Marinading chicken in a jerk spice rub is one of the best ways to boost your chicken’s flavour. But marinading takes time, so is there a way you can get ahead and freeze jerk chicken?
Can You Freeze Jerk Chicken?
Yes, you can freeze jerk chicken for up to 9 months. Marinade the chicken as you normally would before bagging it up and popping it in the freezer. It must be fully thawed before being cooked.
Does Jerk Chicken Freeze Well? Yes
Can You Refreeze Jerk Chicken? No
How to Freeze Jerk Chicken
I’m going to focus on freezing jerk chicken that is not cooked. The reason is that this is the best way to save time. You can marinade your chicken and then have it ready to go and loaded with flavour:
- Prepare the Marinade and Chicken
Prepare your jerk marinade according to your recipe, then add the chicken, making sure it’s fully coated with the marinade.
- Marinate the Chicken
Let the chicken marinate in the fridge for at least 2 hours, or up to 24 hours if time allows. The longer you marinate, the stronger the flavour will be.
- Prepare for Freezing
Transfer the marinated chicken pieces into freezer-safe bags. This is far more efficient in terms of space in the freezer.
- Remove Excess Air
Squeeze out as much air as you can from the freezer bags before sealing them, or use a vacuum sealer if you have one.
- Label the Bags
Write the date and the contents on each bag or container with a permanent marker. This helps ensure that you use the chicken while it’s still at its best quality.
Place the bags or containers in the freezer.
When you’re ready to cook the chicken, you must thaw it in the refrigerator overnight (more on this below). Plan ahead, as this can take up to 24 hours, depending on the size and thickness of the chicken pieces.
Yes, you can freeze cooked jerk chicken. Simply allow it to cool completely, then store it in airtight, freezer-safe containers or bags before placing it in the freezer.
Marinade in the Bag
Use a resealable freezer bag instead of marinating your chicken in a bowl. Not only does this save on dishes, but you can also directly freeze the chicken in the same bag, minimizing the loss of any marinade and flavour.
How Long Can You Freeze Jerk Chicken?
Uncooked jerk chicken that has been properly stored in a sealed freezer bag can remain in the freezer for up to 9 months.
During this period, the chicken should maintain most of its original quality and flavour thanks to the protective nature of the marinade. After 9 months, the quality may slowly degrade due to freezer burn.
Remember, always label your frozen items with the date of freezing to help keep track of their storage duration.
If the jerk chicken is cooked and you’re looking to freeze leftovers then you’ll want to keep them in the freezer for up to 3 months only.
Uncooked jerk chicken, marinated and properly stored in the fridge, should be used within 1 to 2 days. Cooked jerk chicken, when properly stored in an airtight container, can last for up to 3 to 4 days.
How Do You Defrost Jerk Chicken?
As drumsticks and thighs are the chosen cuts for jerk, I’m going to stick with those in terms of defrosting. But, the method below will work for all cuts of chicken:
- Thaw in the Fridge
Transfer the frozen marinated chicken from the freezer to the fridge. It’s the safest way to thaw meat because it keeps the meat out of the “danger zone”. This process can take up to 24 hours, depending on the size and thickness of the chicken pieces.
- Cook Thoroughly
Once thawed, preheat your grill, oven, or stove. Cook your jerk chicken drumsticks and thighs at medium heat to allow the chicken to cook all the way through without burning the outside. The chicken is done when it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F or 74°C).
- Rest Before Serving
Once the chicken is cooked, allow it to rest for a few minutes before serving. This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat.
Yes, you can defrost jerk chicken in the microwave using its defrost function. However, you should cook it immediately after thawing to prevent bacterial growth.
Can You Refreeze Jerk Chicken?
Generally, you cannot refreeze jerk chicken.
Each time food is frozen, thawed, and then refrozen, the quality can degrade. This is due to ice crystals that form during freezing, leading to changes in the texture and potentially causing the meat to dry out.
However, there is an exception to this. You can refreeze jerk chicken once it has been cooked, even if the raw chicken was previously frozen.
Does Jerk Chicken Freeze Well?
Jerk chicken, both cooked and uncooked, generally freezes well.
Uncooked Jerk Chicken
When you marinate jerk chicken and then freeze it, the marinade continues to penetrate and flavour the chicken during the freezing process, leading to a well-seasoned and frankly delicious final result once cooked.
However, as with all meats, the texture might change slightly due to the formation of ice crystals.
Cooked Jerk Chicken
Cooked jerk chicken also freezes well; having a meal ready to heat up at a moment’s notice can be very convenient.
It’s worth noting, however, that while freezing doesn’t affect the chicken’s safety or nutritional value, it can lead to a slight change in texture and a marginal reduction in flavour quality over time.
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