FREEZING AND DEFROSTING POULTRY
Freeze fresh chicken or turkey if you do not plan on cooking it within 2 days of purchase date. If kept frozen
continuously, it will be safe indefinitely however for best quality freeze and use within 6 to 12 months. If freezing
chicken for longer than 2 months, it's best to over wrap the porous store plastic packages with an airtight heavy-duty
foil or plastic wrap or freezer paper, or place the package inside a freezer bag.
When purchasing fully cooked rotisserie or fast food, be sure it is hot at the time of purchase. Use it within two hours
or cut it into several pieces and refrigerate it in shallow, covered containers. Eat within 3 or 4 days, either cold or
reheated to 165 degrees F (hot and steaming). It is safe to freeze ready-prepared chicken. For best quality, flavor
and texture, use within 4 months.
Never thaw at room temperature on the counter, as bacteria can multiply rapidly, leading to
potential food poisoning. Don't refreeze thawed chicken or turkey.
Microwave: Thaw frozen uncooked and cooked poultry safely and quickly in the microwave following the
manufacturer's directions. Turn chicken and separate parts as they thaw, so that the chicken doesn't begin to cook.
Refrigerator: Thaw frozen uncooked and cooked poultry gradually in the refrigerator. Place poultry in a dish or
baking pan with sides to prevent leaking during the thawing period. A 4 lb. frozen chicken will thaw in approximately
24 hours; cut-up parts require 3 to 9 hours, depending on the size and number of parts. A 15 lb. turkey will take 3
days to defrost in the refrigerator. For frozen turkeys, allow 5 hours per pound when defrosting in the refrigerator.
Sink or deep pan of cold water: Thaw frozen uncooked poultry by completely covering with cold water. Change
the water every 30 minutes to keep it cold. Keep poultry in its original wrapper during thawing, or place in a
resealable, heavy-duty plastic bag. Allow 30 minutes per pound to thaw. A 15 lb. turkey will take 7 to 8 hours with
• Keep freezer at 0 degrees F (-17 degrees C).
• Do not crowd the items in your freezer. The freezer operates more
efficiently when it is about 2/3 full.
• When freezing, cool foods quickly by placing in a large pan or sink filled
with ice water, then divide into smaller portions that will freeze quickly.
• Use freezer paper, freezer bags, aluminum foil or other moisture proof,
airtight containers. Remove as much air from the bag or container as
possible. If freezing liquids, allow a little extra room for expansion.
• Label leftovers with information such as contents, a "use by date",
reheating instructions and the number of servings.
• Leftovers should not be left at room temperature for 2 hours or longer
• If making "do-ahead" dishes that will be baked, frozen and then
reheated for a later time: Slightly seasoning just before
• Add crumb and cheese toppings to frozen foods just before reheating.