This Is the One Thing I Always Do Before Freezing Chicken

updated Jul 13, 2020
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Credit: Joe Lingeman

I can’t think of a time when I didn’t keep chicken stashed in the freezer. There’s almost always a mix of boneless or bone-in chicken thighs, breasts, and, when I can’t resist a good sale on family packs, some drumsticks. There is one thing that has changed, though — and that’s the way I freeze chicken.

Freeze Chicken in a Marinade

Freezing chicken in a marinade means that my chicken dinner is guaranteed to have tons of flavor (goodbye, bland chicken breast!). Plus there’s no additional prep that needs to happen on a weeknight and I no longer need to work in extra time for the chicken to marinate before cooking. The work is already done. Here’s how I do it.

When I have the time, I’ll stir together a simple pantry marinade for chicken. If time is tight, I’ll grab a store-bought marinade or even a bottle of Italian dressing. I add the marinade to a freezer bag, drop in the chicken, squish things around a little to coat the chicken once the bag is sealed, then stash it in the freezer. The whole process takes no more than a few minutes and works with any type of chicken.

All that’s left to do is take the chicken out of the freezer about a day before you plan to cook it. As it thaws in the refrigerator, it soaks up the flavor of the marinade even more. Cook the chicken however you prefer — baking or grilling both work well. Or if you forget to take it out of the freezer to thaw, you can drop it right into your Instant Pot, along with the frozen marinade and a splash of broth or water.

Rules of Over-Marinating Don’t Apply When Freezing

If you’re worried that freezing chicken in a marinade will lead to over-marinating, rest assured that you’re in the clear. For texture and food safety reasons, it’s typically not recommend to marinate any type of meat for more than 24 hours, which can leave the chicken mushy and run the risk of bacterial growth.

The same rules don’t apply when freezing, though. Freezing chicken in a marinade is totally okay and safe. Freezing stops the marinating process until the meat is thawed. So even if you keep marinated chicken in the freezer for six months, you’re good. Just be sure to cook the chicken within about 24 hours of when it’s totally thawed.

Try Our Favorite Chicken Marinades