Freezing food is a great preservation method. It allows for greater flexibility at every stage in the cooking process, from purchasing to dealing with leftovers.
What if you’ve stored a chicken in the freezer for a couple of years? Is it safe to eat—and if so, will it still taste good? Let’s find out.
Is 2 Year Old Frozen Chicken Still Good?
Chicken that’s been in the freezer for 2 years should still be safe to eat, but it might be dry and lacking flavor. Try to limit the storage period to 1 year for whole birds and 9 months for chicken parts. If you do end up preparing 2-year-old frozen chicken, use it in a recipe that calls for a sauce to add moisture.
How Long Can You Store Chicken in the Freezer?
When you store food in the freezer, it will keep indefinitely. Spoilage bacteria can’t grow at subzero temperatures, and your freezer should be set to 0 degrees Fahrenheit or below at all times.
Although the food won’t spoil, prolonged exposure to freezing temperatures will cause meat to lose moisture. I would recommend storing whole chickens in the freezer for no longer than 1 year, and smaller parts (like breasts and thighs) for up to 9 months.
What about ground chicken? Since more surface area is exposed to the air, this product will dry out faster. Try to defrost and cook it within 3 to 4 months of putting it in the freezer.
Cooked chicken has already lost moisture, so it’s better to restrict the amount of time that spends in the freezer as well. A storage period of 3 to 4 months is preferable.
Is 2 Year Old Frozen Chicken Still Good or Not?
It depends on what you mean by “good.” The chicken shouldn’t be spoiled, assuming that the freezer was set to the proper temperature. But it might not taste as good as you would hope.
When chicken dries out, it loses flavor as well as moisture. If you’ve ever eaten a piece of overcooked chicken (especially white meat), you’ll know what I’m talking about.
If you happen to discover some chicken that’s been in your freezer for 2 years, go ahead and defrost it. There are plenty of tricks you can employ to liven up the flavor and add moisture to the meat.
One caveat: I don’t think I would be keen to reheat 2-year-old leftover frozen chicken unless it was in a casserole or stew. Cooked leftovers that have been in the freezer that long will probably have the consistency of sawdust. But it’s your call.
How To Tell if Chicken is Spoiled
The telltale signs of spoilage are pretty much the same for every type of meat. First and foremost, you ought to be able to tell by the smell. Spoiled chicken has a particularly rancid odor; when it’s fresh, it shouldn’t smell like anything at all.
Then there’s the texture. If there’s a slimy or sticky film on the meat, it means that spoilage bacteria have taken up residence there. It should also feel firm to the touch, and not mushy or soggy.
The presence of mold is another obvious red flag. Should you notice any green, blue, or white patches, the chicken is no longer safe to consume. Ditto if there’s a grayish tinge to the meat.
If you spot any of these signs, discard the chicken immediately. There’s no way to salvage the meat once it’s turned the corner. It’s disappointing, but it’s better to err on the side of caution when it comes to food safety.
Can You Cook 2 Year Old Frozen Chicken Without Defrosting?
It’s a good idea to defrost the chicken first so you can inspect the quality. However, it’s safe to cook chicken from a frozen state as long as it heats to a safe internal temperature.
When cooking frozen chicken, expect the process to take about 50 percent longer than it would if the meat was defrosted. If it usually takes the meat 20 minutes to finish cooking, plan on 30 minutes if the meat is still frozen when you begin.
If you have time, try to defrost the chicken in the refrigerator overnight, or for at least 12 hours. That will make it easier for you to tell whether the meat has suffered from the long stint in the freezer.
You can also speed the process along by defrosting the chicken in cold water. Make sure it’s sealed in an airtight bag, and swap out the water every 30 minutes. When you use this method, the chicken should thaw at a rate of 30 to 45 minutes per pound.
I don’t like to defrost meat in the microwave, but you can do so as a last resort. Use the defrost setting if your unit has one, and check the meat frequently to ensure that it doesn’t start to cook through.
Never attempt to defrost meat by leaving it out on the counter. This invites dangerous bacteria to set up camp and multiply. If you’re in a hurry, use the cold water method or cook the chicken without defrosting it.
Tips on Preparing 2 Year Old Frozen Chicken
Don’t overcook the meat. Chicken is safe to eat once it’s reached an internal temperature of 165 degrees. Remove breasts and wings from the heat once they’ve cooked to 160 degrees. Dark meat can take temps up to 180 without drying out.
Consider using a moist-heat cooking method, such as braising or stewing. This tip works better for dark meat, which will become succulent and tender in the process.
Make a pan sauce to boost the liquid content of the dish. Chicken piccata with a lemon-caper butter sauce, chicken marsala with mushrooms and wine, chicken cacciatore with tomatoes and peppers—the possibilities are as numerous as they are tasty.
Use the meat in a stew, pot pie, or casserole. If the chicken is dry or lacking flavor, the other ingredients will help to cover it up.
As long as you’ve stored the chicken properly, it should keep in the freezer indefinitely. Two years is a long time, though, and the meat might have dried out a bit. Keep that in mind when you’re deciding how to prepare it.
Hi there! I’m Darren Wayland, your BBQHost. My love of great barbecue inspired me to curate this site as a resource for all my like-minded fellow pitmasters out there. When I’m not researching and learning all I can about the latest tips and techniques, you can find me at the grill—that is, if you can spot me at all through the clouds of sweet-smelling smoke. And since you asked, yes, that probably is barbecue sauce on my face. Welcome to the party!