How to Cook Chicken Breasts from Frozen

Weeknight dinners just got easier. There’s no need to thaw chicken breasts when you’re strapped for time. Here’s How to Cook Chicken Breasts from Frozen. Yes, directly from the freezer!

How to Cook Chicken Breasts from Frozen

Strangely enough, one of the most popular blog posts on this website is the one with instructions for how to cook fish from frozen. That post was revolutionary for me. I had never thought of cooking fish from frozen until I was approached by a company that wanted me to experiment with it. It was such a successful and convenient technique that now I always have frozen fish fillets in the freezer ready to go straight into the oven for a quick dinner.

Those quick dinners got me thinking, could I do the same thing with chicken breast? Is it safe? I checked with the USDA and sure enough you can cook chicken breasts straight from the freezer. You just need to add about 50 percent more cooking time.

Well, there’s one other thing you need to do. When you bring the chicken breasts home from the grocery store, you need to pack them properly. The reason is that when it comes time to cook them you can’t have a big heap of frozen breasts in the pan. They will not cook evenly at all.

Here’s what you do to get the chicken breasts ready for the freezer:

When you get your fresh chicken breasts home from the grocery store, put them in a single layer in a freezer bag. Lay the bag flat in the freezer, making sure that there is space around each breast. Alternatively, you can freeze them flat on a tray or plate and then transfer them to a freezer bag. Whichever way you do it, after they’re frozen you can jumble them up and put the bag upright in the freezer. The key is that the breasts stay separated.

These chicken breasts were frozen on a tray and then put in a freezer bag. You can see that even though they were touching in the bag they aren’t really stuck together.

Raw Frozen Chicken Breasts

 

When you want to cook those chicken breasts straight from the freezer, here’s what you do:

Step#1

Preheat the oven to no lower than 350ºF. If I’m doing breading, as I’ve done with the recipe below, I use a higher temperature to help brown the crumbs.

Step#2

Put the frozen chicken breasts on a pan in a single layer. It’s best to use a broiling pan or a rack over a foil-lined pan. This way, any liquid from the chicken breast doesn’t leak out to steam them. But I’m usually lazy and just use my regular sheet pan. Mine’s this really good heavy-duty one and it works great and is ideal if you’re doing a high temperature like I often do.

Step#3

Doctor them up! Season them with salt and pepper and anything else you like.

If you want to use a sauce (like BBQ sauce), it’s best to wait until the last 10-15 minutes of cooking time.

If you want to do a breading, see the recipe below. But basically, I brush them with mustard and then sprinkle on some bread crumbs that have been mixed with a bit of oil to help the browning process. I use mustard because it’s easier to brush on and have the bread crumbs stick then it would be to dredge frozen chicken breasts in flour and then egg wash. This is a very simple solution.

Seasoned Raw Chicken Breasts

 

Step#4

Bake the chicken breasts for 50 percent longer than they would normally take. Unfrozen chicken breasts usually take 20-30 minutes at 350ºF. So for frozen, you’re looking at 30-45 minutes. It depends on the size of the chicken breast though, really.

Breaded Chicken Breasts

 

 

If you’re doing a breading, as I have done in the recipe below, the oven temperature needs to be higher. But it will still take nearly the same amount of time.

Make sure to use an instant-read thermometer when you think the chicken breasts are done. The temperature needs to be 165ºF. A thermometer is the safest bet to make sure that they’re done. But if you know what you’re doing and trust yourself, you can cut into the thickest part of one and make sure that it’s not pink inside.

Step#5

Once you discover how easy this is and how delicious the chicken turns out, make plans to try another from-frozen recipe. Here are some of my tastiest ideas, including Chicken Parmesan and Chicken Cordon Bleu from frozen. Yes, it really is possible to make those classics and so much more using frozen chicken breasts.

More frozen chicken and fish recipes are at your fingertips. Click here now.

Breaded Frozen Chicken Breasts

This is a great way to make delicious chicken breasts straight from the freezer. They're breaded using a really quick and simple method and then baked until cooked through and browned.

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup dry breadcrumbs (panko crumbs turn out way better, if you have them)
  • 1 Tbsp. cooking oil (olive oil, vegetable oil, etc.)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 4 frozen boneless skinless chicken breasts that have been frozen individually
  • 4 tsp. mustard (yellow or dijon)

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425F. Lightly oil a baking sheet.
  2. In a small bowl combine the breadcrumbs, oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Set aside.
  3. Put the chicken breasts on the prepared baking sheet. Spread or brush 1 teaspoon of mustard onto each breast. Sprinkled with the breadcrumbs, pushing down to help them adhere to the mustard.
  4. Bake until chicken is 165F according to an instant read thermometer, 30-40 minutes.

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Disclosure: This post contains an affiliate link to Amazon. If you click it and buy something over there, I get a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you. All opinions are my own.

42 Responses to “How to Cook Chicken Breasts from Frozen”

  1. Angela Ponder — February 2, 2017 @ 9:51 am (#)

    Make sure when you are preparing to freeze that you pound them down to the same thickness. This way they will cook much more evenly.

    • Christine Pittman — February 14, 2017 @ 8:55 am (#)

      Great tip, Angela. Thanks!

  2. Lacey — January 13, 2017 @ 7:07 pm (#)

    Do u cover them ? In the oven?

    • Christine Pittman — January 17, 2017 @ 9:07 am (#)

      Lacvey, no. Uncovered.

  3. Coty — December 3, 2016 @ 3:00 pm (#)

    I love this recipe! I’m a Pharmacy Technician as my main job and a server as my second job so I dont have the time to cool elaborate meals. This is revolutionary me in regards to simplicity and convenience! Thanks!

    • Christine Pittman — December 5, 2016 @ 9:20 am (#)

      Coty, you’re welcome!

  4. Scott J — November 10, 2016 @ 6:15 pm (#)

    just made this tonight with (instead of mustard) a mix of mayonnaise and buffalo sauce, ended up great. only issue i had was that i had to cook it for another 10 minutes due to breasts not being cooked through completely. thanks for the recipe! will be sure to use it again :)

    • Christine Pittman — November 15, 2016 @ 10:22 am (#)

      Great idea about the mayo and buffalo sauce. As to the timing, it really depends on the size of the chicken breasts. I’m glad you liked the recipe!

  5. Heather — October 27, 2016 @ 9:30 am (#)

    I do NOT like mustard and I absolutely LOVED this recipe! I appreciate you putting this together. Dinner was absolutely delicious. Thank you!

    • Christine Pittman — October 31, 2016 @ 10:09 am (#)

      Heather, So glad you liked it even with the mustard!

  6. Kath — October 10, 2016 @ 12:40 pm (#)

    Thank you so much for this it is great when you just come in from work and have forgot to thaw the chicken breasts. Mine are in the oven now and cant wait to try them

    • Christine Pittman — October 17, 2016 @ 8:27 am (#)

      Kath, you’re welcome. I hope you had a nice dinner!

  7. joanie — October 9, 2016 @ 4:44 pm (#)

    delish!!! put a drizzle of honey on top :)

    • Christine Pittman — October 10, 2016 @ 9:47 am (#)

      That sounds great!

  8. Mar — September 3, 2016 @ 6:55 pm (#)

    Tried this recipe tonight- it was great and easy. Instead of Panko breadcrumbs, I used Rice Chex cereal. Delicious, crunchy and gluten free!  Will try oil instead of mustard as my youngest didn’t care for the mustard flavor.  Thank you for sharing!

    • Christine Pittman — September 7, 2016 @ 5:44 am (#)

      Mar, glad you liked it! Note that the oil tends to freeze as soon as it hits the chicken and then the crumbs don’t stick as well. You could try mayonnaise instead of the mustard.

  9. jane — August 2, 2016 @ 9:27 am (#)

    When chicken breasts go on sale, I open the package and put each breast in a sandwich sized ziplock. Each piece of meat is sealed in its own bag and so easy to grab as many as I want!

    • Christine Pittman — August 2, 2016 @ 12:41 pm (#)

      Jane, that is a fantastic idea. Thank you for sharing!

  10. Anne Meyer — July 17, 2016 @ 5:51 pm (#)

    Great recipe! I tried mayo instead of mustard and then sprinkled with Parmesan. Yummy!

    • Christine Pittman — July 20, 2016 @ 10:10 am (#)

      Anne, Great idea. I’ll try that next time.

  11. Auriroy — July 2, 2016 @ 2:55 am (#)

    Quick and fantàstic way of cooking frozen food, but I wonder if it will keep all the properties as if it was live the night before in the fridge to unfrozen slowly.

    • Christine Pittman — July 5, 2016 @ 3:52 pm (#)

      I think it turns out best if you let it defrost slowly in the fridge. The idea behind this is for those situations where you need to get dinner on the table right now and only have frozen chicken available. Then it is a good solution.

  12. Shelley — May 21, 2016 @ 7:11 pm (#)

    In step 4, you state 30-40 minutes at 350 degrees. Further on, there is a recipe, which looks like what you use and it states, 425 degrees for 30-40 minutes. Which is correct?

    • Christine Pittman — May 23, 2016 @ 9:15 am (#)

      Actually, both are correct. At 350F, they will cook through in 30-40 minutes. But if you use a breading and want that breading to brown nicely, you need a higher oven temperature. They will still take at least 30 minutes and possibly longer, depending on their size. I am so sorry for the confusion. I’ve adjusted the blog post to reflect this.

  13. Shelley — May 21, 2016 @ 7:10 pm (#)

    Hello, In step 4, you say bake for 30-40 minutes at 350 degrees. Further on, there is a recipe, which states, 425 degrees, 30-40 mins. Which is correct?
    Thanks

    • Christine Pittman — May 23, 2016 @ 9:15 am (#)

      Actually, both are correct. At 350F, they will cook through in 30-40 minutes. But if you use a breading and want that breading to brown nicely, you need a higher oven temperature. They will still take at least 30 minutes and possibly longer, depending on their size. I am so sorry for the confusion. I’ve adjusted the blog post to reflect this.

  14. Joe Scott — March 19, 2016 @ 3:55 am (#)

    I made this last night when I realized I had nothing thawed for dinner. I don’t like mustard, so I brushed some Olive Oil on the frozen breasts so the crumbs would stick. It was the best chicken I’ve ever made. Thanks for the recipe.  

    • Christine Pittman — April 7, 2016 @ 1:19 pm (#)

      You’re welcome, Joe! Thanks for letting me know!

  15. jim — March 8, 2016 @ 6:52 pm (#)

    Hey Christine, you just saved my life! I’m a fifty year old guy who’s trying to eat healthier, but HATES to cook. I’ve had a bag of frozen breasts in the freezer for over a week because I just didn’t feel like dealing with them! Now I’m just gonna chuck em in frozen! I like your style. Thankyou.

    • Christine Pittman — March 10, 2016 @ 10:01 am (#)

      Jim, You’re welcome! LOL. I hope it worked out for you.

  16. Daniel — February 29, 2016 @ 8:27 pm (#)

    Do we need to flip the chicken breast at any point during cooking?

    • Christine Pittman — March 8, 2016 @ 1:30 pm (#)

      Daniel, No. It can stay on one side the whole time. And if you’re doing the breaded version in the recipe, you want it to stay crumb-side-up so that those crumbs brown on top.

  17. ray — February 22, 2016 @ 8:44 pm (#)

    Thanks for doing the research! Our frozen chicken is in the oven now. Can’t wait to see what my picky little ones think. :) What would you recommend for a mustard/ dejon substitute?

    • Christine Pittman — February 29, 2016 @ 11:23 am (#)

      Hi Ray, You can use honey or mayonnaise instead of mustard. Can’t wait to hear how they turn out!

  18. Mila — February 11, 2016 @ 1:08 pm (#)

    Great to know, such a timesaver! Do you know if it will work with a bone-in breast?

    • Christine Pittman — February 18, 2016 @ 2:59 pm (#)

      Mila, The rule of thumb for frozen chicken is that it takes 50% longer than when it’s fresh. I usually bake my bone-in chicken breasts for 40 minutes at 350F. So it would be an hour. Do test with a meat thermometer to make sure it’s 165F inside.

  19. Emilia — January 10, 2016 @ 7:18 pm (#)

    I just tried this out tonight and it came out great. The only change I made was using a bit more mustard and paprika and minced fresh garlic instead of garlic salt. Thanks for the idea and post!

    • Christine Pittman — January 11, 2016 @ 9:50 am (#)

      Emilia, Thanks for letting me know. I’m delighted that it turned out so well for you!

  20. Lynda M. — August 17, 2015 @ 10:46 am (#)

    Dinner time game changer!  I can not wait to try this!
    Thanks for the tip :)

  21. allie @ Through Her Looking Glass — August 17, 2015 @ 9:56 am (#)

    Great tips Christine!!! What a help to not have to remember one extra step, getting chicken out to thaw…this will be a timesaver for me and so many!!! Many thanks for doing the research.

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