How to Safely Defrost Chicken?

If you want to defrost chicken safely, there are a few things to remember. Raising the temperature of frozen chicken to the point that it is no longer frozen in defrosting chicken. Using a refrigerator is the safest way to do this since it maintains a safe, cool temperature for the chicken as it defrosts.

Other quicker methods of defrosting chicken include using a microwave or a cold water bath.

In this article, we’ll go over three methods for securely defrosting chicken at home and explain how to accomplish it.

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How to Safely Defrost Chicken?

Placement in a refrigerator is the safest method for defrosting poultry. This technique is secure because the chicken is chilled in the fridge while it defrosts, keeping it from getting too warm for too long.

Follow these steps to apply this technique:

  1. The chicken should be taken out of the freezer at least 24 hours beforehand.
  2. Put it in a container or zip-top bag of plastic.
  3. It should be placed on a low shelf in the refrigerator until completely defrosted.
  4. Cook within a day or two.

Planning is necessary for this procedure because the chicken must be started on the defrosting process at least one day before it is intended to be used.

The size of the chicken pieces will affect how long it takes to complete the task. It can take 1-2 days for a whole chicken, bone-in chicken, and chicken breasts to defrost in the fridge.

Microwave Defrosting

Defrosting chicken in the microwave is a convenient way to thaw frozen poultry, but it is important to follow some specific guidelines. It is especially important to avoid cooking the chicken in the microwave for too long. Overcooking the chicken can cause it to become dry and rubbery.

You can easily defrost frozen chicken in the microwave by following a few simple steps. The first step is to remove the chicken from the freezer and put it in a microwave-safe dish. This is an essential step in the process because it prevents bacteria from growing.

Next, add 1 cup of water to the dish. If your microwave doesn’t have a defrost button, you can use cola or a glass of water. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for thawing chicken, and you will be good to go.

Water Bath Defrosting

There are a few safe ways to defrost the chicken. One of the best methods is using a water bath. To defrost chicken in a water bath, you’ll need a large bowl or sink filled with cold water.

This can be done by submerging the entire bird in the water, but if you’re only thawing a small portion of the meat, it can be faster to pull the pieces apart. Using a heavy plate or kitchen implement to keep the meat underwater is also recommended.

The fastest way to defrost chicken is to use a cold water bath. You can do this in your kitchen or a cooler. Place the wrapped chicken in the water and leave it there for up to an hour. It is important to change the water every 30 minutes or so.

Countertop Defrosting

The safest way to defrost chicken is to do it in your refrigerator. Leaving it on your counter or in the microwave will expose the chicken to bacteria and heat, leading to various health hazards. In addition to a compromised immune system, a spoiled meal can make you tailspin.

However, if you are pressed for time, there are some shortcuts you can take. One of the easiest and most effective methods is to place the frozen chicken in a large container filled with cold water. Leave it there for at least 30 minutes and change the water every half hour. You can also use a microwave to do the same thing in less time.

Aside from keeping the chicken at a safe temperature, it’s important to follow the proper thawing protocol. When thawing a whole chicken, you need to plan. It can take as long as 24 hours to defrost a whole bird.

Refrigerator Defrosting

Any meat may safely, gradually, and uniformly defrost in the refrigerator, which is the finest place to do it. Depending on the type of chicken you have, this could take two days or possibly longer (thin cutlets will take less time). Your fridge should be at 40 degrees or below to safely thaw chicken; place it on a rimmed baking sheet or plate (in case any juices leak out of the package or bag) and chill until completely thawed. According to the USDA, if your chicken is properly thawed in the refrigerator, it is safe to store it there for a couple more days without cooking. The meat can also be frozen again without cooking, but keep in mind that the texture might alter.

Can you Cook Frozen Chicken?

It is frequently possible to cook chicken straight from the freezer. According to the USDA, doing this is generally safe if the cooking time is increased by 50% and the chicken is cooked until it achieves a safe internal temperature of 165°F (74°C).

There are a few instances where this rule does not apply. For instance, it is not advised to microwave or slow-cook frozen chicken. With these techniques, the temperature of the chicken is kept too long at a dangerous level. It is recommended to properly thaw the chicken before cooking it with these methods.

One should follow these instructions to cook chicken from the freezer without risk:

  • Spend 20 seconds washing your hands with soap and water.
  • Before handling raw chicken, consult a reputable source.
  • The chicken shouldn’t be washed. Both frozen and unfrozen chicken may suffer from this.
  • Regarding food safety, treat frozen chicken the same as fresh chicken. Avoid cross-contamination using different cutting boards and utensils when working with cooked items.
  • Use a cooking medium to get the chicken hot quickly, such as the stove or the oven. Increase the cooking time by 50%.
  • When finished, use a meat thermometer to check the chicken’s internal temperature. Remove the chicken from the heat when the temperature reaches 165°F (74°C) or higher.
  • With dish soap and hot water, clean the thermometer.
  • Clean any kitchen surface that may have come into contact with the chicken or the liquids from the defrosting chicken with antibacterial wipes or soap and water.

What’s the Best Way to Thaw Chicken?

Both chefs and safety experts concur that the healthiest and tastiest way to thaw chicken is to let it naturally defrost in the refrigerator for 24 hours (or perhaps a little longer). It requires minimal effort, is difficult to goof up, and allows you to complete other tasks in the interim.

It “takes the least amount of fussing and attention,” according to blogger and Mindful Glow Cookbook author Abbey Sharp, RD, and it “helps retain the texture and integrity without the chicken meat getting saturated.”

This approach is the safest, according to the USDA and Dr. Tierno, as it removes the possibility of your chicken entering the Danger Zone. But because it’s the slowest, you must plan a little. According to the USDA, you can normally plan to budget at least one day, if not two, depending on the size of the chicken breasts, the temperature your fridge is set to, where you place the chicken in the fridge, and other factors. (For example, if you want chicken for supper on Tuesday night, you should move it from the freezer to the refrigerator on Sunday or Monday night.)

However, there is some flexibility in the scheduling. The USDA advises storing thawed chicken in the refrigerator for a day or two before cooking. And if your dinner plans change at that time, you can freeze the chicken again without cooking it. (More to follow on that.)

How can you Thaw Frozen Chicken Fast?

The answer to the question of how quickly to thaw chicken is slightly different. It’s not always possible to plan a day. Consider treating your chicken like an Olympic athlete and embracing the cold water soak if you ever find yourself in a bind with fowl. Fair warning, though: Sharp claims she only occasionally utilizes the cold water method because it involves “a lot of babysitting.”

The USDA outlines what you should do: The chicken should first be placed in a leak-proof plastic bag or kept in the airtight packing it was originally shipped. By doing this, the meat is shielded from contamination by water or airborne microorganisms. (And yes, that implies that you shouldn’t wash chicken.) Next, immerse it in cold tap water; as the water warms up and the chicken defrosts, you should switch out the water about every 30 minutes. Set a timer on your phone if you’re likely to forget what you were doing.

The amount of chicken and water temperature affect how long the entire water bath process takes. According to the USDA, a three- or four-pound whole chicken will take two to three hours to cook compared to a pound of chicken breast. Once it has thawed, cook it right away.

Reference: Consumer attitudes toward storing and thawing chicken and effects of the common thawing practices on some quality characteristics of frozen chicken

In this study, a survey was done to assess consumers’ overall opinions toward buying and keeping raw chicken and find out how frozen chicken is thawed at home. Indicating a weekly or more frequent purchase of chicken meat, about 75% of consumers said they did. Additionally, the majority (82.16%) of people who preserved at least some raw chicken said they froze the meat at home. 43.49% of consumers believed that freezing had no impact on the quality of the chicken meat, while 56.51% said that freezing had either favorable or negative impacts.

Do you Need to Thaw the Chicken Before Cooking?

Alternatively, you can skip the entire defrosting process and cook your frozen chicken straight from the freezer. The USDA advises that cooking fresh or already-thawed chicken will take only 50% longer; however, you can speed up the process by cutting the chicken into smaller pieces. (A 30-minute bake will therefore take about 45 minutes.) Sharp asserts that it functions best for chicken breast recipes that already require a little more cooking time, such as stews or soups.

According to the USDA, cooking frozen chicken on a stovetop is completely safe, although it is not suggested if you want the golden-brown skin you would get from pan-sautéing. It’s not ideal if you want a good, crispy caramelized exterior because the frozen chicken’s excessive moisture hampers browning, according to Sharp.


The safest way is to defrost chicken in a refrigerator at a cold temperature. A cold water bath or the defrost setting on a microwave are options for people with limited time.

When using one of the speedier techniques to defrost chicken, it’s crucial to cook it right away once it’s no longer frozen. People can stay healthy and prevent foodborne illnesses by adhering to safety guidelines.