Good news: yes, you can marinate frozen chicken. But first, know that it’s not as straightforward as putting it (frozen solid) in a bag with the marinade. Don’t do that.
If you want to add flavor to your currently frozen chicken and cook it to juicy perfection, this post will show you how and what to avoid so your chicken tastes great!
Can You Marinate Chicken While It’s Frozen?
Chicken can be marinated while frozen, but when placed in a bag with the marinade, it won’t absorb the flavors you want if it’s frozen solid. There is a way to ensure it will turn out with the best flavor and be safe to eat!
That being said, if what you have in mind is freezing marinated chicken– that’s a whole different topic. Meaning the chicken was fresh, you put it in a bag with the marinade, and then you want to freeze it. If that’s the case, read that post.
The focus of this post is to show you how to add marinade to a piece of frozen chicken you are about to defrost and cook. It’s a time-saver and brings you one step closer to enjoying flavorful, juicy chicken.
How to Marinate Frozen Chicken
Marinating frozen chicken is a proactive way to knock out two recipe steps at once: marinating and thawing. Here’s what I mean
- Prepare your choice of marinade.
- Remove the frozen chicken from the freezer, remove it from the original bag and place it in a new container. Add the marinade.
- Place the container in the fridge and allow it to thaw out.
- Before cooking, remove the chicken from the container and discard the marinade.
You can also watch how it’s done in this quick video:
Curious why we transfer the frozen chicken to a new bag? A frozen bag will cling to the chicken and prevent the marinade from being able to seep through and evenly coat the surface.
So make sure to separate the frozen chicken from the plastic bag by running it under cold water or simply transfer it into a lidded container, and problem solved!
How Long Does Frozen Chicken Take to Marinate
For frozen chicken, it can take up to 24 hours to marinate. It’s a little longer than fresh chicken, but this is enough time for the chicken to defrost first and soak up the flavors of the marinade. Once defrosted, you’ll want to cook the chicken right away.
Here are some incredible recipes to put your marinated chicken to use:
70+ Epic Chicken Recipes
If chicken is your go-to meal builder, you’re going to love the recipes inside this book!
Best Methods for Thawing Chicken while Marinating
The best way to thaw chicken in a marinade is to place it in the refrigerator or a water bath. Both methods work great, but there are pros and cons to each.
The fridge is the safest and least hands-on method, but it also takes more time, about 24 hours.
Defrosting chicken in a water bath requires more attention since you’ll need to change the water every 30 minutes to prevent bacteria from forming. However, the chicken will be ready to cook within 2-4 hours.
Mistakes to Avoid when Marinating Frozen Chicken
To make sure your chicken is safe to eat after it’s marinated, avoid the following two mistakes:
No Temperature Thawing
Whatever you do, don’t leave the frozen chicken to thaw out at room temperature, that’s a breeding ground for bacteria and can cause foodborne illness.
No Microwave Thawing
Also, using a microwave to thaw the chicken should be a last resort. On top of giving the meat a half-cooked/half-raw texture, it isn’t enough time for the chicken to marinate.
But what if you need the chicken fast? If you’re short on time, learn how to bake frozen chicken. Even if it’s not fully thawed, you can follow those methods safely, and nobody will know it was frozen solid only an hour before.