On a normal day, grilling chicken breast is typically not hard. However, this is not the case when you are in the office and suddenly remember you have not thawed the chicken that you intend to have for dinner. On such days, it is normal to feel overwhelmed and sometimes you may opt to have a different meal.
Sometimes, however, if the alternative food has to be fetched from the grocery store, changing dinner plans may be a tedious process, and you may be forced to grill your frozen chicken. What you probably do not know is that the frozen chicken, when grilled, exposes you to several risks. No matter the situation, grilling frozen chicken should never be an option. If you have found yourself in the dilemma of choosing between grilling your frozen chicken and changing your dinner plans, this article is for you.
So, can you grill frozen chicken breast? The simple answer is no, but there is a little more to it. Grilling frozen chicken breast should not be done given its dire consequences. The disadvantages of eating this meal outweighs its advantages. The drawbacks range from eating half-cooked meat to acquiring bacterial infections to spending longer hours grilling, among other things. It is best if you can avoid grilling frozen chicken at all.
If you are wondering if this completely writes off your frozen chicken, the answer is no. You can still defrost your frozen chicken and then grill it to your liking. This may involve thawing through refrigeration, placing it in a microwave, or a number of other methods of defrosting frozen chicken.
Keep reading to learn why you should never grill frozen chicken breast, some methods of thawing frozen chicken, methods of grilling your chicken breast, how to avoid needing to defrost your chicken before grilling, and other questions relating to grilling or cooking frozen chicken.
- Why you should not Grill Frozen Chicken Breast？
- How to Defrost Frozen Chicken Breast？
- Step-to-Step Guide on How to Grill Your Chicken Breast
- So Can You Cook Chicken Breast Without Thawing?
- Tips for Thawing and Cooking Frozen Chicken
- Is Frozen Chicken Healthy?
- Health Risks of Eating Frozen Chicken
- Related Questions
Why you should not Grill Frozen Chicken Breast？
As mentioned above, grilling frozen chicken has its drawbacks and some may involve placing your health at risk. Therefore, if your health is a priority, you will want to avoid frozen chicken at all costs. Remember, the healthier you are the better, since you can then grill and consume more smoked food including burgers.
To start, smoking frozen chicken could mean eating raw meat. First, it is normal for your chicken to be super cooked on the edges only for you to find out it is raw in the middle. Sometimes the outer layer of the chicken becomes overcooked while the inside is still raw. Therefore, while the chicken may appear cooked judging from the appearance, you may end up consuming raw chicken without your knowledge and fall sick.
Do not ever eat raw chicken or poultry. It exposes you to the risks of getting salmonella poisoning or food bore illness related to poultry. To avoid these risks, make sure you cook your thawed chicken at very low temperatures. This ensures sufficient time for the middle part of the bird to cook before the outer is overly cooked.
Second, grilling frozen chicken will take more time than grilling unfrozen chicken. This is because the ice on the poultry has to melt first. The melting process will begin with the edges living the middle part still frozen.
This means you will have to be careful while smoking to make sure that the chicken is grilled evenly. As such, the process is cumbersome, will require more time and in most cases, the final product will be unevenly cooked chicken.
Other than that, grilling frozen chicken under the standard slow heat of the grill may attract the growth of bacteria. While slow heat from the grill is best for cooking food evenly, it is not ideal for frozen chicken. This is because the slow heat encourages the growth of bacteria that thrive under such conditions. When the bacteria grows, this exposes you to the risk of contracting diseases if you consume the chicken.
In short, the process of grilling frozen chicken is both exhausting and highly likely to pose a risk to your health. Therefore, grilling frozen chicken should never be an option.
How to Defrost Frozen Chicken Breast？
Ideally, for the best results, you should thaw your chicken a day or two before grilling it. Poultry thawed earlier is safer to eat than that if only thawed a few minutes before grilling. Apart from that, thawing methods vary depending on the size of your chicken.
Some methods work best for small chunks of chicken breast while others are best for a whole chicken. Also, the choice of thawing may affect the final taste of your smoked meat. Therefore, the following are the best methods of thawing your chicken breast.
This is the most efficient, safe and reliable method of thawing chicken. It involves removing your chicken breast from the freezer and placing it in the refrigerator. With this method, you will have to place your frozen chicken in the refrigerator a day before smoking it. However, the ideal timing depends on the size and parts of the chicken.
Chicken breast requires 24 hours of defrosting in the refrigerator, although you can also add a day. However, if most parts of the chicken are bony or if you want to defrost a whole chicken, it may take more time. For example, a five-pound chicken will take 2 days to thaw in the refrigerator.
This method of thawing is best for large chunks of chicken breast or a whole chicken. Refrigeration is preferred over other methods because it requires less attention.
- Water Bath Thawing
Despite its name, this method of thawing does not involve the use of hot or warm water, but cold water. This is because warm water causes the edges of the chicken to melt faster while the middle is still defrosting. Warm water may also cause bacteria to grow on the poultry.
The first step in this process is placing your chicken in a leak-proof or vacuum-sealed bag. Once you are sure the bag cannot allow water through, place the bag in a bowl of cold water.
If your standard water is warm, add ice cubes to it to bring down the temperature. For this method, chicken breast takes less than 2 hours to defrost, while larger chunks may take longer.
This thawing method is best suited for small chunks of chicken like breasts. Unlike refrigeration, water bath thawing requires more monitoring. For the best results, the cold water should be replaced after every 30 to 45 minutes.
When thawing separate chunks of chicken breast, once individual pieces have fully thawed, you can get remove them and place the remaining pieces in the water to continue defrosting.
- Using a Microwave
Modern microwave designs have automatic defrosting options. As such, you just have to place your chicken in and press the defrosting a button and voila, your chicken is thawed. However, in case your microwave does not have this option, you can still use a regular microwave to defrost your chicken breast.
Place the chicken breast on a dish. Place the dish in the microwave and observe the chicken periodically to check if it is thawed. It is recommended that you periodically flip and turn chicken to make sure all sides are defrosted. This also ensures that the edges of the chicken do not overcook. This is especially important if your microwave does not have a rotating plate.
Using a microwave is best for small chunks of chicken like breasts. This method can also be used when you want to cook almost immediately after thawing. However, as mentioned before, the heat from the microwave may cook the edges and the outer layer of the chicken while the middle part is still thawing. As such, it is recommended that you cook microwaved chicken immediately to avoid further cooking of the edges.
If you are using a microwave with defrosting settings, make sure you read the instruction manual to understand how to use the defrost button or the amount of food that should be placed in at a time.
You can use the above methods to prepare your chicken breast before grilling.
Step-to-Step Guide on How to Grill Your Chicken Breast
Now that you know how to defrost your chicken breast, the next step is to grill it. After all, that was the main goal, right? You can also use this procedure to grill both unfrozen and defrosted chicken.
- The first step is to cut your chicken breast into pieces that can be pounded. This is because once you pound the chicken pieces they become bigger.
- When you are satisfied with the size of your chicken breast pieces, wrap them up in a plastic material. This makes sure the chicken juice is maintained while pounding.
- Use a meat tenderizer with flat sides to pound your chicken pieces. In case you do not have one, use a rolling pin. Pounding is necessary for ensuring the chicken pieces have an even thickness. When pounding, focus on the thickest points of a piece. The goal is for all the pieces to be even. It makes grilling easier and faster.
- Take the pounded chicken breast and place them on a bowl. Marinade them to your preference. It is recommended that you use highly oil-based marinating ingredients. Also, avoid sweeteners like honey when marinating. This is because they make the chicken stick to the grill.
- Place the marinated chicken breast in the refrigerator to allow it marinade completely. Note that marinating does not make the chicken soft or juicy. If you want your chicken to be softer, you can opt instead to brine it.
- The next step is to oil the grill using a paper towel dipped in oil. Use tongs to run the paper towel on the grill’s grates
- At temperatures of 400F, preheat the grill for direct cooking.
- Take the marinated chicken breast and wipe off any excess marinade. If you brined your meat, pat the meat dry.
- Spread the marinated chicken pieces on the grill. Spread them out in one layer to allow even cooking.
- One piece of chicken typically takes 4 minutes per side to be cooked. However, you can use an immediate thermometer to make sure the temperatures are at 165F, meaning that the chicken is thoroughly cooked. If you do have a thermometer, you can simply use your intuition, but make sure the meat is not pink inside.
- Once all of your chicken breast is smoked, serve it and allow to settle for 5 minutes so that the chicken juice is not lost when you cut the chicken.
- Enjoy your grilled meal.
So Can You Cook Chicken Breast Without Thawing?
Although it is not recommended to eat directly cooked frozen chicken, it can sometimes be unavoidable. For example, some meals are instant, so you have chicken breast in your freezer, but you have not planned on cooking. A friend may visit and it may be your only option, especially since many people love chicken. In such cases, you can cook your frozen chicken directly and skip the defrosting procedure.
Nevertheless, there are some conditions. First, eating directly cooked frozen chicken can be done only if you bake the chicken. Roasting, smoking, or any other cooking method is not appropriate for frozen chicken.
Besides, defrosted chicken tastes better compared to frozen chicken, while also being healthier. To be safe, bake the chicken for 50% longer than the normal cooking time. For example, if cooking defrosted chicken usually takes 60 minutes, you should cook frozen chicken for 90 minutes. The following is a procedure for baking frosted chicken.
- Heat the oven to 350F.
- Season your chicken breast to your preference. Any seasoning works with chicken breast, from barbecue to breadcrumbs or even just pepper. In this procedure, we will prepare a breaded chicken breast.
- For breaded chicken, the next step is to cover it with mustard coating then sprinkle bread crumbs on it. The mustard coating ensures the crumbs stick to the chicken.
- Place the seasoned chicken into an oiled pan. Use a boiling pan to make sure no chicken juice spills out.
- Place the chicken piece in single layers to avoid overlapping, which may cause uneven baking.
- Place the chicken in the oven and allow it to bake for 50% longer than the normal baking time for thawed chicken.
- Use a thermometer to measure the temperature. If it has reached 165F then the chicken is properly cooked. However, if you do not have a meat thermometer, you can inspect the innermost part of the meat to make sure it is not pink before you declare it baked.
- Serve the baked chicken and allow it to sit on the plate for 5 minutes. This helps to keep the juices of the chicken intact.
However, in case it is too late you could prepare some stew instead.
- Cut the onions and any other ingredient or spices of your choice. Place them in pan and later add the chicken to make the stew.
- Serve when hot and enjoy your meal.
Tips for Thawing and Cooking Frozen Chicken
- Always thaw your meat for a day or two before grilling or baking, depending on the size of your chicken
- Use a sealed bag when using cold water
- For microwaving, constantly check on the chicken to make sure it does not overcook on the edges
- When grilling, keep your chicken pieces evenly thin
- Be on hand to avoid overcooking
Is Frozen Chicken Healthy?
Yes, chicken has some health benefits to your body. It has built a reputation for boosting your minerals and vitamin content in your body.
Starting with minerals, chicken is rich in zinc content. For every 3.5 ounces of chicken you consume, you get 1.1mg of zinc. This, according to science, is 10% of the recommended daily zinc intake for men and 14% for women. Zinc is important for your immune system. It is also beneficial for the efficient functioning of cells.
Another mineral from chicken is Selenium. For every 3.5 ounces of chicken you take, you get 16.7 milligrams of Selenium. This accounts for is 30% of the Selenium needed daily by your body. Selenium is important for the body to control cell growth. It is also used to maintain proper thyroid function
Aside from minerals, chicken is also rich in Vitamins, including Vitamin E and B-12. Therefore, for every 3.5 ounces of chicken you eat, you get 0.29g of Vitamin B-12. This vitamin is used to aid nerve function. It also helps the cell to control gene activity and supports red blood cell development. Vitamin E, on the other hand, is essential for cell communication. It also protects cells from cellular damage.
All that said, you still need to follow the procedure of defrosting before grilling.
Health Risks of Eating Frozen Chicken
Although chicken has health benefits listed above, there are some health risks associated with eating frozen chicken.
Firstly, in most cases, frozen chicken is usually pre-packaged; this means that it is processed food. Therefore, there is need for concern. Processed foods are associated with several lifestyle diseases like type 2 diabetes. As such, processed foods should only be eaten occasionally. Alternatively, you can freeze your fresh chicken instead of purchasing packaged chicken.
Secondly, frozen chicken has a high amount of sodium. Primarily, the salt is meant to provide additional flavor. If you consume 3.5 ounces of chicken, you will get 532 milligrams of sodium. This high level of salts could potentially lead to osteoporosis. In addition, when you consume these foods, you become highly susceptible to some types of cancer and heart disease. Therefore, these types of frozen chickens should only be eaten in moderation.
Do the above defrosting methods work for other types of meat?
Yes, they do. You can refrigerate, use cold water, or place your frozen beef in the microwave for defrosting. All that differs is the specific conditions for cooking the meat.
Can I use a slow cooker for cooking frozen chicken?
According to scientists, if you have not thawed your chicken, then you should not cook it in a slow cooker. Although their reasons are unclear and the debate about is still heated, the argument is that this frozen chicken attracts bacteria under low heat. As such, by the time it is cooked, it might have bacteria which risks making you sick if you eat it.