How Long Can You Freeze Chicken Before It Goes Bad? Let’s Find Out! (2023)

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How long can you freeze chicken without spoiling it?

The longer the chicken has been frozen, the less likely it will spoil. You can freeze chicken for up to 6 months.

But, freezing chicken for longer than two weeks may result in freezer burn. If freezing for longer than three months, you should eat the chicken within 2 to 3 days upon defrosting.

The best way to know how many days you can freeze chicken is by looking at the end date on the package.

The USDA recommends freezing chicken within 3-6 months after buying. Once this period expires, the chicken becomes unsafe to eat.

But, there is no set rule on when chicken needs to be thrown out. It depends on the type of chicken, the amount of chicken, and the storage conditions.

It’s important to remember that once the chicken thaws, it loses its freshness. So don’t expect to get much life out of it after it thaws.

Freezing food is a great way to preserve it. If you want to freeze chicken, you should choose the freshest chicken possible.

How to freeze your chicken?

You can wrap each piece of raw chicken in plastic wrap or foil. Then place them into the container of your choice.

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Make sure they are all covered with an even layer of ice. Keep the container away from direct sunlight, which can cause the ice crystals to melt.

You may also put the container inside another larger container filled with ice. It will help keep the temperature down.

If you have more than one container, make sure they are not touching. If it connects, the heat will transfer between containers.

Once the chicken is frozen, please remove it from the containers and store it in airtight bags or containers.

When you go to the freezer, you’ll find that the chicken is still safe to consume. It will be firm, but it will still have the same flavor and texture as fresh chicken.

Make sure that the chicken is thawed before you cook it.

Split up the Chicken

If you have a recipe that calls for a whole chicken, try chopping it up. And save time and money while enjoying all the same great flavor!

  • Take two large containers and divide the chicken between them to do this.
  • Then, label each container with the right amount of chicken you want to freeze.
  • Next, freeze the whole lot together. Once the chicken has completely frozen, you can break it apart.
  • The safest option would be to wait until the next day to do this.
  • After all, you don’t want to defrost your chicken while it’s still frozen.

There’s nothing worse than having it melt all over your kitchen floor. But, if you work at home, you might be able to defrost it sooner.

Keep in mind that you should only defrost it. Otherwise, you risk losing some of the meat.

Label your Packaging

It is simple to have control and know what is in your recipe. You can get everything you need for labeling your food for your freezer.

Now that you know how to freeze chicken, you must also label it. And you can write down the date on the backside.

That way, it’ll stay fresh for quite a while. It’s safe to say that freezing chicken pieces is one of the easiest ways to preserve them.

Of course, you need to do a bit of preparation. But once you have everything organized, it’s easy enough to go through the process.

Keep chicken in airtight containers

It is best to store your chicken breasts in an airtight bag or container in the fridge. It keeps out moisture and prevents rotting.

And it allows you to see exactly how much food is left. That way, you’ll have no problems planning your frozen meals for the coming week.

Plus, you’ll also get an idea of how much food you have. You can even set aside money to sell more ingredients with a bit of organization.

What happens to frozen chicken?

When you freeze chicken, it does not lose any nutrients and moisture. When you defrost it, you might notice that it looks dryer than regular chicken.

It gets drier when you cook chicken because the juices evaporate during cooking.

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So, if you plan to use the chicken right away, it won’t matter whether it was frozen or not. But if you want to save it for later, you should try to thaw it first.

The freezer time will preserve your chicken for longer, but this won’t be the best way to keep your chicken fresh.

If you want to keep your chicken fresh, you should immediately put it in a refrigerator.

How to tell if your frozen chicken is still good?

You can use a food thermometer. It’s the best way to know whether your food is safe to eat.

It takes a few seconds to check and can save you from illness or a nasty surprise. It is always a good idea to check the quality of your frozen food before cooking it.

While you want to be sure that the chicken is cooked, don’t rely on the color of the type of meat.

A chicken cooked to 160 degrees F is pink in the center because the juices haven’t escaped the raw meat.

There is a point where the quality of the product starts to decline. That point is called “freezer burn.”

It means that the surface of the chicken has become hard due to the lack of moisture. You should leave the chicken in the freezer to avoid freezer burn,

After that, you can either put it back in the freezer or throw it away.

How to safely defrost frozen chicken?

Defrosting frozen food takes less time than defrosting regular food. The key to safe defrosting is to follow these guidelines:

1. Store the food in an unopened package. It prevents bacteria from entering.

2. Do not refreeze food that has been defrosted. Refrigerating food again after defrosting removes some of the water content.

3. Don’t let the food sit around too long. It may continue to absorb moisture from the surrounding area if you do.

4. Keep the freezer container away from direct sun rays. Heat transfers through the glass.

5. Use an airtight freezer container to prevent your food from getting cold.

6. Always check the temperature before serving food. It will ensure that the food doesn’t get overcooked.

7. Make sure that the favorite container is sealed. An empty glass container allows excess moisture to escape.

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8. Never place hot foods into the refrigerator.

9. You can also wrap the food with aluminum foil and place it in the fridge.

10. Try adding ice cubes to the disposable plastic container to add more insulation.

11. Remove all original packaging before cooling. Original store packaging traps moisture inside, which leads to spoilage.

Plan your meal’s defrost cycle. Thawing frozen chicken in the microwave, in hot water or under running water all have their own risks and benefits.

Signs that your chicken has gone bad

When cooked at high temperatures, you may have dry chicken. It loses weight, becomes challenging, and develops off-flavors.

So, you should cook the chicken over low heat. But even then, you might still end up with dried-out chicken.

That’s why you need to cook it under pressure. It cooks without drying out the meat.

But, if you are going to grill it, you should always marinate it beforehand. It helps to keep it moist.

Below are the common signs you may encounter with your frozen chicken:

1. Chicken changes color when it starts to go bad. When it gets dark brown or black, it means that the meat has gone bad.

2. Another sign of bad chicken has a strong odor. It can smell like ammonia, feces, rotten egg, or anything else.

That’ll mean that your chickens have been exposed to dangerous pathogens. And they could infect you too.

3. Mold appears as clear patches on the surface of the meat. The mold doesn’t usually affect the texture of the chicken itself, but it does create a nasty smell.

So, if your chicken smells bad, toss it out immediately. No matter what you do, never eat any moldy food. Even if it tastes fine, it could be contaminated with deadly bacteria.

4. If your chicken feels slimy, it has an unpleasant odor. That may state that there are bacteria present in the fresh meat.

For this reason, you should never serve this type of chicken to others. If you don’t feel comfortable doing so, throw it away. Otherwise, you risk getting sick yourself.

Final Words

It is possible to freeze chicken for a long period of time to preserve it. The freezing time alters the texture but doesn’t change the taste of the chicken.

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While freezing and thawing, chicken is effective in preserving food. It is not a good idea to freeze chicken every day.

It is best only to freeze chicken every week or so. It prevents the chicken from getting the freezer burned.


Is chicken OK frozen for 2 years? ›

If kept frozen continuously, chicken will be safe indefinitely, so after freezing, it's not important if any package dates expire. For best quality, taste and texture, keep whole raw chicken in the freezer up to one year; parts, 9 months; and giblets or ground chicken, 3 to 4 months.

How long can you keep chicken in freezer before it goes bad? ›

How long raw chicken lasts in the freezer also depends on whether it is a whole bird, cut into parts, raw or cooked: Whole chicken: up to 1 year. Chicken pieces, such as chicken cutlets: up to 9 months. Ground chicken: 3 to 4 months.

How Do You Know When chicken has been in the freezer too long? ›

Feel. If it looks OK and smells OK but feels extra slimy, sticky or dry from freezer burn, it's time to say goodbye. “Raw chicken can have a somewhat slimy feel to it, but if it has a slimy feel after it is rinsed off and patted dried, it's no longer good,” Danielson said.

How long can you keep frozen chicken breast in the freezer? ›

Raw chicken can last indefinitely in the freezer, if stored properly, but the USDA suggests using it within a year if the chicken is whole, and within nine months if the chicken has been cut into parts.

Is freezer burn chicken safe to eat? ›

Chicken may appear to be pinker or take on a bright white hue, whereas beef can turn a shade of brown. In these instances you might be inclined to toss your meat, but USDA officials say that any meat affected by freezer burn is safe to eat.

How can you tell if chicken has gone bad? ›

If your chicken is slimy, has a foul smell, or has changed to a yellow, green, or gray color, these are signs that your chicken has gone bad. Toss any chicken that's past its expiration date, has been in the fridge for more than 2 days raw or 4 day cooked, or has been in the temperature danger zone for over 2 hours.

How long can you keep meat in the freezer? ›

Cold Food Storage Chart
FoodTypeFreezer (0 °F or below)
Hamburger, ground meats and ground poultryHamburger, ground beef, turkey, chicken, other poultry, veal, pork, lamb, and mixtures of them3 to 4 months
Fresh beef, veal, lamb, and porkSteaks4 to 12 months
Chops4 to 12 months
Roasts4 to 12 months
49 more rows
Sep 20, 2021

How do you store raw chicken in the freezer? ›

Tips for Freezing Poultry
  1. Ideally wrap first in a layer of plastic wrap or freezer paper, then a layer of foil, then store in a freezer bag or plastic container.
  2. Multiple layers will help maintain quality and prevent freezer burn.
  3. Wrap tightly, pressing out as much air as possible.
Jun 4, 2020

How long does vacuum sealed chicken last in the freezer? ›

Meats, like beef, poultry and fish, generally only stay fresh for about six months when stored in the freezer by conventional methods. Using your vacuum sealer can extend that shelf life to about two to three years.

How do you know if frozen chicken is safe to eat? ›

If the frozen chicken has no unpleasant odor, rewrap and thaw it slowly in the refrigerator. If after thawing, you touch the chicken and it feels sticky or tacky—run the chicken under cool water. If the sticky or tackiness remains or it still feels slimy, the chicken has gone bad.

Why has my chicken gone white in the freezer? ›

Why does frozen chicken sometimes have dried-out white patches? These patches are called “freezer burn” and they are caused by poor packaging and/or leaving chicken in the freezer too long. Freezer-burned chicken is safe to eat, but it may be less juicy and tender.

What happens if you cook spoiled chicken? ›

Risks of eating spoiled chicken

However, you still need to avoid cooking and eating spoiled chicken. Although re-heating or cooking can kill surface bacteria, it won't eliminate some of the toxins produced by bacteria, which can give you food poisoning if you eat them ( 8 ).

How can you tell if frozen chicken breast is freezer burned? ›

When meat gets freezer burn, it loses moisture from its surface and takes on a gray, brown, or gray-brown color. Meat and other foods with freezer burn might get a grainy texture or look dry and tough. You might find that freezer burn creates weird flavors, as well.

How do you revive a freezer burned chicken? ›

Since freezer burn causes meat to dry out, you can counteract it with a brine. Salt can help mitigate moisture loss when cooked, making it one of the most important tools in your pantry.

Is frozen chicken with ice crystals still good? ›

Check for Ice Crystals

Large ice crystals or a thick layer of ice are a sign that the food will not taste fresh.

Can you get salmonella from freezer burned chicken? ›

According to the USDA, eating freezer burn does not put you at risk for any food-borne illness or issues.

What should I do if I ate bad chicken? ›

Typically, any symptoms of illness after eating raw chicken will resolve without the need for medical treatment. However, people should ensure that they drink plenty of fluids, especially if they experience vomiting or diarrhea.

Can you taste if chicken is bad? ›

Instead of chewing and swallowing the chicken immediately, though, you should pause and carefully analyze the flavor. If it tastes “off” or seems a little sour, spit it out and discard the rest.

Do you need to wash chicken? ›

Washing or rinsing chicken increases risk.

Salmonella, Campylobacter and other harmful bacteria live on raw chicken. Washing or rinsing doesn't remove this risk, it worsens it by helping the bacteria spread.

Is 2 year old frozen hamburger still good? ›

Ground beef is safe indefinitely if kept frozen, but it is best if used within 4 months. Refrigerate or freeze ground beef as soon as possible after purchase. This preserves freshness and slows the growth of bacteria.

Can meat last 2 years in the freezer? ›

Whatever the meat — beef, chicken, pork, or fish — there's no question about it: You can safely store your food the longest in the freezer. That's because you can safely freeze meats indefinitely.

How do you tell if meat has gone bad in the freezer? ›

Look for the following signs in your frozen foods to determine if they're still good.
  1. It's freezer burnt. ...
  2. There's a change in texture. ...
  3. It smells weird. ...
  4. You can't remember when you froze it. ...
  5. It's sitting in a frozen puddle. ...
  6. The packaging is ripped. ...
  7. How to safely thaw food.
Aug 6, 2017

Can I store raw chicken in a Ziplock bag? ›

Store fresh, uncooked chicken on a low shelf of the refrigerator so it does not drip onto other items. For convenience and to prevent freezer burn, wrap separate pieces in foil or plastic bags. Then place all wrapped or bagged pieces into a larger freezer bag or foil wrap.

Should you wash chicken before you freeze it? ›

It is not necessary to wash meat before freezing it. Doing this could increase the risk of cross-contamination in the same way as it would before cooking. Once the meat has defrosted again, cooking it will kill all of the bacteria anyway. People can freeze any meat.

Does vacuum sealed chicken go bad? ›

Generally, a vacuum-sealed chicken can last for around three to ten days up to two weeks in the fridge. But several factors can differ in its shelf life. Chicken meat is highly perishable, and preserving a vacuum-sealed chicken in the fridge could be short-term.

Can I cook raw chicken that's been in the fridge for a week? ›

From a food safety perspective, raw chicken in the fridge has a short shelf life and is best if used within one to two days of purchase, regardless of the "best if used by date."

How do you know if raw vacuum sealed chicken is bad? ›

For raw chicken, SPOT it...
  1. Smell: Does it reek? The odor of rotten chicken is distinct and pungent. ...
  2. Package: If it's still sealed in the package, check the "best by" date. ...
  3. Observe: The color of fresh chicken is a pale pink. ...
  4. Touch: Chicken shouldn't have a slimy, snotty texture.
Feb 8, 2017

Is it safe to eat frozen meat 2 years old? ›

But we're here to finally put the question to rest, as the USDA states that as long as all foods are stored at 0 °F or lower in your freezer, they are safe to eat indefinitely.

Can you eat 3 year old frozen meat? ›

According to the USDA, frozen foods are safe to eat indefinitely. But just because something is ok to consume doesn't mean it will still taste delicious after years in a deep freeze.

Can frozen meat last for 2 years? ›

According to the FDA , you can keep cuts, like roasts, frozen for anywhere from 4 to 12 months and steaks for 6 to 12 months. Ground beef should be frozen for no more than three to four months. Once cooked, you can also safely freeze those beefy leftovers.

Can you eat frozen food after 2 years? ›

Food can remain frozen indefinitely and technically be safe to eat, as bacteria will not grow. However, over time all frozen food will deteriorate in quality and become unappetising to eat when defrosted. The time it takes for this deterioration to happen varies between foods.

What happens if you eat meat that has been frozen too long? ›

Frozen meat remains safe to eat as long as it has been frozen, however the quality and taste may not be the same. Frozen meat may no longer be fresh if it is discolored or has freezer burn on it or if it has developed a strong odor.

Is hamburger frozen for 2 years still good? ›

Ground beef is safe indefinitely if kept frozen, but it is best if used within 4 months. Refrigerate or freeze ground beef as soon as possible after purchase. This preserves freshness and slows the growth of bacteria.

Can you eat 9 year old frozen meat? ›

According to the USDA, frozen meat kept at 0°F or lower will always technically be safe to eat.

Can you eat a turkey that's been frozen for 5 years? ›

Frozen Turkey

Turkeys can be kept in the freezer indefinitely. However, cook turkeys within 1 year for the best quality.

When should you not eat frozen meat? ›

Frozen meat should be tossed after a year at most

According to the handy cold storage chart located at, ground meats have the shortest freezer shelf life, at three to four months. Fresh cuts of beef, veal, lamb, and pork — including steaks, chops, and roasts — will last for between four and 12 months.

Can you eat 2 year old frozen cheese? ›

So Can Years Old Cheese Still Be Good? So if the cheese has been frozen at a constant temperature and has not been exposed to air or other elements, you can eat cheese that has been frozen for 2 years.

Can you freeze meat for 5 years? ›

The guidelines for freezer storage are for quality only—frozen foods stored continuously at 0 °F or below can be kept indefinitely.

How can you tell if frozen meat is bad? ›

Look for the following signs in your frozen foods to determine if they're still good.
  • It's freezer burnt. ...
  • There's a change in texture. ...
  • It smells weird. ...
  • You can't remember when you froze it. ...
  • It's sitting in a frozen puddle. ...
  • The packaging is ripped. ...
  • How to safely thaw food.
Aug 6, 2017

Can I cook meat with freezer burn? ›

The FSIS recommends cutting off freezer-burned areas either before or after cooking the food. If a food is heavily freezer-burned, however, you'll probably want to toss it, as it won't taste as good since the quality was compromised.

What do ice crystals on frozen food indicate? ›

Those ice crystals you see on your frozen leftovers are created by moisture that escaped from the food. This happens for one of two reasons: either you didn't store your food properly or your food has been in the freezer for a long time. Eventually, everything will start to turn to ice if left in there too long.

Is it safe to eat frozen food with ice crystals? ›

When frozen foods are covered in snow-like crystals, it's best to toss them. But if only small amounts of icy deposits are present, scrape them off and get cooking: Just be ready to adjust cooking times and/or add extra seasonings to make up for texture changes and loss of flavor.

How long does bread last in the freezer? ›

Commercially baked breads and rolls can be stored at room temperature for 2 to 4 days or 7 to 14 days in the refrigerator. Bread products retain their quality when stored in the freezer for 3 months.


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