Barbecue Frozen Chicken: How to Grill Frozen Chicken?

by | Mar 16, 2023 | Barbecue, Grilling | 0 comments

For fully defrosting frozen chicken safely in time for a pleasant, hassle-free supper, there are several practical and reliable choices. Of course, you could always skip the thawing and cook it right away after pulling it out of the freezer, but frozen chicken has its drawbacks. 

It is not advised to cook the meat immediately after taking it out of the fridge since it is a laborious, time-consuming process. Additionally, heating frozen chicken may make it appear cooked on the exterior, but the inside may still be raw or undone. 

There is a proper method to go about defrosting your chicken, and it is to let the meat thaw before grilling frozen chicken. 

Read on to know more!

How To Defrost Frozen Chicken?

Frozen chicken could contain microorganisms that are harmful to your health. Another thing to keep in mind is that soaking your chicken in hot water or leaving it out on the counter may encourage the growth of bacteria. Always take your time and never defrost your chicken in a hurry so that you don’t get sick. 

After you are done preparing the fresh chicken and the pieces, you can go ahead and grill the meat to help defrost it. Here are a few ways to safely thaw chicken:

  1. Cold Water

Despite being quicker than thawing chicken in the refrigerator, this procedure demands more care. 

When you are using the cold bath method, start up with lean chicken breasts. In my experience, anything thicker than an inch won’t help the thawing process go more quickly. 

Also, depending on the size of the chicken, finishing this procedure can perhaps take two to three hours to defrost a whole chicken, so prepare to be patient! Here are the steps to using the cold water method:

Step 1: Place your frozen raw chicken in a leak-proof plastic bag. This will stop bacteria or other microorganisms from contaminating the food and harming the meat tissue.

Step 2: Cold tap water should be used to halfway fill a sink or large mixing basin.

Step 3: Check the temperature using a thermometer. Water should be at room temperature.

Step 4: Place the frozen chicken that has been packaged into the container with the cold water.

Step 5: To avoid the formation of cold water pockets, stir the water occasionally. Alternate the water once every 30 minutes.

  1. In the Refrigerator

The best way for defrosting chicken is in the refrigerator, although it takes longer than the other two. The most planning is required for this method, but it is also advised. 

Plan your meals in advance because it may take a day to completely thaw chicken, you cannot defrost chicken in a hurry using this method. 

After being thawed, the chicken can be stored in the refrigerator for a day or two. The size of the chicken pieces will affect how long it takes to work. It can take 1-2 days for whole chickens, bone-in chickens, and chicken breasts to defrost in the fridge.

Step 1: Take out the chicken straight from the freezer at least 24 hours before.

Step 2: Put it in a container with a lid or a zip-lock bag.

Step 3: Place it in the refrigerator on a low shelf, and keep it there until the chicken is thoroughly defrosted.

  1. With Microwave

Defrosting chicken in a microwave is the most time-saving method, so if you have one around the kitchen, it can really come in handy. Before you go about the process, make sure that you cut up the meat into smaller pieces as defrosting a whole chicken in a microwave can become difficult. 

Preheat the grill as well so that you can place your chicken immediately. Leaving it out at room temperature increases the risk of bacterial infection. Then, go about the following procedure on how to use a microwave to defrost your chicken. 

Step 1: Keep the chicken in a microwave-safe container and put it in the microwave. 

Step 2: Put the machine on ‘defrost’ for about 1-2 minutes according to how heated your device can get.

 Step 3: Next, flip the meat onto the other side so that the thin pieces do not get cooked while the chicken is thawed. 

Step 4: Put the chicken straight into the microwave again and defrost once again for the same amount of time.

Step 5: Take out the meat, season it, and cook the chicken immediately. 

  1. Counter 

Counter defrosting is easy, but will defrost frozen chicken in a slow manner. It is perfect for when you have time to cook a meal that will come later during the day. In this method, you will have to keep the wrapped frozen meat on a plate. Next, follow through with this procedure. 

Step 1: First, lay out some paper towels and place your chicken on them so that the process does not get messy. 

Step 2: Let it sit for around 4-6 hours. Do not allow the chicken to reach room temperature. 

Step 3: Make sure to clean the surface with an antibacterial spray to avoid infection. It shall be safe to grill frozen chicken now. 

  1. Defrosting Tray

A defrosting tray is a good investment if you cook chicken often. It is a container made usually out of aluminum or copper designed to easily defrost frozen chicken without thawing them using heat. 

My personal favorite defrosting trays are the ones that come with containers to collect any juices that drip down. Defrosting trays have the capability to thaw your chicken in about half an hour. Following is how you can defrost your chicken using it. 

Step 1: Place the frozen chicken on the defrosting tray. Always get the biggest possible tray. If you don’t at the moment, cut it up and put the parts of the chicken in the tray. 

Step 2: Allow the chicken to sit and the meat shall be defrosted in about 30 minutes. 

Can You Grill Frozen Chicken?

To simply answer the question, it is technically possible to grill your frozen chicken, but I don’t recommend it since it’s not safe to do so. 

Eating raw or unevenly cooked chicken can lead to harmful diseases like salmonella poisoning. All chicken should be thawed carefully before cooking because you do not want the inside to be undercooked.

If you directly place your frozen chicken on the grill, then the moisture from the thawed chicken can also lead to the meat becoming rubbery. 

According to the USDA, all meats need to be cooked and heated up to at least 165 Degrees Fahrenheit to be considered safe for eating. 

Hence, though you can grill a frozen piece of meat immediately, getting the chicken thawed beforehand is a much better option. 

How Do You Cook Frozen Chicken On The Grill? 

You cannot cook frozen chicken directly, so you will have to thaw it first so that it does not stick to the grill. Make sure you don’t cut the meat too thick or the outside will get done way before the inside reaches a safe internal temperature of 165 Degrees Fahrenheit. 

Start by defrosting the chicken using one of the methods mentioned above. My preferred method is putting frozen chicken on the grill and letting it defrost slowly. While the chicken is still frozen, you can prepare the sauce or glaze you will be coating it with. 

Make sure that the chicken has at least defrosted halfway through because it is not possible to cook chicken breast without thawing just a little. The seasonings will not stick on the still-frozen chicken, so you need to heat it a little before cooking time. In  case you are using a charcoal smoker, wait till the coals have become white. 

How To Cook Your Frozen Chicken On Barbecue?

Following is a step-by-step that can help you learn how to grill partially frozen chicken on a barbecue. Preheat the grill to around 350 degrees Fahrenheit beforehand. 

Step 1: Bring your partially frozen chicken to the grill and let it sit over indirect heat for about 10-15 minutes. Make sure to flip it halfway through so that both sides are evenly grilled.

Step 2: Make sure that the chicken is thawed well before you move it. Depending on the amount of raw chicken to cook, you might take longer. 

Step 3: Next, move your half-frozen chicken straight to the grill to heat on direct heat. Season it properly for a minute before grilling properly for about 10 – 15 minutes.   

Step 4: Flip it again so that the chicken is cooked on the other side until the internal temperature is about 165 Degrees Fahrenheit. The meat should not be pink on the inside which is an indicator of undercooked chicken. 

Hence, having a meat thermometer is a good investment for grilling or cooking frozen chicken.

Step 5: Next, let the chicken sit for about 5 minutes and brush it with more marinade if you want to add extra flavor. This is because after you grill chicken, the internal temperature will keep rising (about 5 -10 degrees) due to carryover cooking.

Step 6: Once it has reached the internal temperature mark, take the chicken and give it a few minutes to grill at room temperature after covering them so that they don’t dry out. 

This whole process to grill your frozen chicken should take about 30 minutes and your chicken wings, thighs or breast shall be ready to eat!

Final Thoughts

It is always better to thaw chicken before grilling in order to avoid bacterial infection. You can always use the microwave method to thaw the chicken when you don’t have time. 

Otherwise, there is always the option of defrosting your frozen chicken in the fridge, counter, cold water, or defrosting tray.

It is never appropriate for frozen chicken to be consumed as is, so for a safe, healthy meal, always remember to defrost before you cook. 




Colin has been grilling, smoking, and barbecuing in his yard for as long as he remembers.  His favorite dish is pork belly smoked on his favorite offset smoker. Read more about Colin here.


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