A Comprehensive Guide On How to Defrost Chicken Fast

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When you open the freezer to defrost chicken, you may be confused with a series of questions related to “How to defrost chicken fast?” or “What is the fastest way to defrost chicken?

The safest method to defrost your chicken is to use the refrigerator to keep it at a safe, cool temperature before defrosting. In addition, other ways allow you to do this safely. Keep reading to see more!

How to Defrost Chicken Fast?

You can defrost by using a microwave, hot/cold water, or defrosting a fridge. When defrosting chicken, follow proper procedures to avoid the “danger zone.”

The “danger zone” is a term the USDA uses to refer to keeping food out for too long at room temperature, resulting in the temperature of food reaching between 40 and 140 degrees. At that time, bacteria will grow and multiply faster.

Here are some ways that allow you to defrost chicken quickly and safely.

Of course, you may want to use different methods depending on whether you are thawing a whole bird or more minor cuts.

Use Microwave

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Microwaving is the fastest way to defrost the chicken.

There is no denying that microwaving is considered one of the fastest and most widely used methods of defrosting meat. 

Although it can defrost your chicken quickly, from about 5 to 10 minutes, paying close attention during defrosting is necessary. 

The reason is that this method is easy to stray into the range when it starts to cook your meat instead of thawing, ruining the meat texture. 

For example, your chicken will probably become tough, even exposing your cuts of meat to bacteria growth.

It is essential to defrost your chicken in the microwave properly. Setting the temperature too high or microwaving your chicken too long will probably ruin it. The ice in your meat may turn to water, then steam and cook the chicken from its inside.

We recommend checking out the cuts of meat every one or two minutes to see when it has thawed. After that, once it is ready, move it from the microwave to your oven or grill for cooking.

This method will work great for boneless, skinless chicken breasts. And avoid using it to defrost any cuts that are bone-in.

It is easy to find modern microwaves with defrost settings, and we recommend those models for the best result. But if yours doesn’t have one, it’s best to use a medium-low setting for about two or three minutes.

After that, you must turn your meat over and continue defrosting for about two minutes (per pound). Then, stop your microwave once your chicken has defrosted and is ready to cook.

To sum up, microwaving is how to thaw chicken fast. It is also the quickest and easiest way to freeze chicken and most foods, but it has a high chance of overcooking or ruining your meat. 

You must not use it to treat any cuts containing bone, such as thigh and wing.

Cook Frozen Chicken

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It is alright to cook the frozen chicken.

It is okay to cook the frozen chicken as long as you follow specific guidelines. You need to add 50% cooking time to the suggested time of your recipes.

For instance, if your soup recipe asks for about 60 minutes, you will need to cook your frozen chicken for around 90 minutes.

Some cooking methods will work well with unthawed chicken, such as slow cooking, long braise, soups, and stews.

But other methods, such as roasting, microwaving, and sautéing, may yield an uneven result, with the chicken’s outside will be cooked more than its inside, resulting in a less-than-ideal texture.

For example, you will not gain a nice caramelized exterior if you sauté your frozen chicken. 

The reason is that the moisture in your meat would be slowly released during defrosting in a pan, and it will prevent browning. So, you should avoid frying frozen chicken.

On the flip side, if you handle your frozen chicken using a slow cooker, we recommend setting it to the high setting to increase the temperature faster. Thanks to that, you can expect your dish not to fall into the “danger zone.”

Refrigerator Thawing

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Using a refrigerator is the best and safest thawing technique.

It is correct to say that defrosting in the refrigerator is the best and safest thawing technique. All you need to do is take your frozen chicken out of a freezer and move it into your refrigerator.

This method can be more time-consuming than most other methods. However, it will keep your meat out of the “danger zone,” thanks to the cold environment inside your fridge. 

It will work for you if you don’t have to cook your chicken immediately. Also, you can expect your thawing process is more even.

According to the USDA, if you apply this freezer-to-fridge process, it is okay to refreeze the meat if you change your mind. 

However, we do not recommend it. Instead, you should cook your thawed chicken before refreezing it to avoid any risk of food poisoning.

Since this is the longest defrosting method, you must plan at least one to two days before cooking.

In most cases, you may need one to two days to defrost a large frozen chicken.

Use Hot Water

We don’t appreciate this, but it will work if your chicken cuts are small, and you will cook it immediately to 74⁰C (165⁰F) or higher.

First, you must run your chicken under kitchen tap water until it hits 48 to 52⁰C (118 to 125⁰F). 

You should use a meat thermometer to ensure your chicken is at the correct temperature.

Fill a pot or sanitized sink halfway with the hot water, then add your frozen chicken. 

Your frozen chicken will cool your hot water pot quickly. So you may let it trickle into the sink to keep the temperature higher during thawing. Moreover, stir the water to prevent cold spots and circulate.

If you need to handle smaller cuts, you may need about 10 minutes to defrost them thoroughly. Don’t forget that the outside surface of your chicken is exposed to bacteria, so it’s essential to cook it right after defrosting.

This process can take 10 to 15 minutes, which is short enough for the growth of bacteria to remain within safe limits.

After defrosting your chicken, it is essential to monitor its internal temperature while cooking to ensure your cuts reach 74⁰C ( 165⁰F ) before serving.

Use Cold Water 

how to defrost chicken fast

The cold water bath is very popular for skilled chefs everywhere.

This method is also known as doing the cold water bath, which is very popular for skilled chefs everywhere. It is the perfect answer to “How to quickly defrost chicken” while preserving your meat’s quality.

This method also allows your chicken to retain the textures and flavor you’d get if you were cooking it fresh.

This method will take about half an hour for about 900 grams (2 pounds) and does not require any unique kitchenware.

All you need to do is fill your large bowl to 2/3 or 3/4 full with clean, cold water, then submerge your chicken. Remember to refill the water every ten minutes to keep the water fresh and at a proper cold temperature.

Of course, defrosting a whole chicken will take longer than wings, thighs, or breasts. We recommend dissolving the chicken as it thaws to allow the water to quickly get into more areas of your chicken, including the cavities.


What Is a Safe Temperature for Storing Chicken?

Anything outside of the “danger zone” (40-140°F) is safe. When it comes to storing, it means refrigerating your chicken below 40°F or 4°C. Avoid leaving poultry at room temperature for longer than 2 hours.

How Long is Defrosted Chicken Good for?

If you defrost chicken in a refrigerator, it will be good for two days (according to the USDA). If you use other methods, you should use your bird right away.

Can I Defrost Chicken on the Counter?

Never defrost your chicken at room temperature, which could put it in the “danger zone?” where bacteria multiply rapidly.


Hopefully, you’ve got the answer to “How to quickly thaw chicken?”

If you need to defrost larger pieces of chicken, especially whole chicken, you should use the defrosting method in the refrigerator. 

It is preferable to defrost in the microwave as it can cause your chicken to start cooking outside before the inside is defrosted.

Thawing in a bowl of water should apply to smaller cuts as it will take a long time for larger meats. You can also use microwave methods to defrost smaller pieces.

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