Should You Cook Frozen Chicken That Hasn't Been Thawed?

We've all been there. You're ready to cook your chicken dinner, you gather all the ingredients, and then you realize that the chicken you had planned to use is still frozen. 

In these situations, it may be tempting to abandon your plan and just open up your trusty delivery app. But don't give up on your recipe just yet. You can safely cook frozen chicken — you just have to adjust your technique.

According to Real Simple, beef, chicken, and pork can all be safely cooked from a frozen state, but the methods differ, depending on the meat. One thing you can't do — with any frozen meat — is cook it in a slow cooker or crockpot. That's because too much time spent at low temperatures could cause bacteria, like salmonella, to grow.

So now that you know your frozen chicken can be salvaged, how do you do it?

The challenge of cooking frozen chicken

Because of food safety issues, it's a bit trickier to cook frozen chicken. According to the USDA, chicken in a frozen state needs to cook one and a half times longer than fresh or thawed chicken. That's why grilling or pan frying frozen chicken is not ideal. As Southern Living notes, not only do you run the risk of having chicken that is cooked on the outside and raw on the inside, but cooking at high heat — for nearly twice as long as unfrozen chicken — could result in a dry, unappetizing mess.

According to Southern Living, the best way to cook frozen chicken is to use an Instant Pot or other pressure cooker. Their method involves putting a cup of water or stock, your preferred seasonings, and, in this example, four frozen chicken breasts into an Instant Pot. After placing the lid on the pot and sealing it, the Instant Pot should be set for 10 to 12 minutes of high-pressure cooking. After the cook time is done, the pressure should be allowed to release naturally for at least 5 minutes before being manually released.

Another method to cook chicken from frozen is to bake it. However, because it will take longer to bake, Food Network recommends brushing the frozen chicken with a sauce — in this case a mayonnaise and Dijon mustard mix — to ensure that the chicken stays moist. They also recommend poaching frozen chicken breasts in chicken broth, water, or in a sauce, such as marinara.

Remember: When cooking frozen chicken, the cooking temperature should be at least 350 degrees F and the internal temperature should reach 165 degrees F.