Chicken is one of the best meats you can use for any dish. It goes good with just about everything and you can cook it in all kinds of ways. Whether you fry it, grill it, or boil it, chicken is just one of those meats that constitutes a meal all on its own.
When it comes to refreezing frozen chicken though, it is a common myth that once it thaws you have to cook it or it is no good afterwards.
Can you refreeze thawed chicken? Yes – you can certainly refreeze chicken if you do it the right way. This involves thawing it the correct way and making sure it is kept at the appropriate temperature so bacteria does not grow on it.
Of course, there’s more to it than just that, as thawing chicken requires some extra details to do it properly and there’s also the matter of going into how refreezing chicken can affect its taste! So let’s start out with outlining when is the right time to refreeze thawed chicken.
When is it Okay to Refreeze Thawed Chicken?
Thawing chicken in your fridge is the safest way to do it and it is also the only way you should thaw it if you want to refreeze it. Thawing chicken in the fridge takes a little time and you should let it go for about a day or two after you take it out of the freezer depending on how much chicken you are thawing out.
If you don’t have the time to use the fridge-thawing method, there are alternatives as well. You can submerge your chicken in cold water and this will only take about 1-3 hours. Although, ensure that you replace the cold water every half hour or so to make sure the water does not become too cold to actually thaw the chicken.
If you’re really looking for a quick thaw, you can also use your microwave to get this done relatively easily. Using the microwave does require some checking though. You should put the chicken in a microwave safe dish to catch any dripping juices.
Once you put your microwave on a lower setting, (most microwaves will have a defrost setting on them) defrost your chicken for a couple minutes at a time and check on it as you go. This will keep the chicken from cooking in the microwave itself.
Now that the chicken is thawed out using the microwave method, it should be cooked immediately using whatever way you planned to cook it.
For both the microwave and cold-water thawing methods, you should not refreeze the chicken at all afterwards without cooking it first. Cooked chicken can be refrozen and last for around 4 months if it’s properly sealed.
When is it Not Okay to Refreeze Thawed Chicken?
You should not refreeze thawed chicken after using the microwave or cold-water thawing processes mentioned above unless you cooked it. Also, you should not refreeze fridge-thawed chicken if it has been in the fridge for over two days.
If the chicken has already been cooked, it can stay good in the refrigerator for up to 4 days before refreezing it as well. Anything past this, and the chicken should be thrown away.
Chicken that is not thawed properly or cooked long enough can lead to someone ingesting the dangerous bacteria salmonella that is found in raw chicken. This bacteria can lead to serious food poisoning that can even result in death. It is very important to not eat or serve spoiled chicken.
Refreezing already contaminated chicken will also not kill the bacteria, this chicken is no longer good to eat no matter what you do to it and should be thrown away immediately. If you are curious as to how to spot bad chicken, refer to the section below.
Does Refreezing Chicken Affect Flavor?
Refreezing pretty much any kind of meat will affect its flavor and texture. Some people will not be able to tell the difference, others will say it tastes a bit more tough or dry. However, you’d be surprised how little it changes after one refreeze.
When you thaw chicken, it loses some of its moisture. This is because, when freezing takes place, ice crystals will form and break up some of the muscle fibers in the chicken. The more you thaw and refreeze the chicken, the more you can taste how tough the chicken meat becomes.
Because of this, many people will tell you buying frozen chicken is not ideal being that it has already been through this process once before. Of course, if you do not have peak chicken standards, the taste is by no means terrible.
If you have refroze your chicken a few times, however, it may be a good idea to make it into a stew or nachos that can sort of mask the toughness and change in texture that comes with refreezing it.
Is it Okay to Not Thaw Chicken at All?
It is! While it is not the most common method of cooking chicken, it can be done. Keep in mind it will take a little less than twice as long to cook it and it will have a pretty different taste to it. However, if you don’t want to worry about thawing it properly, you can certainly cook frozen chicken.
How Can I Tell if Chicken Has Gone Bad?
- Smell is probably the best indicator to tell if chicken has gone bad. If the smell is pungent and makes your nose crinkle a bit, do not eat this chicken, do not freeze this chicken, put it in the garbage and cut your losses.
- Color is another way to tell if your chicken is no longer usable. Look for gray or yellow spots because chicken should be a light pink with some fatty white parts throughout. Any discolored chicken belongs in the garbage.
- If there is a slimy or sticky feel to it, it has likely gone bad. It is a good idea to wash the chicken a bit before giving it the touch test and if it still feels slimy or sticky afterwards it is no good to use and refreezing it can no longer save it.