How Long Can You Freeze Chicken? A Guide to Freezing Chicken Safely

How Long Can You Freeze Chicken

Chicken is a versatile protein that can be prepared in numerous ways. However, there are times when you may purchase more chicken than you can consume immedi­ately. In these insta­nces, freezing the chicken is a sensible solution to avoid wastage.

When it comes to freezing chicken, the length of time it can be stored depends on a few factors. These include the type of chicken, how it’s packaged, and the tempe­rature of your freezer. In general, you can freeze chicken for up to nine months without compro­mising its quality or taste. However, proper storage is crucial to prevent issues like freezer burn.

To maintain the freshness and safety of your frozen chicken, it’s essential to adhere to a few straigh­tforward guide­lines. Start by ensuring proper packaging and labeling with the date of freezing. Then, store the chicken at a tempe­rature of -18°C or colder. By following these simple steps, you can confi­dently enjoy your frozen chicken for months while guaran­teeing its quality and safety.

Understanding the Basics of Freezing Chicken

If you want to freeze chicken, there are a few important things to know to make sure your chicken remains fresh and safe for consum­ption. Here are some essential tips to remember:

  • To maintain the quality and safety of chicken, it is important to freeze it as soon as possible after purchase or prepar­ation.
  • You can safely freeze chicken for up to 9 months, though it is recom­mended to use it within 4-6 months for the best taste and fresh­ness.
  • To properly freeze chicken, make sure to wrap it tightly and label it with the date. This will prevent freezer burn and maintain its safety for consum­ption.
  • To prevent bacterial growth, it is important to thaw chicken in the refrig­erator or using cold water, avoiding room temper­ature.
  • Once chicken has been thawed, it should be cooked within 24 hours to ensure that it remains safe to eat.

By following these simple guide­lines, you can ensure that your frozen chicken remains fresh and safe to consume for an extended period.

Factors Affecting the Freezing Duration of Chicken

When it comes to storing chicken in the freezer, there are several factors that can impact its shelf life. Some of these factors include:

1. Temperature

The freezer tempe­rature plays a crucial role in deter­mining the storage duration of chicken. It is advisable to keep chicken stored at a tempe­rature of -18°C or below. If the tempe­rature exceeds this thres­hold, the chicken may spoil, leading to an undes­irable impact on its taste and texture.

2. Packaging

Proper packaging is important for storing chicken in the freezer. To prevent freezer burn, it’s recom­mended to tightly wrap the chicken in plastic wrap or place it in an airtight conta­iner. Freezer burn can lead to dry and tough chicken, impacting its texture and flavor.

3. Quality of the Chicken

The quality of chicken before freezing can also impact its storage duration. If fresh chicken has been properly handled and stored prior to freezing, it will last longer in the freezer compared to misha­ndled or poor-q­uality chicken.

4. Freezer Type

The type of freezer used can impact the storage time for chicken. Chest freezers are recom­mended for storing chicken due to their ability to maintain a consi­stent temper­ature, which helps prevent freezer burn and keeps the chicken fresher for a longer period.

The length of time chicken can be safely stored in the freezer depends on several factors. Proper storage temper­ature, suitable packa­ging, good quality chicken, and an appro­priate freezer can all contr­ibute to its longevity without spoiling. With these condi­tions met, you can freeze chicken for several months.

How to Properly Freeze Chicken

If you want to extend the shelf life of chicken, freezing is a great option. However, it’s crucial to freeze it correctly to minimize any potential health hazards. Here are some tips to help you freeze chicken properly:

1. Choose Fresh Chicken

To properly freeze chicken, always begin with fresh chicken. This guara­ntees that the chicken is of high quality and safe for consum­ption. It’s best to avoid freezing chicken that is nearing its expir­ation date or has been previ­ously frozen and thawed.

2. Package the Chicken Correctly

To ensure that your chicken stays fresh and protected from freezer burn and contami­nation, it’s crucial to package it corre­ctly. Here are a few tips to help you do just that:

  • Use freezer-safe bags or containers
  • Remove as much air as possible before sealing the bag or container
  • Label the package with the date of freezing and the type of chicken

3. Freeze the Chicken Quickly

Freezing chicken quickly is essential for prese­rving its quality. Slow freezing can lead to the formation of large ice crystals that can negat­ively impact the texture and flavor of the meat. Here are some tips to ensure proper freezing:

  • Place the chicken in the coldest part of the freezer
  • Don’t overload the freezer
  • Freeze the chicken in a single layer before stacking it

4. Thaw the Chicken Safely

  • Thaw the chicken in the fridge, not on the countertop
  • Allow enough time for the chicken to thaw completely
  • Use the thawed chicken within 24 hours

Signs of Spoiled Frozen Chicken

Proper storage of frozen chicken can signif­icantly extend its shelf life. However, it is crucial to be able to identify signs of spoiled frozen chicken in order to prevent any potential health hazards.

Here are some signs to look out for

  • Colour Changes: If the chicken has turned grey or has white spots, it may have freezer burn or be spoiled.
  • Texture Changes: If the chicken feels slimy, sticky or has a mushy texture, it’s a sign that the chicken is no longer safe to eat.
  • Foul Odour: If the chicken has a strong, unpleasant odour, it’s a sign that it has spoiled.
  • Ice Crystals: If there are large ice crystals on the chicken, it may have been thawed and refrozen, which can cause bacterial growth.

It’s crucial to remember that even if the chicken appears and smells okay, it may still be spoiled. Trust your instincts and when uncer­tain, it’s best to discard it.

Thawing Frozen Chicken Safely

To avoid foodborne illne­sses, it is crucial to thaw frozen chicken safely. Here are some safe methods for thawing frozen chicken:

1. Refrigerator Thawing

To thaw chicken safely, it is recom­mended to use the refrig­erator method. Simply place the frozen chicken on a plate or in a container and allow it to thaw in the refrig­erator for 24-48 hours. Once thawed, the chicken can be stored in the refrig­erator for up to two days before cooking.

2. Cold Water Thawing

If you need to thaw frozen chicken quickly, the cold water method is faster than using the refrig­erator. First, place the frozen chicken in a leak-proof bag and then submerge it in cold water. Remember to change the water every 30 minutes until the chicken is compl­etely thawed. With this method, it should take about 1-3 hours to thaw a whole chicken.

3. Microwave Thawing

The quickest method to thaw chicken is using a micro­wave, but it may result in uneven thawing, leaving some parts partially cooked. Follow the instru­ctions on your microwave for defro­sting chicken and make sure to cook it immed­iately after thawing.

Tips for Safe Thawing

  • Never thaw chicken at room temperature, as it can promote bacterial growth.
  • Always wash hands, utensils, and surfaces that come into contact with raw chicken to prevent cross-contamination.
  • Cook thawed chicken immediately to avoid bacterial growth.
  • Do not refreeze thawed chicken, as it can lead to foodborne illness.

To safely thaw your chicken and prevent the growth of harmful bacteria, it’s important to follow these methods. This will ensure that your chicken is safe for consum­ption.

Health Risks of Old Frozen Chicken

While frozen chicken can have a long shelf life, it’s important to be aware of the potential health risks that come with consuming older frozen chicken. Here are some of those risks:

Bacterial Growth

As chicken ages, the likel­ihood of bacterial growth rises. Bacteria are able to survive in freezing temper­atures and may even multiply under these condi­tions. Improper storage or prolonged freezing can greatly increase the risk of bacterial growth, which in turn can result in foodborne illness and other related illne­sses.

Freezer Burn

Freezer burn happens when chicken is exposed to air in the freezer. This can make the chicken dry, tough, and less tasty. While freezer burn doesn’t pose any health risks, it does impact the quality of the chicken

Nutrient Loss

Frozen chicken may exper­ience some nutrient loss over time due to the freezing process. While this does not pose a signi­ficant health risk, it’s important to be mindful of the potential decrease in nutri­ents.


Eating expired frozen chicken can have negative health implic­ations. It is crucial to store chicken correctly and be mindful of the potential dangers that come with consuming old frozen chicken. If uncer­tain, it is advisable to err on the side of caution and discard any chicken that has been stored in the freezer for a prolonged period.


In summary, freezing chicken is an excellent method to prolong its freshness and reduce food waste. However, it’s crucial to adhere to appro­priate freezing and thawing proce­dures to guarantee the safety of the chicken when consumed.

To freeze chicken properly, make sure to tightly wrap it in either plastic wrap or freezer bags. This will help prevent freezer burn and maintain the quality of the chicken. Additi­onally, don’t forget to label the chicken with the date it was frozen. Keeping track of how long it has been in the freezer ensures that you can use it before its optimal quality declines.

To safely thaw frozen chicken, it is recom­mended to use the refrig­erator or the cold water method. Avoid thawing chicken at room tempe­rature as this can encourage bacteria growth.

The USDA advises that chicken can be safely frozen for up to nine months. However, for optimal quality, it is recom­mended to consume the chicken within four to six months.

It’s always important to prior­itize food safety and trust your insti­ncts. If you notice any unusual appea­rance or odor from the chicken, it is recom­mended to err on the side of caution and discard it instead of taking unnec­essary risks with your health.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long can raw chicken be safely frozen?

You can freeze raw chicken for up to nine months and still be safe to consume. However, for the best quality, it is recom­mended to eat it within six months.

What is the maximum time that chicken wings can be frozen for?

You can safely freeze chicken wings for up to nine months. However, for the best quality, it is recom­mended to consume them within six months.

How long can chicken breast be stored in the freezer?

You can safely freeze chicken breast for up to nine months, but it is suggested to consume it within six months for optimal quality.

Can cooked chicken be frozen? If so, for how long?

Absol­utely! You can freeze cooked chicken for up to three months. To maintain its quality, make sure to store it in an airtight container or freezer bag to avoid freezer burn.

How can you determine if frozen chicken has gone bad?

If frozen chicken has spoiled, it may have an unple­asant sour odor or appear disco­lored. Additi­onally, if the chicken feels slimy or has a sticky texture, it is best to avoid consuming it.

What is the recommended duration for freezing chicken in the UK?

In the UK, freezing chicken is recom­mended for a maximum of nine months. However, to ensure the best quality, it’s advisable to consume it within six months.


  • Sarah Crosswood

    As a firm believer in the importance of nourishing the body and mind, I am committed to sharing my knowledge and expertise to help others achieve optimal health and wellbeing

    Crosswood Sarah

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