Is it Safe to Grill Frozen Chicken? | What You Need to Know

Is it Safe to Grill Frozen Chicken? | What You Need to Know

Grilling inside or outside is a very popular way to get together and share a meal. Chicken is commonly grilled, either for people who are watching their fat intake or just because they prefer it to other meats.

It’s versatile enough to go with just about any side dish or to add to salads or other dishes or make kebabs or chicken sandwiches. It isn’t likely to fall apart on the grill as other meats such as ground beef might do.

Grilling frozen chicken is not advised unless its necessary as not just it be hard to cook but also may loose its taste and texture due to extra moisture.

Then there is added risk of under cooking that may lead to indigestion or other related disease. Chicken breasts are the most popular choice for grilling. Some people prefer boneless breasts due to a shorter cooking time.

However, they are usually more expensive. Further there are times when you are forced to grill your frozen chicken; which not just take more time to cook but can also be risky if not cooked in the right way.

Frozen chicken are pre-packaged and thus considered processed food which are known to cause lifestyle diseases like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity as they has a high amount of sodium.

Why you should not grill frozen chicken breasts

But what if you forgot to thaw your chicken breasts ahead of time? Perhaps some unexpected guests stop in and you know how they love food from your grill, but since you weren’t planning to grill that day, all your chicken is frozen? Can you grill frozen chicken?

It is possible to grill frozen chicken, but there are problems with this. Frozen breasts typically take at least 50 percent longer to cook as thawed, so you’re really not saving time.

Also, the rapidity of the ice crystals melting inside the meat leads to excess moisture. You’re likely to end up with breasts that are slightly rubbery, which is less than appetizing.

The biggest problem is the difficulty of cooking frozen chicken thoroughly. Under cooked chicken can cause food-borne illnesses, including salmonella. This is where a meat thermometer is a must.

You can easily check to see if the meat has reached the proper temperature in all parts of the meat.

In order to be safe to eat, chicken needs to be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees F all the way through before it’s considered safe to eat.

Unlike red meats such as beef, white meats are less dense and allow bacteria to enter more easily. However, a frozen breast can be grilled as long as you keep the temperature in mind.

How to grill frozen chicken breasts perfectly and quickly

When you first get your chicken breasts home from the store, put them in a single layer in a freezer bag, making sure they are not touching.

If you’ve ever tried to pry cuts of frozen meat out of a big lump you know how impossible it is. You can also freeze them on a plate or tray, keeping them separated, and later pile them into a freezer bag after they are frozen.

To grill them, use a broiling pan or on a rack. If using a rack, put a tray lined with foil underneath to catch the draining juices. This not only makes oven cleanup simple, but it also keeps those juices from creating steam that will interfere with the grilling process.

Preheat the oven to at least 350 degrees F. A higher temperature can be used, but you want to make sure the chicken is cooked thoroughly all the way through, not just browned on the outside and partially raw on the inside.

Be sure to season them with salt, pepper, or any herbs you like. If you want to put a sauce on them, wait until the last 10-15 minutes before they are done.

How to grill frozen chicken breasts perfectly and quickly

You can actually bread frozen chicken breasts before grilling. The traditional flour and egg coating isn’t really suitable for frozen breasts, but you can coat the tops with olive oil, mustard, or other flavorings.

Trying to coat the bottoms isn’t advisable. The coating will help the toppings stick to the meat. Toppings can be bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, herbs, garlic, onion or chili powder or just about any seasoning you care to use.

Frozen breasts take 50 percent longer to bake than unfrozen ones. If your thawed breasts usually take 20-30 minutes, you’ll need to allow 30-45 minutes for frozen.

The size of the pieces plays a part in the baking time, also, so this is where a meat thermometer really is essential. There are meat thermometers available that give you an instant reading.

Another method is to use a grill pan with a lid. Melt about 2 tablespoons of fat in the pan. When it’s hot, put the pieces into the pan and cover them with the lid. After about four minutes, it’s time to flip the chicken.

If it’s stuck, just wait another minute. Recover with the lid. After four more minutes flip the chicken back over, cover, and wait 10 minutes this time. One more flip, but this time cover and remove them from the heat. Let them sit for 10 minutes with the lid on.

How to defrost frozen chicken breasts

The ideal way to defrost them is in the refrigerator for about 24 hours. Not only will this prevent the risk of bacteria but the slower defrosting will keep excess moisture out of the meat.

If this method is not possible, the meat may be defrosted on the countertop for four to six hours. Keep it wrapped tightly on a plate lined with paper towels under the chicken to catch any draining juices. Be sure to cook the chicken before it gets to room temperature.

A water bath can be used, thawing in one to two hours. The chicken must be sealed tightly in a zip-top bag or similar wrapper. The meat is then placed in a large bowl or the sink with cool water.

Check the water temperature regularly and change the water when needed to keep the temperature stable. Warm or hot water should absolutely not be used. This method typically takes about one to two hours.

A defrosting tray might be a product to consider. They are metal trays with ridges and have an attached container to collect the draining juices during the thawing process.

They can usually get the job done within 30 minutes. Since they come in different sizes you can get the one that will hold all the meat you usually cook at one time.

Grilling thawed chicken obviously has its benefits. Besides safety concerns, thawed breasts can be marinated with all sorts of flavorings, adding that little difference to the flavor.

However, there are times when you just knew you had some chicken thawed but found out later that it wasn’t, or the unexpected guest pops in just around mealtime. In that case, it’s possible to grill perfectly delicious chicken breasts that started out frozen.


Although its not advised to grill or cook frozen chicken but sometimes it become unavoidable. For example more guest came in at the last hour or you have to cook / grill for someone unexpected, thus offering you not much time for thawing.

Further you cannot smoke or roast frozen chicken and even when grilling you need to pay utmost care to ensure it cook just right. The most common problem grilling frozen chicken is overcooked outsides and under-cooked inside.

Thus you may need to use meat thermometer to ensure the meat has reached the proper temperature in all parts of the meat. The goal is to have your chicken grilled at 165 degrees F before consumption.

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