Q. I’m hosting a big dinner party in a few weeks, and I’m trying to get as much advance prep done as I can. I work long hours and don’t want to spend hours preparing food the day of the party. I’ve already made and frozen a few casseroles, but I’m debating about what to do with the chicken. I’m making marinated chicken and would like to prepare it ahead of time and then freeze the chicken, then bake it the day of the party. I’m afraid that freezing the chicken will dry it out too much. Can you freeze marinated chicken?
A. If you’re starting with fresh, chilled marinated chicken breasts that have not been previously frozen, the answer is yes. Freezing meat dries it out somewhat, but freezing marinated meat will help seal in moisture and flavour. It’s a great way to prepare meals in advance by doing all the hard work ahead of time and then simply placing the chicken in the oven when ready to eat.
How to freeze marinated chicken?
To freeze marinated chicken, start with the freshest chicken you can find. Ensure that it has been kept refrigerated, and preferably has not been previously frozen. Add the marinade to the chicken according to your favourite recipe, and allow the meat to marinate for the required amount of time. Keep in mind that marinades that contain milk or dairy will have a tendency to separate when frozen, so it may be best to freeze marinades that don’t contain dairy products.
To freeze, place a freezer bag in a large bowl and fold the edges over the side. Using tongs, place chicken into the freezer bag. Pour in the marinade. Then, pull the freezer bag off the sides of the bowl. Squeeze out the excess air, then seal and label the bag. Lay the bag on its side and smooth out the chicken so that it freezes in its original shape. Frozen marinated chicken should be used within four months of freezing for best results.
To thaw frozen marinated chicken, remove the chicken from the freezer and allow to thaw in the fridge for several hours or overnight. Once the chicken is thawed, pour it out of the freezer bag and into a casserole dish and cook according to the recipe. If the chicken is not thawed completely, allow for some additional cooking time. It is not recommended to refreeze marinated chicken that has been previously frozen.