Chicken is one of the most popular proteins consumed worldwide. Americans, for example, consume more chicken than they do beef, pork, or any other meats. There are many ways to cook the bird. Grilling being a simple and healthy option.
Can you grill frozen chicken? The quick answer would be, yes. It is perfectly safe to grill frozen chicken. Unfortunately, grilling frozen chicken could kill you. If you do not cook your poultry meat properly, you might end up consuming raw bits and pieces. The result could be severe food poisoning. Health concerns aside, grilling frozen chicken may leave you with a tough and rubbery result.
Most cooks are tempted to extend the cooking time, leaving the meat sitting on the grill longer. Technically, frozen chicken will take a longer time to cook evenly. In fact, the USDA recommends increasing the cook time by 50%. But overcooking toughens up the meat, making for a less enjoyable meal.
Is it safe to grill frozen chicken?
Improperly grilled chicken cooks unevenly and tends to be raw in the middle. It is unsafe to consume raw poultry meat. Raw or undercooked chicken might carry harmful strains of bacteria. The likely presence of Salmonella bacteria, Campylobacter bacteria, and Clostridium perfringens bacteria in raw poultry meat can trigger a food borne illness in anyone who consumes it. Raw chicken at a certain temperature is the perfect medium for these harmful pathogens. Salmonella, E. coli, and other illness causing bacteria on chicken thrive and grow very fast in temperatures between 40 degrees to 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
Once you are infected by any of these bacteria, you may experience severe to possibly life-threatening symptoms. These symptoms can begin to manifest hours or days after you eat raw poultry.
You must always take extra precaution while cooking chicken; frozen or not. Handle the chicken carefully to prevent any of the juices from getting onto your ingredients or kitchen surfaces. Importantly, you should cook the meat all the way through to prevent serving and possibly consuming undercooked chicken.
Quick Thawing Techniques
The best way to thaw chicken before cooking it requires you to plan ahead. Whether you are using a thigh, breast or the whole chicken, the cooking process needs to start many hours before, or the day before if you have time.
Many health specialists, professional chefs, and food experts recommend that you thaw your chicken before cooking it. Cooking frozen chicken should therefore be a final resort. There are many ways to defrost poultry meat in case you are short on time or don’t have the patience to thaw a whole chicken.
Defrost with Cold Water
You can use cold water straight out of the tap to defrost frozen chicken. Simply place the chicken in a sealable leak-proof bag and submerge it directly in a cold water bath. A good quality zip lock bag will work fine. Sealing away the frozen chicken prevents any of the juices from contaminating your kitchen. While the chicken is thawing, you should keep the water running or change the water in the bath frequently. Doing so ensures that the water stays at a desirable cool temperature as the chicken thaws.
Defrosting your chicken this way takes a few hours depending on the size of the pieces or the whole bird.
You must never defrost chicken, or any other meat, in hot water. Thawing poultry meat in hot water raises the temperature on the surface of the meat. This creates a more suitable environment for the bacteria on the meat to grow.
Use a Microwave
Microwaves are the fastest and easiest way to thaw frozen chicken. With the defrost setting on most microwaves, you can thaw your chicken in minutes. However, always review your microwave’s instruction manual on specifics for thawing chicken with your appliance. Once poultry meat is defrosted in the microwave, it must be cooked immediately. Reason being the meat becomes a breeding ground for harmful bacteria when thawed to room temperature.
Using the refrigerator
If you are not pressed for time, you can defrost your chicken in the refrigerator. This method might take significantly longer compared to the first two methods above. For instance, a whole bird can take approximately 24hrs to defrost while in the fridge whereas the microwave takes minutes to defrost an entire chicken.
You may also defrost chicken on the kitchen counter. However, this increases the risk of cross-contamination from the chicken juices.
How can you tell when your chicken is safe or ready to eat?
A charred exterior doesn’t always mean that chicken is cooked through. The only way to ascertain that chicken meat is cooked through is by using a food thermometer. Well done chicken must have an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep in mind that different parts of the chicken will have varying cook times. For example, frozen chicken thighs will take a longer time on the grill compared to frozen drumsticks.
While possible, grilling frozen chicken is not an ideal way to prepare the meat. Thawing should always be a priority when dealing with frozen chicken. Fortunately, there are many ways to defrost chicken before cooking it. If you don’t have the time, you can cook the frozen chicken directly. However, you must ascertain that the meat reaches the CDC approved internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
Is it bad to grill frozen chicken?
Although it is safe to grill frozen chicken, you stand the risk of undercooking the meat. Consuming undercooked chicken could result in severe food poisoning and other food borne illnesses.
How do you cook a frozen chicken?
The best way to cook frozen chicken is by thawing it first. If you do not have the time to defrost the chicken meat, you can cook it directly. Frozen chicken can be grilled, stewed, or baked straight from the freezer. However, the USDA recommend a 50% increase to the cooking time. This is to make sure the chicken cooks through.