Can you freeze a whole cooked chicken?

In this brief guide, we’ll explore the query: “Can you freeze a whole cooked chicken?” Also, we’ll explore how a whole cooked chicken can be frozen, what precautions to take when thawing a frozen whole, cooked chicken, how to know if chicken has spoiled, and what are the dangers of eating spoiled chicken.  

Can you freeze a whole cooked chicken

Yes, it’s feasible to freeze a whole, cooked chicken if it won’t be readily consumed before it spoils in the fridge, or to preserve it if it’s been cooked in advance of a busy week. 

Freezing is handy when storing baked or rotisserie grilled chicken, though other dishes such as stews and soups with chicken can also be preserved at freezing temperatures.  

Regardless, adequately freezing a whole cooked chicken not only preserves its quality, but also lessens the waste in one’s kitchen, and by extension, positively affects the consumer’s checkbook. 

Below, we’ll describe a few guidelines to follow when looking to freeze a whole cooked chicken. 

How can I freeze a whole cooked chicken

The first step in freezing any cooked dish is to make sure that it has cooled to room temperature.  

In the case of a cooked chicken, it should not only be at room temperature but also shouldn’t be left to sit out for more than 2 hours, as there is a risk that noxious microbes may have found their way onto the chicken’s surface and begun to grow. 

If the whole chicken is cooked in broth or a stew,  it can be stored at subzero temperatures inside of a freeze-resistant container with some air space to keep the lid from coming off once the broth expands. 

In the case of baked or roasted dishes, the chicken can be wrapped in plastic cling wrap, or an air-tight oven bag, and then stored inside of another freezer bag to preserve its moisture and prevent a freeze burn. 

A whole, cooked chicken that has been frozen can keep for up to six months in the freezer but may remain safe to eat after said period has elapsed, albeit not at peak freshness. 

What precautions should I take when thawing a whole cooked chicken

As a rule of thumb when defrosting chicken, this should not be done at room temperature, as it may provide a window of time during which microbes on the chicken’s surface may begin to flourish, and if consumed, may cause food poisoning. 

Defrosting should be carried out in a microwave oven using the defrost setting, or by leaving the chicken overnight in the refrigerator. 

Thawed cooked chicken should then be heated to a high temperature to kill off any of the microbes on the surface, and served hot. 

If defrosted in a refrigerator, cooked chicken can be re-frozen within four days of thawing out, but it is important to note that this is not advised for leftover chicken that has been reheated and served hot. 

As freezing doesn’t restore freshness, it’s best to refreeze cooked chicken as soon as the desired portion has been taken, to prevent desiccation and spoiling before refreezing. 

In the fridge, cooked chicken can keep for up to four days, during which it should be consumed or one risks letting it spoil. Refrigerating it in tight-sealing containers helps store it longer, though the time frame doesn’t greatly increase. 

How can I tell if chicken has spoiled? 

The tell-tale signs of spoiled chicken include a slimy texture on the meat, it has lost firmness and has too soft a texture when pressed, odd coloring (such as brown or white spots, gray or green growths), and it gives off a questionable smell. 

We strongly advise our readers not to try their luck by going as far as giving it a taste, at the risk of contracting food poisoning. 

At the first sign of spoilage, cooked chicken should be promptly discarded in the garbage and taken to the trash chute or dumpster. 

We don’t recommend heating spoiled chicken, as while it may kill off the microbes, some bacteria secrete toxins that won’t be destroyed by high temperatures and besides having an unpleasant taste, the chicken may still trigger symptoms of food poisoning. 

Domestic animals (such as dogs and cats) that nose around spoiled chicken may also contract food poisoning, and we advise that spoiled chicken be disposed of in tightly sealed bags before being taken to the trash.

What are the dangers of eating spoiled chicken

Eating spoiled chicken is extremely dangerous, as it is prone to contamination by microbes and may trigger severe symptoms of food poisoning

The exact microbes responsible for the food poisoning may vary on account of the exposure (different bacteria may settle in at different times and in different places) but the symptoms of intoxication may include

  • Fever
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal aches
  • Muscle aches
  • Upset stomach

At-risk groups include young children, the elderly, pregnant women, and those who are immuno-compromised, and hospitalization may be necessary to treat severe cases.  

If our readers suspect food poisoning is responsible for any or all of the above-listed symptoms, we strongly advise them not to self-medicate and to seek professional care. 

A licensed medical professional will prescribe effective treatments such as antibiotics and analgesic medication to treat symptoms and discomfort. 

Conclusion

In this brief guide, we’ve explored the query: “Can you freeze a whole cooked chicken?” Also, we’ve explored how a whole cooked chicken can be frozen, what precautions to take when thawing a frozen whole, cooked chicken, how to know if chicken has spoiled, and what are the dangers of eating spoiled chicken.  

References

https://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/symptoms.html

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/how-long-does-chicken-last-in-the-fridge#refrigeration

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/how-to-tell-if-chicken-is-bad

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/can-you-refreeze-chicken#bottom-line

https://www.lovefoodhatewaste.com/article/store-chicken-and-turkey-right-way#:~:text=You%20can%20freeze%20cooked%20chicken,then%20place%20in%20the%20freezer.

https://www.alices.kitchen/kitchen-hacks/can-you-freeze-rotisserie-chicken/

https://ask.usda.gov/s/article/How-long-can-you-freeze-chicken#:~:text=Cooked%20chicken%20will%20taste%20best,patties%2C%201%20to%203%20months.

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Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.