Do you ever find yourself with extra rotisserie chicken? I grab Costco's rotisserie chicken every time I'm there, not only does it have delicious flavor but it's actually less expensive than buying a raw chicken at the grocery store!
Maybe you only needed a portion of it for a particular recipe. Perhaps you just didn't get around to it as quickly as you thought. Whatever the reason, freezing your rotisserie chicken is a convenient and cost-effective way to make the most of your leftovers and have a versatile protein option available whenever you need it.
In this post, we'll discuss the proper way to freeze cooked chicken to ensure that it stays fresh and flavorful. Whether you're a budget-conscious shopper, a meal prepper, or a busy parent, freezing rotisserie chicken can help you save time and money while still enjoying delicious meals. So let's dive in and learn how to freeze rotisserie chicken like a pro! Have pork instead? Freezing pulled pork is very similar!
No time to read now? Pin it for later!
How Long Does Rotisserie Chicken Last?
If you've bought a rotisserie chicken from the store, you might be wondering how long it will last. The answer depends on how you store it. If you keep it in the fridge, it will only last for 3-4 days. However, if you freeze it, it drastically increases the shelf life- leftover rotisserie chicken can last up to three months this way. The same is true of homemade rotisserie chicken.
It's important to note that these are just general guidelines, and you should always use your best judgement when it comes to food safety. If the chicken has an off smell, strange color, or slimy texture, it's best to throw it out.
Can I Freeze a Whole Rotisserie Chicken?
If you have an entire chicken that you want to freeze, you can do so by wrapping it tightly in heavy-duty aluminum foil and then placing it in a large zip-top bag or wrapping it in plastic wrap. However, it's important to note that freezing a whole chicken is not the most ideal method, as it can be difficult to defrost and portion out later.
When you're ready to eat the frozen chicken, you'll need to defrost it at least overnight. Once the chicken is defrosted, it's best to use it all at once. Refreezing previously frozen chicken is not recommended, as it can affect the texture and flavor of the meat and increase the risk of foodborne illness.
For those reasons, while freezing a whole chicken is better than tossing it, for best results I recommended to remove the meat from the bones and portion it out before freezing. This way, you can easily defrost only what you need and avoid any potential waste.
The Best Way To Freeze Rotisserie Chicken
Step 1: Remove the meat from the bones
The first thing we'll do is remove the meat from the bones. This will help prevent freezer burn and make it easier to portion out. Use a sharp knife or your fingers to separate the meat from the bones.
You'll also need the cooked rotisserie chicken to cool to room temperature before freezing. It can still be warm while you cut and prepare it, but be sure it's fully cooled before placing in the freezer.
Step 2: Portion it Out
Divide the chicken into small portions that are appropriate for your needs. This will make it easier to defrost only what you need later on. You can either portion it out by weight or by volume. For example, you can measure out 1 cup of shredded rotisserie chicken or 4 ounces of chicken breast.
You can cut it in whatever way works for you- for sandwiches it's nice to have slices of chicken breasts, but for a pastas and soups I usually opt for shredded chicken.
Step 3: Place into Freezer Bags
Make sure you use freezer-safe containers or ziplock bags to store the chicken. Plastic freezer bags are a convenient and space-saving option for freezing chicken. To use a freezer bag, place the chicken inside the bag, seal it most of the way, and then press out as much air as possible before sealing it completely. Removing the air will help prevent freezer burn and keep the chicken fresh.
If you're using another airtight container, reduce air contact with the chicken by pressing it down with either cling wrap or a reusable wrap like beeswax paper.
You can also use a vacuum sealer if you have one- be sure to follow the directions for your specific brand and model.
Step 4: Label and date
Be sure to label the containers or bags with the date that you froze the chicken. You can write directly on the bag with a permanent marker. If you're using a different container you can place masking tape on it and then write on that.
This will help you keep track of how long it has been in the freezer and help you use older meat first so it doesn't get freezer burn. You can also label the containers with the portion size and type of chicken.
By following these steps, you can ensure that your frozen rotisserie chicken stays fresh and tasty for up to three months.
Thawing Frozen Rotisserie Chicken
Once you've frozen your rotisserie chicken meat, you'll need to thaw it properly before using it. Avoid thawing rotisserie chicken on the counter at room temperature, as this can cause the chicken to enter the temperature danger zone, which can lead to unsafe bacterial growth.
Here are three ways to thaw your chicken so it will be ready to be used in your favorite recipes!
The best way to thaw your chicken is to place it in the refrigerator the night before you plan to cook with it. Simply take the chicken out of the freezer and place it on a plate or in a container to catch any drips as it thaws.
Cold Water Method
If you're in a hurry and need to thaw the chicken more quickly, you can use the cold water method. To do this, place the frozen chicken in a leak-proof plastic bag and submerge it in cold water. Change the water every 30 minutes to ensure that it stays cold. Alternatively, you can place a bowl of cold water in the fridge and place the chicken in that- being in the fridge will keep the cold water from getting too warm.
The Soup or "Cook It" Method
If you're making soup, you can add the frozen cooked chicken pieces directly to the boiling soup. They'll reheat quickly in a boiling liquid- just make sure you're stirring often. You can also skip thawing in most instant pot recipes, as they come up to temperature fast enough to avoid food safety issues.
What to Make with your Leftover Chicken
Now that you have your chicken thawed out, you're ready to turn it into a delicious meal! Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- If you have an instant pot, this Pesto Pasta Chicken is a great option for busy weeknights!
- My favorite slow cooker dish is this Chicken Potato Chowder that calls for 2 cups of rotisserie chicken.
- Adding some rotisserie chicken to a frozen meal is a great way to make an easy meal more filling.
These are just a few ideas - the possibilities are endless! Use your leftover chicken in salads, wraps, sandwiches, and more. With a stash of frozen rotisserie chicken in your freezer, you'll always have a protein-packed ingredient on hand for quick and easy meals.