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Whether you're meal prepping or you just forgot to take the chicken out of the freezer, I'm going to show you how to cook frozen chicken that can easily be transformed into any meal. Cook a whole bunch to eat throughout the week, or just do one or two for dinner that night. It's gonna be awesome.
In Hawaii, we lived around the corner from a huge grocery store. We went there nearly every day, sometimes just for the air conditioning. It was just part of life, so I never bothered to plan ahead for what we would have for dinner. These days, it's a 10-15 minute walk, which admittedly is not far. But when it's pouring down rain with 40 mph winds, it might as well be five miles. We don't have a car, and we live in a fourth floor walk up. I get my groceries delivered every week, and it's awesome.
But this means I've had to become a meal planner. I've developed my own weird system. It's more of a list of upcoming dinners than a schedule that I adhere to. But it helps me figure out what groceries I'll need for the week. I keep a lot of meat in the freezer since it might not be getting used for a while. Yet, despite my best efforts to be organized, I forget to take stuff out of the freezer all the time.
How to cook frozen chicken
Not long ago, my child called me to ask for some advice about prepping some food ahead for a busy weekend. I was surprised to learn that they didn't know you can cook chicken breasts from frozen. It's a great way to save time and money, since frozen chicken is usually cheaper than fresh. Plus you only spend about five minutes getting it ready. Then spend 45 minutes getting on with your life while it's in the oven.
Here's what you need to do:
- Preheat your oven to 375 F (190 C). Line a baking sheet with foil or a silicone baking mat for easy clean up. If you want to do a lot of chicken at once, maybe use two baking sheets. You don't want to overcrowd things.
- Dig as many chicken breasts as you want to cook out of your freezer. Then pop them onto the baking sheet. Just make sure you give each one about two inches of space.
- Either brush or spray on some oil on both sides of each chicken breast, then add salt and pepper. You can add other spices as well. Think about how you want to use the chicken later, and season accordingly. For Mexican, go with chilli powder and cumin. For Italian, dried oregano and crushed red pepper flakes would be great. Just scan your spice cabinet and go with your gut.
- Cover the chicken with foil, then pop it in the oven for 25 minutes. When the time is up, take the baking sheets out. Discard the top layer of foil, flip the breasts over, and pop them back into the oven to finish cooking. For me, this usually takes about 20 minutes. The time will vary based on the size and thickness of the chicken. You can always cut into one to check it's cooked all the way through or use a meat thermometer. You're looking for 160 F (71 C).
- Let the chicken rest for at least 10 minutes. If you're not using the chicken right away, you have a couple of options. You can pop the chicken as it is into an air tight container and put it in the fridge. I think it tends to dry out less this way. If you know you're going to be in a hurry later, go ahead and chop or shred the chicken now. Then package it up and put it in the fridge. You're one major step closer to dinner either way.
How can I use my cooked chicken?
Chicken is such a versatile ingredient. You can just make sandwiches with it or add it to prepared salads for an extra bit of protein. But there are also plenty of recipes that call for pre-cooked chicken. You can give yourself a leg up later in the week by cooking your chicken from frozen on a Sunday. Then stash it in the fridge for dinner later. Here are a few ideas for you.
- Buffalo Chicken Pinwheels
- Chicken & Goat Cheese Pasta
- Chicken Corn Chowder
- Mexican Mac & Cheese
- Buffalo Chicken Grilled Cheese
I'm usually lazy and broke, so knowing how to cook frozen chicken has saved the day many times. Use this simple technique to make more time for other awesome stuff. Dinner is no problem.
Leave a comment and let me know if you use this technique. And share your favorite ways to use pre-cooked chicken. It helps other people find the recipe. Thanks!Print
How to Cook Frozen Chicken
- Prep Time: 5
- Cook Time: 45
- Total Time: 50 minutes
- Yield: 4 servings
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Baked
- Cuisine: American
- As many frozen boneless skinless chicken breasts as you'd like
- Olive oil or whatever cooking oil you keep in your kitchen
- Salt and pepper
- Other spices to suit your taste
*I've been intentionally vague with ingredients because it will depend on the amount of chicken you want to cook and the flavor profile you want to infuse. The method will be the same no matter what.
- Preheat your oven to 375 F (190 C) and line a baking sheet with foil or a silicone baking mat.
- Get out as many frozen chicken breasts as you'd like to cook for the day or the week. The only restriction I'd caution you against is to not overcrowd your pan. If you can't fit them all on one baking sheet, you'll get better results by spreading them over two baking sheets than forcing them all together on one. Arrange them with at least two inches of space in between.
- I like to use spray oil for this, but you could also brush some oil onto your chicken breasts or just use your hands and then give them a good wash. Add a thin layer of oil to both sides of each chicken breast.
- Add salt, pepper, and whatever other spices suit your needs as described in the post above. You can season different chicken breasts for different recipes, but you'll need to be sure to remember which is which when you take them out of the oven later. Be sure to season both sides.
- Cover your baking sheet with foil and pop it in the oven. Bake your chicken for 25 minutes.
- Remove the chicken from the oven, remove the foil, and use tongs to carefully turn over each chicken breast. Put them back in the oven for a further 20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
- Let the chicken rest on the baking sheet for at least 10 minutes before slicing or shredding. You can store the chicken breasts whole as well. I feel like this helps keep some of the moisture in, but if you really want to make things easier later in the week, it's fine to store it pre-chopped.
- Store in an air-tight container in the fridge for quick dinner prep later in the week.
Keywords: Frozen Chicken, Meal Prep Chicken
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