How Long to Boil Frozen Chicken Breast, Thighs, Legs?

How long to boil frozen chicken breast, thighs, or legs? Boiling frozen chicken is a safe and easy cooking method, but only if you know how long to boil it for. In this article, I’ll describe how long to boil frozen chicken and how to boil it perfectly every time.

How long does it take to boil frozen chicken? The time it takes to boil frozen, boneless chicken breast is about 15 to 20 minutes. The time it takes to boil frozen, bone-in chicken breast, legs, or thighs is about 30 to 40 minutes.

The boiling time is about double for the bone-in chicken vs the boneless chicken. This is because it takes longer for bones to thaw and heat up. Of course, smaller parts of the chicken will take less time to boil than larger parts.

Another good rule of thumb is that frozen chicken takes about double the time to boil compared to thawed chicken.

It’s also important to know how long to boil frozen chicken because of the possibility of bacterial contamination. Since it will obviously take longer to cook, you need to know when it is fully cooked to ensure that it is perfectly safe to eat.

Read on and learn more about how long to boil frozen chicken thighs, breasts, and legs without thawing it out first.

How Long to Boil Frozen Chicken Breast, Thighs, or Legs?

Thawing chicken out before cooking usually gives a better taste and texture to cooked chicken. However, if you are short on time or just don’t want to wait for it to thaw, you can certainly just cook frozen chicken without thawing it out. One of the best and easiest ways to cook frozen chicken is to boil it.

Boiling ensures even cooking through all parts of the chicken. When you bake or roast chicken in an oven, it might not cook evenly through the thick and thin parts of the chicken. When boiling, you don’t have to worry about this.

Just toss the frozen chicken pieces in your pot, saucepan, pressure cooker, or instant pot. Add some water or chicken broth, some vegetables, and spices. Turn on the heat and wait for the chicken dish to cook.

The question is, how long do you need to wait?

How long do you boil frozen chicken breast? If the frozen chicken breast is boneless, it will take about 20 to 30 minutes to cook while boiling. Boneless chicken legs are smaller, so they will cook a bit faster, and boneless thighs are bigger, so they will take a bit longer.

How long to boil frozen chicken thighs, legs, or breasts with the bones in? Bone-in chicken thighs, legs, or breasts will take about 30 to 40 minutes to cook while boiling. It takes longer for the bone-in chicken to boil because it takes longer for the bone to thaw and heat up.

To ensure the chicken is fully cooked, insert a thermometer into the meat. You’ll have perfectly cooked chicken meat if the temperature reads 165°F (75°C).

If you don’t have a thermometer, slice the chicken down to its inner parts. You can tell if it’s already cooked if the meat has turned whitish. If it is still pinkish, cook it some more.

Factors That Affect the Boiling Time of Frozen Chicken

The estimated boiling times of the frozen chicken pieces indicated in this article depend on several factors. That means they can be shorter and can also be longer. Here are the factors that affect the time required to boil frozen chicken.

1. Size of the Frozen Chicken Pieces

It is obvious that smaller chicken pieces will take a shorter time to boil or cook compared to larger chicken pieces. For instance, chicken thighs are larger than chicken drumsticks; thus, drumsticks will boil quicker than thighs.

how long does it take to boil frozen chicken

2. Amount of Frozen Chicken Pieces

The given estimates are only the average time it takes to boil frozen chicken in a reasonable quantity. In other words, these figures are relatively true if the amount of frozen chicken that you are boiling is not that many. So, if you are cooking a large batch of chicken all at once, you can expect to spend a long time waiting for the chicken to boil.

3. Boneless vs Bone-in Chicken

As previously mentioned in this article, the length of time to boil frozen chicken also depends on whether there are still bones in the chicken. Frozen bone-in chicken takes about twice as long to boil as boneless chicken.

4. Your Location

The place where you are boiling frozen chicken, believe it or not, will affect the time it will take to boil or cook it. Specifically, it is the altitude of the location that matters. In other words, boiling time is also dependent on the elevation of the place where you are boiling the frozen chicken.

The higher the place, the longer the boiling time will be, and vice versa. What’s the reason for this? Air is dryer in high altitudes; thus, moisture evaporates faster, stretching the boiling time. Even if you turn up the heat, the boiling time will still be longer.

There’s only a slight change in the boiling temperature of water at different altitudes. For example, at ground level, it boils at 212°F (100°C). At 1,000 ft. above sea level, it boils at 210°F (99°C).

Major differences only show up when you boil water at unbelievably high altitudes. At 10,000 ft. above sea level, water boils at 193°F (89.5°C). Even then, the difference is only minimal. But are there many people at this altitude who are boiling frozen chicken?

To compensate for high altitude cooking, add 5 to 7 minutes longer than the time required to boil frozen chicken. Moreover, you need to check the water level on the pot as the chicken is boiling. Evaporation is faster in higher altitudes, so you may need to add water as the chicken is boiling before it is fully cooked.

How to Boil Chicken

1. The Don’ts of Boiling Frozen Chicken

Avoid several things if you want to boil frozen chicken properly. Here are some of the don’ts.

Don’t Use a Slow Cooker

If you want to cook frozen chicken, you need to do it fast. Slow cookers can only cook food at a slow pace. They are not designed to cook frozen food. Of course, you can use it for cooking frozen food, but you will have problems with that.

The chicken meat could be harboring harmful microorganisms. So, you need to eliminate it quickly. If you cook frozen food slowly, these pathogens will multiply fast and contaminate the food. You may end up with cooked chicken that is unsafe to eat.

So don’t boil chicken in a slow cooker. Only use a pot, instant pot, or pressure cooker.

Don’t Use a Microwave

You can’t control a microwave oven’s temperature. There’s a risk of harmful bacteria multiplying inside the chicken while you’re cooking it. According to the USDA, frozen chicken meat is only safe to eat if its internal temperature after cooking is 165°F (75°C). Therefore, use the microwave only for thawing and not for cooking frozen food. And never boil frozen chicken in the microwave – only on the stovetop or in an instant pot or pressure cooker.

how long to boil frozen chicken breast

2. The Dos of Boiling Frozen Chicken

There are many ways you can boil frozen chicken. Here are some methods that will render frozen chicken safe to eat.

Use a Stovetop

The most common way to boil frozen chicken, or anything, is on the stovetop. You can safely boil frozen chicken on a stovetop.

To use the stovetop method safely, bring the water to a boil and then reduce the heat to a gentle boil or simmer. Simmering will gradually raise the meat’s temperature instead of subjecting it to a sudden change in temperature.

Use a Pressure Cooker or Instant Pot

Boiling frozen chicken will be faster with a pressure cooker or an Instant Pot. It will also prevent harmful pathogens from multiplying inside the chicken meat. You can boil about 3 to 4 frozen chicken breasts in an average-sized pressure cooker.

To make a complete chicken dish, add some spices to the water. Boil the chicken for 10 minutes. After that, release the pressure for about 2 minutes. It will also take approximately 10 minutes to boil and cook chicken thighs. However, bone-in chicken will take a bit longer to cook.

Now that we know how long to boil frozen chicken, let’s look at an easy, fast, and delicious recipe for boiling frozen chicken.

Recipe for Boiled Frozen Chicken

It is a big time-saver not to have to thaw frozen chicken before cooking. One of the best ways to cook frozen chicken is by boiling it.

How long to boil frozen chicken breasts, thighs, legs, or other parts? Typically, it takes about 15 to 20 minutes to boil boneless frozen chicken breast. It takes about 30 to 40 minutes to boil bone-in frozen chicken thighs, legs, or breasts.

It takes less time for smaller meat parts and more time for larger parts.

Here’s one recipe for boiling frozen chicken breasts that is very easy to make and tastes delicious.


  • 4 frozen boneless and skinless chicken breasts, separately frozen
  • 1 Tbsp. cooking oil (olive oil or vegetable oil)
  • 1-1/2 to 2 cups of chicken stock (or bouillon cubes dissolved in water)
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • Optional: sliced onion, bell peppers, carrots, and celery


  1. Sear the sides of the frozen chicking breast in a hot pan with a bit of oil. Salt and pepper them during this process. If you try seasoning the frozen chicken breasts before, the seasoning will just fall off.
  2. Pour in the stock into the pan, enough to cover the chicken breasts with a bit of room to spare.
  3. Bring to the boil, turn heat to medium, add a bit of water if needed, and any seasonings that you like.
  4. After about 15 to 20 minutes, use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of one of the chicken breasts. If the temperature reads 165 degrees Fahrenheit, then transfer the chicken breasts to a separate dish, pour in a little broth (enough to cover the bottom of the dish), and leave covered.
  5. Optional: If you like, you can now add sliced onions, peppers, carrots, and celery to the pan with the broth and sautee them until tender. This should only take about 5 minutes.
  6. Serve the chicken breasts and vegetables together.

Boiled Frozen Chicken Is Safe to Eat

One of the biggest advantages of cooking frozen chicken is that it is safer to handle than thawed chicken. There is less danger of pathogenic contamination with frozen chicken.

For example, bacteria such as Salmonella, which can be present in fresh and thawed chicken, can contaminate your kitchen counter while you are preparing it. These pathogens can multiply and spread quickly and then contaminate other food that you are preparing.

But with frozen chicken, the pathogens are frozen onto the chicken – until the chicken starts thawing out. When you toss the frozen chicken in the pot with water and boil it, it will kill all these harmful microorganisms. Rest assured that your frozen chicken is safe to eat if it is cooked right.

Just remember to boil the frozen chicken for long enough, and check the internal temperature with a thermometer to ensure the inside reads 165°F. It takes 15-20 minutes for boneless chicken and about 30-40 minutes for bone-in chicken.

Conclusion – How Long Does It Take to Boil Frozen Chicken? Breast, Thighs, Legs

So, to recap, how long to boil frozen chicken? The time it takes to boil frozen, boneless chicken breast is about 15 to 20 minutes. The time it takes to boil frozen, bone-in chicken breast, legs, or thighs is about 30 to 40 minutes.

So the boiling time is about double for the bone-in chicken vs the boneless chicken. This is because it takes longer for bones to thaw and heat up. Also, note that frozen chicken takes about double the time to boil as thawed chicken.

Now that you know how long to boil chicken as well as how to boil chicken, you will never have to thaw chicken out again if you don’t want to.

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Thawing Frozen Chicken in Hot Water