Can You Marinate Frozen Chicken? Here’s What You Need to Know


You will surely agree that it is important to thaw your frozen chicken overnight so that you can marinate it properly the next day. However, you have to admit that you oftentimes forget to take out the chicken from the freezer and have it defrosted overnight in the chiller!

Don’t worry. This is a pretty common situation that happens to many people.

As desperate times call for desperate measures, you will have no choice but to find a way to get your chicken dish done on the same day. Would it be possible if you can marinate frozen chicken?

Short answer: Yes, it is fortunately doable to marinate frozen chicken! You can simply add in your marinade mix as you thaw your frozen chicken at the same time. It’s simple as that!

In this article, you will discover more details about the following main points:

  • What is the importance of marination?
  • Can you marinate frozen chicken?
  • The steps on how to marinate frozen chicken
  • How long do you marinate frozen chicken?
  • The different types of chicken marination

Let’s uncover the answers!

Why Is Marination Important?

The short answer to this question is simple:

Generally, marinades help soften your lean meats to prevent them from drying out. (*)

It kinda works like magic as it works its way to soften the tough meat while making it flavorful and chewy. 

In other words, marinades tenderize or soften chicken meat while also improving the level of juiciness.

Aside from that, marinades function as a preservative and it helps lessen your cooking time as it has already tenderized meat.

image of Marinate Frozen Chicken

Can You Marinate Frozen Chicken?

Technically speaking, yes! You can definitely marinate your frozen chicken.

However, note that marinating fresh or thawed chicken is the most ideal way of making sure that meat absorbs the flavors. A marinated chicken eliminates the need to fully defrost it. (*)

Why? Defrosting plain chicken takes quite a while. As time goes by, potential microbial growth can occur once left unattended beyond the safe period.

If you find yourself quite overwhelmed with your schedule, marinating your frozen chicken is still applicable.

Just remember that marinating fresh versus frozen chicken will yield different results.

In fact, experienced food preppers recommended that you should defrost your chicken before you marinate them.

Why? As the marinade can properly soak up the defrosted chicken meat more effectively, expect that you’ll have a more flavorful dish.

Note: It takes about an hour to thaw a pound frozen boneless chicken breasts.

Steps on How To Marinate Frozen Chicken

But as mentioned earlier, you can still marinate your chicken while it is still frozen. Here are some steps that you should follow:

  1. First, you must prepare your chosen marinade. We recommended that you should use acid-based marinade like lime or lemon juice plus oil. These additions will help tenderize and bring more flavor to the meat while thawing it.
  2. Place your frozen chicken in a utility bowl and add the marinade mixture.
  3. Then, massage the marinade on the frozen chicken as it thaws out.
  4. Lastly, cover the chicken and let the marinade work its magic for a given time.
Tip: Alternatively, if you're planning to do a baked chicken dish, you can do it directly in the oven. Just place your frozen chicken in the pan and add the necessary spices, herbs, the acidic ingredient, and a drizzle of oil to the baking pan.

How long do you marinate frozen Chicken?

In a frozen state, you might want to do it for a minimum of two hours inside the refrigerator.

Basically, marinating meats may take from 30 minutes to overnight.

The decision is yours on how long you think you should soak your chicken meat in the marinade.

After all, it sometimes depends on the urgency or how soon you should serve the dish.

Note: Use more amount of marinade when marinating frozen chicken. This is to allow the flavor to further penetrate into the meat. 

Different Types Of Chicken Marination

1. Jerk marinade

The jerk marinade has a good mix of sweet, earthy, and spicy tastes.

Apparently, the Jamaican jerk sauce used to be made with Scotch Bonnet peppers, which are a type of hot pepper that people in the Caribbean like to eat. 

2. Honey garlic marinade

Honey garlic sauce consists of honey and garlic, and it tastes good!

To make this honey garlic marinade, you need soy sauce, brown sugar, rice vinegar, water, and cornstarch.

3. Curry marinade

Usually, a curry marinade that composes of turmeric, cumin, ginger, and black pepper.

Some blends also have garlic and cinnamon in them. Brings out the spicy and savory taste.

4. Lemon ginger marinade

This lovely marinade typically consists of lemon juice, ginger, soy sauce, olive oil, garlic, parsley, salt, and pepper.

The combination of these ingredients yields a burst of perfectly balanced sour, tangy, and zesty flavor.

5. Sweet chili marinade

A popular marinade for your chicken fingers.

It usually has rice wine vinegar, and red chili peppers (like Fresno chiles, Thai or red jalapenos).

Sometimes, it contains garlic, and sometimes fish sauce or honey.

6. Chipotle marinade

It consists of dried, smoked jalapeno peppers. Best suited for spicy lovers!

7. Cilantro marinade

Basically, it is a combination of cilantro, lemon, salt, and pepper. It gives your chicken a hint of herb-y flavor. 

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Should you thaw Chicken before marinating it?

Yes. The objective of marinating your meat is to allow the taste of the marinade to permeate into the meat and impart a flavorful, juicy flavor to it.

Thus, the softer and more thawed your meat is, the more efficient marinate can do its wonders.

2. Is it safe to marinate the frozen chicken?

Yes. However, it is undeniably true that uncooked chicken is well-associated with Salmonella outbreaks and food poisoning. (*)

Just make sure you don’t expose your chicken to unfavorable conditions.

3. How to defrost frozen chicken properly?

Depending on how much time you have before you need to serve the chicken meat, there are more ways how to defrost frozen chicken properly:

  1. Microwave method. This is the quickest way; most convenient
  2. Under running water. This is ideal as long as you don’t soak them overnight.
  3. Refrigeration method. The safest and highly recommended thawing method. However, it takes a longer time to fully defrost your chicken.

Take Away

Chicken meat is an important component of many meals, it is very versatile and it goes very well with most dishes.

Theoretically, you can marinate your chicken meat right out of the freezer.

However, the results may not be optimal as marinating it in a defrosted state.

Thus, it is still best recommended to thaw them out first before you marinate them.

About The Author

Leave a Comment

Scroll to Top