How long can you freeze chicken?

 How long can you freeze chicken?

Chicken can last a long time in the freezer, but there comes a time when you have to cook it or your chicken may lose its flavor and texture.


How long can you freeze raw chicken? 

You may be surprised to learn that you can store raw chicken in the freezer indefinitely, according to the USDA. Even when frozen chicken has passed the expiration date listed on its package, it is still considered safe to eat immediately after thawing. 

Even if this is the case, you may not want to eat chicken that has been in the freezer for years, for good reasons. Frozen chicken stored beyond the recommended time can lose its texture and flavor, according to, the USDA's consumer food safety tool. 

How long will raw chicken last in the freezer depends on whether the bird is whole, cut into pieces, raw or cooked: 

  • Whole chicken: up to 1 year 
  • Chicken pieces, such as chicken cutlets: up to 9 months 
  • Ground chicken: 3 to 4 months 
  • Fully cooked chicken sausage: 1 to 2 months 
  • Chicken sausage purchased frozen: 1 to 2 months 
  •  Cooked chicken: 2 to 6 months

 How to freeze raw chicken

There are several ways to store pulled chicken in the freezer.

Store it in its original packaging 

For unopened, vacuum  sealed chicken, you can keep the chicken as it is. For unopened chicken, there is nothing wrong with keeping it in its original packaging. However, the plastic wrap used is likely permeable to air, which can cause the meat to be susceptible to freezer burn, reducing its quality over time. To make the chicken last longer, add another layer of insulation, such as aluminum foil, around the package. 

Place the chicken pieces in an airtight container

 You can also remove the chicken from the original packaging to make your meat before placing it in the freezer. Putting your chicken in a freezer bag (with or without marinade) is a great way to preserve the meat, especially if you cover the bag, which removes the air before you seal the bag. to prevent the chicken from burning. 

 Since you removed the chicken from its original packaging, be sure to list your containers and use the FIFO (First In First Out) system. 

To increase the quality of raw chicken, it is best to store it in the deep part of the freezer and away from the door to avoid temperature changes. 

How to prevent freezer burn 

 Storing your chicken properly helps prevent freezer burn, which exposes the chicken to air, leading to dehydration. Although freeze-dried chicken is still considered safe to eat, it may not be as tasty. 

 You can seal your chicken in two ways: manually push the air out of the bag before sealing or use the water displacement method.

 With the liquid displacement method, you place the chicken in a freezer bag, then slowly lower the bag into a large bowl or pot of water. Lowering the bag into the water creates pressure that forces air from the top of the bag. When most of the air has come out of the bag, you can seal the bag above the water.


 How to tell if your frozen chicken is still good to eat 

If you put raw chicken in the freezer while it's still fresh, you can expect the quality to be the same, as long as you take it out of the freezer within the recommended time.

However, things can still go wrong when you thaw the chickens. Look for signs of spoilage when you thaw it, such as a change in color from pink to gray-green, a foul smell, or an unpleasant appearance. If you see any of these signs, it's best to stay safe and lose the meat.

How to defrost chicken? 

According to the USDA, there are three common methods of defrosting frozen chicken. The best and recommended method is the refrigerator method, although it also involves some advance planning. 

Refrigeration system

  • Transfer frozen chicken from your freezer to your refrigerator at least 24 hours before eating.
  •  Once thawed, your chicken can be in the fridge for another day or two before cooking. 

Another way to thaw your meat is to use the cold water method, which is quick but requires attention.

Cold water system

  • Fill a bowl with cold water and submerge your frozen chicken, storing it in a leak proof container. Small batches can be defrost in about an hour, while three to four pound whole chickens can take two to three hours.
  • Change the water every 30 minutes as the chicken continues to thaw, and once thawed, cook the chicken immediately. 

Defrosting chicken is best done in the fridge or via the cold water method. Use the microwave only as a last resort. 
However, the fastest method is the microwave method. According to the cold water method, chicken thawed in the microwave should be cooked immediately after thawing. 

Microwave method

 Remove the chicken from its packaging and place it in a microwave-safe plastic bag or in a covered microwave safe container

Use the defrost setting or a medium high setting (70% power) to cook 9 to 10 minutes per pound for whole chicken or 6 to 8 minutes per pound for chicken breasts.


You can store raw chicken in the freezer for a long time without affecting its quality, as long as you store it properly. Frozen chicken, once thawed, is great for stews, soups and stews. 

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