Didn’t have time to make a dinner plan and need something quick? Or forget to thaw out your chicken for dinner tonight? No worries! You can still cook up frozen chicken easily with this simple guide.
We’ll show you how to cook frozen chicken in a variety of ways, so you can choose the best method for you and the appliances you have on hand. Plus, we’ll share some tips on how to make sure your chicken turns out perfectly every time.
So don’t stress—just follow these simple steps, and dinner will be ready in no time!
How to Cook Frozen Chicken Without Thawing First
The information primarily pertains to frozen boneless chicken breasts. When cooking bone-in chicken or whole chickens, the preparation and cook time will differ.
What to know before cooking chicken from frozen
Before we jump into all the various methods you can use to cook frozen chicken, here is important information to note that applies to all cooking methods:
- Be aware of the danger zone when cooking chicken. “Bacteria multiplies rapidly at temperatures between 40 and 140°F—out of refrigeration and before thorough cooking occurs,” according to the FSIS of the US Department of Agriculture. For this reason, some cooking methods are not ideal, and we’ll talk more about this later. Jump to read now.
- Cooking times: no matter what cook time your recipe calls for, always cook chicken to the recommended internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit, as recommended by the USDA.
- In this article, we are talking about raw frozen chicken only. These guidelines will not apply to already fully cooked chicken.
- Do not rinse chicken: this is an old, bad habit. There is no need to rinse chicken, raw or frozen. It can actually contaminate your kitchen. Cooking it properly will kill the bacteria that many people believe you need to ‘rinse’ away.
How Long to Cook Frozen Chicken
The time it will take to cook frozen chicken will vary depending on the method you choose–bake, boil, pan-fry, air fry, instant pot–and the size of each chicken breast.
But with each method, you need to make sure chicken reaches an internal temperate of 165 degrees, per the US Department of Agriculture’s recommended cooking temperatures for poultry.
As a general rule, frozen chicken will take 50% more time to cook than raw chicken.
- A 4-ounce raw chicken breast will cook for 20 to 30 minutes in the oven at 350 degrees. While grilling or pan-frying will typically take 6 to 8 minutes per side.
- A 4-ounce frozen chicken breast will need to cook for 30 to 45 minutes in the oven at 350 degrees. While grilling or pan-frying will take 10 to 12 minutes per side.
For larger chicken breasts, you will need to adjust cook times accordingly.
Read on for more information on cooking chicken breasts from frozen using the best cooking methods: instant pot, air fryer, oven-baked, pan-fried, and boiled.
How to Cook Frozen Chicken in an Instant Pot
Using the instant pot is a huge timesaver when cooking frozen chicken. The result is juicy, delicious chicken in very little time compared to other cooking methods. Here’s how to make chicken breasts from frozen in your instant pot, for a quick and easy dinner.
- Place frozen chicken breasts in your instant pot.
- Add one cup of either water or chicken broth.
- Season with salt, pepper, and any of your favorite seasonings.
- Cover with the instant pot lid and set the valve to the sealing position, if your model doesn’t automatically seal when the lid is closed.
- Manually set to high pressure with the timer set to 10 to 12 minutes.
- Pressure will build for about 10 minutes, and then your cook timer will begin.
- When complete, allow the pressure to naturally release for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Be sure to follow safety instructions and ensure there is no pressure before opening the lid.
- Always make sure your chicken has reached 165ºF, using an instant-read thermometer.
- Allow the chicken to rest for several minutes before serving, to redistribute the juices and ensure the meat is moist.
- There you have it—enjoy moist, delicious chicken for a meal in 30 minutes or less.
We use the Instant Pot 6 Quart 9-1 Pressure Cooker.
- Be sure to use the high-pressure setting. High pressure is used to pressure cook most foods in the instant pot. The low-pressure setting is used for more delicate foods like eggs, steamed veggies, and fish to avoid overcooking.
- Follow safety protocols for using an instant pot: steam is hot and can burn you, be sure to release all the pressure before opening the lid. Keep your hands at a safe distance when the pressure is released, and the lid removed.
How long to cook frozen chicken breast in an instant pot
How long to pressure cook frozen chicken breasts in the instant pot will depend on the size of your chicken breasts. Here are generally recommended cooking times:
- 4 to 6-ounce chicken breasts: 10 to 12 minutes on high pressure. (Be sure to plan for the time the instant pot will take to come to pressure which is about 10 minutes + the time it will take for the pressure to naturally release which is about another 5 to 10 minutes.)
How to cook whole frozen chicken in an instant pot
Cooking a whole frozen chicken in an instant pot is a bit more involved. Here is how to achieve a rotisserie-style chicken without thawing first.
- Prepare the whole chicken by rubbing it with oil and seasonings of your choice. Salt, pepper, garlic powder, oregano, and paprika make for delicious flavor.
- Add the metal trivet (raised steam rack with handles) to your instant pot.
- Add 1 cup of water or chicken broth to the instant pot.
- Next, place the whole chicken inside the instant pot, breasts side up.
- Close the lid and set the vent to the sealing position, if your model doesn’t automatically seal when the lid is closed.
- Pressure cook on high pressure.
- The cooking time will depend on the size of the chicken. As a rule of thumb, set the cooking time to 10 minutes for every pound. Cook 3 pounds for 30 minutes, 4 pounds for 40 minutes, and 5 pounds for 50 minutes.
- Be sure to cook to an internal temperature of 165ºF, using a meat thermometer to check. If it is not at the proper temperature, continue to cook using the manual setting for 5 more minutes, or until the desired temperature is reached.
- When complete, allow the pressure to naturally release. Do not use the quick release function. Before opening the lid, be sure all the pressure has been released.
- Open the lid and serve delicious and moist rotisserie-style chicken.
We use the Instant Pot 6 Quart 9-1 Pressure Cooker.
- A fresh whole chicken will take about 6 minutes per pound, while frozen whole chicken will take about 10 minutes per pound. But this can vary based on your particular instant pot model and quart size.
- Follow safety protocols for using an instant pot: steam is hot and can burn you, be sure to release all the pressure before opening the lid. Keep your hands at a safe distance when the pressure is released and the lid removed.
How to Cook Frozen Chicken in an Air Fryer
Yes, you can make frozen chicken breasts in an air fryer. Here’s how to make air fryer chicken from frozen for a last-minute dinner plan.
- Preheat your air fryer to 360 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Prepare your chicken by rubbing with olive oil and seasoning with salt, pepper, or other seasonings.
- Place the chicken in your air fryer basket and cook for 10 minutes, for 6-ounce chicken breasts.
- Flip the chicken and air fry for another 8 to 10 minutes.
- Check the internal temperature, it should be 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Continue to cook (rotating each side) until the recommended internal temperature is reached.
- Allow the chicken to rest for several minutes and then serve and enjoy.
Result: delicious, juicy chicken with a bubbly crisp outside that tastes like fried chicken.
We use the PowerXL Single Basket Air Fryer.
How long to cook frozen chicken breast in an air fryer
The size of the chicken breasts will determine how long to cook them in the air fryer. Air fry for 18 to 20 minutes for 6-ounce chicken breasts, cooking each side for 9 to 10 minutes. Adjust the air frying time for smaller or larger chicken breasts.
How to Cook Frozen Chicken in the Oven
Baking is another simple method to use for cooking frozen chicken breasts. Although this method will take longer, with little prep time involved, you can mostly set it and forget it.
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper. We love the pre-cut parchment sheets.
- Place your frozen chicken breasts on the parchment paper.
- Brush with olive oil or your favorite baking oil.
- Season with salt, pepper, and other seasonings of choice (list of seasoning ideas below).
- Bake for 30 to 45 minutes in the oven. The best rule of thumb is to roast frozen chicken 50% longer than thawed chicken.
- If desired, brush with barbecue or buffalo sauce during the last 10 minutes.
- Make sure your chicken has reached 165ºF, using a meat thermometer. If it has not reached the proper temperature, continue cooking.
- Allow the meat to rest for a few minutes before serving, for the juices to redistribute and thicken, leaving the chicken moist.
- Do not overlap the chicken to allow for even cooking. Allow for space in between each piece, so you don’t end up with undercooked chicken.
- Remember to bake frozen chicken at a lower temperature to compensate for the added cook time. Not a low temperature like slow cooking, but a temperature of 350 to 375 instead of 400 degrees and above.
- Cover with foil if you choose to bake at 375 or higher. This will help prevent the outside from overcooking before the inside is done.
How long to bake frozen chicken in the oven
As mentioned above, the best rule of thumb is to bake the frozen chicken for 50% longer than you would bake thawed or fresh chicken. A 4 to 6-ounce piece of chicken will take 30 to 45 minutes to bake at an oven temperature of 350 degrees Fahrenheit. (Thawed bakes in about 20 to 30 minutes.)
Baked chicken seasoning ideas
Here are several delicious ways to season your baked chicken.
- Salt and black pepper
- Garlic powder
- Garlic salt
- Onion powder
- Cayenne pepper
- Garlic and pepper-infused salt
- Montreal chicken seasoning
- Lemon pepper seasoning
- Chili lime seasoning
How to Cook Frozen Chicken on the Stovetop
To cook frozen chicken breasts on the stovetop, you can either boil the chicken or pan fry it in a skillet. Both methods are delicious, but with slightly different results.
How to boil frozen chicken breast
- Place frozen chicken breasts into a dutch oven or pot.
- Top with water or chicken broth, enough to cover the meat entirely.
- Add salt, pepper, and other seasonings or herbs you’d prefer.
- Bring to a boil over high heat, then lower to medium heat and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes or until the chicken reaches 165ºF. (Almost double the time a thawed piece of chicken would need to simmer.)
- Remove from the liquid and let the meat rest for several minutes.
- Shred easily with two forks, chop, slice, and use in your favorite dish.
How long to boil frozen chicken
As a general rule, boil then simmer chicken almost double the time you would cook a thawed chicken breast. In this case, 20 to 30 minutes or longer until the proper temperature is reached. (For 4 to 6 ounce chicken breasts, about 20 to 25 minutes. Larger pieces will take closer to 25 to 30 minutes or more.)
How to cook frozen chicken in a skillet or frying pan
Pan-frying chicken breasts on the stovetop in a skillet or sauté pan is one of our favorite methods. Here is a simple recipe and tips to get flavor-filled results.
- Preheat a pan over medium-high heat.
- Drizzle the pan with olive oil.
- For added flavor, chop or mince fresh garlic. (optional)
- When the oil is heated, add the minced garlic to the pan.
- Sauté until the garlic is fragrant.
- Next, add the chicken breasts to the pan.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Cover and cook for 10 minutes.
- Top with freshly squeezed lemon. (optional)
- Flip the chicken breasts and top with more lemon juice and lemons slices.
- Cook on the other side for another 10 minutes (or longer).
- Make sure your chicken has reached a safe internal temperature of 165ºF, using an instant-read thermometer in the thickest part of the chicken breast.
- Allow the meat to rest for a few minutes and then serve.
- Garlic and lemon are optional but so delicious. Feel free to use your favorite seasonings.
- Make sure the chicken is dry when you add it to the skillet, or the oil could spatter (and potentially burn you). Frozen chicken also has moisture, so be careful when adding the chicken to the preheated oil.
How long to cook frozen chicken in a skillet on the stovetop
The size of the chicken breast will determine how long to pan-fry a chicken breast in a skillet. On medium heat, cook each side for 10 to 15 minutes. Or until the meat reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. (Approximately double the time you would cook each side for thawed chicken.)
Methods to Avoid When Cooking Frozen Chicken
In order to prevent food-borne illness, there are a few cooking methods to avoid when cooking chicken from frozen. Two of them are slow-cooking and microwaving, here’s why.
Avoid Slow Cooking
Many people will be surprised to find out that the USDA discourages slow cooking frozen chicken. Although you can find many recipes online for making frozen chicken in the crockpot, this method is considered a higher risk for food-borne illness.
This is because of the ‘danger zone’ we mentioned earlier. The time chicken will be between 40 and 140°F in the slow cooker, especially on low, risks bacteria growth which can cause illness.
For this reason, plan to safely thaw it out. Then proceed to slow cooking it in your crockpot.
If you’re in a hurry and need to get dinner on the table fast, it’s tempting to just pop frozen chicken into the microwave. However, the USDA advises against this as it can lead to bacteria growth.
Microwaving frozen chicken can cause uneven heating, so it may cook some parts of the chicken while others are still frozen. This can create warm pockets where bacteria can flourish.
In addition, microwaving frozen chicken can cause splattering and spills, which can spread bacteria around and cross-contaminate your kitchen. So, next time you’re tempted to microwave your frozen chicken, remember that it’s best to cook it safely in the oven or on the stovetop.
How long does frozen chicken last in the freezer?
Most people are surprised to learn that frozen chicken can actually last for 9 months to a year in the freezer. (Chicken breasts, or other pieces, for 9 months and whole chickens for 1 year.) With that being said, it’s important to note that frozen chicken will lose some of its flavor and texture after being stored for an extended period.
When frozen chicken is properly stored at 0°F or below, it’s safe to eat indefinitely. Read more at FoodSafety.gov. For best results, try to use frozen poultry within six to nine months of placing it in the freezer.
By following these simple tips, you can cook frozen chicken easily and fast for a delicious, healthy dinner. So the next time you forget to thaw your chicken out or are short on time, don’t stress–just use these tips to get a meal on the table in no time. Enjoy!
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