Pre-Frozen Chicken Breasts in Freezer Cooking? (Q&A)

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A reader wrote in with a freezer cooking question:

Q. I got a couple of bags of prefrozen chicken cheap. How can I implement them into my freezer cooking easily? I’m hesitant to marinate them and refreeze them because I think that the meat will go bad. But many casseroles with cooked chicken require a lot of prep and ingredients. What to do?

A. I normally buy fresh chicken breasts, but I think that many of these ideas will work with ice glazed chicken as well:

  • Make the marinades, but don’t thaw the chicken. Simply place the frozen chicken in the bags of marinades and return it immediately to the freezer. The chicken will marinate as it thaws.
  • Cook the chicken and cube or shred it. Store the chicken in the freezer to add to soups, salads, tacos, or to top pizza. I freeze plain cooked chicken all the time and it is one of the first things to go.
  • Find some simple casseroles that aren’t time intensive, like chicken enchiladas or chicken noodle casserole. Or make a Chicken Bacon Sub.
  • Make a batch of Chicken Burritos for quick meals on the go.
  • Whip up several batches of Peanut Butter Chicken. We love that stuff. Freeze the chicken and sauce separately. And toss with hot cooked pasta on the day of serving.

What do YOU think?

How would you incorporate frozen chicken breasts into freezer cooking?

Past Freezer Q&A questions:

About Jessica Fisher

I believe anyone can prepare delicious meals—no matter their budget.

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  1. I usually buy the pre-frozen kind because that’s the best deal around these parts. For marinating, I just take the chicken out the night before, put it in a bag with marinade and let it thaw in the fridge til dinner. It marinates as it thaws and you’re good to go!

    I personally cannot convince myself to thaw and refreeze meat-it just weirds me out!

  2. Connie says

    I buy the big bags, put them in family-appropriate size portions in freezer bags, pour the marinade on and toss them in the freezer – then take out to defrost a day or so before I want to use them.

    I also cook the breasts in my crockpot, then chunk up or shred the meat and put in the freezer. I can then use these as the base for a quick meal – a chicken noodle soup, nachos, etc.

  3. Katie says

    Watch your salt when cooking with the bagged, frozen chicken. They add a salt solution to the meat and if you cook your “regular” recipes you could be taking in a lot more sodium than usual.

    • Cheri says

      @Katie, That is so very true. I just recently learned about this in a Cooking Light magazine. The amount of sodium that it adds is unbelievable. The solution is also in fresh chicken also. I had to stop buying the chicken I had been buying and switch to a different brand.

  4. I wanted to make sure I was doing the “safe” thing so I asked the USDA about refreezing frozen chicken. You can find their answer here and how to ask your own questions.
    In a nutshell, it’s all about the proper thawing and getting back in the freezer as quickly as possible where bacteria can not grow.

  5. In my area, the pre-frozen chicken breasts are NOT the best deal. I wait and watch the prices, but I’ve noticed that there is more time lapsing before it hits my target price. I cringe at the thought of my target price rising, but I have a feeling it’s going to happen. Luckily, I buy a lot of chicken and do my freezer prep when it goes on sale, so we’re not forced to buy the high price.

  6. I buy this kind of chicken as well. For casserole use like tetrazini, enchiladas or other things where the chicken is totally mixed with rice, sauce, pasta etc. I boil the chicken breasts in a huge stock pot. I just make sure to reduce it to a boil that won’t boil over. I let it boil until I’m ready to deal with it. Once until the water was gone (it was fine..golden brown). Then I shred or chop it, divide into the portions I want and freeze. Now it’s ready to throw into any casserole type dish quickly.

  7. Re-freezing raw meat is perfectly safe, as long as it’s done properly. But buying those bags of frozen breasts usually are more expensive, like someone else mentioned. Plus I’ve found the meat to be tougher and less appetizing in general.

  8. Kirsten H says

    In our area, except for the occasional markdown or loss-leader sale, the pre-frozen chicken breasts are almost always cheaper per pound when looking at white meat options, especially at Aldi.

    I don’t use them for a meal where chicken is the feature very often (I actually just do a whole chicken most of the time if we want just chicken to be the featured item of the meal). What I do often do is throw a whole bag or more in the crock pot (I can fit about five pounds of breasts in the crock pot. If I want cubed chicken (for salads, soups and some casseroles), I use my crock pot’s temp probe and take the chicken out as soon as it hits 180.

    Or if I want shredded chicken (perfect for tacos, enchiladas, and many other casseroles), I cook it overnight (8-10 hours) on high, and it usually shreds very nicely in the morning with just a fork. Then either way I cool it a bit, and then separate into meal-sized baggies, and freeze. I find that it helps cut down on freezer burn to put all the small meal size baggies into one or more gallon-size freezer bags once they are completely frozen.

  9. faith says

    I would use it in my crockpot kits.

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