There are many "foil" meal recipes online that are quick and easy. http://www.bettycrocker.com/menus-holidays-parties/mhplibrary/recipes/15-foil-pack-favorites

However, they all have cooking times based on the ingredients being thawed. I would like to make these meals and then freeze them for later use. Is there a good method for determining the proper cook time in an oven for frozen ingredients compared to thawed?


2 Answers 2


I think your best solution will be to thaw them before you cook them and then follow the same time and temperature settings (unless the contents start out hot, which they do in some cases). As long as you remember move them to the fridge in the morning or the evening before, they should be defrosted enough by the time dinner comes around.

Cooking raw meat from frozen is not (in my opinion) a good idea. The outside will start defrosting and cooking long before the inside even defrosts, which means you're likely going to have issues with very undercooked centers of your food... which is particularly an issue with chicken. And, even if you do wait to take it off the grill until the chicken is fully cooked through, the outside will likely be overcooked and unpalatable.


I'm not authoritative on this matter and haven't tried making the foil packets you linked to. However, if you can ensure that the meat has fully thawed all the way through prior to starting the timer for the time specified by the recipe, then it should be good.

Additionally, depending on the way you're cooking, you might have to worry about cooking the outsides before the insides. Because the recipe for your foil packets says to seal the packet, this should help somewhat with cooking evenly. However, there are two issues with this method. If you try to open the package to see if it had thawed yet, you will interrupt the cooking process. Also, using a grill increases the chance that the outside of the foil's contents will cook and get burnt before the insides start cooking. You did mention baking in an oven. If your food is in a covered pot in the oven at a lower temperature (e.g., if the recipe calls for 350°F this is considered lower), the meat should cook more evenly.

From my personal experience just now, I had bought 1.5lb of chicken (boneless, skinnless thighs) at the supermarket and was disappointed to find it fully frozen when I opened the package at home due to how it was fridgerated while on display. My recipe calls for a covered pan in the oven at 350°F for 1 hour followed by uncovered for 15 minutes. I decided to wait to start my timer until after I had verified it was thawed and take notes for the future (this supermarket tends to have half-frozen chicken like this). I checked every 15 minutes by prodding the meat with a fork. After 30 minutes, it was no longer frozen, so I started my timer for baking at that point. Thus, I went from 1.25 hours to 1.75 hours.

From this blog which addresses cooking pieces of chicken individually on a tray rather than in a pan and using a temperature of 425°F, the author added 10-15 minutes to a recipe calling for 20-30 minutes. The author also says:

Bake the chicken breasts for 50 percent longer than they would normally take. Unfrozen chicken breasts usually take 20-30 minutes at 350ºF. So for frozen, you’re looking at 30-45 minutes. It depends on the size of the chicken breast though, really.

The author's guideline of adding an extra 50% time in the oven applied to my situation would have directed me to cook my chicken for a total of 1.875 hours, a bit over my total actual baking time of 1.75 hours. So this might be a good starting point.

However, I am not a food safety expert or scientist and these things all depend on what exactly you're cooking, etc. None of my experience or research findings apply to grilling foil packets. Even the recipes you referenced at Betty Crocker mention that you need to cook “until juice of chicken is clear when center of thickest part is cut (at least 165°F).”—it doesn't claim that their suggested cook times are guaranteed to be sufficient.

I am submitting this answer here just because you mention oven/baking times and I had an experience to share regarding that.

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