How To Tell If The Frozen Chicken Went Bad? (4 Simple Ways)

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So you’ve just been to the market and came home with more chicken meat than you needed to prepare your meal. What can you do with the leftovers? Of course, storing the chicken in the freezer for a couple of months seems like a good idea. But will it still be fresh after that?

As a matter of fact, there are specific and easy ways to tell if the chicken has gone bad or expired. Today, I am going to break down all these methods for you. Whether you are dealing with cooked or frozen chicken, this article will teach you how to notice possible rotten signs. So, without any further ado, let’s start!

4 Simple Ways To Tell Frozen Chicken Has Rotten

There are several straightforward ways to notice if the frozen chicken needs to go to the trash. Even if it has been wrapped and stored correctly in the freezer, chicken does not have perfect immunity to expiring. Keep a close eye on all these red flags; if you notice any of these issues, it might be time to pitch the batch.

Changes In Color

Good frozen chicken should have this lovely pink color throughout; however, when it’s not food anymore, you immediately notice the meat turns slightly gray. On top of that, the fat on the frozen chicken has a particular white color too. These shades will change when the chicken becomes uneatable. You will immediately notice red flags when the chicken sprouts yellow patches on the meat and fat surface. If you see an overall gray undertone, you should stop consuming it. Therefore, be careful and look for any of these signs before you start cooking the meat.

The Smell Is Bad

Much like any other type of food, the smell is a top indicator of freshness. Smelling your chicken is an inspired way to check if the meat is still fresh. Although it is not pleasant to closely sniff out any discrepancies, the good news is that this effortless method will fastly determine whether you can eat or not the next dinner. The rotten raw chicken comes with a penetrating smell, quite similar to rotten eggs. Simply put, you will immediately if something is wrong.

The Chicken Meat Is Slimy

You may have heard about other foods that go slimy when they turn bad. Naturally, it applies to frozen chicken as well. This being said, if you touch the chicken’s surface and feel it a bit slimy, this might signal that the meat needs to be tossed.

Raw chicken that has been defrosted in the fridge should have this natural moisture on the surface, while expired meat will be a bit slimy. If you wash the meat and feel it’s slimy, well, then you know it’s time to throw it away.

The Expiration Date Has Already Pasts

This point of view should be crystal clear, but many individuals push the limits and still consume the chicken, although it has passed the expiration date. Though plenty of people have already done this, often, they end up suffering from stomachache when the chicken has technically expired. I cannot stop you from eating that chicken, but at least I can warn you to keep an eye out for the red flags.

How To Store Chicken In The Freezer Efficiently?

According to USDA, you can keep the uncooked whole chicken in the freezer for a long period, up to one year. If you prefer to store chopped meat instead, it will resist only nine months. After this period, you should consider throwing it. On the other hand, you cannot store the cooked chicken for so long unless you keep it in the freezer.

Proper storage would extend the freshness and quality of the meat and prevent freezer burn. Plastic-wrapped containers are penetrable to air and may alter the characteristics of meat. On the other hand, USDA recommends overwrapping the original plastic-wrapped container using a layer of aluminum foil.

Defrosting Chicken Like Pro

  • According to USDA, the safest and most effective way to defrost chicken is by using the refrigerator method. Nevertheless, you may need some planning ahead.
    Here is what you need to do: just transfer the frozen chicken from the freezer into the fridge and leave it at least 24 hours before cooking it. Once defrosted, you can store the meat in the fridge for a day or so and then cook it. You can also refreeze it before eating. Keep in mind that its quality will diminish a lot.
  • Another effortless way to defrost the chicken meat is by sinking it in cold water. This method is quicker but requires more attention and patience.
    How to do it: To complete this step, fill a large bowl of cold water and submerge the frozen chicken. Make sure you keep the meat in a leak-proof package. Small packages will defrost faster. On the other hand, a three-pound chicken will be ready to cook in two or three hours. Refresh the water as the meat thaw. When fully defrosted, the meat must be cooked as soon as possible.
    The healthiest and safest method to defrost chicken is by the fridge and water method. If none of these ways suits you, use the microwave technique as a last resort.
  • The most time-wise method to defrost chicken is the microwave one. Unlike the other techniques, this involves removing the chicken from the original packaging and placing the meat in an oven cooking bag.
    A covered microwave-safe container will work as well. After placing the meat in the microwave, set it at a medium-high temperature and “cook” it for a maximum of ten minutes/pound.
    Like the cold water method, defrosted chicken in the microwave may lose a bit of its taste and should be cooked once thawed.

Although cooking foods from their frozen state is not toxic, the USDA claims that cooking frozen chicken will take around 50 percent longer than cooking fully thawed chicken.


Before we wrap things up, let’s look at the most frequently asked questions regarding raw chicken and see if some of them match your own.

Q: May chicken spoil in the freezer?

A: As discussed earlier, if packed individually, the raw chicken will stay safe in the freezer for more than half a year. On the other hand, entire chickens may remain fine in the freezer for up to one year. On the contrary, if you store cooked chicken instead, you may expect it to stay fine for 2-6 months in the freezer.

Q: Can frozen chicken breast be rotten?

A: According to the United States Department of Agriculture, chicken that has been refrigerated at 0 degrees Fahrenheit can be safely consumed. All the germs that may cause food poisoning are killed by freezing, including yeasts, molds, or any bacteria present in the food. The only bad thing that may happen to your chicken is that if kept in the freezer for an extended period, it will lose its quality.

Q: Is it safe to consume chicken that already smells bad?

A: Luckily, if you eat chicken that smells a bit, you won’t become sick from it. Although it may sound contradictory, meat with a strange smell is safe to eat if cooked properly; however, it depends on the type of bacteria present. If you have a sensitive stomach and digestion, you should best not consume chicken that smells bad.

Q: What about vacuum-sealed chicken? Should you consume it if it smells?

A: If you have ever got some vacuum-sealed chicken from a food delivery service and experienced an egg-like or sulfur smell when you open it, do not worry. It doesn’t mean the meat has rotten. A small part of the vacuum sealing process implies removing the excess air. The consequence of this process is the rotten egg-type smell. The smell will disappear almost entirely if you leave the meat outside for a few minutes or rinse the chicken off.

Remember that this smell is typical for vacuum-sealed meat. If you are averse to this smell, you should probably stop consuming the meat.

Final Words – How To Safely Prepare Chicken?

Every time you deal with poultry, you should remember that Salmonella is one of the main culprits in food poisoning illnesses. After you have checked the meat and if it is safe to consume, follow these steps:

  • Never leave the chicken to sit too long at room temperature.
  • Always cook the meat to at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Permanently check the internal temperature of the chicken before taking it out from the stove or oven. A meat thermometer should always stay in the kitchen.
  • Cooked chicken should not stay out for more than 2 hours. Serve it immediately, or cool it down and refrigerate. Respect this 2-hour window for eating safe meat.

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