Can You Boil Frozen Chicken? (How to Safely!)

It’s dinnertime, and you’re all set to prepare a delicious chicken dish. However, there’s a small hiccup – you forgot to defrost the chicken! You wonder: “Can you boil frozen chicken?” The answer is yes you can safely boil frozen chicken without thawing it first. It’s actually pretty easy if you use our how-to guides below.

frozen chicken
Frozen chicken fillet on a cutting board on a wooden table. Frozen food

Can You Boil Frozen Chicken?

The simple answer is yes, you can indeed boil frozen chicken. However, there are critical guidelines and safety precautions that you must follow to ensure your chicken is thoroughly cooked and safe for consumption. Cooking methods include stovetop, instant pot, or slow cooker. You choose the best way based on your situation, paying close attention to the internal temperature of the chicken (see below.)

Safety Considerations

When it comes to boiling chicken, whether it’s frozen or fresh, the primary concern is ensuring that it reaches a safe internal temperature. This temperature is crucial to eliminate any potential harmful bacteria such as Salmonella and Campylobacter.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) advises that all poultry, including chicken, should reach an internal temperature of at least 165°F (74°C) to be considered safe for consumption. Achieving this temperature is essential to eliminate any pathogens and ensure that the chicken is safe to eat.

woman placing saucepan on burning stove to boil chicken

How to Boil Frozen Chicken

Now that we know that it’s possible, let’s explore the steps to do it correctly:

1. Use a Large Pot

Begin by selecting a pot that is large enough to comfortably accommodate the chicken pieces. Crowding the pot can lead to uneven cooking.

2. Add Water or Broth

Fill the pot with an ample amount of water to fully submerge the chicken. You can also enhance the flavor by adding seasonings, herbs, or aromatics to the water. To add flavor, and I highly recommend this step, swap out the water or half the water with low-sodium chicken broth.

3. Seasoning

Consider adding a dash of seasonings such as salt, pepper, garlic, onions, or bay leaves to infuse flavor into the chicken while it cooks.

4. Heat the Water or Broth

Place the pot on the stove over medium-high heat and bring the water or broth to a rolling boil.

5. Add Chicken

Once the water is boiling vigorously, carefully add the frozen chicken to the pot. Ensure that the chicken pieces are fully submerged in the water.

6. Reduce Heat

Lower the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Allow the chicken to boil for the recommended time based on the type of chicken you are cooking.

7. Check Temperature

To ensure the chicken recipe is safe to eat, use a food thermometer to monitor the internal temperature. It should reach at least 165°F (74°C).

8. Remove and Rest

Once the chicken reaches the desired temperature, carefully remove it from the pot and allow it to rest for a few minutes before serving. This resting period allows the juices to redistribute, keeping the meat moist and flavorful.

chicken breast boiling in water from frozen

Boiling Times for Different Types of Chicken (Step-by-Step Instructions)

The boiling time for frozen chicken can vary depending on the type and size of the chicken pieces. Here are some general guidelines:

1. Boiling Whole Chicken (Frozen)

If you’re boiling a whole frozen chicken, you can expect it to take approximately 60-90 minutes to cook thoroughly. Ensure that the internal temperature reaches 165°F (74°C) in the thickest part of the chicken.

2. Boiling Chicken Breasts (Frozen Boneless Chicken Breasts or Bone-in)

For frozen chicken breasts, you can typically boil them for around 20-30 minutes. Once again, use a meat thermometer to confirm that the internal temperature reaches 165°F (74°C).

3. Boiling Chicken Thighs and Chicken Legs / Drumsticks (Frozen)

Frozen thighs or drumsticks usually require about 30-40 minutes to boil thoroughly. As with other chicken types, always verify the internal temperature before consumption.

4. Boiling Chicken Wings (Frozen)

Frozen wings generally take 15-20 minutes to boil to perfection. Remember to check the internal temperature for safety.

Can You Boil Frozen Chicken Without Thawing?

Absolutely, you can boil frozen chicken without thawing it first. In fact, this approach can be a time-saving solution when you need to prepare a meal quickly. However, it’s crucial to follow the recommended boiling times and use a food thermometer to ensure the chicken reaches the safe internal temperature of 165°F (74°C).

Boiling directly may result in slightly longer cooking times compared to using thawed chicken, but it can be a convenient option when you’re short on time.

Is Boiling Frozen Chicken Safe?

Boiling frozen chicken is indeed safe as long as you adhere to proper food safety practices and ensure that the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) to eliminate any potential harmful bacteria. Using a food thermometer is essential to accurately measure the temperature.

While boiling frozen chicken is safe, it’s important to note that the texture and flavor may differ from that of thawed chicken. Thawing chicken in advance allows for better seasoning penetration and more even cooking.

Will Boiling Frozen Chicken Kill Salmonella?

When done correctly (consistent boil), boiled chicken effectively kill Salmonella and other harmful bacteria. The key to ensuring that boiling frozen chicken is safe is to make sure it reaches a sufficient internal temperature to destroy any potential pathogens.

USDA Chicken Safety Guidelines

The USDA offers essential guidelines for handling and cooking chicken safely. Here are some key points to remember:

1. Use a Food Thermometer

Always use an instant-read thermometer to check the internal temperature of chicken. Chicken, including frozen chicken, should reach at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit (74°C) to ensure it’s safe to eat.

2. Thawing Chicken Safely

If you opt to thaw your chicken before cooking, do so in the refrigerator, in cold water, or using the microwave. Never thaw chicken at room temperature. Learn more about how to defrost chicken.

3. Avoid Cross-Contamination

Prevent cross-contamination by washing your hands, utensils, and kitchen surfaces thoroughly after handling raw chicken. We do not want food poisoning. 

4. Proper Storage

Store chicken in the refrigerator at 40°F (4°C) or below. Use or freeze it within 1-2 days of purchase.

5. Leftovers

Refrigerate or freeze leftover chicken within two hours of cooking. Consume refrigerated leftovers within 3-4 days.

chicken boiled in instant pot


In summary, you can safely boil chicken from the freezer by following essential guidelines and ensuring that the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C). Whether you’re cooking whole chickens, chicken breasts, thighs, or wings, using a food thermometer is crucial to guarantee safe consumption.

Boiling chicken from the freezer is a practical solution when you need to prepare a quick meal, but keep in mind that the texture and flavor may differ from that of thawed chicken. By adhering to proper food safety practices and following USDA guidelines, you can enjoy a safe and delicious chicken dish even when you forget to thaw it in advance.

More Chicken Education

Get my 10 Best Chicken Recipes eBook!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *