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How To Separate Frozen Chicken – The Best Ways

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Frozen chicken is one of the easiest and the most convenient ways to store the chicken for a longer duration. Yet, the problem lies in separating it once you have taken it out of the freezer! 

When you take out chicken from your freezer you may find that it seems like one huge block of ice. And, to separate just one piece of chicken from this block may get extremely tiresome if you don’t have the right technique. 

So, how to separate frozen chicken? Frozen chicken can be separated by putting the chicken under hot or cold water, using a microwave, or simply putting it in the refrigerator. Using cold water is the best method to separate frozen chicken as it’s fast and perfectly safe. 

To know more about how to separate frozen chicken in detail, continue reading!

Is It Possible To Separate Frozen Chicken Without Thawing It? 

You can try to separate frozen chicken using a knife. But, this method is extremely dangerous as the knife can cut you and cause injuries. It’s also time-consuming. 

Another option is to place the chicken pieces in a zip-lock bag and slam it on a hard surface to break the frozen chicken. This method may or may not work. 

So, we recommend first thawing the frozen chicken and then separating it using a butter knife

Most people who frequently have to separate frozen chicken without thawing make use of a band saw or meat saw. 

Four Different Ways To Separate Frozen Chicken 

There are mainly four different ways to separate frozen chicken. You can choose any option depending on your convenience and time. 

Method 1: Using A Microwave

If you’re in a hurry, then defrosting and separating frozen chicken using a microwave is the best option. You won’t have to cut anything and you’d get your separated chicken in almost no time!

Here’s how you can use a microwave to separate frozen chicken: 

  1. Change The Microwave Settings: First, change the microwave to the defrost mode. 
  1. Put In The Frozen Chicken: Now, put the frozen chicken in the microwave. Set the timer for about 10 seconds. 
  1. Check If The Chicken Is Thawed: After 10 seconds, take out the chicken to see if it’s thawed enough for you to break it into pieces. If it is, take it out. If not, microwave it for 10 seconds again. 
  1. Take Out The Chicken: Once the chicken is thawed, simply take it out and break the pieces using a butter knife or your hand. 

In this way, you can easily separate frozen chicken using a microwave. 

Pros Of Using This Method: 

Some of the benefits of using a microwave to separate frozen chicken include: 

  • Very quick process
  • Convenient 

Cons Of Using This Method: 

A major con of using a microwave is: 

  • This method may cause an increase in the number of bacteria in the chicken. So, use it immediately after you thaw and separate it. 
  • Some parts may get slightly cooked. So, there is a risk of overcooking those parts of the chicken. 

Method 2: Using Cold Water

If you have some time to spare, we recommend using cold water for thawing and separating frozen chicken. This method is safer than the microwave method and does the job of separating the chicken well!

Here’s how you can use cold water to separate frozen chicken: 

  1. Get The Chicken And Place It Under Cold Water: First, you need to get the frozen chicken and hold the chicken under a tap (cold water) for about 5-10 minutes. If you have a bigger batch, simply put the chicken in a blocked sink.
  1. Use A Butter Knife To Check: After five to ten minutes, you need to check if the ice between the chicken has melted or not. Do it by penetrating a butter knife inside the chicken. If it can penetrate, you can try separating it. 
  1. Turn The Butter Knife: Once the butter knife has penetrated the chicken, simply turn it to separate the chicken pieces. 

In this method, we recommend wearing rubber gloves while holding the frozen chicken and to avoid any injuries. 

Pros Of Using This Method: 

There are many benefits of separating frozen chicken using cold water, such as: 

  • It is safe as there’s no increase in temperature that causes the multiplication of bacteria. 
  • It is quicker than many other methods. 

Cons Of Using This Method: 

  • Thawing and separating bigger batches of frozen chicken may get hard in this method. 

Method 3: Using Hot Water

If you want to thaw and separate frozen chicken quickly but you don’t have a microwave, then you can try out this method. 

But, keep in mind that it doesn’t come recommended by experts as there’s a risk of bacterial growth and cooking of chicken in this method. 

There’s still a safe method  for hot water that you may try out: 

  1. Pack The Chicken: First, pack the chicken inside an airtight or ziplock bag to prevent the hot water from getting inside. 
  1. Use A Kettle For Heating Water: You need to heat the water in the kettle till it reaches 140°F temperature. Use a thermometer to check the temperature. 
  1. Pour Water In A Bowl: Once the water is at 140°F, pour it into a bowl. Then, place the packet of chicken inside the bowl to separate chicken pieces. 
  1. Remove The Chicken And Separate It: Check if the water temperature has reached around 125°F. If it has, the ice should have melted. Check if it has and remove the chicken packet. 
  1. Separate Chicken Pieces: You can either make use of a butter knife or your hand to separate the chicken pieces. 

In this way, you can make use of hot water to separate frozen chicken. 

Pros Of Using This Method: 

  • Quicker than cold water
  • Retains the chicken’s taste unlike microwave 

Cons Of Using This Method: 

  • May cause rise in bacteria in chicken
  • The method isn’t approved by FDA

Method 4: Using A Refrigerator 

Thawing chicken in the refrigerator before separating is the best way to separate frozen chicken if you have time to spare. 

This method can easily thaw and separate huge batches of chicken. There is no risk of bacterial multiplication due to heat either. 

Here’s what you need to do: 

  1. Check Your Fridge’s Temperature: First, check the temperature of the fridge and whether it is at 35°F or 40°F. If it is at 35°F, it may take more time. 
  1. Keep The Chicken In Fridge: You can place the packet of frozen chicken in the fridge to let it thaw. It may take around one to two days depending on your fridge’s temperature. 
  1. Check And Separate: Lastly, check if the chicken has thawed or not. Remove it from the fridge and separate it easily!

We recommend putting the frozen chicken in the fridge a day or two before you’re planning to use/separate it. 

Pros Of Using This Method:

Some of the pros of using this method include: 

  • Safe and easy to refreeze the block of chicken again
  • No risk of bacterial multiplication

Cons Of Using This Method: 

Some of the cons of using this method include: 

  • Takes a lot of time
  • Slight loss of texture

Can You Cook Chicken Without Separating It?

Yes, it is possible to cook frozen chicken without separating it if you want to use the whole block of chicken. 

But, bear in mind that the cooking time may increase by 50% of the original time. So, if chicken takes about 45 minutes to cook, frozen chicken may take around 65-70 minutes. 

When you’re cooking the block of frozen chicken, take an efficient meat thermometer to check the temperature.

Make sure you check the thickest part of the chicken. Once the internal temperature is around 165°F, the chicken is cooked!

Things To Avoid While Separating Frozen Chicken 

When you’re thawing and separating the frozen chicken, you may want to avoid certain things. These things may cause a loss in texture and taste. They may also make the chicken unfit for consumption. 

These things include: 

  1. Always make sure that when you’re separating chicken using hot water, you don’t let the water get inside the package. This could cause the chicken to cook or even develop bacteria. 
  1. Make sure that you keep checking the chicken every 10 seconds while it is in the microwave. Excessive microwave time can lead to dryness in the chicken. 
  1. Don’t freeze the chicken if there’s water on the surface. This causes a change in taste due to freezer burns. 

How To Prevent Chicken From Sticking Together

It is possible to freeze the chicken in such a way that it doesn’t stick together and cause a problem of separating it. 

There are two tips for this: 

  1. Separately store chicken pieces in different containers or zip-lock bags. 
  2. Freeze the individual pieces first by placing them on a baking tray and freezing them. Then, place all of the pieces together in a bigger container/bag. 

Can You Refreeze Thawed Chicken? 

Once you have successfully separated the chicken piece that you wanted, you may wonder if you can refreeze the thawed chicken again. 

The answer is – it depends on the method of thawing you used. 

For instance, if you thawed chicken in the fridge, it is definitely safe to refreeze it within two days. You shouldn’t refreeze chicken thawed using water or microwave. 

Lastly, you can refreeze the chicken if there are ice crystals present on it still. 

Final Thoughts

Separating frozen chicken is surely a hassle, especially if you are in a hurry. However, with the right method, you can do it at your time and convenience too

You can use a microwave or even hot water for thawing and separating the chicken. But, there are some safety concerns involved. 

Or, if you have time to spare, go for cold water. If you have more than two to three days, refrigerate and thaw the chicken!

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