How To Cook a Whole Chicken From Frozen

Learn how to roast a whole chicken from frozen. That’s right. It is possible. Straight from the freezer, to the oven, to your mouth. No defrosting required!

Learn how to roast a whole chicken from frozen. That's right. It is possible. Straight from the freezer, to the oven, to your mouth. No defrosting required!

I have to admit to a little lazy obsession of mine. You see, a couple of years ago I was hired by a company to come up with a recipe that involved cooking fish from frozen. That’s right, directly from the freezer and into the oven. I was skeptical that it would work. But it really did. It’s now one of my favorite ways to cook fish. These days, I always have some frozen fish fillets on hand to pop straight into the oven on a busy weeknight.

How to cook fish from frozen.

That method was so convenient that I started experimenting with other things, like frozen chicken. A few months ago I shared with you about how to cook frozen chicken breasts. They turn out sooo good and it really is so easy.

How to Cook Frozen Chicken Breasts

And now today I’m getting a little crazier and I’m going to explain how to cook a whole chicken from frozen. Yes, this is a perfectly safe thing to do. Even according to the USDA. Oh, but as they caution over there, do not ever cook frozen chicken in a slow cooker. It doesn’t get up hot enough to kill any bacteria and actually leaves the chicken sitting for too long at unsafe temperatures. Just use the regular oven for this. Let’s do it!

Here’s a video showing you how, with written instructions below.

How to Roast a Whole Frozen Chicken

Cooking Temperature

You’ll roast the chicken at 350ºF for most of the cooking time and then boost it up to 450ºF for the final 15 minutes to get the skin nice and brown. Note that you roast the chicken uncovered the entire time. If you covered the roasting pan, the chicken would steam and not brown.

Cooking Time

The general rule is that frozen chicken takes 50% longer to cook than when it’s thawed to start. You can therefore consult a reliable source for chicken cooking times and multiply that by 1.5. The chicken pictured here is 4 lbs., which would normally take 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours to cook. When frozen it will take between 1 3/4 to 2 1/4 to cook through.

Roasting Tools

To cook a whole chicken from frozen it’s important to use a roasting pan that gives the chicken space. You don’t want it wedged in there but want room for the hot air to circulate around. SImilarly, you need to use a rack inside of your roasting pan.  This is because you want the hot air to get under the chicken too so that it is defrosting and cooking evenly. So put a rack in the roasting pan. Then put the chicken, breast-side-up on the rack.

Seasoning and Stuffing

Drizzle the top of the chicken with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and then sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. You can optionally add garlic powder and/or poultry seasoning or whatever you would normally put on a chicken when you roast it.

You can’t put a bread or rice type stuffing inside of a frozen chicken because it won’t cook safely. But you can go in with some aromatics. Just don’t stuff it too full. You want air to circulate in there too. Two lemon quarters, two small onion quarters and a sprig or two of rosemary and/or thyme are perfect. If the chicken is frozen in such a way that you can’t get into the cavity, no worries. Just roast it for 30 minutes and then try again. Things should be soft enough to get in there.

Now, if the chicken came with that packet of giblets inside of it and you froze it with them in there, you can’t get them out now while everything is frozen solid. Not a problem. Let the chicken roast until the center has softened enough that you can remove the packet with a pair of tongs.

When is the Chicken Cooked?

A whole chicken that was roasted from frozen

I use two methods to test for chicken doneness. The first is just a quick test that my mom taught me. You grab hold of the end of a drumstick and give it a jiggle. If it moves easily in the socket, almost coming loose a bit even, then the chicken is probably done. I don’t rely on that as a final metric though. That’s just to know if I should bother taking the chicken out of the oven to test it with a thermometer.

If the drumstick moves a bit for me, then I take the chicken out of the oven and test it with an instant read thermometer. I go into the breast and into the thigh. Both should be at 165ºF. If they’re there, then your chicken is done. If not, put it back in for a little while.

If it is done, remove it from the roasting pan and put it on a carving board. Let it rest there for 10-15 minutes. If lots of juices are coming out, catch them to make gravy (my method for perfect gravy every time is here) or at least to make sure they don’t spill all over your counter.

A weird note: The last time that I tested this method of cooking a whole chicken from frozen, I got a 165ºF reading but when we carved it, there was quite a bit of pink/red near the leg joints. I was concerned so I put those pieces on a plate and microwaved them a minute at a time until the pink was gone. This had never happened before so I’m not sure what was up. Instead of the microwave, if your oven is still heated and you’re not in a hurry, you could put those pieces in a pan and continue roasting them for 10-15 minutes until they’re done. If any meat is red/pink or juices aren’t running clear (they’re tinged with red) the chicken is not safe to eat so please do take this extra step if you notice this problem.

Here are the instructions in printable form for you:

Roasted Frozen Whole Chicken

Ingredients:

  • 1-4 lb. frozen chicken
  • 1/2 lemon (optional)
  • 1/2 small onion (optional)
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary (optional)
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. coarse salt
  • 1/4 tsp. coarse black pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Put a rack in a large roasting pan. Put the chicken breast-side-up on top of it. If there are giblets inside of the chicken, see if you can remove them. If not, it's o.k.. Proceed with the remaining steps. If you can access the inside cavity of the chicken, put the lemon, onion, rosemary and thyme inside, if using. If you cannot access the cavity, it's o.k.. Proceed with remaining steps.
  2. Drizzle the top of the chicken with the olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Put in oven uncovered and roast for 90 minutes. If there are still giblets in the chicken, remove them when you can using tongs and wearing oven mitts (you should be able to after 30-60 minutes). If you wanted to add lemon, onion, rosemary and/or thyme to the chicken cavity but couldn't before, you should be able to now. Return chicken to oven and continue to roast .
  3. Increase oven temperature to 450ºF to help brown skin. Roast until drumsticks loosen easily when jiggled and all meat is cooked to 165ºF according to an instant read thermometer inserted into various places in the chicken (breast and thigh are best), 15-30 minutes.
  4. Transfer chicken to a carving board. Let rest 10-15 minutes. Carve. If there is any pink or red meat, return those pieces to the oven or microwave them for 1 minute at a time until white.

Video by Leigh Olson. Article, photos and recipe by Christine Pittman.

27 Responses to “How To Cook a Whole Chicken From Frozen”

  1. EasyRoast — November 20, 2017 @ 12:26 am (#)

    I’m going to put my frozen chicken breast into chicken broth and cook for chicken & dumplings or noodles. Hope chicken won’t be tough.

  2. Rosco — September 17, 2017 @ 10:13 am (#)

    @Rich:  I did the same thing but didn’t burn myself.  *I let it cool for about 5-10 minutes before removing stuff from the cavity.  Ran cold water over the bird while I did it too (which kinda washed away the seasonings I’d previously rubbed on, but I just added more salt, pepper, olive oil and stuffed bird with fresh lemon slices afterwards).  Mine came out great!
    *I guess I’d suggest letting it cool down for a little bit, before handling with bare hands.

  3. randi roble — August 25, 2017 @ 12:35 am (#)

    Tried this, loved it! I usually suck at making chicken but this was good. I did flip it over to breast side down for the second half, because that’s something my aunt says Martha Stewart does to keep the fat towards the bottom in the breast and not on the pan.

    • Christine Pittman — August 28, 2017 @ 11:15 am (#)

      Great tip. Thanks Randi!

  4. Merlynn — July 16, 2017 @ 9:43 am (#)

    Do you add water to the bottom of the roaster? I see no mention of water. 

    • Christine Pittman — July 18, 2017 @ 8:59 am (#)

      Merlynn, I don’t add water here.

  5. Karen — June 22, 2017 @ 6:08 pm (#)

    Have to admit that I often cook meat from frozen. After all, so did my mom. Here are a few tricks I’ve learned – You can thaw things much faster in water than in the air. So if you have a little time, take the chicken and put it in a sinkful of water. This doesn’t change the chicken; it passed through a lot of water in the plucking/gutting process. Even if you don’t have an hour or two to let it thaw in the water you can run water over the chicken. This will allow you to peel the absorbent pad or the styrofoam tray from the bottom . To get the giblets out, pour hot water from the tap into the center of the chicken and let sit a few minutes. You may have to do this a few times depending how big the cavity is and how cold the chicken. Eventually the ice in the chicken melts enough that you can pry out the bag of giblets.

    • Christine Pittman — June 28, 2017 @ 9:57 am (#)

      Karen, Thanks for the tips!

  6. Karen L — February 24, 2017 @ 9:36 pm (#)

    Thanks for the ” weird note” most people won’t admit so it’s nice to have the honesty. I wondered who would put a frozen chicken with the giblets in the oven. I buy whole unfrozen chicken then take the bag out open it and toss the giblets without the bag back in the chicken and freeze. I bake the chicken or turkey with the giblets inside without the bag remind you. Just for more flavor. Use to feed some pets the heart, gizzard, liver but they are back in Heaven.

    • Christine Pittman — March 3, 2017 @ 3:37 pm (#)

      Karen, You’re welcome. It seems to me that cooking such a large thing from frozen is just going to have a lot of variables. How cold is the freezer the chicken was in? What shape did the chicken freeze into? It’s best to be safe rather than sorry, for sure. I love your giblet idea, btw! When roasting an unfrozen bird, I often put the giblets in the bottom of the roasting pan, scattered around then chicken. Then i Scrape them up with teh drippings, strain it and make gravy. They add tons of flavor there!

  7. Andrea — February 22, 2017 @ 8:28 am (#)

    I really wanted this to work for me last night, when dinner was looming closer and I had forgotten to thaw my chicken. I did as suggested and put the whole frozen chicken in a 350 degree oven, hoping that at some point I could get the bag of giblets out. Mine also had the “soaking pad” (the pad that the meat sits on in the packaging) still frozen to the chicken as well. So I didn’t have warm fuzzies about what was going to happen. About 30 minutes into cooking, I tried to pry the soaking pad off. Bad idea. It was stuck between a folded part of the skin. I ended up ripping the pad, having no idea what materials were inside it that started spilling out onto the chicken. Back to the giblets pouch. Every 30 minutes or so, I would check to see if it was any looser. No such luck. An hour passed, then two hours. Still stuck solid! Finally after about 3 hours, I had the gut bag out and my chicken was overcooked and inedible. Not sure if I will attempt to bake a frozen chicken again, but one thing I WILL do. I will be sure to remove the giblets pouch and all packaging prior to freezing it! Maybe then I’ll have better luck.

  8. JoAnne Fletcher — January 26, 2017 @ 3:44 pm (#)

    I’m going to put my frozen chicken breast into chicken broth and cook for chicken & dumplings or noodles. Hope chicken won’t be tough.

  9. JoAnne Fletcher — January 26, 2017 @ 3:43 pm (#)

    I’m going to put my frozen chicken breast into a pot of chicken broth and cook for chicken and dumplings or noodles. I hope the chicken will be tender and not tough.

    • Christine Pittman — January 27, 2017 @ 8:45 am (#)

      Joanne, I’ve never cooked it this way. I’m not sure if it will be tough or not. Let me know how it turned out.

  10. april — January 16, 2017 @ 5:38 pm (#)

    she did say ( use tongs ) …some peoples children i tell ya

  11. Grace Mac — December 25, 2016 @ 7:20 pm (#)

    Thanks for the instructions – very helpful. I do believe the thermometer reading is more important than the colour – chicken bbq’d or poached can have a tinge of pink and be thoroughly cooked.  

    • Christine Pittman — December 28, 2016 @ 10:30 am (#)

      Grace, you’re welcome. And I agree, it is the thermometer that matters. Although seeing pink can be disconcerting.

  12. Tammy — December 12, 2016 @ 2:31 am (#)

    The same concept works if you don’t have a roasting pan or a rack but you do have some oven bags. Pop that frozen bad boy into an oven bag with the added 1.5 time and you have a delicious chicken for your family to enjoy. I cooked mine breast down. Barely have enough for left overs. Yummy goodness 

    • Christine Pittman — December 12, 2016 @ 6:25 am (#)

      Tammy, That’s great to know. I’m going to have to give it a try!

  13. Kelly — October 12, 2016 @ 6:17 pm (#)

    The 10-15 minutes of cooking it on 450 is that included in the 90 minutes at 350 or is that in addition to it?

    • Christine Pittman — October 17, 2016 @ 8:24 am (#)

      Kelly, It’s 90 minutes at 350F then an additional 15-30 minutes at 450F then an additional 10-15 minutes resting on the counter.

  14. Drea — October 5, 2016 @ 9:24 pm (#)

    OK! My first time ever cooking a whole chicken, and as bad as this has already started out. I forgot to thaw the chicken and it is completely frozen.. I just want advice on a 3lb chicken. How to cut it. How to know what to take out of it. and how I’ll know when its done. :) Help would be very much appreciated!! Thanks!

  15. Stacy — July 27, 2016 @ 11:49 am (#)

    I know this is a crazy question, but do I put the lid on? I am not the best cook in the world and need detailed instructions…lol:)

    Thanks!

    • Christine Pittman — July 27, 2016 @ 11:51 am (#)

      Stacy, No, no lid. Just roast it open. A lid would cause the chicken to steam and then it won’t brown.

  16. Rich — July 13, 2016 @ 9:42 pm (#)

    Update..Literally the stupidest advice ever written in an online recipe…
    How about this…If you leave the pack inside the chicken not only will you burn yourself you will literally need to cut the baking chicken from around it. It has been in for over an hour and is still firmly stuffed in..thanks for the advice and the burns, guess i’ll find out what it tastes like with it cooked inside.

  17. Rich — July 13, 2016 @ 9:22 pm (#)

    Do not attempt to take the stuff out of a  frozen whole chicken after 35 or so minutes in a 350 degree oven! I am in no way an idiot, but I can tell you this, you will get burned.

  18. Becca from ItsYummi — February 17, 2016 @ 6:32 pm (#)

    This will now solve the “OMG, I forgot to take dinner out of the freezer!” problem. Thanks so much for that, Christine!
    Your comment about seeing some pink/red near the leg joints, even after temping to 165 is actually not a reason for concern. In culinary school, I was taught that modern technology has made it easier to rapidly grow a young chicken, so at the time of slaughter, the birds are only a few months old. Their bones are still pretty soft compared to a fully grown chicken. When the chicken is frozen, marrow will sometimes expand out of the soft bones at the joint areas. It’s safe to eat, but gross to look at. 

Leave a Comment





Fill your busy life with great food!

Sign up to get my quick recipes and useful tips by email and receive my slow cooker ecookbook as a free thank you gift.