Can You Grill Frozen Chicken Perfectly? Easy How-To

Ever found yourself holding a frozen chicken, staring at your grill, and asking, “Can I actually grill this ice-cold bird?” Well, you’re not the only one. We’ve all faced this frosty dilemma. Today, let’s put this cold hard question to bed. Ready to unravel the mystery of how to grill frozen chicken in the best way? Buckle up, and let’s dive in!

Grilled chicken served on a plate with a side salad.
Bon appétit! The grilled chicken is ready to make your taste buds dance.

Quick Answer

Cutting right to the chase: Yes, you can grill a frozen chicken. But hold your tongs! It’s not as straightforward as slapping a frosty fowl on a hot grill. The secret? It’s all in the details.

Whole chicken being grilled on a barbecue.
Grilling a whole chicken – now that’s what I call a whole lot of yum!

Understanding Frozen Chicken

So, why is grilling frozen chicken as tricky as walking a tightrope in roller skates? Here’s the scoop: When you try to grill chicken straight from the freezer, it doesn’t cook evenly. You might end up with a bird that’s charred on the outside but colder than a polar bear’s toes on the inside. And that’s a red flag for food poisoning, salmonella poisoning, and other dangerous bacteria. Sounds like a risky business, right?

Safety Concerns: Safety First, Grill Second

But don’t worry, I’ve got your back. To ensure you avoid a dinner disaster, we’re going to talk about safety measures. The most trusted ally in your grilling adventure? A meat thermometer. This handy tool will help you gauge the internal temperature of the chicken. For safe consumption, it should reach a certain number of degrees F. This is the golden ticket to grilling frozen chicken without risking your health.

When cooking chicken, food safety should always be a priority. This includes properly thawing your chicken, maintaining a safe cooking temperature, and storing leftovers correctly. Always remember, better safe than sorry when it comes to your dinner!

Frozen chicken in its packaging on a kitchen counter.
From the freezer to the grill, this chicken’s about to get a major glow up!

Flavor and Texture: The Taste of Victory

Grilling frozen chicken isn’t just about safety; it’s also about crafting a delicious meal. You want your chicken to have that perfect balance of juicy meat and crispy skin, the kind that makes your taste buds do a happy dance. Grilling frozen chicken can affect its flavor and texture, but don’t fret. I’ll share some tips and tricks to achieve extra flavor and ensure your chicken is a crowd-pleaser, not just a meal. Stay tuned!

Sliced grilled chicken breasts on a cutting board.
Slice of life! Each cut reveals a juicy, flavorful surprise.

Thawing the Iceberg: Prepping Your Frozen Chicken

Before we toss that frosty fowl on the grill, let’s talk thawing. This crucial prep step can make or break your grilling game. If you want the best results, thawing your chicken to room temperature is a good idea. You can also use a defrosting tray if you have one.

There are several ways to thaw frozen chicken safely and effectively, each with its own set of pros and cons. Let’s break it down.

Chill Out: Thawing in the Fridge

The refrigerator is your friend when it comes to thawing frozen chicken. It’s a slow, steady, and safe method. Here’s how you do it:

  • Keep the chicken in its original packaging or place it in a leak-proof plastic bag.
  • Put the chicken on a tray or in a shallow dish to catch any drips.
  • Place it in the fridge.

The pros? It’s the safest way to thaw chicken, as it keeps the bird at a safe temperature throughout. It’s also pretty hands-off – just set it and forget it! 

The cons? You’ll need to plan ahead. Depending on the size of your chicken, it could take a day or two to fully thaw. In a nutshell, if you’re looking for the best results, this method is your go-to if you have enough time.

Frozen chicken in its original packaging thawing in a fridge.
Slow and steady wins the race – to the grill, that is!

Quick Dip: Thawing in Cold Water

Need your chicken thawed faster? The cold water method is your speed-demon solution. Here’s the drill:

  1. Seal your chicken in a leak-proof plastic bag.
  2. Submerge the bag in a bowl or sink full of cold water.
  3. Change the water every 30 minutes to maintain the chill.

The pros? It’s quicker than the fridge method – a few hours should do the trick.

The cons? It requires more attention – you can’t just walk away and watch your favorite show. And remember, don’t be tempted to use warm water – it can bring your chicken into the danger zone for bacterial growth.

Frozen chicken in a leak-proof bag submerged in a bowl of cold water.
This chicken’s taking a cold dip for a hot date with the grill!

Speedy Solution: Thawing in the Microwave

Last but not least, the microwave – your quick fix for thawing frozen chicken. But be warned – it can lead to high temperatures in some spots. Here’s the method:

  1. Remove all packaging and place your chicken on a microwave-safe plate.
  2. Use the defrost setting, check your microwave’s manual for the exact time.
  3. Turn the chicken occasionally to ensure even defrosting.

The pros? It’s super speedy – you’ll have a thawed chicken in no time. The cons? It can start cooking parts of your chicken, leading to high temperatures in some spots. If you’re in a real hurry, this could be your method, but be warned – it’s a bit of a wild card.

Frozen chicken on a microwave-safe plate inside a microwave.
In a hurry? The microwave is your chicken’s speedy ticket to thaw town!

In the end, your thawing method will depend on how much time you have and how much attention you’re willing to give. Choose wisely, my grilling friend!

From Frosty to Flavorful: Prepping Your Frozen Chicken for the Grill

Once your chicken is thawed, we can move onto the fun part – seasoning and marinating. But before you start sprinkling spices or slathering sauce, remember to pat your chicken dry with a paper towel. Removing excess moisture will help your seasoning stick and your chicken crisp up on the grill. Now, let’s get to the meat of the matter, shall we?

Thawed chicken on a paper towel, ready to be cooked.
From frost to roast! This chicken is ready to rock the grill.

Sprinkle and Rub: Seasoning Frozen Chicken

When it comes to seasoning your chicken, don’t hold back. A well-seasoned bird is a flavorful bird. A simple rub of olive oil and your favorite seasonings can transform your chicken. Here’s how you do it:

  1. Drizzle some olive oil over your chicken. It not only adds flavor but also helps the seasoning stick to the chicken.
  2. Sprinkle your choice of dry rub or spices all over the chicken. Don’t forget to season under the skin and inside the cavity for whole chickens.

And a hot tip for you – let your seasoned chicken sit for a while before you grill it. This allows the seasoning to really penetrate the meat and up the flavor game. Trust me, your taste buds will thank you!

Raw chicken being seasoned with spices.
Spice up your life! Our chicken is getting a zesty makeover.

Soak It Up: Marinating Frozen Chicken

If you’re a fan of juicy, flavorful chicken, marinating is your secret weapon. Here’s the scoop:

  1. Mix your marinade. This could be as simple as your favorite BBQ sauce for a classic BBQ flavor or barbecue sauce, or a homemade concoction. 
  2. Place your chicken in a zip-top bag or a dish.
  3. Pour the marinade over the chicken, making sure it’s well coated.
  4. Let it soak up all that delicious flavor. The longer, the better!

Just remember, never reuse marinade that’s touched raw chicken. If you want some for basting or a sauce, reserve a portion before you add the chicken.

Chicken pieces being marinated in barbecue sauce.
Dip and flip! Our chicken is getting a luxurious BBQ sauce bath.

Grilling Frozen Chicken: Techniques and Tips

Whether you’re using a charcoal grill or a gas grill, the technique you choose to grill frozen chicken is key. The trick is to use indirect heat and a trusty thermometer to ensure your chicken is cooked through and safe to eat. Here are some grilling tips:

  • Start by warming up your grill. If you’re using a gas grill, preheat it on high for about 10-15 minutes. Once it’s hot, reduce the heat to medium. A hot grill ensures a good sear and helps to prevent sticking.
  • Use indirect heat. This means heating one side of the grill and placing the chicken on the other. Place the chicken pieces on the cooler side of the grill. For a gas grill, this usually means the burners are off under the chicken. This is especially crucial for grilling frozen chicken to ensure it cooks evenly.
A clean, preheated gas grill with its lid open.
Get fired up! The stage is set for our frosty friend’s big debut.
  • Invest in a meat thermometer. It’s the best way to ensure your chicken is safe to eat. Aim for 165 degrees F in the thickest part of the meat. That is the safe internal temperature threshold.
  • If you’re using a charcoal grill, maintaining a low temperature for a longer cooking time can help ensure your chicken is cooked through without burning the outside. An instant-read thermometer is a handy tool to have on hand to ensure you’re hitting the right internal temperature.
Chicken breasts with char marks on a grill.
Behold the beauty of the grill marks – the signs of a job well done!
  • Before you start, ensure your chicken parts or pieces are dry. Use a paper towel to blot any excess moisture on the outside of the chicken. This will help you get a nice, crispy skin when you start cooking the chicken.
  • Don’t forget to turn the chicken occasionally to ensure even cooking. It’s a bit like a sunbather flipping to get an even tan!
Grilled chicken resting on a grill.
Rest up, dear chicken. You’ve done a grilling good job!

Winging It: Grilling Frozen Wings

Chicken wings are small, so they cook relatively quickly. Try grilling your frozen wings over indirect heat for about 20-25 minutes, flipping them every 5 minutes to ensure they get a nice, even cook.

Chicken wings grilling on a barbecue with visible heat and smoke.
Wings on fire! Get ready for a mouthwatering flight of flavor.

Stick with It: Grilling Frozen Drumsticks

Frozen drumsticks, or chicken thighs as some like to call them, take a bit longer on the grill. You’re looking at about 30-35 minutes over indirect heat. Make sure to rotate them occasionally for an even cook. Check that internal temperature reaches 165 °F.

Chicken drumsticks on the grill, searing nicely.
Drumroll, please! The drumsticks are dancing on the grill.

Leg Day: Grilling Frozen Legs

Much like their drumstick counterparts, frozen chicken legs need about 30-35 minutes over indirect heat. Turning them a few times during cooking will get you that golden-brown finish we all love. The thickest part needs to reach at least 165 °F.

Grilled chicken legs on a hot grill, showing off their crispy, golden-brown skin.
From the grill to your plate, these chicken legs are strutting their stuff!

Whole Lotta Chicken: Grilling a Whole Frozen Chicken

Now, this is a bit of a project. Grilling a whole frozen chicken is a labor of love that needs about 1.5-2 hours over indirect heat. Be sure to check the temperature in the thickest part of the thigh to ensure it’s fully cooked. It needs to reach at least 165 °F.

Chicken being grilled on one side of the grill with the lid closed.
Playing it cool with indirect grilling, because every good chicken deserves a spa day.

All About Breasts: Grilling Frozen Breasts

Grilling boneless chicken breasts can be a bit of a challenge due to their uneven thickness. One easy way to overcome this is to start grilling with the thicker side towards the heat source.Frozen chicken breasts, both boneless and bone-in, require about 20-30 minutes of grilling over indirect heat. Bone-in breasts may need a little more time, so keep that meat thermometer handy!

Chicken breasts on a grill, crispy with sear marks.
Let the grilling games begin! Who’s up for some chicken breast barbecue?

And there you have it, a comprehensive guide to grilling each cut of your formerly frozen chicken. Happy grilling!

Grilling Alternatives

If you’re not up for grilling, there are other methods for cooking your frozen chicken. A slow cooker is a great, hands-off method that ensures tender, fall-off-the-bone chicken. Another option is an air fryer, which can give you the crispiness of grilled chicken without the hassle of firing up the grill.

Final presentation of a plate filled with perfectly grilled chicken.
The ultimate grand finale! Feast your eyes before you feast your belly.

Apron Ace’s Cluck-tastic Conclusion

Well, folks, we’ve traversed the frosty tundra of frozen chicken grilling, from the icy plains of thawing to the sizzling peaks of the grill. We’ve debunked the myth that grilling frozen chicken is impossible and unpacked the best ways to do it, safely and deliciously.

Let’s take a moment to recap our adventure:

  1. Thawing is crucial and can be done in the refrigerator, in cold water, or in the microwave.
  2. Seasoning and marinating your chicken can take it from ordinary to extraordinary, making your backyard BBQ the talk of the town.
  3. Different cuts need different grilling times. Wings, drumsticks, legs, whole chicken, or breasts – we’ve got you covered.
  4. And finally, the trusty meat thermometer is your best friend when grilling frozen chicken. It ensures that your delicious meal is also a safe one.

So, next time you’re staring at a frozen chicken and wondering if you can grill it to perfection, just remember: you’ve got this guide, and you’re an Apron Ace in the making!

Now, go out there and grill the world, one frozen chicken at a time!

Close-up shot of a grilled chicken piece showing charred texture.
Up close and personal with the star of the show – charred to perfection!
A tantalizing display of grilled chicken.

Perfectly Grilled Frozen Chicken

7737f8c28c2cc5158e14eaf64d376635Apron Ace
Grilling frozen chicken might seem impossible, but with our comprehensive guide, we’ll teach you how to safely and deliciously grill each cut of your formerly frozen chicken. From thawing, seasoning and marinating to different grilling techniques, you’ll have everything you need to host the ultimate backyard BBQ.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Course Dinner, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 4 people
Calories 705 kcal


  • Grill
  • paper towels
  • Leak-proof plastic bags for thawing
  • Microwave-safe plate if using microwave thawing method
  • bowl for marinating
  • meat thermometer optional


  • 2 lbs Frozen Chicken whole, wings, drumsticks, thighs, or breasts
  • ½ cup Olive Oil
  • 2 tbsp Seasoning your choice of dry rub or spices
  • 1 cup Marinade BBQ sauce or homemade marinade


  • Thaw your chicken using one of the methods: in the refrigerator, in cold water, or in the microwave. Remember, safe and proper thawing is crucial.
  • Once thawed, pat the chicken dry using paper towels. This helps to get a nice crispy skin when grilling.
  • Season your chicken. Drizzle some olive oil, then rub your choice of spices all over the chicken. Don’t forget under the skin and inside the cavity for whole chickens.
  • Optional: Marinate your chicken. Coat your chicken with your preferred marinade and let it sit for a while.
  • Preheat your grill on high for about 10-15 minutes, then reduce the heat to medium.
  • Use indirect heat to grill your chicken. Place the chicken on the cooler side of the grill. This ensures even cooking.
  • Grill depending on the thickness and cut: wings (20-25 mins), drumsticks (30-35 mins), legs (30-35 mins), whole chicken (1.5-2 hours), breasts (20-30 mins)
  • Turn the chicken occasionally for an even cook and use a meat thermometer to ensure the internal temperature reaches 165 °F.


Refrigerator Thawing:

  • Keep chicken in original packaging, place on a plate, and thaw in the refrigerator. Allow 24 hours for every 5 lbs of chicken. Safe to cook for 1-2 days post-thaw.

Cold Water Thawing:

  • Seal chicken in a leak-proof plastic bag and submerge in cold water. Change water every 30 minutes. Thaws at 1 lb per hour. Cook immediately post-thaw.

Microwave Thawing:

  • Remove packaging, place chicken on a microwave-safe plate, and defrost in the microwave. Check frequently to prevent cooking. Cook immediately post-thaw.

General Tips:

  • Thawing your chicken properly is key to avoid foodborne illnesses. Plan ahead and choose the thawing method that suits your needs.
  • Seasoning or marinating your chicken can elevate its taste. Don’t be shy, experiment with flavors to find your personal favorites.
  • Use indirect heat to ensure even cooking and prevent the outside of your chicken from charring while the inside remains uncooked.
  • Always use a meat thermometer to make sure your chicken is safe to eat.
  • Different chicken cuts require different grilling times: wings (20-25 mins), drumsticks (30-35 mins), legs (30-35 mins), whole chicken (1.5-2 hours), breasts (20-30 mins). These times can vary, so always check the internal temperature.
  • If grilling isn’t your thing, remember there are other methods for cooking your frozen chicken like using a slow cooker or an air fryer.
  • Always remember that when you are handling raw poultry, safety comes first. Always use a thermometer to ensure the correct internal temperature of 165 degrees F is reached and avoid cross-contamination in your kitchen.


Calories: 705kcalCarbohydrates: 31gProtein: 30gFat: 51gSaturated Fat: 11gPolyunsaturated Fat: 8gMonounsaturated Fat: 30gTrans Fat: 0.1gCholesterol: 116mgSodium: 911mgPotassium: 536mgFiber: 2gSugar: 24gVitamin A: 1562IUVitamin C: 3mgCalcium: 54mgIron: 3mg
Keyword Baked Chicken, BBQ, BBQ Chicken, Frozen Chicken, Grilled Chicken, Grilling, Marinating Chicken, Seasoning Chicken, Thawing Chicken
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