Gabriel Woods
Published by Gabriel Woods
Last Updated On: July 21, 2023

Since I began wholeheartedly embracing a meat-dominant diet, the frustration of meticulously planning ahead to defrost meat has been mounting.

That’s when it occurred to me that maybe I could grill frozen meat, and chicken seemed like the most straightforward choice.

I checked to see what the USDA had to say about grilling frozen chicken and talked to my local pitmaster about how to grill it.

Read on to find out.

Quick Summary

  • Grilling frozen chicken is safe for breasts, wings, and drumsticks.
  • Grilling frozen meat parts increases your cooking time by half.
  • Cook chicken to an internal temperature of 165°F before eating.

Can You Grill Frozen Chicken?

frozen chicken on wooden board

Yes, you can grill frozen chicken, but be sure it's cooked properly, as you will need to change your regular cooking process and increase the cooking time.

Stick to smaller parts like wings or drumsticks while grilling chicken because cooking huge pieces of frozen meat is not recommended.

The possibility of food poisoning might grow even with a tiny amount of undercooked chicken [1].

Additionally, you must lower the cooking temperature by 20%. The bird will cook evenly without the outside charring and the inside being raw, thanks to the extended cooking time and lower heat.

Best Chicken Parts to Grill Frozen

The smaller chicken pieces are the easiest to cook thoroughly without burning outside, making them the superior option.

Chicken wings, drumsticks, thighs, breasts, and tenders are safer and more accessible to grill than whole frozen chickens.

Additionally, remember that boneless chicken breasts and thighs will cook quicker; therefore, select boneless chicken portions if possible.

Generally, it's also safer to cook frozen chicken when sliced into thinner pieces because heat will reach the middle of the meat much more quickly.

5 Steps to Grilling Frozen Chicken

a photo of grilled chicken thighs

Follow these steps to grill frozen chicken.

1. Prepare the Chicken

Pat the chicken dry to prevent any flare-ups brought on by the chicken's surface's excessive dampness.

Add oil and your preferred seasonings to the meat to season it. Leave the chicken for about 30 minutes with the ingredients.

2. Preheat the Grill

As I already indicated, you must reduce the grill's temperature by 20% when using frozen chicken. Preheat your grill for 10 minutes at 280 degrees.

3. Space Out the Chicken

Crowding the pieces together is the last thing you should do when cooking frozen chicken.

They will take longer to cook, and there is a higher chance that the chicken will cook unevenly.

Make sure to position the thinner portions of the chicken breast away from the direct heat if you're trying to grill frozen chicken breast.

Watch out so they don't get burned because these parts will cook first.

4. Cook

grilled chicken wings on the flaming grill

Grill frozen chicken breasts on indirect heat because direct heat will burn the chicken without cooking it at the center.

For a chicken breast that has been entirely frozen, the total grilling time will be extended by half [2].

So, when the chicken is frozen, the typical cooking time of 10 minutes must be increased to 15 minutes.

In my experience, grilling frozen chicken wings takes up to 40 minutes. The process will take longer if you grill frozen chicken breasts and thighs.

Let the grilled chicken finish cooking halfway before flipping it.

I recommend brushing your grilled chicken with cooking oil or a marinade made of fat to seal the meat's exterior and stop moisture from evaporating.

Read More: How to Cook Chicken

5. Check Internal Temperature

A meat thermometer is the best tool to check the internal temperature. It is critical to ensure the chicken's internal temperature is 165°F [3].

You must continue grilling frozen chicken breast if it has not yet achieved the desired temperature.

"Salmonellosis and other highly unpleasant gastrointestinal issues can be contracted by eating even slightly undercooked chicken."
- Centers for Disease Control & Prevention

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Barbecuing Frozen Chicken 

Barbecuing Frozen Chicken on a white plate

You can also grill chicken while adding barbecue sauce.

Before applying the barbecue sauce, I suggest letting your frozen grilled chicken breast cook for a short while until it's cooked.

If you add the sauce too soon and the grilled chicken is not nearly done and has to simmer longer, the sauce could burn.

Add the barbecue sauce on one side of the chicken after it is almost done.

After giving it time to set, turn the chicken over and spoon the sauce on the opposite side.

Remove them from the grill once they are done, and allow them to cool before cutting them into strips or chunks.

Serve with sides like french fries, pasta salad, or any preferred dipping sauce.

3 Best Ways to Thaw Chicken

photo of chickens in a sealed bag

If you’re still unsure about grilling frozen chicken and want to defrost it a bit, follow these methods.

1. In the Fridge

Thawing chicken in the fridge is the slowest and safest approach. Plan on thawing the chicken in the refrigerator for 24 hours for every 4 pounds of raw chicken.

Chicken pieces you frequently freeze should be divided into smaller chunks for quicker thawing.

2. Cold Water Method

The process of thawing in cold water is much quicker than thawing in the refrigerator.

The chicken should be kept in its original packaging if undamaged or put in a ziploc bag and a cold water bowl.

Change the water every 30 minutes to quicken the procedure drastically. If you're working with smaller pieces, it takes 90 minutes to thaw.

3. Microwave Method

a photo of a hand adjusting the microwave

This method is recommended for chicken wings since it has less meat around the bone and will defrost quickly.

If you choose to use it, thaw your chicken in a microwave-safe bowl using the defrost setting.

Flip the meat frequently while heating it briefly.

Any sections of the meat that are turning white indicate that it is beginning to cook, so you need to be okay with losing a bit of quality in your chicken.


Can I Grill a Partially Frozen Chicken?

Yes, you can grill a partially frozen chicken, but you'll need to use a meat thermometer to check whether it's reached a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 before taking it off the grill.

Is Grilling Frozen Chicken without Defrosting Bad?

No, grilling frozen chicken without defrosting isn't bad, but you'll need to adjust your cooking time and temperature to ensure you get a thoroughly cooked chicken that is safe to eat.

What's the Quickest Way to Defrost Chicken Before Grilling?

Cold water defrosting is the quickest way to defrost smaller pieces of chicken before grilling. But when it comes to a whole frozen chicken, consider popping it in the fridge or cooler.

Is Grilling Frozen Chicken a Good Idea?

Grilling frozen chicken can only be safe if you follow the necessary steps; otherwise, you'll be at risk of food poisoning.

Be sure to thaw your whole frozen chicken because grilling frozen ones is only safe for small chicken parts like breasts, wings, or drumsticks.

Remember that the quality of your chicken matters.

Always purchase chicken from sources that adhere to safe handling and guidelines, like ButcherBox.

ButcherBox is an online meat delivery service that is USDA-certified and follows the latest sustainable practices, sourcing from local farms that don’t feed animals any GMOs and antibiotics.

If you want to learn more about them, make sure to read ButcherBox by going to our homepage.


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