frozen chicken breasts

How to Cook Frozen Chicken Breast Safely and Quickly

Last Updated on April 29, 2022

Cooking chicken from frozen is perfectly okay to do, and it’s easier than you may think.

With the right approach, you can use up the frozen chicken you have in your freezer without having to thaw or buy fresh meat. Some of the important considerations for how to cook frozen chicken breast safely and quickly include knowing the proper cook time adjustments, using a marinade, and picking the right pan for cooking.

We’ll walk through the steps! Plus, we share some tasty baked chicken recipes that you can try using frozen chicken.

Pro Tips for How to Cook Frozen Chicken Breasts (Before Getting Started!)

Before getting started, take these pro tips into consideration for how to cook frozen chicken breasts safely, quickly, and for optimal results:

1. If you have the choice, go smaller rather than bigger when it comes to the size of your chicken breasts. This will cut down on the length of bake times that can risk drying out the meat.

2. Separating meat that’s been frozen together is important. You don’t want to bake the frozen chicken breasts stuck together. They need to be individual pieces to ensure the meat is safely cooked through and for evenness when baking.

3. Marinate and add juices to avoid drying out. This is true no matter frozen or fresh, but it’s especially important when cooking frozen chicken breast. Using a marinade can rehydrate the frozen meat and adds flavor.

6 Steps for Successfully Cooking Frozen Chicken Breast

These steps are going to look familiar. Because a lot of the steps for how to cook frozen chicken breast are the same as baking fresh chicken. There are just a few additional considerations and things you need to monitor to make sure the final result is juicy, tender, and delicious.

Step 1 – Preheat the Oven

Believe it or not, the cooking temperature for frozen chicken breasts is the same as raw. So, just follow the oven preheat directions in your recipe as-is. When baking, it’s the cooking time that differs. You’ll likely need to add 40-50% extra baking time to a recipe. The thicker the chicken breast, the longer the bake time.

The key to success with baking chicken (fresh or frozen) is to find the correct combination of cook time and temperature. The longer you cook at a lower temperature, the more you risk dry meat. The higher the temperature, the more monitoring you have to do, but the bake time will be quicker and the meat may be more tender.

Step 2 – Prepare the Chicken Breast

You actually can marinate even when it’s frozen. A lot of people think that the frozenness of the chicken breasts means liquids won’t penetrate the meat. But that’s not necessarily true.

As soon as the chicken leaves the freezer, the thawing process begins. And the meat begins to soak up the liquids from a marinate and the seasoning properties of any dry rub. So, it’s important to prepare and season the frozen chicken breast, the same way you would if it were fresh. Make sure to marinate while it thaws in a refrigerator, keeping the defrosting chicken in a covered container or in a sealable bag.

Some great seasonings to consider for baking frozen chicken include an Italian-inspired blend of herbs and spices (think marjoram, rosemary, oregano, parsley, and thyme). Or keep it classic with punchy spice staples like salt, pepper, smoky or sweet paprika, cayenne pepper, garlic and onion powders, and any other dried herbs you may like.

Here’s an all-purpose dry rub you could try to spice things up!

Step 3 – Place in a Pan

Single-layer! Say it again, single-layer! The key to consistency and evenness when baking frozen chicken breasts especially is making sure there is no overlapping of the meat. The frozen chicken is going to take longer to cook through than thawed chicken. And if there’s overlapping, you risk more extreme fluctuations in doneness at the end of the expected cooking time.

For example, you could have a center of a frozen chicken breast that’s done cooking, but the edges that are overlapping are still frozen. This is a hard scenario to remedy without overcooking parts of the meat and having to suffer through a dry chicken breast for your meal.

What kind of pan should you use? You can use your favorite go-to baking dish. Consider covering it with aluminum foil to trap heat and liquids. Another great option is a roasting pan. These pans are designed to trap heat and juices so that meats can be easily basted, which can help prevent drying out.

Step 4 – Bake

Average-sized frozen chicken breasts (5-7 oz) may take between 40-45 minutes to bake, depending on your oven temperature. We recommend 400°F, which is hotter than some recipes may call for. But with some extra monitoring, the increased temperature will help you avoid drying out the meat (which can happen when you cook low and slow).

The same-size thawed chicken breast may only take 20-25 minutes. Estimating between 40-50% longer cook time when following any recipe is a good idea.

With a cooking thermometer, you can monitor the internal temperature. But you should always bake chicken until the thermometer reaches 165°F. Make sure to check all parts of the chicken because some areas may take longer to reach that important 165°F threshold.

Step 5 – Let it Rest

Once you reach temperature (not a degree more, if you can help it), take the chicken out of the oven. The chicken juices should run clear.

Transfer to a new pan or cutting board, wrap the baked chicken in foil let it rest for five to 10 minutes. This extra step makes sure the meat will retain its juices and is nice and moist when you’re ready to eat.

4 Great Recipes for Cooking Frozen Chicken Breasts

1. Easy Baked Chicken Breasts Recipe

This recipe uses a combination of fresh herbs, lemon juice, and olive oil to ensure the juiciest chicken breast every time. It’s a recipe to have on hand for when you’re tackling how to cook frozen chicken breast in the oven.

easy baked chicken breast

The ultimate baked chicken crowdpleaser, this easy-baked chicken breast recipe is one to try.

  • 10 Ingredients
  • Total Time: 40 Minutes

2. Lemon Pepper Chicken Breast with Brown Sage Butter Recipe

Perfect for learning how to cook frozen chicken breast, this recipe is all things saucy, peppery, and citrusy. First seared in a skillet on the stove, then placed in the oven for the last part of cooking, this recipe comes together in under 30 minutes.

marinated chicken breast

You can’t go wrong with the flavors in this saucy baked chicken dish.

  • 12 Ingredients
  • Total Time: 25 Minutes

3. Herb and White Wine Marinated Chicken Breasts Recipe

We designed this recipe specifically for meal prepping. That makes it a great one for using up frozen chicken breasts. You can cook and refrigerate meals for the week ahead. Plus, using avocado oil and ghee with a variety of spices, this recipe is great for health-conscious eaters.

meal prep with butcherbox

Want to know how to cook frozen chicken breasts ahead of time for meal prepping? We got you covered.

  • 10 Ingredients
  • Total Time: 25 Minutes (Excluding overnight marinade)

4. Quick Chicken Salad Recipe

This chicken salad recipe comes together quickly, as the name suggests. Cook your chicken first, then chop and add to this recipe. Mix ingredients together with a premade green goddess dressing, dried cranberries, herbs, and pistachios, and voila! It’s a perfect way to use up frozen chicken breasts.

chicken salad sandwich

This make-ahead chicken salad is great for any meal or event you may be hosting.

  • 5 Ingredients
  • Total Time: 30 Minutes

If you’re curious about more chicken cooking tips and tricks, check out these posts on our JustCook blog:

Olivia is a Charlotte-based writer and content strategist. Olivia has over 6 years of experience freelance writing for many different companies and publications focused on retail and consumer goods & services. When she's not writing, she can be found in her garden, growing her own food and flowers.