Abstract Scaffold-based tissue engineering has made great progress in fabricating relatively simple tissues. One of the major challenges in creating thick complex organs is to achieve sufficient nutrient supply as well as uniform cell distribution in a three-dimensional (3D) scaffold. Here we employed microstructured ice templates to fabricate silk fibroin–chitosan (SF–CS) scaffolds with predefined microfluidic channels, open-pore surface and oriented porous structures. The effects of these structural organizations in ice-template-induced (ITI) scaffolds on nutrient delivery, cell seeding as well as cell growth were well investigated in comparison with that of polydimethylsiloxane-template-induced scaffolds. The ITI scaffolds exhibited better structural properties in promoting mass transport, facilitating uniform cell distribution and growth. The ITI scaffolds uniformly seeded with living cells could be further rolled up to form a thick tissue-engineered construct with predefined microfluidic channels. We envision that our ITI scaffolds can be potentially used to engineer thick prevascularized organs when the oriented porous structures are uniformly seeded with primary cells and the predefined microfluidic channels are incorporated with endothelial cells.