How Can I Defrost Chicken Quickly?

Are you in a hurry to prepare dinner and are wondering how to defrost chicken quickly? Frozen chicken does not easily get cooked that is why it is very important to defrost it. However, there are instances wherein you forgot to defrost the chicken. If you only have a few hours to prepare dinner and the chicken is still covered in ice, how can you quickly thaw it? We will discuss the answer below.

How can I defrost chicken quickly? Using the microwave is the best way to thaw chicken quickly. Take note that the amount of chicken will affect the amount of time that it needs to be defrosted in the microwave. Moreover, check every few minutes to see if it is defrosting correctly and evenly. This method can take up to ten minutes depending on the size of the chicken.

If you are always storing chicken in the freezer, take a few moments to familiarize yourself with the proper methods to defrost it. Below, we have shared the different methods that you can use to defrost the chicken. We also shared tips on how to determine if the chicken is properly defrosted. Check out the rest of this article for tips and information about defrosting chicken.

How can I defrost chicken quickly
Image by Jan Vašek from Pixabay

How to Defrost Chicken

You can defrost frozen chicken using the refrigerator, microwave, or use a water bath. When defrosting chicken, you need to follow safety guidelines because raw chicken is prone to bacterial growth. Moreover, how the chicken is defrosted will also affect the quality of the final dish. Choose a method depending on whether you are defrosting the whole chicken or smaller cuts.

Using the Refrigerator

The safest and most reliable method to defrost the chicken is in the refrigerator. However, this method takes a lot of preparation. You need to plan your meal because chicken usually takes 24 hours to defrost using this method. After defrosting, the chicken can remain in the refrigerator for a day or two before it is cooked.

The Water Bath

Another method that you can use to defrost frozen chicken is a water bath. Put the frozen chicken in vacuum-sealed bags or zipper-top storage bags and submerge it in a bowl of cold water. Do not use hot water for defrosting because it can encourage the bacteria to multiply and will also start to cook the outside part of the chicken before it is defrosted.

Replace cold water every 30 minutes so that the water stays cold. How long the chicken defrosts depends on the size of the chicken. It takes about an hour to defrost ground chicken, one to two hours for a small pack of boneless chicken, and a few hours for large and bigger cuts. This method is not ideal for defrosting large cuts or a whole chicken.

Microwave Method

A quick method to defrost chicken is by using a microwave. There are microwaves with settings to defrost the chicken. Check the instruction manual of your microwave if it has this setting and take note of special directions with regards to the amount of chicken and the type of cut. On the other hand, if you’re your microwave does not have this setting, you can still use it to defrost chicken, but you need to be careful when doing it.

Check the microwave every few minutes to make sure that the chicken is thawed properly. You need to move the chicken around in the microwave especially if you do not have a rotating tray. This is because the thinner parts of the chicken will start to cook in the heat of the microwave while the thicker parts are still defrosting. When you use this method, make sure to cook the chicken right away. Are you planning to grill frozen chicken? Check out this article that we have written titled, is it OK to grill frozen chicken? We have shared helpful information about how to properly grill frozen chicken.

How to Tell When Chicken is Properly Defrosted

A properly defrosted chicken should be soft and no ice crystals should remain. To find out if the chicken is properly defrosted, cut a small slit in the thickest part of the chicken and insert your finger. If the flesh is still solid or there are still ice crystals, continue defrosting.

Which is the Best Method for Defrosting Chicken?

Using refrigeration is considered to be the best method for defrosting chicken. The chicken will perfectly defrost and there is no need to worry about any part getting cooked or dried out because of heat. When defrosting, make sure to keep the chicken out of the danger zone which is the temperature between 40 and 140 F.  It is the temperature zone that allows bacteria to grow.

How Long Does it Take to Thaw Chicken?

How long a chicken takes to thaw will have to depend on the method that you use. It can take anywhere from 2 days to 30 minutes to thaw chicken. Depending on the size and weight of the chicken, using the refrigerator method can take up to 2 days, up to 1 hour per pound for the cold water method, and 10 to 20 minutes depending on the amount of chicken for the microwave method. We have also written this article titled; can you cook frozen chicken on a pellet grill? Check out the article for tips and information about the topic.

How to Defrost Whole Chicken

To defrost a whole chicken, the best way to do it is using the refrigerator method.  Defrosting a whole chicken in a microwave will allow the outside of the chicken to cook the middle part defrosts. Moreover, it takes a long time for a whole chicken to defrost in a bowl of cold water.  For more information on how to grill steak, you can check out this article that we have written titled, how do you grill a frozen steak without thawing it?

✅ Video – How to Defrost Meat Quickly & Safely

America’s Test Kitchen shared the video below on YouTube. It discusses how to defrost meat quickly and safely. Aside from using the refrigerator when defrosting large cuts of meat, you can also use the quick thaw methods that are perfect for cuts that measure 1 inch thick or less. Check out how to properly do this method by watching the video below.

How Long to Thaw chicken in the Fridge?

The amount of time needed to thaw a chicken on the fridge will depend on how big or small the chicken is. How fresh the chicken is when it was frozen also affects the amount of time needed to thaw it. A pound of ground or boneless chicken will usually take a whole day to fully thaw in the fridge. For a bunch of bone-in pieces, it can take up to two days to completely thaw. Once the chicken is thawed, you can leave it in the refrigerator for up to three days before cooking. 

Is it Safe to Defrost Chicken in Hot Water?

According to the USDA, frozen chicken should not be defrosted in hot water. The reason for this is that the outside of the chicken can be exposed to bacteria before the inside part has defrosted. This can lead to food poisoning hazards. Moreover, make sure to cook the chicken after defrosting and do not re-freeze it without cooking it first.

Is it Safe to Defrost Chicken in Microwave?

It is safe to defrost chicken in the microwave. On the other hand, you should only use this method if you are going to cook the chicken right away. Take note that if the chicken is exposed to a temperature below 40 degrees, bacteria will start to grow. Hence, make sure to cook the chicken right away to avoid the growth of bacteria.

How Do You Defrost a Chicken in 5 Minutes?

The best way to defrost a chicken in five minutes is to use a Microwave. This is the quickest method. However, you need to be careful because the heat from the microwave can cook the chicken which makes it tough and stringy. Furthermore, leaving the chicken in the microwave for too long or in a high-temperature setting, the chicken will steam from the inside out. Make sure to regularly check the chicken and remove it as soon as it is defrosted completely. Take note that a microwave does not equally thaw the chicken and can end up cooking the outer layer of the meat while it is still frozen in the middle.

How Long Does Chicken Take to Defrost in the Fridge?

Defrosting a whole large chicken on the fridge usually takes about 24 to 48 hours. This will also have to depend on the size of the chicken that you are defrosting. Estimate between 18 to 24 hours for defrosting a single piece of medium-sized chicken or a large block of frozen breasts or thighs. You can also check out this article that we have written which discusses if a smokeless grill is really smokeless. We have shared useful tips on how to grill meat using the device.


Thank you for reading this article that discusses how to defrost chicken quickly. We have also shared tips on how to properly defrost chicken according to their size. It is very important to properly and safely defrost chicken or any other food to make sure that it is free of bacteria that can cause food-borne illnesses. Next time that you are short on time for preparing your meal, try one of the defrosting methods above.

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