Have you ever found yourself in a predicament where you forgot to defrost the chicken for dinner? Don’t worry, we’ve all been there. But here’s the good news: you can still cook frozen chicken thighs in the oven, and it’s safe, easy, and delicious. Plus, it will save you a lot of time. Let’s dive into this simple and convenient method of cooking frozen chicken thighs.
Baked Frozen Chicken Thighs
Yes, you read that right. According to the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture), you can indeed cook chicken from frozen. Whether it’s a whole chicken, thighs, or breasts, you have the option to cook frozen chicken in the oven or on the stove. Just follow a few simple guidelines to ensure that the food is safely cooked.
If you’re already familiar with boiling frozen chicken breasts on the stovetop or cooking frozen chicken breast in the air fryer, then it’s time to learn how to bake frozen chicken thighs in the oven. This recipe is incredibly easy, with only an hour of preparation and cooking time, resulting in tender, juicy legs with crispy skin.
Why Cook Chicken from Frozen?
There are several reasons why cooking chicken from frozen can be a lifesaver. First, it’s a great solution when you forget to defrost the meat or don’t have time to go to the grocery store. Having frozen thighs or breasts in the freezer is always a smart move that can save dinner time on countless occasions.
Second, cooking frozen chicken thighs is quick. It eliminates the need for the long thawing time that defrosting requires. Meat must be defrosted slowly and correctly, always in the refrigerator, and that can take a significant amount of time. By cooking the bird from frozen, you save valuable time in the kitchen.
Lastly, freezing poultry is the safest way of storing it. The freezing process slows down the reproductive cycle of salmonella, even though it doesn’t destroy them completely. If you don’t defrost the meat properly, the bacteria can start reproducing again quickly, which is why eating undercooked chicken is so dangerous.
Cooking the chicken from frozen, while ensuring it’s thoroughly cooked, reduces the risk of food poisoning. By transferring the meat from the freezing bag to the baking tray, you also ensure that the meat won’t drip or touch other surfaces, maintaining hygiene and safety.
Rules for Cooking Frozen Chicken
To cook frozen chicken thighs successfully, there are a few essential rules to follow:
- Allow 50% additional cooking time. No matter which chicken part you’re cooking or the specific recipe you’re following, increasing the baking time by approximately 50% will ensure that the chicken is properly cooked.
- Adjust the oven temperature. It’s preferable to cook the thighs at a slightly lower temperature than usual. This gives them time to thaw and cook on the inside before the outside gets too brown.
- Avoid baking clumps of frozen meat. Instead, ensure the pieces are individually frozen so that you can place them on the baking tray in a single layer from the start.
- Use a digital meat thermometer. This handy kitchen gadget is reliable and makes cooking meat easy. It’s especially important when cooking chicken from frozen, as it allows you to ensure that the meat is safely cooked without overcooking it.
How to Bake Frozen Chicken Thighs
Now that you know the basics, let’s get cooking! Here’s a step-by-step guide to baking frozen chicken thighs:
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius/ 360 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking tray with aluminum foil (optional but makes cleaning easier). Let the chicken stand on the counter while preheating the oven.
- In a small bowl, mix some olive oil and your choice of spices.
- Place the raw chicken thighs on the baking sheet, pour the spice mixture on top, and thoroughly rub it all over the pieces.
- Bake for 50-60 minutes, depending on the size of the thighs and your oven.
- Ensure that the meat is cooked through by checking that no red or pink is visible. Even if the meat looks golden brown on the outside, it may still have bloody or pink spots near the bone, so be thorough when checking.
- Allow the chicken to rest for about 5 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with chopped fresh herbs if desired, and enjoy!
How to Check if the Meat is Cooked Through?
The best way to check if the chicken thighs are cooked through is with an instant-read thermometer. The internal temperature should reach 74 degrees Celsius/ 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you don’t have a thermometer, you can also cut the largest piece near the bone and ensure that the meat is entirely white. If not, allow the thighs to cook for an additional 5 minutes in the oven before checking again.
Here are some common questions about cooking frozen chicken thighs:
Can I Bake Other Parts?
Absolutely! You can use the same method to cook drumsticks, quarters, or breasts. Just adjust the cooking time accordingly.
What if the Pieces Are Smaller or Larger?
The roasting time will vary depending on the size of the thighs. Always check to see if the meat is cooked through.
How Long to Cook Boneless Chicken Thighs or Breasts?
Refer to the original recipe and increase the roasting time by 50%. Boneless chicken thighs or breasts will cook faster than bone-in thighs.
Can I Cook the Meat at a Higher Temperature?
Yes, you can. If you prefer to cook the chicken at a higher temperature, reduce the roasting time slightly. However, make sure to check that the meat is well-cooked. In this case, check after about 45 minutes. Generally, frozen meat takes about 1.5 times longer to cook than fresh meat. Nonetheless, cooking frozen meat at a lower temperature is recommended.
Can I Cook the Meat in a Slow Cooker?
No, USDA doesn’t recommend cooking frozen chicken in a slow cooker. The slow cooker may not get hot enough to fully cook the meat and achieve a safe internal temperature.
If you have any leftovers, here’s what you can do:
How to Keep Leftovers?
Store the leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
How to Reheat Leftovers?
You have two options:
- Oven: Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius/ 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the leftovers on a lined baking tray and reheat until the internal temperature reaches 74 degrees Celsius/ 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Microwave: Reheat the leftovers in a microwave-safe dish, covered, for 2-3 minutes at a time until the safe internal temperature is reached.
Can You Freeze the Leftovers?
Absolutely! Once the leftover chicken thighs have completely cooled, you can freeze them. Just make sure never to refreeze thawed but still uncooked poultry. Place the thighs in airtight containers or freezer bags and store them in the freezer for up to 3 months. Remember to reheat them appropriately before serving.
What to Do with the Leftover Bones?
Don’t let those bones go to waste! You can use them to make chicken broth or stock, which serves as a base for many soups, sauces, or gravies.
What to Serve with Baked Chicken Thighs?
The beauty of these tender chicken thighs is that they can be paired with almost any side dish. Some popular options include buttered rice, oven-baked potato wedges, garlic parmesan mashed potatoes, garlic green beans, or crispy garlic smashed potatoes. The possibilities are endless!
For more delicious recipes and culinary inspiration, visit BDK Restaurant. Happy cooking!