Can You Cook Frozen Chicken Without Thawing It?

Forget to defrost? Don't panic.

frozen chicken
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Last minute dinner plans are a reality in today's world. We work late, skip grocery runs, or just plain forget to plan supper until the last minute. If this happens to you, there's no need to pick up the phone and call in for takeout. If you've got chicken in the freezer, you can still make a quick and easy meal. According to nutritionist and Fresh Starts Registry expert Allie Echeverria of Atlanta, Georgia, it's possible to cook chicken from frozen. However, there are a few things you need to know in order to make sure it cooks thoroughly without drying out. The next time you need a last-minute dinner, use these guidelines for cooking frozen chicken without thawing it.

Can You Cook Chicken Without Thawing It?

Echevarria's says you can safely cook chicken without thawing it, but she admits it can be tricky to cook it evenly. Often, the outside of the chicken will finish cooking while the interior meat will still be frozen and raw. This is not only unappetizing, but it's also unhealthy since it isn't safe to eat chicken if it isn't fully cooked. And, of course, if you cook the chicken longer, the outer layers will be overdone and dry. Luckily, there are a few surefire ways to cook delicious, tender chicken without thawing it.

What's the Best Way to Cook Chicken Without Thawing It?

Echevarria favorite method makes the most of her multi-cooker. Here's how to use your Instant Pot to cook frozen chicken.

  1. Place four frozen chicken breasts into the Instant Pot, add one cup of water or broth, and your favorite seasonings.
  2. Place the lid and seal the valve. Use the manual pressure setting and cook for 10-12 minutes on high pressure.
  3. Allow the pressure to release naturally for five to 10 minutes before manually releasing the remaining pressure. Remember that Instant Pots take about 10 minutes to come to pressure before your food starts cooking. Your chicken will go from frozen to cooked in about 30 minutes.

Note: Instant Pots are not interchangeable with slow cookers in this instance because, according to the FDA, it may take too long for raw chicken to reach a safe internal temperature of 165 degrees if it cooks too slowly. This will potentially allow bacteria to grow.

If you don't have an Instant Pot, Echevarria says you can also cook frozen chicken in the oven:

  1. Place in an oven preheated to 350 degrees.
  2. Brush periodically with olive oil to keep the chicken moist.
  3. It will take approximately 60 minutes to cook 8 ounces of chicken all the way through.
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