The short answer is yes, it is sometimes safe to refreeze chicken. But only when proper handling precautions are taken and the correct steps are followed while thawing and refreezing.
In this article, I’ll provide a straightforward process for safely thawing, cooking, and refreezing chicken. You’ll also get some helpful tips that will allow you to determine if it’s safe (or not) to refreeze your chicken.
Table of Contents
How to Thaw Chicken
Raw chicken can be thawed in the refrigerator or submerged in cold water. Avoid doing it in the microwave or under hot water.
Always thaw raw chicken in the refrigerator if you want the option to refreeze it later.
For cooked chicken, you can reheat it directly or defrost it in the refrigerator first. To defrost, place the cooked chicken on a plate or tray. Then keep it in the fridge for at least 8-9 hours.
Under no circumstances should you thaw chicken on the counter, raw or cooked.
If you need ideas on how to thaw chicken fast, read this.
Cooking With Thawed Chicken
Freezing chicken can cause it to lose a lot of moisture, making it dry when cooked.
I’d always recommend using thawed chicken for recipes that are otherwise rich. Look for a recipe accompanied by sauce, gravy, soup, or dressing. If the chicken is dry, you won’t notice it as much against the moisture of the sauce.
This is all the more important to keep in mind for chicken breast, given how lean it is.
Personally, I’d try a chicken salad with mayo dressing. Kung pao chicken, chicken lentil soup and chicken tikka are also great options.
Heat it in a pan, oven, or air fryer if you’re working with already-cooked chicken. It will probably lose less moisture than raw chicken but still benefits from a moisture-rich pairing.
The best way to cook without losing moisture is to use a sous vide water bath. In this method, which is very easy to do, the chicken cooks in its own juices so it retains more moisture.
Can you Refreeze Cooked Chicken?
If you’ve got chicken left over, it is possible to refreeze it in a food-safe container or bag. If handled properly, it should last up to 6 months, raw. And 4 months, if it was cooked.
Again, don’t forget that refreezing chicken (again) will make the meat lose moisture and become a little dry.
Safe Handling Tips
There are a few good ways to thaw frozen chicken, but you should only attempt to refreeze it if the initial thaw was done in a refrigerator.
If you thawed underwater, don’t attempt to refreeze unless the chicken was cooked first.
Why? Refrigerator thawing is the best way to prevent bacteria growth.
If frozen chicken has been sitting out for more than 2 hours, it’s not safe. You shouldn’t even cook it at that point. The risk of foodborne illness is too significant.
The Bottom Line
If you’ve thawed the chicken in the refrigerator, refreeze it within two days. Then you can thaw and cook it later. The chicken’s texture may change slightly, but at least you won’t be wasting food.
If you defrosted it using another method, cook the chicken properly before refreezing it. This is essential if you want to avoid the risk of any foodborne illnesses.
Cooking refrozen chicken can be slightly tricky because it loses more moisture with every freeze/thaw cycle. If you can, the meat will always taste better if eaten fresh.
USDA guidelines are in line with our view.
Refreeze Chicken FAQs
Yes. It is ok to freeze chicken twice, but it’s never quite as good as eating it fresh. Repeated temperature fluctuations cause a loss of moisture which may deteriorate the quality of the meat, making it dry and fibrous.
Chicken should only be frozen again if it was correctly stored and then thawed in the refrigerator. Thawing under water or at room temperature leads to an increased risk of bacterial growth, and significant food safety issues.
Ideally, cooked chicken should not be frozen and thawed more than once. If it sits at room temperature for over an hour, it should be disposed of immediately. But if you freeze it within one hour of cooking, it is perfectly safe.