The Only Time It's Safe To Refreeze Raw Chicken

One of the most important rules when preparing poultry is to ensure it's fully cooked before consuming. According to the CDC, eating undercooked chicken can cause food poisoning — specifically, you'll be at risk for contracting the bacterial strains, salmonella and campylobacter. This isn't a rare problem, as about a million people get sick from improperly preparing chicken every year, but it remains a dangerous one.

To cook and eat chicken safely, you'll want to wash everything that touched the chicken, including your hands, cutting boards, and knives, the Australian Chicken Meat Federation explains. Additionally, when storing raw chicken in the fridge, keep it on the bottom shelf so juices can't drip down onto other foods. And according to the CDC, it's advisable to use a meat thermometer to ensure the chicken is cooked to 165 degrees Fahrenheit before you dig into those crispy cutlets

If you're thawing frozen chicken, Healthline advises letting it sit overnight in the fridge or placing the poultry in a sealed bag and submerging it in cold water for a few hours. And if you defrosted chicken but ended up making something else for dinner, there is one circumstance in which it's safe to refreeze it and save it for another day.

You can refreeze chicken after thawing it in the fridge

After you've taken the trouble to safely defrost your frozen chicken, the last thing you want to do is throw it out. It turns out there is a way to safely refreeze your chicken, but it depends on how you thawed it. According to the USDA, chicken thawed in the microwave or in a bowl of cold water needs to be fully cooked before it is refrozen. These methods typically bring at least a part of the chicken up to room temperature, so it needs to be cooked immediately to prevent significant bacterial growth. However, if you defrosted your chicken in the fridge, you should be okay to refreeze it raw, HuffPost shares. According to Healthline, you can safely refreeze raw chicken up to two days after thawing it.

Once you have refrozen your chicken using the correct procedures, it can last a long time — up to a year for raw chicken, and four months for cooked. So go ahead and toss your forgotten chicken back in the freezer, as long as it came directly from the fridge.