Frozen chicken - How long?

Hey SV friends!

How long do I need to cook FROZEN chicken breasts?
I usually use the Anova guide (1hour for 150F) - but how long if its frozen?

Thanks for the help :slight_smile:

No need to shout Pascal, we get it.
They are frozen.

You don’t share the thickness or format of those capitalized-frozen chicken breasts so we will give a few guesses for you to ponder. If they are little boneless-skinless ones, about an inch thick and fairly flat, add an hour and a half to the cooking time. If you are working with larger bone-in chicken breasts with skin, about 2 inches thick , i’d add 4 hours. If you have the frozen pumped chicken breasts (aka seasoned), i wouldn’t know.

Cooking chicken breasts from frozen is about the meanest thing you can do to them, except maybe grilling them directly over a high flame.

I’m curious as to why? I understand that the texture of the meat suffers a bit from being frozen, but I don’t think it would totally ruin things?

Also curious as to why so much extra time when cooking from frozen. I would have thought that an extra hour would be plenty? If the meat goes from fridge temperature to 150 ºF in an hour, I would expect it go from freezer temperature to fridge temperature in about the same amount of time?

I’m asking because I’m genuinely interested, not to argue. The only thing I’ve cooked from frozen so far was a rib eye steak. I had that in the water for two hours, and it turned out fine.

My personal guideline is to add 50% extra cooking time vs. the non-frozen equivalent. So if I’d cook for 3 hours normally, the cook time for starting from frozen would be 3 + 1.5 = 4 hours and 30 mins. Seems to work for me so far!

The rule of thumb is 150% of time to cook from frozen on short cooks.

Thanks everyone! Appreciate your help.

So lets say I used the App guidelines…1h for 150F - i just keep the chicken an extra 30min the water after timer ended?

Michi, as to the total cooking time, as i understand there’s several special situations happening in a thaw-cook technique. Mostly it’s all about energy.

Most significant is the very substantial amount of energy input required to raise a product from 32F frozen to 32F thawed. Or 0C to 0C on most of this planet. It’s many times greater than the amount of energy required to raise the same product’s temperature from 32F to 33F.
IE: Hundreds X.
That’s why there’s such a big difference between frozen and refrigerated cooking times.
(I’ve been out of high school too long to remember the exact factor, but there are many really smart folks here that will likely help out.)

Recall that chicken has a high water content, so it’s like a big ice cube. Shape is also important in thawing. Flat products thaw slower than ball-shapes. And no, i don’t know why. They just do. I suspect it’s because both the surface and the density of the meat resist heat penetration. Obviously flat foods have more surface and heat resistance. And it’s the same as we have to repeat here so often, - thickness matters. It really does.

Now, here’s my position on chicken. You should know that i always want anything i serve to be as good as it can possibly be. It’s an infliction that’s become a life-long habit. To me “Good enough”, will never be as good as it can be. Adding a freeze-thaw cycle to most products causes moisture loss and a degraded product.

Of course you are correct, - using frozen product doesn’t totally ruin it. However in my experience it will never be as good as it could possibly be. That’s all.

As you know there is a fair degree of latitude in SV cooking, particularly with tender meats like your rib steak, so i am not surprised it turned out fine.

Thanks for asking so nicely.

I looked it up. It’s not quite “hundreds X”, but it’s substantial.

The amount of energy to turn ice at 0 ºC into water at 0 ºC is 334 Joule/g. The amount of energy required to increase the temperature of water by 1 ºC is 4.184 Joule/g. So, it’s a factor of just under 80.

In plain text: it takes about 80 times more energy to defrost a blob of ice such that it turns from ice into water than it does to raise the temperature of a blob of ice (or water) by 1 ºC. So, yes, that definitely explains the large increase in time when cooking something from frozen.

Thanks for pointing this out!

Interesting stuff - and not something with which I was even remotely familiar! Thank’s to both of you ( @michihenning and @chatnoir ) for the info!

Hey Pascal, what’s your source for the extra 30 minutes for those frozen chicken breasts of indeterminate size? I would find something to replace it.
KL’s advice isn’t specific enough to be useful either.

Folks, - thickness matters. Please, at least start planning your SV cooking with that fact.

You may not want to know this, but as an example it is going to take one-inch thick frozen chicken breasts about 1 3/4 hours to just reach your cooking temperature.
Then you can restart your timer for the cook.

Or, you can use Ember’s recommendation as an easy way to remember time adjustment approximations for frozen products.

Also, I’d recommend cooking chicken to pasteurisation. So, it’s a very thin chicken breast that would take only an hour.

I don’t find a need for freezing boneless, skinless chicken breasts. I buy them 6 to 8 in a package when they go on sale every few weeks, and cook them all, two breasts per quart bag. After sous vide cooking, and chilling in ice water, they’re fine for up to 3 weeks in the refrigerator, so long as the seal hasn’t been broken. Same for most of the 1 to 2 1/2 inch thick beef and pork items that I usually batch-cook sous vide (except rib-eyes, because we like them pretty rare, and I only cook what we’ll eat that night).

I try to avoid freezing meat and poultry, to preserve texture, except ground beef, if I’ve bought more than I’m going to use within a week. When I need to thaw a one pound chub (sausage-shaped package) of frozen ground beef for a non-sous vide dish, I put the chub in a ziplock bag and use cold water, adding enough ice periodically to keep it at 38F, to limit bacterial growth while thawing. With the Anova circulating cold water, it thaws in about 40 minutes, and it’s substantially thicker than a boneless chicken breast.