four months in the freezer before it’s past its flavor prime. Eating freezer-burned food won’t hurt you, it just won’t taste as good.
Are These Prepared Foods Safe to Freeze?
- Chicken and Dumplings: Yes. Put the soup in airtight freezer-safe containers or bags, leaving 1/4-in. of room for expansion. You may want to freeze dumplings separately to keep their shape.
- Fried Chicken: Yes. You can put pieces of fried chicken in airtight freezer-safe containers or bags.
- Chicken Noodle Soup: Yes. Most soups freeze nicely. The exceptions are soups made with cream and potatoes.
- Chicken Salad: No. The mayo will separate and create a terrible texture.