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How to Cook Frozen Chicken Thighs

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Learn how to cook frozen chicken thighs in the oven. It’s safe, easy, and delicious. And it will save you a lot of time.

Baked Frozen Chicken Thighs

close up of slightly charred piece of chicken.

Can you cook frozen chicken?

Yes! According to the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture), you can cook chicken from frozen. Either whole chicken, thighs, or breast, you can cook frozen chicken in the oven or on the stove. All you have to do is follow a few simple general guidelines to ensure that the food is safely cooked.

We’ve already talked about boiling frozen chicken breasts on the stovetop or cooking frozen chicken breast in the air fryer a few months ago; now, it’s time to learn how to bake frozen chicken thighs in the oven. It’s a really easy recipe! About one hour of preparation and cooking time for a perfectly delicious meal. Tender, juicy legs with crispy skin.

overhead view of a baking tray with baked chicken thighs.

Why cook chicken from frozen?

  • You forgot to defrost the meat on time, you don’t have time to go to the grocery store, or you spontaneously decided you would like to have chicken for dinner. Having frozen thighs or breasts in the freezer is always a good idea; it saved dinner time on many occasions.
  • Quick: it saves you the long thawing time. Meat has to be defrosted slowly and correctly, always in the refrigerator, and that will take a long time.
  • Safe: freezing poultry is the safest way of storing it. The freezing process slows down the reproductive cycle of salmonella, although it doesn’t destroy them. If you don’t defrost the meat properly, the bacteria will start reproducing again very quickly; that is why eating undercooked chicken is so dangerous.
  • Cooking the bird from frozen (and making sure that it is thoroughly cooked) reduces the risk of food poisoning. And by transferring the meat from the freezing bag to the baking tray, you also make sure that the meat won’t drip or touch other surfaces.
serving rice and chicken with cucumber on a small white plate with a fork and a glass behind.

Rules for cooking frozen chicken

  • Allow 50% additional cooking time. This rule makes cooking frozen chicken easy. It will not matter if you are baking thighs, drumsticks, or thighs or what particular recipe you are following. As long as you increase the baking time by about 50%, you should be fine.
  • Oven temperature: I prefer to cook the thighs at a slightly lower temperature than usual to give them time to thaw and cook on the inside before the outside gets too brown.
  • Don’t bake clumps of frozen meat. Instead, the pieces should be individually frozen so that you can place them on the baking tray in a single layer from the very beginning.
  • Use a digital meat thermometer. The meat thermometer is one of my favorite kitchen gadgets; it is reliable and makes meat cooking easy. While you can pass on it on other occasions, I feel it is essential to use it when cooking chicken from frozen: it’s the best way of making sure that the meat is safely cooked without overcooking it.
collage of two pictures of thighs on a tray and sliced on a plate with rice.

What do you need?

Well, the frozen chicken thighs, some spices, and olive oil.

You can rub the meat with soft butter instead of oil and use any other spices or seasoning mix you like. Anything that will compliment the chicken flavor. My standard combination is salt, pepper, sweet and smoked paprika, but the sky is the limit when it comes to spices. I often add garlic powder to the mixture. Check Baked Chicken Drumsticks to get more ideas for delicious spice mixtures.

raw frozen chicken and a small bowl of spices mixed with oil.

How to bake frozen chicken thighs?

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius/ 360 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking tray with aluminum foil. It’s not mandatory, the food won’t stick as it will release a lot of water and fat, but it might make cleaning easier. Let the chicken stand on the counter while preheating the oven.
  2. Mix the oil and the spices in a small bowl.
  3. Place raw meat on the baking sheet, pour the spice mixture on top, and rub the pieces very well with your hands to coat all over.
  4. Bake for 50-60 minutes, depending on the size of the pieces and your oven.
  5. Make sure to check that the meat is cooked through; no red or pink is allowed. Even if the meat looks golden brown on the outside, it might still have bloody or pink spots near the bone, so make sure to check.
  6. Let rest for about 5 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with chopped fresh herbs (if desired) and serve.

How to check that the meat is cooked through?

The best way of checking is with an instant-read thermometer; the internal temperature should be 74 degrees Celsius/ 165 degrees Fahrenheit. If you don’t have a thermometer, cut the largest piece near the bone and make sure the meat is entirely white. If not, allow 5 more minutes in the oven, then check again.

cut white piece of poultry held by a fork close up.

FAQ

Can I bake other parts?

You can cook drumsticks, quarters, or breasts using the same method. Regard the usual cooking time and allow the recommended additional cooking time.

What if the pieces are smaller or larger?

The roasting time will change according to the size of the thighs. Always check to see if the meat is cooked through.

How long to cook boneless chicken thighs or breasts?

Check the original recipe and increase the roasting time by 50%. They will be done quicker than bone-in thighs.

Can I cook the meat at 425 degrees Fahrenheit/ 220 degrees Celsius?

Yes. If you cook it at a high temperature, you will need less time. Reduce roasting time slightly but make sure to check the meat is well cooked. In this case, check after about 45 minutes. It usually takes about 1.5 times as long as when cooking fresh meat. However, I prefer to cook frozen meat at a lower temperature.

Can I cook the meat in the slow cooker?

No! USDA doesn’t recommend cooking frozen chicken in a slow cooker. The slow cooker will not get hot enough to allow the meat to be fully cooked and achieve a safe internal temperature.

overhead picture of a plate with rice, chicken and cucumber slices.

Leftovers

How to keep leftovers?

Keep the leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

How to reheat leftovers?

  • Oven: preheat to 160 degrees Celsius/ 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the leftovers on a lined baking tray and reheat until the internal temperature reaches 74 degrees Celsius/ 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Microwave: reheat in a microwave-safe dish, covered, for 2-3 minutes at a time until the safe internal temperature is reached.

Can you freeze the leftovers?

Yes. You can freeze the cooked parts once they are completely cool. You should never refreeze thawed but still uncooked poultry, though. Place in airtight containers or freezer bags and keep in the freezer for up to 3 months. Reheat appropriately before serving.

What to do with the leftover bones?

I never discard them. I use them to make chicken broth or stock, the base for many soups, sauces, or gravies.

golden brown chicken thighs sprinkled with parsley close up.

What to serve with baked chicken?

One of the great things about these tender chicken thighs is that you can serve them with almost any side dish you can think of. We often have them with buttered rice (like in the images) or any other kind of rice dish.

More suggestions:

More food cooked from frozen:

golden brown chicken thighs sprinkled with parsley close up.

How to Cook Frozen Chicken Thighs

Yield: 4
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 55 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

Learn how to cook frozen chicken thighs in the oven. It's safe, easy, and delicious. And it will save you a lot of time.

Ingredients

  • 8 chicken thighs
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon sweet paprika
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika (sweet or hot to taste) (Note 1)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius/ 360 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking tray with aluminum foil. Let the meat stand on the counter while you preheat the oven.
  2. Mix oil and spices in a small bowl.
  3. Rub: Place chicken parts on the tray. Pour the spice mixture over them and rub them well with the hands until completely coated. Arrange in a single layer and skin side up on the tray.
  4. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until cooked through. Make sure to check; there is no red or pink allowed. The best way to check is with a digital meat thermometer; the internal temperature of the chicken should be 74 degrees Celsius/ 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

Notes

  1. Other spices or spice mixtures can be used instead.
  2. Allow 50% more cooking time when cooking frozen chicken. Always check that the meat is cooked through
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 2 thighs
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 648Total Fat: 46gSaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 34gCholesterol: 333mgSodium: 982mgCarbohydrates: 1gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 61g

Nutritional information is not always accurate.

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