How to Marinate Frozen Chicken

Marinades coat your chicken with flavor while the acids help tenderize the meat and keep it juicy as it cooks. Since frozen chicken should be thawed before you cook it and thawing safely takes time, adding the marinade to the frozen chicken kills two birds with one stone. As the outer layer of the chicken defrosts, the marinade will penetrate the meat. If you plan on marinating frozen chicken, you'll need to take precautions to do that it safely to minimize the risk of foodborne illness caused by bacteria.

Marinating chicken with fruit juices. (Image: Elena Elisseeva/iStock/Getty Images)

Step 1

Place the frozen chicken pieces into one or more freezer bags. Leave enough room on the bags for the chicken and the marinade, plus room for the marinade to get to the chicken on all sides.

Step 2

Add your pre-mixed marinade to the plastic bag or bags. Mix the marinade together before adding because it's more difficult to mix it in the bag when the chicken pieces are frozen.

Step 3

Shake and massage the bags so the marinade get to all sides of the chicken.

Step 4

Place the bags of chicken in the refrigerator.Arrange the bags so the chicken gets the most coverage from the marinade.

Step 5

Allow the chicken to marinate in the refrigerator until it's defrosted.

Step 6

Use the chicken within 24 hours for the best flavor and texture. You can safely store the chicken in the marinade for up to two days.


If you're not going to use the chicken right away, you can place it in the freezer bag, add the marinade and then place it back into the freezer. When you plan to use the chicken, take it out and let it defrost in the refrigerator. Use it within 2 days.

Experiment with different marinades to create different flavor combinations. A good marinade starts with some oil and an acid. Acids can include citrus juices or one of the many different types of vinegar. To that, add your favorite flavors such as garlic, herbs, mustard, mashed avocado or simply salt and pepper.


Since the marinade touched raw chicken, you can't eat it or use it in sauces unless it's been cooked to 165 degrees F.

Never marinate in a metal bowl, as the marinade could react with the metal and run the flavor of your chicken.

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