I would like to be able to take meat (e.g. a whole chicken) out of the fridge in the morning (6am) and put it in a oven that is set to turn on approximately 10 hours later, so its ready (or mostly ready) when I arrive home from work (4/5pm).

This is obviously not safe to do without some sort of chilling. Is it possible to use something like ice in or around the meat to keep it cool during the day?

I was thinking of using stock ice cubes (frozen stock), inside the cavity of the bird. Hoping it would melt during the day, keeping it safely cold but not impairing the flavour. My alternative idea is a block of ice under the (metal) baking tray but this would be harder to arrange.

Is this (or similar) a safe idea?

2 Answers 2


In simple terms, meat is safe either at fridge temperatures or cooking temperatures. You cannot leave meat out all day in a switched-off oven, which is essentially room temperature: 2 hours at room temp is the maximum recommended time throughout the meat's lifetime.

Your various suggested methods of cooling involving ice are impractical at best and unsafe at worst. You might keep the inside of the chicken cool if you put ice inside, but what about the outer parts? Also, what would happen to all the water left behind by the ice as it melts?

Seeing as you can't keep the meat at room temperature and you can't practicably keep it cool, I suggest you instead cook it: get a slow cooker (they are very inexpensive), use joints suitable for slow cooking (such as thigh), put it on in the morning, and your chicken will be fall-off-the-bone tender, and safe, when you get back from work.

If you want to have both white and dark meat, joint the chicken (really not that hard - or your butcher could do it), cook the legs/thighs as above, and keep the breasts in the fridge. When you get home, roast the breasts in the oven while you are preparing vegetables or getting changed or whatever, and you have a whole bird cooked and ready to go.

  • It was late and I was tired. Edited. Commented May 24, 2014 at 5:53
  • +1 for chicken thighs as potential candidates for slow cooking. They are very forgiving which is important in a slow cooker environment. I ate a thigh this evening that read 195 degrees (F) when I pulled it out of my slow cooker (before carryover). I thought for sure it would be practically jerky but it was surprisingly moist even at that high temp.
    – Preston
    Commented Jun 2, 2014 at 6:09

No, there isn't a way to make this safe. Even if you pack the chicken in ice, it's not going to stay safely chilled. You could make it somewhat safer by starting with a frozen chicken, but even that would be unsafe according to all reputable sources.

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