Can you cook frozen chicken on the stove without letting it thaw out first? Or do you need to let it fully thaw at room temperature on in the fridge beforehand to ensure it cooks evenly and all the way through?
If you didn’t remember to thaw out the chicken ahead of time, you don’t have to scramble for an alternative for dinner. You can cook frozen chicken on the stove, and I’ll show you the best way to do that.
Whether you are cooking chicken breast or chicken tenders, I have a method that will work for you for each of them, so don’t despair. Keep reading to see how to do it.
How to Cook Frozen Chicken Breast on Stove
If you are trying to cook frozen chicken breast on the stovetop, then simmering it works really well. This cooks the chicken slowly enough so that the outside doesn’t burn while the core is able to heat all the way through.
This cooking method means an extended cooking time, but that’s what you have to deal with if the chicken isn’t thawed all the way out first. You do have to be careful that you don’t char the outside, though, before the inside has time to cook fully.
Here is my preferred method for how to cook a frozen chicken breast on the stove:
- Start by putting the chicken in a pot or sauté pan and cover the meat with sauce or broth.
- Add your own seasonings to give the chicken the flavor you like and then heat the liquid in the pot until it starts to boil.
- Once it is boiling, you can reduce the heat to a low simmer and cover it with a lid. Then cook it for about 40 minutes. That’s the estimated cooking time for boneless chicken breasts that are still tender, when you have about 4-6 ounces of them. To ensure they are finished cooking all the way through, check the internal temperature using an instant read thermometer. When chicken is done cooking, it should have an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
How to cook frozen chicken breast on stove top that is breaded? The cooking time and temperature can stay the same. This kind of chicken shouldn’t take any longer to cook than un-breaded chicken breasts, but you still want to watch to make sure it doesn’t char on the outside and then also ensure that it cooks all the way through by checking the temperature before serving it.
How to Cook Frozen Chicken Thighs on the Stove
You can use a similar cooking time and method for the thighs when they are frozen. This tends to be a cut of meat that is not quite as thick as chicken breasts, but if the bone is still in, then that will extend the cooking time a little bit.
Remember to cover the thighs with a liquid of some kind, like broth, sauce, or just plain water. If there isn’t enough liquid, then they will burn and the heat won’t be conducted through the thighs very well or very evenly. As the thighs are cooking, you can check the liquid levels to ensure that the chicken is still covered the entire time.
This method for how to cook frozen chicken on stove works for any cut of meat. You may just need to adjust the cooking time a little bit. It’s not a bad idea to check your chicken a few minutes early, around the 35-minute mark, perhaps. If it is done cooking at that point and has achieved an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit, then you can take it off the heat.
How to Cook Frozen Chicken Tenders on the Stove
Frozen chicken tenders are a bit different from chicken breasts or thighs. They tend to be thin cuts of meat that contain more breading than meat, in some cases. The breading is already cooked, and the meat usually is too, unless you make the tenders yourself.
There will probably be instructions on the packaging to tell you how long to cook the frozen tenders depending on the cooking method you want to use.
If you would like to simmer them on the stovetop, though, then I will show you how to cook frozen chicken on the stove when it’s chicken tenders you are working with.
Chicken tenders are meant to be fried rather than simmered, and trying to cook them in sauce or broth will make them soggy and affect the texture they are supposed to have. So, how to cook them on the stovetop? You can either pan fry them or deep fry them.
For the dry fry method, place some cooking oil in a frying pan and heat it up on medium-high heat for about a minute. Then, carefully place fully cooked, frozen chicken tenders in the oil to cook for 4 minutes on one side. Next, flip them over and let them cook for an additional 3-4 minutes on the other side. That should be enough for them to cook all the way through.
If they are uncooked, they will take a few minutes longer to cook, because they have to thaw out all the way and cook all the way through.
Once the chicken tenders have finished cooking, you may want to let them cook for a minute before serving. You can get rid of the excess oil by patting them dry with a paper towel.
So, How Should You Cook Frozen Chicken?
How long to cook frozen chicken on stove will depend on the kind of chicken you are cooking. Thinner pieces with no bone will cook faster than thick pieces with bone in.
Frozen chicken can be allowed to thaw out first, but it isn’t necessary. It can be cooked from frozen on the stovetop and not be burnt on the outside when it is done cooking on the inside, as long as you take your time in cooking it.