Microorganism Prevention: Can You Refreeze Chicken?
Freezing chicken you’re unable to use right away is a great way to minimize food waste.
Doing so preserves the meat by preventing the growth of microorganisms like bacteria, yeasts, and molds.
However, you may wonder whether chicken can be refrozen after it has been thawed.
The bacteria commonly found on chicken such as Salmonella can cause serious illness and potentially death.
While freezing significantly slows microbial growth, it does not kill most foodborne pathogens. Therefore, properly handling chicken prior to refreezing is important.
For starters, consider whether the chicken was properly thawed.
Refrigeration. Though it may take 1–2 days, the safest way to thaw chicken is in a refrigerator at or below 40°F (4.4°C).
Cold water. In leak-proof packaging, submerge the chicken in cold water. Replace the water every 30 minutes.
Microwave. In a microwave-safe dish, heat the chicken using the defrost setting. Rotate to ensure an even thaw.
Importantly, defrosting under cold water or in a microwave allows some harmful bacteria to grow. If you use these methods, cook the chicken before refreezing it.
Never defrost chicken on your countertop. Since bacteria thrive at room temperature, this chicken should not be used, let alone refrozen.
Raw chicken can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 2 days, while cooked chicken can be kept for 3–4 days.
You can safely refreeze raw and cooked chicken within their respective shelf lives.
Still, only refreeze raw chicken that has been thawed in the refrigerator.
When handled properly, it’s safe to refreeze raw and cooked chicken within their respective shelf lives. Only refreeze raw chicken that has been thawed in the refrigerator.