How Long to Boil Frozen Chicken?

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Chicken is, without a doubt, one of the most versatile meats.

Because it doesn’t have a strong, pungent flavor on its own, you can spice it up in so many ways but still highlight the mild, earthy, fatty, and slightly sweet flavor of the bird.

You can have this the whole week and never get bored: Spanish Paella on Monday, Filipino Adobo on Tuesday, New Orleans Gumbo-style on Wednesday, Indian Curry on Thursday, Classic Fried chicken on Friday… It’s so versatile!

It is also considered a healthy alternative to red meat.

Low in saturated fats, higher in Omega-6 fatty acids, and packed with vitamins and minerals, this poultry should be part of your diet.

Fresh Off the Butcher’s Straight to Your Cutting Board

Ideally, food must be at room temperature for preparation.

It’s best to cook your meat right after getting it from the butcher so you get its full flavor and ensure that it’s beautifully tender.

But who has the time to take a stroll to your butcher’s every day?

When you work 9 to 5 or a full-time mom, that’s almost impossible.

Like most folks, you go out and get a week’s worth of pork, beef, and poultry and shove it all in the freezer; only taking a Tupperware out when you need it.

And like most folks, it’s not every day that you remember to thaw food from the freezer an hour or two before prep.

Cooking Frozen Chicken IS Possible!

Fortunately for many of us, we can dump a frozen bird straight into pots over the stove without losing much of its flavor or getting it unpalatably dry.

Another great thing is the USDA Food and Safety Inspection Service says yes, doing this is quite safe as long as you follow certain guidelines, particularly with where you need to do this and the amount of time you’ll spend on the task.

The Good Way

According to USDA, frozen meat must be cooked 50% longer in a pot over the stove than when it is thawed.

Making sure that food is done all the way through doesn’t just make it edible; you’re also preventing food poisoning.

Salmonella, a pathogenic bacterium, may be found in various farm animals.

If you accidentally ingest this because you failed to prep it properly, you may experience stomach cramps, diarrhea, and fever.

Here is a quick guide as to how you should do it:

• Put the whole bird inside a large pot.

• Fill it up with tepid water straight from the tap until the piece is submerged.

• Move the pot onto a burner and let it simmer on low flame.

• Thawed whole chicken that weighs about 4-5 pounds takes around 90 minutes until done. Since this came straight from the freezer, add another 45 minutes.

• Take the meat out of the pot and onto a tray to drain for a minute or two.

• Stick a thermometer into the thickest part of the bird – that’s through a leg and into the breast – to make sure it’s cooked through. The safe internal temp is 165-degrees Fahrenheit.

• Let it rest for another ten minutes before you prep it (cut it up or shred it)


Don’t throw the water left in the pot because that’s full-flavored chicken broth. After that cools down, you can transfer it to another container and keep it in the freezer.

Other reminders:

Don’t do this in a slow cooker because it encourages the multiplication of the bacteria in the food as you’re only gradually increasing the temperature and not killing them off immediately.

It is also not advisable to cook frozen chicken in a microwave oven for the same reason.

The Better Way

To be honest, it is a challenge cooking a whole bird, whether that’s baked, roasted, or boiled.

It takes longer and there is a huge possibility of ‘mishaps’ like drying it out or burning the outside but leaving the inside raw.

It would be better for you to get cut-up sections from your butcher and store it properly in the fridge.

By ‘properly’, we mean arranging the pieces in a single layer in Tupperware containers or zip locks.

When you take these out from the freezer and straight into a pot, you’re ensuring each slice is well-done.

Here is a guide showing the right amount of time a particular section of the chicken should be cooked:


• Two pieces of chicken breasts can be boiled in a deep pan with about two to three cups of tepid water.

• After 8 to 10 minutes, when the water goes into a rolling boil, reduce the heat to a simmer.

• Cover the pan and leave it there for another three minutes, checking now and then if the meat doesn’t have a pink part anymore.

• Turn the heat off. Instead of taking the breasts out of the pan, leave it there to finish for another 5 to 7 minutes before doing your next prep step.

Breast with Bones

• The process is pretty much the same as above, except that you will have to add a minute or two to each step because of the bones.

• Checking the internal temp is just as important here. When you stick the thermometer into the thickest part of the piece, it should read 150-degrees Fahrenheit for at least 10 minutes.

Thighs and Legs

• The steps provided for boiling chicken breasts are almost the same for thighs and legs. The only difference is that this will take longer.

• Also, you may need to swap the pan with a pot because these portions are bulkier.

• Six pieces of frozen thighs or legs will be done in 50-60 minutes compared to the 20 minutes total cook time for breasts.

• Again, it’s best to check the internal temp (165-degrees Fahrenheit) to make sure you didn’t leave any portions raw.


• Like everything above, the process is the same for this part of the bird.

• Boiling these in a deep pan may work because wings are slim and compact.

• 10 to 12 pieces of wings will take about 40 minutes total cook time.

• Instead of using a thermometer to check doneness, slice a small part near the joint. If the juice that comes out is clear and the inside is white, this is ready.

The trouble with merely boiling frozen chicken is that there are only a few recipes that can be done with it. Here are some of these:

• Quesadillas, Fajitas, Calzones, and other dishes that have meat inside a pastry
• In soups and chowders
• Stir-fry
• As pizza topping
• On salads

The Best Way

A few people eat ‘just boiled in water’ poultry because this, admittedly, is a healthier option than frying or grilling.

But even when it is seasoned with salt and pepper, it can be a bit boring.

If you’re set on going for this cooking process for health reasons or just don’t have the time to thaw the bird, you might want to try these:

Poaching in Broth

• Put the whole chicken or poultry portions inside a pot.
As mentioned above, if the cut-up sections are lined up in one layer, you can accomplish this step very easily.

• Get the liquid (broth) that you like and place this in a pot.
This could be white wine, apple cider, or chicken broth, depending on the dish you’re making.

• Season generously.
Adding a bit more salt than usual is of the essence to make sure that it seeps in and flavors the meat well. If you’re using the broth after, you can always water it down a bit.

• Add vegetables like onion, garlic, carrots, celery, lemon peel, and others to infuse the mix with even more flavor.

• Boil according to the directions provided above.

• Once done and after you checked the internal temperature, let it rest before prepping/cooking it even further. This ensures that the liquid gets redistributed back to the muscles, preventing the meat from drying up.

Preparing Ready to Cook Meals

Another great way is to do a complete dish prep before storing it in the freezer.

For example, if you plan to make chicken pot pie, you could cut up the breasts in chunks and pop that in a Tupperware with the other ingredients.

By the time you want to have this for dinner, all you need to do is transfer everything in a pot and let it simmer away!

Doing this is time-consuming, especially if you will fix up a whole week’s worth of meals.

But spending half a day on this will ensure a stress-free rest of the week and super delish dishes straight from the freezer!

Try Boiling Frozen Chicken Soon!

There will still be some who consider this a complete no-no.

Do ignore them.

Although properly thawing your meat before cooking is ideal, boiling it straight from the freezer isn’t such a bad thing.

You just have to make sure you do it right (by following the steps mentioned above) and you can come up with a dish that isn’t merely cooked but also truly delicious.

Last Updated on July 22, 2021

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My name is Andy Wang, and I'm a retired chef. I used to work at the City Vineyard restaurant in NYC. I also had a culinary degree from the Institute of Culinary Education in New York. And this blog is where I share my love for knives and cooking with people like you.