Cooking frozen chicken takes around 50% longer than thawed, no matter the method. You can toss almost anything on a hot grill and heat it up eventually, but some grill combos are doomed from the outset and won’t produce a desirable result.
Which side is chicken on? Can you grill frozen chicken? Read on, and I’ll share everything you need to know about how to grill frozen chicken for the best tasting results.
You can safely grill frozen chicken, but the chances of underdone or overcooking are much higher. Grilled chicken needs to reach 165° internally for safety reasons, and even at lower cooking temps, you are likely to burn or dehydrate the outside before the frozen center thaws and cooks.
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Can I Grill Chicken Without Thawing
Although you can cook chicken without thawing, it’s not a good idea because you’ll get a very dry outside long before the chicken cooks.
At a moderate temperature, around 350°F, it takes 30 to 45 minutes to cook a frozen chicken breast, depending on the thickness.
Even flipping it regularly and basting, you’ll probably get a dry or outside.
Ideally, you want a little char on the surface and a moist chicken breast throughout.
If you have thinly sliced pieces like a kebab, you may get better results, but they’ll still be less than optimal.
Is It Safe To Grill Frozen Chicken
It is safe to grill frozen chicken even though it’s not a good idea. So long as you use a meat thermometer, you can ensure your chicken reaches a safe internal temperature for human consumption.
Raw and frozen chicken may be contaminated with Campylobacter, Salmonella, and Clostridium perfringens bacteria.
If you don’t heat chicken properly inside, the chances of food poisoning increase substantially because the heat hasn’t had a chance to kill the bacteria.
According to Smart Chicken, “Using a digital meat thermometer is the best way to ensure chicken on the grill has reached the safe minimum temperature of 165˚F. Insert the thermometer into the thickest portion of the cut, avoiding any bones, to get the most accurate temperature.”
How Long To Grill Frozen Chicken
Grill times for thawed chicken are typically under 25 minutes, though it takes about an hour and a half for a whole chicken. If you plan to grill from frozen, it will take about twice as long.
Below I’ve created a quick reference guide for how long it takes to grill different cuts of chicken when you start with frozen meat.
Grill Times For Frozen Chicken
|Cut of Chicken||Time to Grill From Frozen|
|Whole 5 lb Chicken||2 hours 15 minutes|
|Chicken Breasts||30 to 45 minutes|
|Thighs||38 to 50 minutes|
|Wings||30 to 40 minutes|
|Legs||38 to 50 minutes|
How To Thaw Frozen Chicken For Grilling
The best way to thaw frozen chicken for grilling is in the fridge overnight for 18 to 24 hours.
However, you can also do a quick thaw before preheating the grill. Place your chicken in a sealable, leakproof bag and put it in a large container of cold water until the meat is pliable and thawed.
The water will take around 1.5 hours to thaw your chicken completely.
How Do You Grill Frozen Chicken On The Grill
Sometimes you have to make do with what you’ve got and grill that frozen chicken.
If you get to the beach and realize you have no way to thaw meat, you can still cook any type of chicken safely on the grill with a bit of patience.
I’ll explain step-by-step how to grill different types of frozen and partially frozen chicken so you can still enjoy your summer barbecue even if the meat isn’t perfectly moist this time.
Can I Grill Frozen Chicken Breast
I will show you how to get the best possible frozen-to-grilled chicken breast. For this hack, you’ll need a grill pan with a lid and a fat of your choice.
Instead of using the grill surface directly, most of the cooking here happens in the pan.
- Preheat your grill and grill pan to medium-high
- Melt the fat inside the pan
- Place frozen chicken breast in pan and cover for 4 minutes
- Flip the chicken and cover for another 4 minutes.
- Flip it back and cook for 10 minutes
- Flip a final time and cook for 10 minutes, so each side has cooked inside a covered pan for 14 minutes.
- Set chicken to rest off the grill for 10 minutes, and then enjoy
Can I Grill Frozen Chicken Strips
Chicken strips are usually breaded, but you can also use un-breaded chicken strips if you prefer.
Following this method will yield the best results you can get on a grill. Unlike most cooking, it’s okay to flip breaded strips every 3 minutes or so to help prevent burning.
- Spray grill with cooking oil
- Heat grill 350° to 400°
- Place strips evenly around the edges of the grill surface as far from the center or burners as possible.
- Cover and cook for 30 minutes, flipping often to prevent burning
- When the internal temperature reaches 170°, you can serve the strips
Can You Grill Frozen Chicken Legs
Chicken legs are an easy finger food for any summer party. You may want to baste your chicken legs in a savory barbecue sauce to give them flavor as you cook.
- Preheat grill to around 350° to 400°
- Dry the drumsticks with a paper towel
- Place chicken legs around the edges, away from direct heat, so they thaw as you cook. You want the bones facing inward to the middle and the meatiest parts out by the rim.
- Turn and baste frequently, so your outside stays as moist as possible
- Cook covered for 30 to 50 minutes depending on size
- When the legs reach 170° in the thickest part of the meat, not touching bone, they are ready to eat
Can You Grill Frozen Chicken Nuggets
Chicken nuggets are both one of the easiest to cook on a grill because they are thin and one of the hardest because they’re easy to burn.
Follow the steps below to grill your breaded nuggets.
- Heat your grill to 400°
- Place nuggets evenly around the edges where the heat is lowest
- Sear the breading with the lid down for about 5 minutes on each side
- Cook slowly for another 20 minutes, turning the nuggets often to prevent burning
- Alternately, you can cook nuggets in a preheated grill pan with a lid like you would use an oven, but you’ll still need to cook longer, flip more often and check the temperature with a meat thermometer.
Can I Grill Frozen Chicken Wings
Chicken wings are another easy-hard food to grill because they have relatively little meat on the bone, so they thaw and cook quickly.
Here is the best way to get cooked wings without burning.
- Heat your grill and a grill pan to 400°
- If you have no grill pan, you can use a foil packet.
- Cook the frozen wings off to the side for 20 minutes, flipping them halfway through to get even heat without grill marks.
- After 20 minutes, place the wings on the grill for 5 to 7 minutes per side.
- When the meat reaches 165°, you can remove them from the grill
- Rest for 5 minutes and serve with a dipping sauce of your choice
Can I Grill Frozen Chicken Thighs
You can grill frozen chicken thighs, but the bone and thickness make this particularly tricky to pull off. You’ll need a covered grill pan and a fat of your choice.
Marinating or basting thighs is also a good idea to keep them moist and tender.
- Preheat your grill and grill pan to medium-high
- Melt the fat inside the pan
- Place frozen chicken thighs in the pan and cover for 5-7 minutes
- Flip your chicken and cover for another 5-7 minutes.
- Flip again and cook for 12-15 minutes
- Flip a final time and cook for 12-15 minutes, so each side has cooked inside a covered pan for about 17-22 minutes.
- Turn up the heat and sear on the grill for 4-5 minutes per side
- Set the thighs to rest off the grill for 5-10 minutes, and then enjoy
Can You Grill Partially Frozen Chicken
Grilling partially frozen chicken is safe. It will take longer than thawed chicken, but not quite as long as frozen, and it has a better chance of being tender on the inside without getting too dry around the outside.
- To grill partially frozen chicken, heat your grill to around 350° to 400°
- Use the directions and grilling time for the type and cut of chicken you plan to cook just like you thawed it, but plan to cook for 1.5 times the standard duration.
- Basting and checking the temperature with a good-quality digital thermometer is essential, so your partially thawed chicken cooks thoroughly.
Helpful Tips To Know About If I Can Grill Frozen Chicken
Everyone forgets to thaw the meat sometimes. It’s better to have a dry outside, and a well-cooked inside of your chicken than a moist outer layer and an undercooked inside that might give you food poisoning.
Here are more helpful tips to know about if I can grill frozen chicken.
- The thicker the cut of meat, the longer it takes to cook, regardless of whether it’s frozen. Adjust your cook times upward as needed for larger pieces of chicken.
- According to Eating Well, “Your grill should be 400-450°F for high, 350-400°F for medium-high, 300-350°F for medium and 250-300°F for low heat. A properly heated grill sears foods on contact keeps the insides moist and helps prevent sticking.”
- It takes roughly 24 hours to thaw every 4 lbs of chicken in the refrigerator. So 8 lbs can take up to 2 days, especially if it’s a solid block.
- Thawing chicken in a microwave creates an undesirable flavor. Meanwhile, if you use warm to hot water to speed up the process, it promotes bacterial growth, so it’s worth waiting an hour and a half for a cold water thaw if you want to cook chicken on the grill.
Grilling frozen chicken should be a last resort if you do it at all.
Unfortunately, you’re probably not going to get the tender, moist and delicious food you hope for because cooking from frozen keeps the inside too cold.
At the same time, the outside dehydrates and becomes rubbery and unpleasant. Always thaw chicken in the fridge for at least a day before cooking if you can.
Use the bag and cold water method in a pinch instead for a relatively quick meal.