Can You Grill Frozen Chicken Without Thawing It

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Can You Grill Frozen Chicken Without Thawing It?

You’re all set to start grilling your chicken, but there’s one problem. You forgot to take it out of the freezer this morning!

When you’re in this situation, you have a few different options. You can either try cooking it straight from the freezer, find a quicker method of thawing, or simply make something else for dinner.

Even when you decide to take the risk, you might be unsure whether cooking it without defrosting is safe. After all, undercooked poultry carries the risk of salmonella.

So, can you grill the frozen chicken without thawing it first?

It’s a bit complicated. We’ll cover it in thorough detail and also provide a few alternatives.

Can You Grill Frozen Chicken?

The short answer to this is yes, you can.

But if you can avoid it, you probably should.

There are ways to grill frozen chicken without defrosting it first, but don’t expect the same taste. It will also take a lot longer and has several risks.

Why You Should Not Grill Frozen Chicken

When you grill frozen chicken, there are two potential outcomes, and neither of them is good.

You’ll either end up with dry, overcooked chicken or chicken that’s pink and rubbery on the inside.

When you cook chicken straight from the freezer, you will have to cook it around 50% longer than you would if you’d defrosted it. Remember, every part of the meat needs to reach 165 degrees Fahrenheit in order to kill bacteria.

By the time the middle reaches that temperature, the outside will be dry and burnt.

On the other hand, if you try to cook your frozen chicken for the same duration as you normally would, the inside will not reach 165 degrees.

As a result, it’ll be pink inside and potentially contaminated with salmonella. This illness can be fatal, so you don’t want to take any chances.

Overall, it’s better to be patient and spend the extra time thawing your chicken instead of trying to cook it straight from the freezer.

Tips For Grilling Frozen Chicken

Are you still considering grilling your chicken without thawing it first?

Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Small Pieces are Better: If it’s not rock-solid, cut the frozen chicken into thinner pieces. This can help it cook a bit more evenly. Never try to cook a whole chicken without defrosting it first. Cutting frozen chicken can be hard but the best electric fillet knives can cut through it without problem.
  • Cook with Indirect Heat: Try grilling your chicken over indirect heat. This will take a little longer, but it increases the chances of it cooking properly.
  • Use a Thermometer: Always make sure you cook your chicken all the way through. Check the internal temperature with a meat thermometer before you eat it. It’s better to have your chicken be a little dry than to end up in the hospital.

How To Defrost Frozen Chicken

To ensure the best flavor, texture, and quality in your grilled chicken, you should always thaw it beforehand. This is the only way to make sure that you can cook it thoroughly and evenly.

Here are a few different methods you can use to make your frozen chicken grill-ready. They will take some time, but it will be worth the wait.


This is the safest way to defrost your chicken. Simply move it from the freezer to your fridge the night before you plan to cook it.

defrosting chicken in refrigerator

It is recommended to put it in a container or on a tray in case the package leaks.

Defrosting your chicken in the fridge takes no more than 24 hours. So if you’re willing to wait until tomorrow for your grilled chicken, you should go with this method.


  • There’s no risk of it reaching room temperature and growing bacteria.
  • This method takes the least amount of effort.


  • Out of all the defrosting methods, this one takes the longest.

Water Bath

Using a water bath is a quick and safe method of defrosting frozen meat. It can take somewhere between one and two hours.

defrosting chicken in water bath

Fill up a sink or container with some cool water. As tempting as it may be, you should avoid using warm water; this can cause bacteria to grow on the meat.

Submerge the chicken completely. To keep the water at the proper temperature, change it every thirty minutes.


  • This method is quicker than the refrigerator method.
  • As long as you use cool water and don’t let it soak too long, there’s little risk of contamination.


  • You will have to change the water frequently.
  • You will have to disinfect your sink afterward.

Room Temperature

This method is efficient for smaller cuts of meat, but it can be a little risky.

To thaw your chicken at room temperature, put it on a plate or metal tray and let it sit on your counter.

defrosting chicken in room temperature

Do not allow it to sit out for longer than two hours. According to the USDA, letting perishable foods sit in the 40 to 140-degree range for too long can cause foodborne illness.


  • This method is quicker than defrosting it in the refrigerator.


  • If frozen meat sits out too long, it can make you very sick even if you cook it thoroughly.
  • Even after 2 hours, the chicken may still be frozen.


This is by far the quickest way to thaw your frozen chicken.

Remove the meat from its packaging and put it in a microwave-safe container. Turn on the “defrost” setting and microwave it anywhere between 2 and 10 minutes. Larger pieces of meat may need a bit longer.

defrosting chicken in microwave

After you use this method, you will want to cook the chicken immediately.


  • This method is quick and easy.
  • There is very little risk of contamination.


  • Defrosting chicken in the microwave can negatively affect the texture of the meat.
  • The microwave may not defrost the chicken evenly.


It’s always a bummer when you forget to defrost your chicken. While you technically can grill it without defrosting it first, it’s usually best not to.

In the best-case scenario, you’ll end up with some mediocre grilled chicken. Worst-case scenario, you or your family may end up in the hospital with salmonella.

With a little patience, though, you can quickly defrost your chicken and make it grill-ready.

The wait will surely be worth it!


PS. Whether you defrost the chicken or not, you will need a proper grill to cook it on. Check out our reviews of charcoal grills, gas grills, and indoor electric grills to find the best model for your needs.

About the Author

Hi, I’m Joonas, a barbecue expert with over 20 years of experience in grilling and smoking all kinds of foods.

My goal is to cook tasty barbecue food, enjoy it with family & friends, and help others do the same!

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