Can You Freeze a Whole Chicken? | We Asked the USDA


So there was a great sale at your local supermarket on poultry, and you ended up buying way too many whole chickens. But you can’t possibly use all those before they go bad, so how can you keep them good? Can you freeze a whole chicken without cutting it into pieces?

You can freeze a whole chicken according to the USDA. In fact, you can keep a whole raw chicken frozen for up to a year or more, as long as it is in the deep freeze. However, a cooked chicken will keep its flavor for up to 4 months in the freezer.

This article will go into more detail about how to preserve chicken at the different stages, whether it is cooked or raw, or in pieces. Stick around, and we will tell you what the USDA and other reliable sources say about freezing chicken.

Does a Whole Chicken Freeze Well?

Wrapped Whole Chicken

A whole chicken freezes well, whether it is raw or cooked. Once frozen, it can stay in the freezer for up to 12 months for a raw chicken and up to four months for a cooked chicken. But you need to make sure that you put a raw chicken in the freezer as soon as you get it home from the store. 

A cooked whole chicken should be placed in a freezer after it’s cooled down, or the moisture will develop and create freezer burn.

How Do You Freeze Whole Raw Chicken?

To freeze whole raw chicken, you’ll want to keep it in its original vacuum-sealed package. If it’s not frozen already, you’ll need to put it in a Ziploc-style freezer bag and remove as much air as possible before sealing it. Then put it in the freezer for up to 12 months.

However, for ease of use later, you can cut up the chicken into parts and freeze the individual pieces in smaller freezer bags. Be sure to label and date the bags, so you know what it is and how long it’s been in the freezer.

How Long Can You Keep a Whole Chicken Frozen?

You can keep a whole chicken frozen for up to 12 months for raw chicken and up to 4 months for cooked chicken. Of course, you can safely keep chicken frozen for longer than that, but the USDA recommends only one year due to a possible loss of flavor after that. 

However, if you try using the chicken after that time, there’s no guarantee that it will taste good anymore. But, I’ve used chicken past that time, and it tasted fine.

Can You Freeze a Whole Chicken In a Bag?

You can freeze a whole chicken in a bag, depending on if it sells well or not. A large zipper-type freezer bag works well to keep the chicken from becoming freezer burned. And, if you keep it in its original packaging, it will stay good for up to a year in the freezer.

This assumes we are talking about a raw chicken. To thaw, place in a shallow baking dish and set in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. If you have a rotisserie chicken, you can either freeze it whole in a Ziploc-style freezer bag or debone it and freeze it in smaller freezer bags.

Can a Whole Rotisserie Chicken Be Frozen?

Several Rotisserie Chickens in their Containers

A whole rotisserie chicken can be frozen and kept in the freezer for up to four months. Before you package it and get it ready for the freezer, make sure that it is cooled to the right temperature of no lower than 140℉ (60℃).

When you get your rotisserie chicken home, debone it and spread the meat flat on a cookie sheet, and let it cool slightly. Once it is cooled, package it in freezer bags, label, and date each bag, and put it in the freezer. 

When you want to use the meat, remove a package or two, and place it in the refrigerator to thaw. Rotisserie chickens are great for dishes like chicken soup, tacos, enchiladas, or even chicken salads.

How Can You Tell If Frozen Chicken Is Bad?

You can tell if frozen chicken is bad when, after you thaw it, it feels slimy or is any color besides pink with white fat. If the fat is yellow or the meat is green or grey, it is time to throw it out. Or, if it was starting to go bad when you put it in the freezer, then it is probably bad.

The thing about frozen chicken is that if you freeze it as soon as you buy it, it shouldn’t go bad until you thaw it. Freezing a chicken doesn’t kill the bacteria as cooking does, but freezing does stop the bacteria from spreading

To keep your chicken at its best, make sure that you freeze it while it’s still fresh, or you will have bad frozen chicken.

Can I Cook a Chicken Breast Then Freeze It?

You can cook a chicken breast then freeze it, but you will need to let it come down to the proper temperature, which is usually slightly above room temperature. You also might want to slice or shred it before freezing, especially if you plan on using it for salads, soups, or tacos.

After you’re done cooking the chicken breast, which is presumably off the bone already, let it cool to 140℉ (60℃) before wrapping it up tightly to store in the freezer. But, according to the USDA, if you let it get below this temperature and above 40℉ (4.44℃), that is the temperature where foodborne bacteria form and is the most dangerous.

When you’re ready to freeze your cooked chicken breast, wrap it in parchment paper, then in foil, then place in a sealed bag. Label, date, and stick it in the deep freezer.

It will last up to four months in the freezer. When you want to use it, place it in the refrigerator to thaw at a safe temperature.

Conclusion

You can freeze a whole chicken if you do it correctly. This article aimed to give you a brief overview of the process and what you need to know for safe chicken.

To thaw frozen chicken, you can either thaw it in the refrigerator or a bowl of cold water. To keep the water at the correct temperature, leave the tap on in a small stream of water over the chicken. This allows the chicken to thaw below 40℉ (4.44℃), the danger zone temperature.

Thanks for stoppin’ by!

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