Can you freeze rotisserie chicken? You can easily freeze and shred this pre-cooked chicken! Here is a step-by-step guide.
Using rotisserie chicken for meals is a hack that has saved my sanity on occasion. I don’t have to deal with raw chicken or the extra cooking time.
Whether it’s a Costco rotisserie chicken (Which is HUGE) or one from your local grocery store, these fully-cooked birds can help you make a super quick dinner. When I see one that’s marked down to a great deal, I try to grab it!
If you find that you have too much chicken than you can eat in a few days, you can totally freeze rotisserie chicken! While I’ve never frozen a whole chicken, I’ll give you my step-by-step process of how I freeze the meat and how to use the leftover chicken for future meals.
Why can’t you just cook your own chicken?
I ask myself this question sometimes. I mean, does it really take that much time to cook raw meat?
The truth is, I do both. And it depends on how much energy I have.
If I have the energy to cook, then I’ll cook raw chicken breast or thighs, or even a whole chicken, and it’s no big deal. But a store-bought rotisserie chicken is already cooked, has a delicious flavor, and can turn cooking from a chore to something I actually enjoy.
Does a rotisserie chicken cost more? Possibly, it depends. But I always say that you have to choose between saving time and saving money, and that can change from week to week. And it’s okay!
How to freeze a rotisserie chicken
Step 1: Remove the meat from the bones
This step is actually easier if the chicken is still warm. Use a knife, forks, or your fingers to cut or shred into smaller pieces.
If you’re more of a zero food waste family, you can keep the bones to make a chicken broth.
Step 2: Separate into portions
The portion size depends on how much you use per meal.
In my experience, 3 cups of shredded chicken is enough for a dinner that makes 4-6 servings. I typically separate into 3 cup portions, which equals about a pound of chicken. But divide it how you think best for your family. You could even freeze them in individual portions for quick meals, like a single-serve chicken salad.
Step 3: Place into freezer bags
Once the chicken has cooled to room temperature, place the shredded meat in quart-sized ziploc bags. I can comfortably fit a 3-cup portion into the quart size. Squeeze as much air as you can out of the bags- A vacuum sealer would be great for this!
Alternatively, you can place the chicken in an airtight container that’s meant for the freezer.
Step 4: Label and date the bags
This step is most important! I have ADHD, so as soon as something goes in the freezer I forget what it is and even that it’s in there in the first place.
Write down what’s in the bag and the date that you’re freezing it. This will help you use the right foods in the right order.
How to prevent freezer burn
Freezer burn is nasty stuff! It’ll take a delicious meal and turn it into yucky ice crystals. Here’s what you can do to prevent it as much as possible:
- Use up the food within 3 months of freezing for best results. The longer it’s in the freezer, the more chance it has of getting freezer burn.
- Place the food as far back into the freezer as you can. Every time you open the door, warm air gets in and slightly thaws whatever is up in front.
- Squeeze out any excess air from the bags. The less air there is, the less chance of freezer burn.
How to thaw the chicken
The best way to thaw frozen rotisserie chicken is to place the bag in the fridge overnight. This will safely thaw the chicken, although it does take the longest. ADHD tip: I keep track of what’s for dinner each night, and I’ll make a note to myself to get food out of the freezer the night before.
You can also place the bag in a bowl of cold water and change out the water every 30 minutes to make sure it stays cold. I don’t like this method because it involves constant vigilance… which my brain just won’t do.
For food safety reasons, don’t just let the bag sit on the counter for hours! This is a great way to invite bacterial growth and other nasty things you probably don’t want to eat.
Also: Eat it within a couple of days to make sure it’s at its freshest.
What to do with leftover rotisserie chicken
You can use rotisserie chicken in any recipe that uses shredded chicken! This speeds up the cooking process so you can spend less time in the kitchen.
Here are some of my favorite ways to use this chicken:
- Chicken and noodles over mashed potatoes
- Slow cooker chicken mushroom and wild rice soup
- Crustless chicken pot pie
- Easy chicken salad
Jaime is a Nutrition Coach and professional writer. She enjoys cooking easy meals, running, and learning more about food.
Jaime specializes in helping women with ADHD learn to meal plan and cook healthier meals without getting overwhelmed.