Grilled chicken has a huge fan base because it simply tastes delicious with its unique smoky flavor and crispy texture.
But sometimes, we have a frozen bird in our hand that requires defrosting, which is a longer process, probably 24 hours, testing our patience and delaying our cravings.
This is where one of the most common questions arises: can you grill frozen chicken?
To answer this question in detail, I advise you to go through this valuable guide to know if it is really possible; if yes, then what is the right way of doing it?
Can You Grill Frozen Chicken? A Topline Answer
The simple answer to this popular question is yes, you can grill your frozen chicken, but it must be done correctly because if not, it can lead to uneven cooking, weird meat appearance, and potential health risks, which I believe none of us would prefer.
Is It Safe To Grill Frozen Chicken?
You will come across different opinions when asking someone if it is safe to grill frozen poultry directly over high heat. But most experts and food safety guidelines recommend against grilling frozen poultry directly, and so do I.
Let me explain why.
There are a few important considerations before you take this step.
First of all, if you set the frozen chicken on a grill right after taking it from the refrigerator, it can overcook the meat’s exterior and make it dry while keeping the interior undercooked.
The reason behind this is pretty evident: its outer layer will cook rapidly and become dry due to high heat, but the interior will first thaw and then gradually cook.
Secondly, there are strong chances of food poising if your frozen meat does not reach the required temperature (165 degrees Fahrenheit) throughout the grilling process, which is a major health concern.
Lastly, achieving optimal flavor, texture, and overall appearance of the chicken becomes a challenge when trying to grill cold meat properly.
To conclude, it is possible to grill frozen chicken, but you should only do it when you know how to do it properly. Otherwise, taking shortcuts and saving time can lead to uneven cooking, health risks, and less-than-ideal taste.
First Thing First, Defrosting A Chicken
Defrosting is the most important step when it comes to grilling frozen chicken, and you can’t neglect this process if you want to ensure a safe and tasty outcome. But wait, let’s describe defrosting first.
In simple words, it is a process of gradually warming up something that is frozen, like chicken, until it reaches a safe and suitable temperature for cooking.
Now, there are several different methods for defrosting that you can explore, but I have only highlighted the one that is safe and can help you achieve the desired results.
Allow me to explain this method quickly.
Defrosting In Refrigerator – The Best Method
When it comes to defrosting chicken for grilling, the refrigerator method stands out as the safest and most effective. This method requires a bit of patience, usually taking around 24 hours, but the results are well worth it.
Start by placing the bird in its packaging or a secure plastic bag to prevent drippings, and choose a lower shelf in the refrigerator to avoid cross-contamination.
Now, let the chicken defrost slowly in the fridge, gradually allowing the cold air to warm it up over time. Also, avoid taking steps to speed up the process, which can lead to unsafe bacterial growth.
After one day of thawing, your chicken will be ready for the grill. While it might require some planning and patience, the refrigerator technique ensures perfect defrosting, maintaining the chicken’s quality and safety for an excellent grilling experience.
How to Tell if Chicken Is Properly Thawed?
There are different opinions regarding how to determine if your chicken has defrosted nicely or not. But I believe that monitoring its internal temperature is the most reliable method.
You simply need to put a food thermometer in your bird once you take it out of the fridge after thawing and ensure it is not in the danger zone, between 40 to 140°F.
Some other methods to consider are to look for flexibility in the meat. For example, it should be soft and ensure there are no icy or hard parts remaining.
Is Microwave Also A Suitable Option For Defrosting?
Microwaves have a defrosting option, but this feature does not work as well as it should, which is why I don’t recommend using this option for defrosting.
For example, they offer uneven results in which some chicken parts are entirely thawed while others remain cold and obtain ice. In other words, they work unevenly.
Furthermore, using a microwave to defrost chicken can make its texture pretty tough because of the quick heating system.
To cut it short, if you want to use the microwave for defrosting, make sure to do it in phases with low power. This way, the chicken thaws evenly without cooking, so it doesn’t turn into a rubbery mess.
How To Grill Frozen Chicken – A Step-By-Step Guide
So, you now know that it is better to defrost your frozen chicken before you start grilling it to achieve extraordinary results.
But you can also safely grill it directly when it’s frozen if you’re short on time or prefer to take that approach. Let’s delve into the step-by-step guide.
Drying Out The Meat
Start by drying out your frozen chicken using a paper towel. It is an essential step to take because it removes any excess moisture on the meat’s surface.
If you don’t take this step, the moisture can lead to flare-ups on the grill during the cooking session, compromising safety and resulting in uneven cooking.
Preheating The Grill
After you have dried out your meat nicely, the rest of the process is pretty much the same as a regular chicken grilling session. So, the next step is to preheat your grill.
It can take 10 to 20 minutes, depending on whether you own a charcoal, pellet, or gas grill. Also, you must decide whether you wish to create a direct or indirect heat setup for grilling your bird.
I suggest you go with the indirect heat setup, especially when grilling frozen chicken, as it allows for even more cooking without the risk of burning the outer parts before the inside is cooked correctly.
What’s next? Place the meat on the grill according to the heat setup and start grilling.
The primary distinction between the grilling procedure of fresh and frozen poultry is their cooking durations.
For example, if you usually prepare a fresh chicken in around 30 minutes, it might take 45 minutes to 1 hour if you are grilling it from the frozen condition.
Also, you will have to decrease the cooking temperature by about 20%, which is why I already suggested you choose an indirect heat setup.
This kind of temperature adjustment is essential because the chicken will be cold, and it will gradually warm up during cooking.
Keep The Temperature Consistent & Monitor Meat’s Temperature
Once the grilling process begins, there are two important steps to keep in mind: monitoring the meat’s internal temperature and keeping the heat inside the grill as consistent as possible.
Keep cooking the meat until it reaches the recommended internal temperature of around 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Also, make sure not to insert the meat thermometer near the bone.
When the internal temperature reaches the recommended level, take the chicken out of the grill, let it rest for around 10 minutes, and it is ready to serve.
It is possible to grill frozen chicken, but it must be done properly while prioritizing safety. However, if you’ve time (one day), I recommend always defrosting the meat inside the refrigerator before setting it on the grill for cooking.
Moreover, grilling a frozen bird is almost the same, but you will just need to spend some extra time to cook it to perfection with the recommended internal temperature.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long should you grill frozen chicken breasts?
You may need to cook the frozen chicken breasts for around 30 minutes (less or more) depending on at what temperature you opt to grill them.
Can I grill chicken that has yet to be defrosted?
The USDA says it is completely safe only if you do it the right way. But remember that cooking a chicken that has yet to be defrosted will require a longer duration and reduced heat.
What happens if the chicken isn’t defrosted before cooking?
The cooking process will be slower if you start grilling it when it’s still in frozen form. Also, the meat may cook well and quickly from the outside, but its inside will remain uncooked.
Robert Gill, a BBQ enthusiast, and Senior Author at FaveGrills.com bring his extensive knowledge of BBQ equipment and exciting recipes to the team. With his outgoing personality and love for BBQ, Robert plays an essential role in the FaveGrills community, sharing his passion and expertise through informative articles and gear reviews.