Talk about a time-saver. 

By Melanie Fincher
May 18, 2021
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We all want to be the person who remembers to thaw their chicken prior to dinnertime, but most of the time, thawing is an afterthought. Fortunately, you can cook chicken straight from frozen using a number of different methods.

Learn the best methods for cooking chicken from frozen, and which methods to avoid. Plus, find cooking times and temperatures for chicken breasts, thighs, wings, and more. 

Can You Cook Frozen Chicken Without Thawing It?

Any time you're handling raw meat, whether frozen or fresh, safety should be top of mind. Fortunately, we can all take a collective sigh of relief, because the USDA says it is fine to cook chicken from frozen, just keep in mind that the cooking time will be about 50 percent longer. 

However, chicken should never be cooked from frozen in a slow cooker or microwave. The former cooks too slowly, allowing the meat to spend too much time in what's known as the temperature danger zone, the range between 40 degrees F and 140 degrees F in which bacteria is most likely to grow. The latter quicks food too quickly, meaning the interior of the chicken may not have enough time to reach the safe minimum internal temperature (165 degrees F), before the rest of the chicken is done. You can defrost meat in the microwave, but it will need to be cooked immediately after so that it is not left in the danger zone for too long. 

person putting frozen chicken tenderloins on baking sheet with parchment paper
Credit: Andy Lyons/Meredith

How to Cook Chicken From Frozen 4 Ways

Each of these methods allows you to safely cook chicken directly from frozen, no thawing necessary. Do keep in mind that cooking time will be about 50 percent longer than if cooked from fresh, and always use an instant-read thermometer to make sure your chicken has reached a safe internal temperature of 165 degrees F. 

How to Cook Frozen Chicken in the Oven 

Roasting chicken in the oven from frozen is the same as from fresh, just with longer cooking times. We suggest cooking frozen chicken at a lower temperature than you would fresh, about 350 to 365 degrees F, to balance out the increased cooking time. 

Instructions: 

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven. 
  2. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper. 
  3. Brush the chicken with oil, seasonings, and/or sauces of your choice. 
  4. Roast uncovered. See below for approximate cook times for frozen chicken. 
  5. Test for doneness using an instant-read thermometer. Insert into the thickest part of the meat. Once it reads at least 165 degrees F, it's done.
  6. Allow the meat to rest 5 to 10 minutes before cutting. 

How Long to Cook Frozen Chicken in the Oven 

These approximate cooking times are based on an oven temperature of 350 degrees F, and a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees F. 

  • Frozen chicken breasts (boneless), 4 to 6 ounces: 30 to 45 minutes
  • Frozen chicken breasts (bone-in) 6 to 8 ounces: 45 to 60 minutes
  • Frozen chicken thighs, 4 to 8 ounces: 60 to 75 minutes
  • Frozen chicken tenders, 2 to 4 ounces: 28 to 33 minutes
  • Frozen chicken wings, 2 to 3 ounces: 45 to 60 minutes
  • Frozen chicken drumsticks, 4 ounces: 53 to 68 minutes

How to Cook Frozen Chicken on the Stovetop 

Frozen chicken also does well simmered on the stovetop. Although you can sauté it, the extended cooking time does make it easy to char the outside without fully cooking the inside. That's why we recommend instead simmering it in a pan sauce, jarred sauce, or broth. Plus, a moist sauce will give you a juicer result. 

Instructions: 

  1. Place the chicken in a sauté pan or pot. Season as desired. 
  2. Cover the chicken with broth and/or sauce. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. 
  3. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for the specified time below, or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F. 

How Long to Cook Frozen Chicken on the Stovetop

  • Frozen chicken breasts (boneless), 4 to 6 ounces: 38 to 45 minutes
  • Frozen chicken breasts (bone-in) 6 to 8 ounces: 53 to 68 minutes
  • Frozen chicken thighs, 4 to 8 ounces: 60 to 75 minutes
  • Frozen chicken wings, 2 to 3 ounces: 53 to 68 minutes
  • Frozen chicken drumsticks, 4 ounces: 60 to 75 minutes

How to Cook Frozen Chicken in the Instant Pot 

As expected, the Instant Pot makes cooking chicken straight from frozen fast and easy. For more details, read our guide to cooking frozen chicken in the Instant Pot

Instructions: 

  1. Place frozen chicken in the inner pot in a single layer with no overlap. 
  2. Sprinkle chicken with desired seasonings. 
  3. Add a cup of broth to the pot. 
  4. Use the “manual” button to cook on high pressure for the specified cooking time below. 
  5. Allow the pressure to naturally release for at least 5 minutes, and then release the remainder of the pressure by doing a quick release. 
  6. Let the meat rest 10 to 15 minutes before slicing or shredding. 

How Long to Cook Frozen Chicken in the Instant Pot

  • Frozen chicken breasts (boneless), 4 to 6 ounces: 10 to 15 minutes
  • Frozen chicken thighs, 4 to 8 ounces:  13 to 15 minutes
  • Frozen chicken tenders, 2 to 4 ounces: 6 minutes
  • Frozen chicken wings, 2 to 3 ounces: 12 minutes
  • Chicken drumsticks, 4 ounces: 12 minutes

How to Cook Frozen Chicken in the Air Fryer

The air fryer acts as a mini convection oven, circulating hot air around the food until it's cooked through and crisp on the outside. Just be sure not to stack the chicken on top of one another. 

Instructions: 

  1. Preheat the air fryer to 360 degrees F. 
  2. Rub the chicken with oil and season as desired. 
  3. Add chicken to the basket and cook, shaking or flipping halfway through, until an instant-read thermometer reads 165 degrees F. Read below for approximate cooking times. 

How Long to Cook Frozen Chicken in the Air Fryer 

These cooking times are based on an air fryer temperature of 360 degrees F, and an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. 

  • Frozen chicken breasts (boneless), 4 to 6 ounces: 18 to 20 minutes
  • Frozen chicken thighs, 4 to 8 ounces: 20 to 22 minutes
  • Frozen chicken tenders, 2 to 4 ounces: 13 minutes
  • Frozen chicken wings, 2 to 3 ounces: 28 to 30 minutes 
  • Frozen chicken drumsticks, 4 ounces: 25 to 30 minutes

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