Home Articles How to Defrost Chicken Safely (3 Ways)

How to Defrost Chicken Safely (3 Ways)

Don’t let figuring out how to defrost chicken become a hassle! 

You can do it in the refrigerator, water, or the microwave. But every method has its pros and cons. In this post, you’ll learn about them all!

How to Defrost Chicken Safely (3 Ways): Frozen Chicken on a Wooden Board with Tomatoes and Lemon

We’ve all been there -you forgot to take out the chicken to thaw. But before you consider risky shortcuts, remember how you defrost chicken is crucial.

Properly defrosted chicken affects the taste and texture of your meal. And, more importantly, your health and safety.

But follow my tips, and your chicken will be cooking-ready!

How to Defrost Chicken in the Refrigerator

The refrigerator provides the safest method to thaw your chicken. Not only is it easy, but it also keeps your poultry at a safe temperature. 

Here’s how to do it:

1. Prepare the Chicken: Remove the chicken from the freezer. You don’t even have to remove its packaging. Just place it in a shallow dish to catch any leaks.

2. Place in the Refrigerator: Position the chicken on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator. This allows faster thawing and prevents raw juices from dripping onto other food.

3. Time It Right: Allow about 24 hours of defrosting time for every 5 pounds of chicken. It’s always best to plan ahead when using this method of defrosting.

4. Cook or Refrigerate Longer: If you don’t cook the chicken immediately, keep it in the refrigerator. It will keep for another 2 days.

Frozen Chicken Drumsticks in Plastic Wrap

How to Defrost Chicken in Cold Water

Defrosting chicken in cold water is quicker than the refrigerator but requires more attention. Here’s how you can safely do it:

1. Seal It Up: Ensure the chicken is in a leak-proof plastic bag. This step is vital to prevent water from entering the bag. This can lead to a loss of flavor and texture.

2. Submerge it in Cold Water: Fill a large bowl or sink with cold water. Submerge the sealed chicken in the water.

3. Change the Water: Changing the water every 30 minutes is essential. It ensures that the chicken stays safe at a safe temperature.

4. Cook Immediately: Once the chicken is defrosted, cook it as soon as possible to maintain safety and quality.

Defrosting Chicken in Hot Water

It might be tempting to speed up the thawing process using hot water. However, I strongly advise against it!

This method is risky because heat allows bacteria to skyrocket. 

This is even more dangerous if the interior of the chicken remains cold or frozen. It’ll create a significant food safety hazard.

The USDA recommends against using hot water to defrost the chicken. The temperature range of 40-140 degrees Fahrenheit (the “danger zone”) is where bacteria can proliferate. 

Using hot water can bring the chicken to this temperature range. This method puts you at risk of food-borne illnesses. 

Defrosting Whole Raw Chicken in Microwave

How to Defrost Chicken in the Microwave

Are you in a pinch for time? Defrosting chicken in the microwave is a viable option. 

Keep in mind that this method can sometimes lead to uneven thawing. Here’s how: 

1. Prepare your chicken: Remove your chicken from its packaging. Place it on a microwave-safe plate to catch juices that might leak out during thawing.

2. Use the defrost setting: Most microwaves have a defrost function. If your microwave doesn’t have this function, set it to 20% or 30% power. Aim for 8 to 10 minutes per pound as a general guideline.

3. Rotate and flip: Microwaves can often thaw unevenly. It’s important to pause the defrosting process, flip and rotate the chicken. Then continue defrosting.

4. Cook immediately: Microwaves can cook the chicken during defrosting, leading to potential bacterial growth. It is essential to cook your chicken right away. 

Four Pieces Quarter Cut Frozen Chicken Meat

Can You Defrost Chicken on the Counter?

Defrosting chicken on the counter is a big no-no. Leaving chicken at room temperature is a breeding ground for bacteria. 

The outer layer of the chicken thaws quicker and can reach an unsafe temperature. This could lead to food-borne illnesses. So always opt for safer methods.

How to Tell When Chicken is Properly Defrosted

Knowing when your chicken is properly defrosted is crucial for food safety and cooking convenience. 

If the chicken isn’t defrosted, it can cook unevenly. And if it is too warm, it may harbor bacteria.

Here’s how to tell if your chicken is thoroughly defrosted:

1. Touch: A defrosted chicken should be soft and flexible. Frozen chicken is hard and rigid, so as it thaws, it becomes more pliable. 

2. Pierce: Using a knife, pierce the chicken. If it slides in with little resistance, the chicken is defrosted. If it meets stiff, icy resistance, the chicken must defrost longer.

3. Visual Check: If you see ice or the chicken is frosty, it still needs time to defrost. If correctly thawed, the color will change from white to a pink-flesh color.

Frozen Quarter Parts Chicken Meat With Onions and Spices

Can You Cook Frozen Chicken?

Don’t fret if you forgot to defrost your chicken!

It’s totally safe to cook frozen chicken. But it will increase the cooking time by 50%. 

Use a food thermometer to ensure the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s the safe cooking temperature recommended by USDA.

Remember that this method is not ideal for slow cooking or microwaving. 

These methods will keep the chicken at an unsafe temperature leading to bacterial growth.

Can You Refreeze Defrosted Chicken?

That depends. If the chicken is thawed in the refrigerator, you can refreeze it within 1-2 days. 

But, if it was thawed using cold water or microwave method, cook it before refreezing.

How to Defrost Chicken

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author avatar
Kim - InsanelyGood
Hey there! I'm Kim. I love running, cooking, and curling up with a good book! I share recipes for people who LOVE good food, but want to keep things simple :)

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