Perhaps you love cooking food in bulks or you simply cooked more chicken than you needed and you don’t want it to go to waste. So, can you freeze cooked chicken? And, how long does cooked chicken last in the fridge?
To answer the original question: yes, theoretically you can. However, it also depends on how the chicken was prepared. If the recipe is a chicken salad, you need to take into account the other ingredients to ascertain whether they can be frozen without losing their good texture and ruining the entire dish. If the recipe contains emulsion sauces such as mayonnaise or vinaigrette, the ingredients will break down and it will become irremediably unpalatable.
It’s recommended that you don’t leave the chicken out at room temperature for a prolonged period. As soon as you finish cooking or after the meal, the leftovers need to be put in an airtight plastic or freezer bag and stored in the freezer. That way, the chances of it being contaminated and you getting foodborne illnesses from it are considerably reduced. Also, check to see that it doesn’t contain any ingredient that may not freeze well, such as lettuce and, as stated earlier, emulsion sauces.
If the amount of remaining chicken is too much, it’s also recommended that you pack them in single-serving sizes, that way, you’ll be able to thaw the correct amounts for each meal instead of going through the arduous task of separating those portions from a frozen bulk of chicken mass. Remember that air is your enemy, so push it out before sealing!
The proper temperature to freeze chicken is 0º F.
If done correctly, it should not affect the taste at all. However, some of the fat used for the cooking might break down, so it won’t be exactly the same texture and taste as when you first cooked it, though the difference is not really discernible and you can find ways to restore some of the original flavors.
You should have no issue refreezing unused portions of thawed cooked chicken. It’s perfectly safe and should pose no health risk. The only downside to this is that the ice crystals that form from freezing defrosted food might water down the gusto and the texture. If reheated, the impact on quality might be greater, so be careful to reheat only what you are sure you’re going to eat on that day.
However, if the chicken was reheated in the microwave or left outside at room temperature for too long, it’s not safe to refreeze it as it might have gotten bacteria and will definitely spoil.
Bacteria grows slower in temperatures below 40º F, but it still grows, regardless. In the fridge, cooked chicken could last approximately 3 or 4 days without spoilage.
In the freezer, how long can you freeze cooked chicken depends on the type listed below:
There are various ways to defrost cooked chicken.
The easiest way is by placing it in the microwave with defrost setting. It usually lasts seconds or just a few minutes, depending on the quantity, that is. If you are simply going to reheat it and eat it straight from the microwave, then you can skip this step.
If you have no microwave with that function, you can store it in the fridge overnight or during the day and check to see that no ice pockets remain in the center or under the meat.
Once thawed, make sure to cook it at very high temperatures so that it kills the lingering bacteria. This should be done in the space of 2 minutes to guarantee that it’s safe to eat.
Apart from using the traditional microwave method, there are other ways to reheat frozen cooked chicken. However, since chicken has a tendency to get rough or dry, with the consequence of losing its juicy flavor, it’s recommended that you use a saucepan to recook it while adding more seasoning and oil to restore it closer to its former glory! In the case of frozen fried chicken, you can put it in an oven preheated at approximately 375º F and bake it at that temperature in a span of 30 minutes.