Yes, you can freeze cooked chicken to extend its shelf-life. Freezing cooked chicken properly extends the expiry by preserving its flavor and texture. Keeping cooked chicken in the freezer can also yield better taste over time compared to fridge storage for the same duration.
Freezing cooked chicken in its original packaging might not provide sufficient air protection, which can lead to freezer burn. Freezing them individually or in smaller serving sizes can better preserve their flavor and freshness. Individually freezing cooked chicken is the best method for freshness and longevity, as it minimizes air exposure and prevents freezer burn.
How To Freeze Cooked Chicken Safely
- Whether you have brand new or leftover cooked chicken, choose your storage method. We typically recommend airtight plastic/glass containers or sturdy freezer bags for long-term storage freshness.
- Transfer it to where you plan to keep it.
- Be sure to leave about 1-2 inches of headspace to allow for expansion. Don’t leave too much room though because best practice is to limit air exposure as much as possible when freezing food.
- Label your containers or freezer bags as ‘Frozen cooked chicken’ with today’s date.
- Place the bags flat in the freezer so they freeze quickly. If you’re using containers instead, place them in the freezer upright. Once completely frozen, both the bags and containers can be stacked and/or positioned upright.
When you’re ready to prepare the cooked chicken you just froze, do not thaw them at room temperature. Read our guide on how to thaw cooked chicken safely. Not only will it help you avoid foodborne illnesses, using the proper defrosting techniques keeps their texture & quality intact.
How Long Can You Freeze Cooked Chicken?
You can freeze cooked chicken for up to 3-6 months as long as they’re frozen correctly. Freezing cooked chicken extends longevity & allows you to store them for an increased time but all frozen food expires eventually.
Freeze smaller cooked chicken portions within 1-2 days of cooking for optimal freshness. Store leftover cooked chicken in an airtight container after it’s initially opened.
Removing & defrosting frozen cooked chicken within 3-6 months of freezer storage helps to prevent freezer burn, off-flavoring, and food poisoning. Anything longer than that puts the food at risk of:
|Dehydration and oxidation due to air exposure
|Use well-sealed containers or bags
|Loss of Freshness
|Flavor and texture degradation over time
|Consume within recommended time frame
|Potential bacterial growth if improperly stored or thawed
|Follow safe defrosting practices