Chicken is a notorious offender when it comes to food safety and is usually cited as the culprit when you have an upset stomach.

It’s meant we’ve often just binned the lot if we haven’t had time to cook up that recently defrosted chicken, be it chicken wings and drumsticks or a whole roast chicken.

However, it’s actually entirely safe to refreeze your thawed chicken in the right conditions.

Here, food experts Fran Abdallaoui and Pamela Clark from The Australian Women’s Weekly tell us everything we need to know about defrosting and refreezing chicken:


A question which often get asked by home cooks is whether it is safe to put defrosted chicken back into the freezer and the simple answer is yes – but only if the chicken was defrosted at below 5 C (usually that means in the fridge) and didn’t defrost for more than 24 hours at this temperature.

The myth that it’s not safe to re-freeze chicken meat that has been defrosted is a mix of two issues: quality and safety.

While it’s safe to put chicken that’s been defrosted at below 5 C back into the freezer, freezing and re-freezing chicken may deteriorate the quality of the meat.

The reduction in quality can be caused by a number of things, but it includes the formation of ice crystals in the cells of the meat that can “break down” the meat so it no longer looks as good as it did when it was bought.

This affects the look of the chicken more than the taste and definitely doesn’t affect the safety of the chicken – it is still fine to cook for dinner!

How to cut a whole chicken
Photo: The Straits Times

Any time chicken meat is defrosted, it’s important that it’s done in the fridge at below 5 C. Store defrosting meat on the lowest shelf of the fridge as that is the coldest shelf and avoids any “meat juice” from dripping onto foods stored on lower shelves.

Why defrost in the fridge? If you defrost on the kitchen bench then re-freeze, you store any bacteria that have multiplied during thawing at room temperature, which can start growing again next time you defrost! The more bacteria present, the greater the risk someone may get sick.

Thorough cooking destroys bacteria so it’s important to ensure chicken is cooked through and that the raw meat doesn’t come into contact with anything already cooked or eaten raw, such as vegetables or cured meats.

Spiced Chicken With Braised Baby Carrots
Spiced Chicken With Braised Baby Carrots (Photo: Rob Shaw/BauerSyndication.com.au)

Now that you are done with defrosting, how about trying out one of our many yummy chicken recipes here?

Text: The Australian Women’s Weekly / Photos: Pixabay, 123rf.com

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