Can You Freeze Thawed Chicken?


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Now,  at some point, and maybe even right now, there have been packages of chicken frozen in your freezer. The frigid temperatures keep it safe and preserve it so you can eat it weeks or months from now. 

When you have a couple packages of the meat it is easy to pop it out of the freezer, thaw, and get cooking. But what if you thaw the chicken and then decide not to use it? In fact you’re not even going to use it next week. 

So, do you just get rid of it or can you freeze the thawed chicken?

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You can freeze thawed chicken only if the chicken was defrosted in the refrigerator and didn’t get below 40 degrees during the thawing process. You shouldn’t refreeze thawed chicken that has been in the fridge for more than 2-3 days. 

While it is safe to do so, freezing thawed chicken can be tricky. You have to know that the chicken didn’t defrost above 40 degrees Fahrenheit. You also shouldn’t refreeze chicken that you defrosted in the microwave. 

Also, refreezing chicken may deteriorate its quality. Ice crystals may form and break down the meat but will affect more of the look of the chicken than the actual taste. 

If done properly, It is still fine to cook refrozen chicken for dinner. Any time you defrost chicken, do so on the lowest shelf of the refrigerator. The lowest shelf of the fridge is the coldest and prevents any of the meat’s juices that may leak from it while defrosting from dripping onto other foods.

Then if you change your mind and decide you do not want to cook the chicken and it hasn’t gone above a certain temperature you can just put it back into the freezer. 

An article from Healthline can guide you in some of the dos and don’ts of freezing chicken. 

So, the next time you thaw some chicken in the refrigerator and decide not to cook it for dinner, know that it is perfectly safe to refreeze it, although it may lose some of its quality. It is important to handle chicken correctly to avoid bacteria from growing and thus making people sick.

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Can You Refreeze Raw Chicken After Thawing? 

If you have thawed chicken you decided not to cook, you may be asking the question, can you refreeze raw chicken after thawing or should you cook it first?

You can refreeze raw chicken if you have thawed it properly in the refrigerator and it hasn’t been in there for more than a day or two. 

Early in the morning you put a package of raw chicken in the refrigerator to thaw, planning on cooking it later that evening. After your day at work, you decided you were too tired to cook and wondered if you could just stick the chicken back into the freezer to be used at a different time. 

Well, you can! But only if the chicken has stayed under forty degrees Fahrenheit (most fridges keep this temp or colder). So if you store it in your refrigerator for only a day or two it’s safe to refreeze the meat. 

If a package of raw chicken has been sitting in your refrigerator for a few days then you shouldn’t refreeze it. 

Bacteria can multiply when chicken is thawed at room temperature. So, when you set it on the counter to thaw and then put it back into the freezer, the bacteria will start growing again the next time you thaw it and more bacteria will be present. 

This will cause there to be a greater chance someone will get sick when eating this chicken. So while it is safe to freeze thawed chicken only do so if it was thawed in the refrigerator. 

While the refrozen chicken will most likely decrease in quality, sometimes you may be in a pinch and need to refreeze it. For most of us saving that $10+ dollars for a chicken package is worth the possibility of the quality being a little less as long as it’s safe. 

Why Can’t You Refreeze Some Thawed Meat? 

When it comes to freezing and refreezing meats you should know that there are safety concerns if the meat goes above a certain temperature without being cooked. So, why can’t you refreeze some thawed meat?

You can only refreeze thawed meat if it was thawed in the refrigerator. Any meat that was thawed in the microwave will not have stayed below 40 degrees Farenheit so it is not safe to freeze again. 

Freezing meat can preserve it until you want to use it for a meal. Fresh meat will spoil quickly so that’s why freezing is often used to keep it good. As I mentioned with the chicken, it is only okay to refreeze meat if it has been stored in the refrigerator to thaw and hasn’t gone above a certain temperature. 

It is safe to refreeze the meat if it is refrozen within 1 to 2 days of placing it in the refrigerator. If you did leave the meat out on the counter you can refreeze if it wasn’t left out for more than 2 hours and if it didn’t spend more than 1 hour in temperatures above 90 degrees Fahrenheit. 

While you can refreeze meat, it may affect the quality of it in regards to taste and texture. 

Freezing, thawing, refreezing, and thawing the meat again will cause the odor changes and increased oxidation of its fat and protein, as well as loss of color, and moisture. It will also affect the tenderness and juiciness of the meat. 

However with beef, this process may actually increase its tenderness. Red meat is known to be better with a shorter freezing time. 

Lamb and pork can be affected by freezing it and there will most likely be a significant change in the texture of chicken if it is refrozen. If done correctly, freezing meat is a great way to preserve it for future use and it won’t affect the quality too much.

Final Thoughts

Freezing chicken is a great way to store it so you can use it for up to 9 months. If the chicken is in the refrigerator for longer than a day or two or if the package of the chicken has gone above 40 degrees Farenheit don’t refreeze it. 

At temperatures above 40 bacteria may have already started forming on it. This means that after it is refrozen and thawed again more bacteria will grow which can cause those who eat it to become sick. 

Some meat will refreeze better than others but generally it is recommended that you follow certain steps to thawing and refreezing meats. But, if you have started thawing some chicken in the refrigerator for about a day with its temperature staying in that safe zone and don’t want to cook it that evening for dinner, it is safe to refreeze it.

Hannah R.

Hey, I'm Hannah and I'm the founder of Get Eatin'.

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