How to cook frozen chicken in the oven, in the Instant Pot, and how to boil frozen chicken breasts — so you’re never left without a dinner plan again!
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You better believe I’ve been there.
It’s 4:59 pm and you don’t have any plan for dinner.
The family is hungry. You’re hungry. There are no chicken fingers in the freezer.
To be honest, we’re not big on frozen convenience foods.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been there. When I was teaching high school and not working from home, our freezer situation looked a lot different.
But now I work from home and cook for a living, so I just don’t have those easy options to reach for when I could use them!
That is why I wanted to come up with a guide for cooking frozen chicken breasts.
You already know how much I love cooking frozen chicken breasts in my Instant Pot — but what are the other ways? Can I bake it? Boil it? Saute it?
The answer is a big resounding YES.
And it’s time I dove into all the different ways to do it and which are our favorites!
What are the best methods for cooking frozen chicken?
The best methods (that is, the only safe methods) are those that cook the chicken relatively quickly.
You don’t want the chicken to sit at an unsafe internal temperature for too long, which is why the slow cooker is off the table (I’m sorry, but it’s true).
But don’t be sad!
We still have lots of options for those frozen chicken breasts you didn’t think to pull out earlier 😉
Note that your chicken breasts need to be frozen individually, and not in one big lump, for these methods to work. If your chicken is frozen together, try dropping it onto a hard surface until the break apart.
Cooking frozen chicken in the Instant Pot:
This is usually my go-to method, because it’s just so easy and quick!
I already have a full, detailed post about how I cook frozen chicken breasts in the Instant Pot, and one with instructions for cooking frozen chicken thighs, so I’m not going to rehash everything here.
I will tell you that they turn out juicy and delicious and are ready in about 30 minutes from start to finish!
Can you boil frozen chicken?
The short answer is yes (yay!).
But whether you will want to depends on how you plan to use the chicken.
Poached chicken (chicken that is cooked in liquid), is very juicy and tender and perfect for chicken you want to chop or shred and add to various meals: pizza, soup, salad, sandwiches, casseroles, etc.
You will never want to boil any chicken, frozen or otherwise, rapidly. Rather, we want to poach it or simmer gently. Boiling chicken at too high a heat can results in rubbery chicken, and nobody wants that!
If you are looking to cook a chicken breast just to eat alone, I will always recommend these Baked Chicken Breasts, because of their golden and flavorful exterior.
But if you’re in a pinch and your chicken breasts are frozen, see my instructions below for baking them.
To boil frozen chicken:
- Add your frozen chicken breasts to large pot.
- Add cold water to the pot just so that the chicken is covered.
- Salt the water well, and add additional seasoning as desired.
- Bring to a low boil over medium-high heat, then reduce to low heat, cover, and cook for 12-13 minutes, until an internal temperature of 165 degrees F is reached.
- Remove to a cutting board, cover and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing or shredding.
Tips and tricks: one of the best ways to use frozen chicken breasts is to make a batch of soup! That way, you can simmer your chicken breasts until tender, but you don’t lose all of that chicken flavor — it flavors your broth! I will often make this Chicken Rice Soup or Chicken Noodle Soup using frozen chicken breasts if I’m in a pinch.
This boiled chicken is also great for using in any of these Shredded Chicken Recipes.
Baking frozen chicken breasts:
This month is all about the perfect Baked Chicken Breast on The Recipe Rebel, so I wanted to share my method for baking chicken breasts from frozen as well.
This is my favorite method if I want it to be well-seasoned, and stand alone as our main protein for the meal (the Instant Pot method and Boiled method I find better for dishes where the chicken will be shredded).
When I’m baking frozen chicken breasts, I like to give them a 20 minute head start in the oven, and then go in and add some seasoning or sauce. I find that it sticks better to chicken that is not frozen solid, and if I am using sauce it doesn’t burn with the long cook time.
To bake frozen chicken breasts:
See the full expanded recipe below in the recipe card.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Place chicken breasts in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet or in a large baking dish (you don’t want them to be touching) and cover with foil.
- Bake for 20 minutes, then remove from the oven and season with salt and pepper, seasoning salt, taco seasoning, or any all-purpose seasoning blend you have in your spice drawer. If you like, you can also add sauce or cheese at this point — try barbecue sauce, tomato sauce, honey garlic or teriyaki sauce.
- Return to the oven, uncovered and bake for 15-20 minutes, until an internal temperature of 165 degrees F is reached in the thickest part of the chicken breast.
- Remove from the oven, cover and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing or serving.
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How to Cook Frozen Chicken Breasts
- 4 frozen boneless skinless chicken breasts (roughly the same size)
- 1 teaspoon seasoning salt (or sub regular salt)
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Place frozen chicken breasts in a large baking dish so that they aren't overlapping. Cover with foil or a lid and bake for 20 minutes.
- Uncover and season with seasoning salt and pepper.
- Continue baking for 15 minutes (or longer, depending on the size of your chicken breasts), until the internal temperature in the thickest part of the chicken reaches 165 degrees F.
- Cover and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
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