How Long Can You Freeze Chicken? (Answered)
One of the best ways to store food, including chicken, is to place it inside the freezer. But how long can you freeze chicken?
According to the US Department of Agriculture, chicken will remain safe to eat in the freezer indefinitely. So, the chicken will be safe to eat if you keep it frozen continuously, even if the frozen chicken package has passed the expiry date.
However, the freezer can alter the taste and freshness of chicken, which means that the answer to “how long can you freeze chicken?” requires a bit more explanation.
How Long Can You Keep Chicken in the Freezer?
While you can freeze raw chicken in the freezer indefinitely, it’ll change its flavor and freshness after some time. According to FoodSafety.gov, you can store raw chicken in the freezer, and it’ll stay fresh for up to 12 months.
It’s important to note that the type of raw chicken can also affect the quality of food over time in the freezer.
Raw Chicken Products
- Chicken sausages (bought frozen): 1 – 2 months
- Ground chicken: 3 – 4 months
- Chicken pieces, like chicken breasts and chicken cutlets: Up to 9 months
- Whole chicken: Up to 12 months
Cooked Chicken Products
- Cooked Chicken: 2 – 6 months
- Cooked chicken sausages: 1 – 2 months
Important Note: The temperature of your freezer must be 0° Fahrenheit or below. Otherwise, you won’t be able to keep your chicken products fresh for the different durations mentioned above.
How to Freeze/Store Chicken Properly
The following is the list of steps that you can use for freezing and storing chicken properly.
- Remove chicken from the supermarket packaging.
- Place it inside an airtight plastic freezer bag and remove as much air as possible to prevent freezer burn.
- Tuck the sealed plastic bag in the back side of the freezer. Make sure that the freezer’s temperature is 0° Fahrenheit or below.
If you want to store cooked chicken, let it cool down first. The cooling process must not take more than two hours, according to USDA guidelines, as it’ll allow bacteria to grow on the food and make it unsafe to eat.
Once the cooked chicken has reached room temperature, use the steps listed above to freeze it. You can also wrap the cooked chicken in aluminum foil before placing it inside the plastic bag to prolong its freshness.
How to Thaw Frozen Chicken
The following are three different methods that you can use for thawing frozen chicken, recommended by the USDA.
- Refrigerator: Place frozen chicken inside the refrigerator overnight. It’s the safest method to thaw chicken.
- Cold Water: If you can’t wait overnight, you can place the frozen chicken bag in a bowl of cold water to thaw it. It’ll get the job done within a couple of hours. However, you’ll need to replace the cold-water after every 30 minutes.
- Microwave: If you want to defrost frozen chicken within minutes, place it inside the microwave and use the defrost function. Keep in mind that this method can affect the quality and taste of the chicken, but it’ll be safe to use.
Important Note: The chicken must be cooked immediately after thawing it using cold water or the microwave method to keep it safe for eating.
How Long Can You Freeze Chicken – Final Words
While you can store chicken in the freezer indefinitely, it offers the best taste for up to 12 months. The type of chicken product can also affect how long it stays fresh in the freezer.
Make sure that you follow the durations for different chicken products listed in this guide and consume your food accordingly to enjoy the best taste and maximum freshness.