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How to Cook Frozen Chicken on the Stove

Cooking frozen chicken on the stove can seem daunting, but it’s a surprisingly simple and effective way to whip up a delicious meal in no time, even if you forgot to set the chicken out to thaw.

Cooked chicken breast seared in a cast iron skillet overhead

Whether you’re looking to make a quick dinner or meal prep for the week, understanding the best way to cook frozen chicken breast on the stovetop can save you some time and the cost of eating out at the last minute.

Below, we’ll explore easy ways to cook frozen chicken, including various cooking tips and favorite seasoning ideas for flavorful chicken every time.

Can You Cook Frozen Chicken on the Stovetop?

The short answer to whether you can cook frozen chicken on the stove is yes. However, following some general guidelines is crucial to make sure your chicken gets to the right temperature. Cooking chicken from a frozen state means adjusting the cook time and using the right pan to accommodate the lower temperature needed to thaw and cook the chicken thoroughly and gradually.

Choosing the Right Equipment

  • An instant-read thermometer is your best friend in this process. It’s vital to make sure that the chicken cooks to a safe temperature of 165 degrees at the thickest part of the breast. This will help you avoid the danger zone of bacteria growth. A thermometer can also be used to check if the chicken is cooked evenly, especially considering that the size of the chicken breasts can affect cooking time.
  • A skillet with a lid and a thick, heavy bottom will work best for cooking frozen chicken breasts. A non-stick skillet can be convenient for preventing sticking, but it’s not necessary if you’re ok with adding the proper amount of oil and keeping an eye on things. Additionally, consider the size of the skillet based on the amount of chicken you’re cooking to ensure they have enough space without overcrowding, which can affect cooking evenly.
Frozen chicken fillet on a cutting board on a wooden table.

Preparation and Cooking Process

  1. Start with a Single Layer: Add a small amount of olive oil or cooking spray to prevent the chicken from sticking and help promote even cooking. Then, place your frozen, skinless, boneless chicken breasts in a single layer in a skillet. Turn the burner on medium heat.
  2. Season Well: Before or during cooking, season your chicken with your favorite seasoning. Garlic powder, Italian seasoning, or a simple mix of salt and black pepper can add plenty of flavor to your dish. For more flavor, consider marinating with lemon juice or barbecue sauce for added moisture and flavor.
  3. Cook Time and Temperature: The extended cooking time is crucial when starting from a frozen state. Cover the skillet with a lid to keep in the heat and steam, cooking at a lower temperature to ensure gradual thawing. Flip the chicken occasionally, aiming for an overall cook time that may be about 50% longer than if cooking thawed chicken. It will be approximately 12 minutes on each side.
  4. Checking for Doneness: Use an instant-read thermometer to check for an internal temperature of 165 degrees. Be sure to check in the thickest part of the meat for an accurate reading. Ensure there are no ice crystals in the center and that the meat is not pink to confirm it’s fully cooked.
Chicken cutlets in the slow cooker.

Alternative Cooking Methods

  • Slow Cooker & Pressure Cooker: These are other options for cooking frozen chicken, especially when you’re after tender, juicy chicken breasts. The slow cooker is perfect for a low and slow approach, while the pressure cooker (or Instant Pot) can dramatically reduce the cooking time. Both methods require minimal monitoring and can produce flavorful results, especially when adding chicken broth or your favorite sauces for extra taste. I place frozen chicken breasts in the slow cooker all the time and cook for about eight hours. It’s one of my favorite ways to cook chicken.
  • Air Fryer & Oven: For those preferring a crispy exterior, air fryers offer an excellent way to cook frozen chicken. Similarly, baking in an oven preheated to the right oven temperature, wrapped in aluminum foil, or placed on baking sheets can give you deliciously juicy chicken. Just remember you need to adjust the cooking time and use a digital meat thermometer to make sure the chicken gets done properly.
Pan with fried chicken pieces, wooden background.

Serving Suggestions

Once your chicken is cooked, let it rest for a few minutes before slicing. This ensures that the juices redistribute throughout the breast, preventing dry meat.

Add some oven-baked potatoes, garlic bread, or some loaded cauliflower casserole to the meal.

Chicken cooked from frozen can be just as versatile as fresh chicken breasts, perfect for chicken noodle soup, rotisserie chicken styles, or sliced atop a fresh salad.

Favorite Seasoning Combinations

  • Garlic powder and paprika
  • Rosemary, basil, and thyme. You can even add in some nutmeg.
  • Emeril’s Chicken Rub is a favorite all-in-one seasoning.

Can I Use Frozen Chicken for Meal Prep?

Absolutely! Cooking frozen chicken is an excellent option for meal prep, allowing you to prepare and store several meals for the week.

Can I Use Any Type of Chicken Cut From Frozen?

While this guide focuses on boneless skinless chicken breasts, you can apply similar methods to other cuts, adjusting the cook time based on size and thickness.

Cooking frozen chicken on the stove is a straightforward process that yields juicy and flavorful chicken breasts every time. By following these simple tips and using the right equipment, you can turn a bag of chicken breasts from the grocery store into a delicious meal that satisfies.

Remember to always make sure your chicken reaches a safe internal temperature and experiment with different seasonings and sauces for variety in your meals. Cooking frozen chicken doesn’t have to be a last-minute option but can be a preferred method for its convenience and tasty results.