Is it ok to grill frozen chicken? Did you know these 3 safe thaw methods?

Is it ok to grill frozen chicken
A picture of a grilled chicken when it is no longer frozen

It was Saturday, you and your three adorable (I think) children have spent the whole day at home alone, and you suddenly realized that it was almost dinner. Now you’re wondering if it’s ok to grill frozen chicken or whip up some other food for your children (even though you promised to make them a roasted chicken).

Chances are since you’re asking this question, you’re entirely out of time to properly thaw the chicken (according to the USDA’s safe thawing practice) before throwing it into your grill oven.

To answer your question about grilling frozen chicken, YES! You can safely grill frozen chicken, as long as you increased your usual cook time by around 50% (if you’re roasting a whole chicken) to bring the bird to a safe, consumable temperature. Different chicken parts may require a different approach. Find out the best ways to that your bird below.

The bigger question is, can you afford to grill your chicken for about for an extra 30-60mins? 

Let’s talk about the best ways to thaw different chicken parts before grilling it for dinner properly and what options you still have when all you have a chunk of frozen bird and no room for an additional 60 or even 30mins.

Is it Ok to eat undercooked chicken?

Indeed, all meats are not made equal! It’s safe to eat some meat if it’s undercooked, or even raw(like beef and some kinds of fish), but chicken is a different story altogether.

Not just chicken, but pork too. 

“Eating chicken raw, or undercooked is not safe, medium rare is likely not safe as they can cause foodborne and food poisoning illnesses,” says Alina Jameson, MS, RD, a nutritional instructor from the School of Medicine, University of Utah. 

Cooking/grilling your poultry until it is well-done is the safest way of cooking it. The reason is that the chicken in the US isn’t labeled as salmonella-free, nor is it campylobacter-free.

Regardless of the chicken part, a well-done chicken means one with an internal temperature of 165F to 180F or 73.8˚C to 84˚C. Too low, you’ll risk food poisoning, too high, well, you might make a quick trip to the dentist afterward.

Therefore, if you can not guarantee roasting, cooking, frying, or grilling your poultry until it is well-done, do not eat! 

Two options if you must grill frozen chicken

option one

As a parent and a mother of 3 children, I’ll still go ahead and thaw the chicken using the microwave, for about 20mins either using the regular “defrost” setting or a low medium setting.

This should at least give me a head-start to prepare some snacks for my children (say a cup of ice cream), or engage with them with some fun activity or even watch Ryan’s Youtube videos together!

Season, then throw the chicken inside your grill oven and proceed with roasting the bird while continually monitoring the temperature of the breast area.

Every parent at this point would understand that counts are “having food ready on time,” no having the perfect grilled chicken! 

Therefore, once the breast area’s temperature is about 160F(73.8˚C), carve out some pieces and serve those for dinner before continuing with grilling the remaining parts.

Option two

It’s enough to grill the frozen chicken for an extra 30-60mins, but the problem with increasing in grill time is that the outer layer, the skin, will be too burnt to eat, which will make the food come out undesirably.

Secondly, the thick inner parts of the chicken might still be pink from being undercooked, and worst yet, a bit cool inside once you start carving it. 

Therefore, if you want to avoid having a burnt and rubbery outer layer, throw a wrap of your choosing over the upper facing side of the chicken.

You can choose any grill wraps of your one, either an aluminum foil (but beware of aluminum leaching) cedar wrap (for an added sweet smokey aroma) or a silicon baking sheet, all of which you can purchase on Amazon.

We all love grilled chicken, and chances are you’ll arrange for a rematch next time; as such, you’ll need to prepare be well enough with no room for unplanned surprises.

How to quickly thaw chicken

We have determined that undercooked chicken is not a viable option, and roasting frozen chicken will be difficult, maybe even impossible sometimes. So how do we properly thaw frozen chicken?

Option one: Thaw in the refrigerator

Leaving the chicken in the refrigerator is not only the safest but the best way to thaw chicken, according to the Food Safety and Inspection Service of the USDA, and it may take up to 1 to 2 days to thaw a whole chicken. Besides, the good news of using this method of defrosting chicken is that you can refreeze the bird safely if you did not grill or used it as proposed.

Furthermore, a thawed chicken can be stored safely in the fridge for an additional 24 to 48hours before using or refrozen.

Option two: Thaw using cold water

You can do this by placing your chicken in a bowl, large enough to contain the whole chicken, either while the chicken is still wrapped in airtight or leak-proof packaging or bag.

Place the large bowl either in the sink or in any location where it isn’t prone fo falling, then completely submerge the chicken in cold or freshwater.

You must change the water every 30mins or stir the water so as not to allow the formation of cold pockets in the water, which would delay the defrosting process. You should have a well-defrosted chicken in 1 to 3 hours, depending on the size and part.

Start cooking/grilling/roasting immediately after thawing.

Option three: Thaw using a microwave

Most microwaves made in the last 5 to 8years have a “defrosting” setting feature. You must use this method with caution, as the microwave oven can start cooking the outer layer of the meat as you’re thawing it, this will make some parts of your chickens too dry and chewy.

Depending on the part and the size of the chicken you’re thawing (i.e., whole chicken), if you put the chicken in a microwave-safe bowl, the timer can range from 3mins up to 20 or even 30mins! When this is done, you should be able to have a defrosted chicken ready to be roasted into deliciousness!

However, Keep in mind chicken that was thawed using the microwave should be prepared and roasted shortly after it is well-defrosted, and the reason is that the microwave may start “cooking” the outer parts of the chicken while it is still defrosting.

The poultry must be grilled immediately too since holding a partly cooked meat isn’t safe as bacterias would start recouping, as fast also!

If you plan to refreeze the chicken, bear in mind that this can only be done after you have cooked it; do not put it back in the freezer.

How not to thaw a chicken

The USDA and several universities in the US released a warning statement of how NOT TO thaw a chicken.

  • Never thaw chicken on the counter
  • Never thaw chicken using hot water.

how long does it take to grill chicken

Here are a few possible answers

There are a number of answers to “How long does it take to grill chicken on a gas grill?” There are a variety of cooking techniques for chicken and each of them will determine the amount of time required. 

Regardless of the time involved, the breast should get to 165 F, or the juices should run clear when you twist a joint.

Here are a few methods of grilling chicken on a gas grill. Keep in mind, this is how I do it. There are many opinions, mine tend to be in the low and slow area because I’ve just not had good results cooking at super high temps.

Grilled chicken breast

How long does it take to grill chicken breast on a gas grill? 

Everyone is going to have a different process for preparing a chicken breast to be grilled. 

My preference is to use a dry rub for seasoning. In fact, if I intend to use anything like barbecue sauce, I won’t put it on until just before it’s done, or after I take it off the grill.

I normally get the grill up to 400-500 F. I use an old-style Bubba Keg grill quite a bit. This isn’t a gas grill so it’s a little different. On this grill I will place the breasts in the center of the grate for a few minutes on each side, then immediately move them off to the edges where the heat isn’t quite as intense. 

I can close the vents down, but it won’t drop the temperature as quickly as a gas grill. I do all of this with the lid down.

On a 3 burner gas grill, I will light two to a medium setting, sear the breasts over the direct heat for a few minutes and then move off to the unlit part of the cooking area. I also turn the other burners to low. 

The lid shut for about 7 minutes per side.

If you’re in a hurry, you can torch your chicken, but I like a nice juicy breast and this is nearly impossible over continual high heat. It’s best to spend 15 minutes to get the job done right. Your taste buds will thank you.

Grilled chicken legs and thighs

How long does it take to grill chicken legs and thighs on a gas grill? Legs and Thighs are fattier and need to cook to about 180 F, so it will take a bit longer. 

I still follow a similar approach. Start with some high heat to sear each side and then move to low heat with the lid down. 

If you’re cooking breasts with them, keep the thighs closer to the lit burner so your chicken pieces finish at about the same time.

It will take around 18 mins to grill chicken legs and thighs.

Spatchcock or Filleted Whole Chicken

How long does it take to grill a whole chicken on a gas grill? In my humble opinion, the best possible way to cook chicken is on a gas grill, PERIOD! The reasons are simple.

  1. It’s far easier to cook the chicken evenly once it’s flattened out.
  2. The dark meat has more exposure to heat and ends up being done at the same time the breast is done.
  3. With a good overall dry rub, the flavors are just like a low and slow-smoked chicken.
  4. It’s juicy as can be.

On a gas grill at 350 F it will take 50 minutes. I usually put mine over the unlit burner on a 3 burner gas grill. This is considered a direct heat method, but I’m just not buying it yet. With my Bubba Keg and its heat retention, 350 F on the thermometer is serious! 

On my gas grill, it’s a joke. So I will have to write an article doing thins on the Bubba one day.

This method is the closest to true Q you’ll get on a gas grill, 

so I recommend trying it.

Now if I were to ask other grillers and barbecuers “how long does it take to grill chicken on a gas grill” I would get a lot of different answers. BBQ purists might tell you 0 minutes on a gas grill because they generally don’t use them. Setting that debate aside, it really comes down to your method of cooking.

One method I didn’t highlight was a beer can chicken which can also be done on a gas grill. 

This will take closer to 3 hours which is why I generally do Spatchcock these days. 

I’ve also used a loaf pan technique which takes about two hours for a whole chicken. Again, most backyard chefs don’t have the time for these methods. But, they are definitely missing something!

How long does it take to grill chicken on a gas grill? Let us know via the comment 

 In conclusion

If your goal is to have your chicken safely prepared and ready for dinner, then yes, it is ok to grill frozen chicken just as long as you follow some safety precautions.

Using a microwave, grill wrap, and grill oven should do the trick for you and your family, however, remember it needs to reach a temperature of about 165F to 185F(73.8˚c to 83˚c) to avoid possible food poisoning!

Regardless, we’ve seen that trying to grill frozen chicken will likely lead to overcooked meat parts and thicker parts of the meat without adequate planning.

If you need to defrost your chicken, remember to do it according to the USDA’s recommended thawing practice, which is in the fridge, using cold water, and in the microwave.

Whatever you do, make sure all parts of the chicken reaches a minimum of 165F(73.8˚c), this is to avoid contaminating Salmonella and Campylobacter food poisoning bacterias. 

With careful execution, you may still have your grill frozen chicken done ready for dinner, although it may take a little longer! However, to counter it, you serve some snacks or better salad before the main course, and that could give you the time you need to prepare the chicken.

Also, when you’re asking “how long does it take to grill chicken?” I hope the outlines I presented would have helped you, and given you the answers you’re looking for.

What are your thoughts on the article “is it ok to grill frozen chicken?”

Are there any other ideas on how to grill frozen chicken?

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