Grilling – one of the best ways to make your protein even more delicious by giving it that char that can add a special flavor to almost anything. However, does grilling work with all kinds of meat – especially the frozen kind? Can you grill frozen chicken?
Everyone’s had that experience where they’ve forgotten to thaw their meat and have been tempted to put it directly on the grill or the pan anyway and call it a day. However, some health issues can accompany frozen meat. Here, you’ll get to know about possible risks and whether you can grill frozen chicken anyway in a safe manner.
Why You Should Not Grill Frozen Chicken Breast
Grilling frozen food, especially meat, can be a bit of a gamble – especially if you’re thinking of consuming it directly once it has been sitting on the grill for a while. With frozen meat, and in this case frozen chicken breast, the temperature regulation throughout the cut of meat might be uneven, and you will not be able to tell if your frozen chicken breast has been cooked all the way through.
It may appear to be cooked (or even overcooked) on the outside, but on the inside, it might be completely raw. Consuming raw meat can pose multiple issues for your physical health, such as salmonella, which is why it is a good idea to avoid grilling frozen chicken breasts at all. Instead, it is best if you first defrost your frozen chicken at low heat and then grill frozen chicken at low temperatures accordingly.
This will ensure that heat does not reach the outer part of your chicken only – and gives the center of the chicken time to cook as well. Grilling frozen chicken also takes up a substantial amount of time since you have to allow the heat to reach the center of the meat.
While low heat is recommended for fully thawing the center of your frozen chicken, it is a time-taking process that requires you to constantly check up on the meat.
Lastly, grilling frozen chicken – and more specifically, the low heat that is used for grilling frozen chicken – may give rise to bacteria that grow in such conditions. Hence, it increases the risks for bacterial consumption, which is why you shouldn’t grill your frozen chicken breast at any cost.
How To Defrost Frozen Chicken?
To avoid the risks that come with directly putting freshly thawed chicken on your grill, it is best to thaw your chicken a couple of days before you’re going to grill it. Luckily, there are a number of ways you can do so.
1. Refrigerator Thawing
Perhaps the easiest way of thawing your chicken is simply placing it in the refrigerator after taking it away from the freezer. Simply by doing this, you can defrost the chicken while still keeping it fresh in your refrigerator.
The duration of the refrigerator thawing technique largely depends on the cuts of chicken that you’re planning to grill later. For simpler and comparatively boneless parts of the chicken, such as the chicken breast, you can pop it in the refrigerator for around a full day – while whole chicken and more bony cuts of meat would require around two days of refrigerator thawing.
2. Microwave Thawing
Another simple method of defrosting your chicken before grilling it right away is by thawing it in the microwave. If your microwave already has a built-in option for thawing your chicken, then you could just put it on defrost mode in order to thaw your chicken by properly reading the manual to figure out how the defrost option works.
However, if your microwave is not equipped with this feature, then you can choose to do it manually by putting your chicken cut on a dish and then in the microwave. However, with the latter, you’ll have to keep periodically checking on your chicken and rotating it to ensure it’s defrosted on every side.
This method is great if you’re planning to grill your chicken right after it has been defrosted.
3. Water Bath Thawing
While this technique may be somewhat tricker, it requires just a vacuum-sealed bag and some ice cubes in order to defrost your chicken. After placing your chicken in the sealed bag and ensuring no water can enter, you have to place it in some water in order to thaw it.
Additionally, you have to lower the water temperature with the help of ice cubes to prevent bacterial growth in the chicken because of the temperature. It is best to keep replacing the cold water every half hour or so with a fresh batch as well.
4. Counter Thawing
A simple yet somewhat time-consuming way of thawing your frozen chicken is merely by placing it on the counter. For instance, if you’re planning to grill your chicken for dinner, you should set out your frozen chicken around midday to thaw it.
However, it is best not to let the chicken reach room temperature, and the surface should be cleaned with an antibacterial spray once the chicken is thawed.
5. Defrosting Tray
This miracle of science is the best vessel for defrosting your chicken, as it can get the job done for you in a half-hour or so. It is specially designed to thaw meat and prevent the growth of bacteria at the same time, so you won’t have to worry about that. Additionally, it is a good idea to get a defrosting tray big enough to thaw all of your pieces of meat at once.
How To Grill Frozen Chicken?
Once you’ve thawed your chicken using any of the techniques mentioned above, it is finally time to put them to the grill in order for you to enjoy your frozen chicken without you running the risk of getting salmonella.
Step 1: The first step to grilling your frozen chicken is pounding it. Pounding your chicken is necessary to ensure that they’re all approximately the same levels of thickness while grilling frozen chicken breast, so you don’t have overcooked or undercooked pieces of chicken later.
You’ll thus need to wrap up all your chicken pieces in plastic to make sure the chicken’s juices are retained during the pounding process. Once this is done, you need to use a meat tenderizer to evenly pound all the chicken pieces.
Step 2: The second step of how to grill frozen chicken is marination. Placing the chicken that’s been pounded into a bowl, you’ll need to marinade it according to your tastes – with an emphasis on marination ingredients that are oil-based instead of sweeteners, as the latter can get stuck to the surface of the grill.
Step 3: If you’re looking to make your chicken pieces meatier and juicier, then you can opt to brine your chicken instead of marinating it. After your chicken has been set aside in the refrigerator for marination, you’ll need to prep your grill.
Step 4: For lubrication, it is best to dip a paper towel in some cooking oil and run it over the grates of your grill with the help of a pair of tongs. This will further ensure that your pieces of chicken do not stick to your grill. Once the chicken has successfully completed marination, you can set the pieces on the grill evenly.
Step 5: While your chicken is grilling, you can opt for either a thermometer to measure the temperature of the center of the chicken to ensure whether it is cooked. Alternatively, if you’re wondering how long to grill frozen chicken breasts, then simply use your intuition once you have cooked your chicken for four minutes on each side.
Step 6: The goal here is to not let the inside of your chicken remain raw and pink. After this, you can safely remove the chicken from the grill and enjoy your meal.
How To Grill Frozen Chicken Without Thawing?
Sometimes, your meals may not be planned for hours in advance. Having surprise guests around mealtime or forgetting to prep for dinner are common occurrences for every household. In situations like this, it may be difficult to prep and thaw your frozen chicken before it’s been cooked.
While this may mean several possible health issues, the disadvantages to cooking frozen chicken directly can be considerably reduced once you follow these steps – so if you’re wondering, “can you put frozen chicken on the grill,” then you absolutely can!
Step 1: Firstly, you’ll need to increase your cooking time by around 50% to allow all of the parts of your chicken to cook fully without letting the insides of your chicken be raw. You also need to ensure that all of the pieces of chicken are spread out during the cooking process since chicken pieces that are clumped together tend to cook slower.
Step 2: Keeping these two requirements in mind, you can either choose to bake or grill your frozen chicken. Both of these follow similar procedures, and the goal is for the center of the chicken to reach a temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit in order to be cooked to perfection.
Step 3: When the pieces of chicken have been seasoned and undergone marination accordingly, you can choose to cook the pieces of chicken over indirect heat first. This will prevent the usual scenario of the outside of the chicken being cooked properly with the inside still being raw.
Step 4: If you’re looking for an easier alternative, then you might want to consider grilling chicken wings instead of larger pieces of meat such as chicken breast and tenderloins.
Step 5: However, it is best to avoid cooking chicken directly in a slow cooker when it is frozen and has not thawed properly. This is because the cooking time of the slow cooker is quite long – allowing increased rates of bacterial infestations in your meat since it is the perfect temperature for the growth of harmful bacteria that you can accidentally consume. Hence, cooking frozen meat is not recommended by the USDA either.
Step 6: Keeping this in mind, it is safe to cook frozen chicken when you’re either baking or grilling it. However, since this procedure has a lot of room for error, it is best to avoid cooking frozen chicken when you can.
As you have seen, there are various ways in which you can cook frozen chicken directly by baking or grilling it without thawing it for hours beforehand. However, as mentioned above, there are ways of thawing frozen chicken in a matter of minutes.
So if you can stave off dinnertime by some time, it is highly recommended that you don’t cook frozen chicken directly since it’s easy to get the temperature wrong!