In case you are left with some leftover chicken or chicken breasts as the case may be, whether from dinner or any other mealtime and you wonder if you can freeze them later.
You are allowed to freeze your cooked chicken as long as you have allowed it to cool. However, after freezing, in case you have defrosted you cooked chicken and eaten a part of it, can you go ahead to refreeze any leftover again? No straight reply can be given in particular to this question, it is dependent on how you have frozen the chicken and how you have defrosted it.
Why exactly should you take note when you want to refreeze cooked chicken? Refreezing any kind of food, chicken inclusive can risk an increase in the amount of the bacteria on your food. Refreezing your meat can also destroy its quality greatly. The main reason for the reduction of quality is because the ice crystals formed during the process of freezing tend to break down the meat’s cell walls and it becomes not too edible because it would have turned mushy.
In this guide, we want to show you those things you should know about if you can refreeze your cooked chicken or not. Let’s check them out, shall we?
Why Refreezing Chicken Is Not Always a Good Idea
The quality and texture of your chicken will be largely ruined if you consider refreezing chickens and this is part of the reasons you are not recommended to do so. Your cooked chicken that you have frozen, defrosted, and refrozen will most likely be chewy, really tough, and will not have the exact flavor of your normal cooked chicken. It may not be appetizing for people that prefer having their chicken succulent and soft. You should, however, note that it does not mean it is a risk to health. If you are a type of person that does not mind taking chewy chicken, you can refreeze your cooked chicken if you follow the proper storage procedures.
Another concern as regards refreezing of cooked chicken is that there is a risk of a potential increase in the growth of bacteria. The freezing of your chicken will stop the growth of bacteria but the bacteria do not get killed. Immediately you thaw your chicken and warm to more than the temperature of 40°F, bacteria begin to grow again and they spread on your chicken which can cause foodborne illnesses. Bacteria are always present on foods, but if you keep your chicken in the right manner, the bacteria on it will not be up to the dangerous threshold, making them low for your body to handle.
Refreezing Cooked Chicken
In case you do not have any choice than to refreeze your chicken, you must make sure that you follow due procedures when you are thawing it for the very first time so that you can ensure it is safe for you to refreeze your chicken. If you want to thaw for the very first time, make sure that the thawing is done in the fridge. You could do that by taking the frozen chicken from the freezer a day or night before, placing it inside your refrigerator, and allowing it to slowly thaw at a temperature that is safe. The chicken will not be allowed above a temperature of 40°F by thawing it this way, as long as the refrigerator has a temperature running below 40°F, then you can refreeze your chicken if you decide to.
Do not refreeze cooked chickens which you have thawed through defrost function inside a microwave or hot water. There is a possibility that this type of chicken will be exposed to further growth of bacteria because it has been heated and this may lead you to illness if you eat the chicken after you might have refrozen it. Even though it isn’t totally certain that thawing you chicken in warm water or defrosting inside the microwave will you sick, it increases the potentials of catching an illness. It is not left for you if you would like to risk it or not.
Cooking Refrozen Chicken
Frozen cooked chickens can be eaten as long as you kept them below the temperature of 40°F. You can use it and you don’t have to throw them away. Let’s check below how you can make use of your frozen cooked chicken so that you can proceed to freeze it and eat again.
- Leave the chicken in your fridge till you want to freeze it again. It should, however, not be left longer than one day.
- You can divide the chicken into small parts so that it can be easy to be frozen and eaten again.
- Allow your refrozen chicken to defrost slowly inside the refrigerator overnight so that the temperature will not increase to that which will be conducive for bacteria before cooking.
- In the act of reheating the chicken, reheat to 160°F temperature for a minimum of two minutes so that it can be hot throughout. Bacteria on the food will also be killed.
- You should only reheat once after the chicken has been thawed in the refrigerator. When you reheat and allow it to cool more than a time, you increase the risk of bacteria, hence, a foodborne illness.
- Immediately your chicken has been defrosted, you should eat it within 24 hours.
- If you do not have the intension to eat your cooked chicken within 24 hours, do not remove from your freezer.
How to Refreeze Cooked Chicken Safely
To ensure that your chicken is safe and well protected inside the freezer, you have to be cautious when refreezing your cooked chicken.
You should freeze in an airtight freezer-safe container that is tightly sealed or in an airtight plastic bag. If your leftover chicken has been defrosted in your fridge, immediately move them to the freezer and don’t allow it to be at room temperature. The temperature is quickly decreased which will lower any risk of bacterial contamination if you immediately place them in your freezer.
If you store your cooked chicken properly, it could be kept inside your freezer for up to four months. The quality, taste, and texture begin to decline after this and there could also be freezer burn. Though you can still eat even after this period, it won’t be that great.
Check below some of the cooked chicken meals you can freeze and those you should not freeze:
- Chicken Breasts: You can freeze chicken breasts. They can be placed together inside a freezer bag or container or they can be frozen individually in smaller portions.
- Fried Chicken: You can freeze fried chicken by placing them in a very airtight freezer container.
- Chicken and Dumplings: You can freeze your chicken and dumplings by placing inside a freezer-safe bag or container. You should allow a little pace inside the container or bag because the dish will slightly expand. For the shape of your dumplings to be kept, they should be frozen separately.
- Chicken Salad: Chicken salad is not recommended to be frozen, most especially if it contains mayo dressings. The mayo becomes separate and will be gross in texture. Ingredients of salad also become unappetizing because they turn into much when they are frozen.
- Chicken Noodle Soup: You can freeze your chicken noodle soup. The soups without potatoes and cream also freeze well.
Refreezing Cooked Chicken
As long as your cooked chicken is stored and preserved properly, you can refreeze them. You can only refreeze your cooked chicken if you have defrosted it in the refrigerator and you have not allowed it to be exposed to heat that is higher than a temperature of 40°F. If you allow your cooked chicken to be exposed to a higher temperature, you risk the challenge of bacteria growth. Remember that freezing your chicken will not kill the bacteria, they will still remain after they are allowed to thaw and you could risk being ill. You should handle and refreeze your leftover cooked chicken safely by following the correct procedures.
Is it okay to defrost chicken in the sink?
You can defrost your chicken in a sink as long as you will immediately use it and discard the leftovers. If you want to defrost your chicken inside the sink, fill the sink with much cold water, put the chicken as placed inside a plastic bag that has sealed tightly inside the water, and allow it to sit until it gets thawed. If you try to refreeze chicken that has been defrosted in this manner, you are at risk of illness caused by a rise in the growth of bacteria on the chicken.
How many times can you reheat chicken?
Ideally, the chicken should only be reheated once after you have cooked it. You can proceed to reheat it once again, but it is not advisable. This will increase the potential risk of growth of bacteria which will lead to food poisoning and other illnesses.
Can you defrost chicken and place it back in the fridge?
If you have defrosted your chicken in a microwave or water, you should cook it immediately. If you defrosted your chicken by leaving it in the refrigerator, then you can keep it in the refrigerator for a day or two before you cook it.