Can You Freeze Cooked Chicken?

Can You Freeze Cooked Chicken
12 min reading time

Leftover cooked chicken is a common occurrence in most households. You don’t want to waste it, but you also don’t want to eat the same thing over and over again. So, can you freeze cooked chicken? The answer is yes, you can! Freezing cooked chicken is an excellent way to preserve its quality and taste for later use. Not only does it save you time and money, but it also helps reduce food waste.

Key Takeaways

  • Yes, you can freeze cooked chicken.
  • Freezing cooked chicken helps preserve its quality and taste for later use.
  • Freezing cooked chicken is a great way to save time and money while also reducing food waste.

Best Practices for Freezing Cooked Chicken

Properly packaging and storing cooked chicken in the freezer is essential to maintain its quality and prevent freezer burn. Here are some best practices to follow:

Use the Right Containers

When packing cooked chicken for freezing, it’s crucial to use the right containers to prevent freezer burn and maintain its flavor. Airtight containers made of plastic, glass, or metal are ideal for storing cooked chicken. Avoid using plastic bags or containers that are not freezer-safe or may leak moisture.

Cool the Chicken Properly

Allow the cooked chicken to cool down to room temperature before packing it for freezing. Putting hot food directly in the freezer can raise the temperature of the freezer and affect the quality of other frozen foods. Divide the chicken into appropriate portions to quicken the cooling process.

Wrap with Quality Materials

When using plastic or freezer-safe bags, ensure to remove as much air as possible before sealing to prevent freezer burn. Aluminium foil or cling wrap can also be used to wrap cooked chicken. Use a double layer to prevent freezer burn and protect the chicken from freezer odors.

Label and Date the Packages

Label the packages with the type of chicken and the date it was frozen to ensure easy identification later. Remember to use a permanent marker or freezer tape that can withstand low temperatures without fading or falling off.

Store in the Right Location

Find a suitable location in the freezer to store cooked chicken. Avoid storing it near the freezer door, which will experience temperature fluctuations whenever the door opens and closes. Place the packages towards the back of the freezer to keep them at a consistent temperature.

By following these best practices, you can store and maintain the quality of cooked chicken in the freezer for an extended period, ensuring that you have a readily available supply of cooked chicken for quick and delicious meals.

Freezing Leftover Cooked Chicken

Leftover cooked chicken is a great way to save time and money in the kitchen. But what do you do when you have more than you can eat? Can you freeze it? The answer is yes, you can freeze leftover cooked chicken.

However, there are some quality and safety considerations to keep in mind. When freezing leftover chicken, it’s important to freeze it as soon as possible after it has been cooked and cooled down to room temperature. Allowing the chicken to cool down creates an environment that can harbor bacteria, which can lead to foodborne illness if the chicken is not handled and stored correctly.

Once you have cooled the chicken, remove any bones or skin and cut it into smaller portions for easier thawing. Then, use airtight containers or freezer bags to store the chicken and label them with the date and contents.

It’s worth noting that while frozen cooked chicken is safe to eat indefinitely, for the best quality, it should be consumed within 2 to 6 months of freezing. If you have any doubts about the quality or safety of the chicken, it’s best to discard it.

Preparing Cooked Chicken for Freezing

Can You Freeze Cooked Chicken

Before freezing cooked chicken, it’s essential to prepare it properly to ensure it maintains its flavor and texture. Here are some tips to follow:

  1. Cool the chicken: It’s crucial to cool cooked chicken before freezing it. Leaving it at room temperature for too long can allow bacteria to grow and cause food poisoning. Spread the cooked chicken out on a baking sheet and allow it to cool for about 30 minutes.
  2. Remove bones and skin: Unless you plan on using the bones and skin to make stock, remove it from the chicken before freezing. Bones and skin can deteriorate the quality of the chicken when frozen.
  3. Divide into portions: It’s best to freeze cooked chicken in portion sizes that you’ll use in one sitting. This makes it easier to thaw and reduces food waste.

Freezing and Thawing Cooked Chicken

After preparing the cooked chicken, it’s time to freeze it. Place it in a freezer-safe container, ensuring it’s airtight to prevent freezer burn. Alternatively, use freezer bags or wrap it in aluminum foil. Before sealing the container, remove any excess air to prevent freezer burn.

When thawing frozen cooked chicken, it’s best to do it in the refrigerator overnight. If you’re in a hurry, thaw it in the microwave following the instructions on your microwave. Do not thaw cooked chicken at room temperature as this increases the risk of food poisoning.

Packaging and Labeling for Freezing Cooked Chicken

Proper packaging and labeling are essential to ensure your cooked chicken stays fresh and organized in the freezer. Here are some tips:

Choosing the Right Packaging

Airtight containers or freezer bags are the best options for freezing cooked chicken. These containers will prevent air from entering, which can cause freezer burn and spoil the chicken. You can also wrap the chicken in aluminum foil to protect it from freezer burn.

Labeling Your Packages

Labeling your packages will help you keep track of the contents and avoid confusion. Use a permanent marker to write the date of freezing and a brief description of the chicken, such as “grilled chicken” or “chicken curry.” Make sure to write legibly and use large letters. You can also use adhesive labels or tape to stick on the packages.

Dividing into Portions

Dividing your cooked chicken into appropriate portions before freezing will make it easier to thaw and use later. You can use various techniques, such as cutting it into smaller pieces, shredding it, or dicing it. Whatever method you choose, make sure to portion the chicken based on your needs and the size of your containers.

Following these packaging and labeling tips will help you maintain the quality and safety of your frozen cooked chicken while making it easy to use later.

Freezing Cooked Chicken: Dos and Don’ts

When it comes to freezing cooked chicken, there are certain dos and don’ts to keep in mind to ensure the chicken stays fresh and safe for consumption. Here are some tips to follow:

  1. Do: Cool the cooked chicken properly before freezing. Let it cool at room temperature for 15-20 minutes, then place it in the refrigerator until it reaches a temperature of 40°F or below.
  2. Don’t: Refreeze previously frozen chicken. Once the chicken has been thawed, it should not be refrozen as it can lead to bacterial growth and foodborne illness.
  3. Do: Use an airtight container or freezer bag to store the cooked chicken. Make sure to remove as much air as possible to prevent freezer burn.
  4. Don’t: Freeze chicken that has been sitting out for more than two hours. Bacteria can multiply rapidly at room temperature, leading to foodborne illness.
  5. Do: Label and date the packages of frozen cooked chicken for easy identification and to keep track of storage time.
  6. Don’t: Store frozen cooked chicken in the door of the freezer. The temperature in the door fluctuates more, which can lead to the chicken thawing and refreezing, compromising its quality and safety.

By following these dos and don’ts, you can ensure that your frozen cooked chicken stays fresh and safe for consumption.

Reheating Frozen Cooked Chicken

When it comes to reheating frozen cooked chicken, there are a few important things to keep in mind to ensure that the chicken remains safe to eat and retains its flavor and texture.

Tip 1: Thaw the chicken properly. The best way to reheat frozen cooked chicken is to thaw it overnight in the refrigerator. This will allow the chicken to defrost slowly and evenly, minimizing the risk of bacteria growth. If you’re short on time, you can also thaw the chicken in the microwave using the defrost setting.

Tip 2: Avoid overcooking. Overcooking frozen cooked chicken can result in dry and tough meat. To avoid this, reheat the chicken in the oven or on the stove over low heat until it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F. Use a meat thermometer to check the temperature and ensure that the chicken is fully cooked.

Tip 3: Add moisture. Frozen cooked chicken can sometimes become dry after reheating. To prevent this, add a little bit of moisture to the chicken before reheating it. You can do this by brushing the chicken with a little bit of olive oil or chicken broth.

Tip 4: Use the right reheating method. The best reheating method for frozen cooked chicken depends on how the chicken was originally cooked. For example, if the chicken was originally roasted in the oven, reheating it in the oven will yield the best results. If it was originally cooked in a sauce, reheating it on the stove in the same sauce will help retain its moisture and flavor.

By following these tips, you can reheat frozen cooked chicken safely and easily. Whether you’re using it in a stir-fry, salad, or sandwich, reheated cooked chicken can make for a quick and tasty meal.

Storage and Shelf Life of Frozen Cooked Chicken

Proper storage of frozen cooked chicken is crucial to maintain its quality and taste. Incorrect storage techniques can lead to freezer burn or spoilage, compromising the safety and flavor of the chicken.

When storing cooked chicken in the freezer, it is important to use freezer-safe containers or bags that are tightly sealed. These can be found at most grocery stores or online retailers. Storage containers with an airtight lid or bags with a zipper seal can help prevent air from entering and causing freezer burn.

It is essential to label the containers or bags with the date of freezing to keep track of the storage duration. Frozen cooked chicken can be stored for up to four months, depending on the quality and preparation method. Extending the storage time beyond this period can affect the flavor and texture of the chicken.

It is also important to maintain a consistent freezer temperature of 0°F to ensure the chicken stays fresh. Fluctuating temperatures can cause the chicken to thaw and refreeze, leading to changes in texture and taste.

To thaw frozen cooked chicken, it is best to transfer it from the freezer to the refrigerator. This allows the chicken to thaw gradually and evenly, preserving its quality. It is recommended to allow at least 24 hours for every five pounds of frozen cooked chicken to thaw in the refrigerator.

In conclusion, to maintain the quality and shelf life of frozen cooked chicken, it is essential to use proper storage techniques, including tightly sealed freezer-safe containers, labeling, and consistent freezer temperature. Thawing gradually in the refrigerator is the best method to preserve its texture and taste.


In conclusion, freezing cooked chicken is a great way to keep it fresh for future use and prevent food waste. With the proper techniques and best practices we’ve outlined in this guide, you can safely freeze and reheat cooked chicken without losing its delicious taste and texture. Remember to cool the chicken properly, divide it into suitable portions, and use airtight containers or freezer bags for packaging. Labeling and dating your packages will also help you easily identify them for future use.

By following these guidelines, you can enjoy a tasty meal even on busy days. So, the next time you ask the question, “Can you freeze cooked chicken?” The answer is a resounding YES! Freeze your chicken without any worries and enjoy it later. Don’t let your leftovers go to waste. Make the most of them by preserving their flavor and nutrients through freezing. Thanks for reading our guide, and happy freezing!


What are the benefits of freezing cooked chicken?

Freezing cooked chicken helps to prolong its freshness and flavor. It allows you to have ready-to-use chicken whenever you need it, saving you time in the kitchen.

What are the best practices for freezing cooked chicken?

To freeze cooked chicken properly, make sure to package it in airtight containers or freezer bags. Label the packages with the date and contents to easily identify them in the freezer.

Can you freeze leftover cooked chicken?

Yes, you can freeze leftover cooked chicken. It’s a great way to save and repurpose any excess chicken you may have.

How should I prepare cooked chicken for freezing?

Before freezing cooked chicken, allow it to cool completely. If desired, remove any bones or skin. Cut the chicken into portions or slices for easy thawing later.

What is the best way to package and label frozen cooked chicken?

For freezing cooked chicken, use airtight containers, freezer bags, or wrap it in aluminum foil. Label each package with the date and contents for easy organization.

What are the dos and don’ts of freezing cooked chicken?

Do package the chicken securely to avoid freezer burn. Don’t cross-contaminate raw and cooked chicken. Maintain proper hygiene throughout the freezing process.

How do I reheat frozen cooked chicken?

To safely reheat frozen cooked chicken, you can use methods like oven baking, microwaving, or pan-frying. Take care not to overcook the chicken to prevent it from becoming dry.

How long can I store frozen cooked chicken?

Frozen cooked chicken can be safely stored for up to three months. However, for the best flavor and quality, it’s recommended to consume it within one to two months.

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