Last Updated: May 23, 2022

How to Defrost Chicken in a Microwave? Is It Safe?

how to defrost chicken in a microwave

Did you forget to thaw your chicken overnight, and now it’s dinner time or do you have to prepare a chicken meal for some unannounced guests at home? What’s stopping you? You can easily defrost chicken using a microwave in just no time.

In this article, you will get to know:

So, to thaw the chicken in the microwave-

  • First, take out the chicken from its packaging.
  • Put it on a microwave-safe dish.
  • Turn on the defrost mode to thaw it for 2 minutes at a time. 
  • Make sure to turn or flip the chicken occasionally to ensure even defrosting.

tips icon Tip : If your microwave doesn’t have a defrost setting, set it to cook at 20 to 30% of its full power.

Why Is It Important to Defrost Chicken before Cooking?

Before cooking any recipe, it is essential to defrost the frozen chicken thoroughly. Otherwise, the center will remain raw while the outside of the meat may get overcooked.

According to the USDA,  there are three easy-to-follow methods to defrost the chicken. Thaw it by-

  1. Refrigerating the frozen chicken for a day.
  2. Submerging the frozen chicken into cold running water
  3. Using microwave

It becomes easier to cook a defrosted chicken all the way through. And remember that the internal temperature of the chicken must be 165 degrees F for it to be safe to consume.

Defrosting Chicken in the Microwave 

Microwave defrost chicken faster than the other two methods. To defrost chicken in the microwave-

  1.  Remove the chicken from its packaging.
  2. Place one/two pieces of frozen chicken on a microwave-safe dish.
  3. Turn on the defrosting mode on your microwave.
  4. Let it cook for two minutes per pound. Remember to flip the chicken pieces to thaw them evenly.
chicken inside a microwave
Image credit: Nora Ismail, Shutterstock

However, defrosting takes seven to eight minutes per pound, provided the thickness and size of the chicken and the wattage of the microwave you’re using.

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Though It is effortless to use a microwave to thaw chicken, you will have to be very careful during this process. Because using the wrong setting or defrosting for a long time can ruin the final result.

While defrosting chicken in the microwave, the heat is on low. So, don’t leave the chicken in the microwave for a long time while thawing the chicken; otherwise, it will start simmering the meat.

So, be alert while defrosting the chicken and frequently check whether it is adequately thawed or not. 

tips icon Note : You should cook defrosted chicken immediately after thawing it to avoid the growth of any harmful food bacteria. 

Is it Safe to Defrost chicken in the microwave?

Microwaving, the fastest way to thaw frozen chicken is entirely safe.

But because raw chicken is a perishable food, it should not be left out at room temperature for very long. Instead, cook your recipe instantly as soon as the chicken has been defrosted.

According to the USDA, raw chicken should be stored or cooked within 2 hours to avoid the rapid growth of food bacteria.

Risks of Defrosting Chicken in the Microwave for Longer

  1. If you defrost the chicken in a microwave for a long time, it will start simmering.
  2. It will increase the risk of bacteria growth in the chicken.

When the internal temperature of the chicken is warmer than 40 degrees F, the frozen bacteria start increasing rapidly. You shouldn’t keep it at room temperature for over two hours.

Did you know? According to the USDA, perishable food shouldn’t be in the 40°F to 140°F temperature, considered a danger zone for more than 4 hours.

Bonus Read!

How to Defrost Chicken in a Microwave Without a Defrost Button?

The defrost setting of a microwave lowers its power between 30 to 50% so that the microwave can defrost food without cooking it. It makes it quicker for you to thaw frozen food.

Though most microwaves come with this feature, don’t worry if your microwave lacks this feature. You can still use that microwave to defrost your chicken. Set it to cook at 20-30% of its full power.

Can You Thaw Chicken in Hot Water?

You SHOULD NEVER thaw chicken in hot water. Because- 

  1. It can cause bacteria to form.
  2. Warm water can also start to cook the chicken before the center of the meat is completely thawed.

Warning! Never thaw frozen chicken at room temperature on the counter, either.

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Other Methods To Thaw Frozen Chicken

There are 2 other methods following which you can defrost the chicken. 

  1. Refrigeration Method

This method takes a whole day!

If you have a day before cooking a chicken meal, you can take your chicken from the freezer and place it in the fridge to let it thaw. Though this method takes a whole day to defrost the chicken, it’s the most recommended and safest to follow. 

To thaw chicken in the fridge-

  • First, wrap the chicken and place it in a dish or container to prevent the juices from leaking and ruining other foods.
  • Place your frozen chicken in the refrigerator.
  • Set the temperature of the refrigerator at 40°F or below. 
  1. Cold Water Method

This method will take 1 hour!

This method will defrost frozen chicken faster than a refrigerator with a little more attention. According to the USDA, 1 pound of the chicken package will take around 1 hour to defrost, but if the package of chicken is 3 or 4 pounds, it can take 2-3 hours.

Follow the below steps.

  • The first step is crucial. Move your chicken to a waterproof bag to protect meat tissue from damage and prevent the food from contacting any bacteria.
  • Fill a large bowl halfway with cold water and submerge the chicken bag in it. To keep the defrosting going, Change the water every 30 minutes.
chicken wishing in the kitchen basin
Image credit: Nast Egle, Shutterstock

tips icon Note : If you defrost the chicken following the cold water method, cook the chicken immediately. You can also refreeze it but only after cooking the chicken.

How Long Is Frozen Chicken Good to Use?

  • If you freeze chicken pieces, consuming them within six months is safe.  
  • You can freeze a whole chicken for up to a year. Use heavy-duty plastic wrap to wrap the chicken tightly and then put it into a freezer-safe plastic bag. Make sure to seal the bag properly after squeezing out excess air.
  • If you wrap a fresh chicken well before freezing, it can last for a few months longer.

Key Takeaways

  • Microwaving is the fastest way to defrost frozen chicken.
  • Don’t keep the chicken in the microwave for too long.
  • Set the microwave to cook at 20 to 30% of its total power if it doesn’t have defrosting mode. 
  • The internal temperature of the chicken must be 165 degrees F for it to be safe to consume.
  • Cook defrosted chicken immediately after thawing it to avoid the growth of any harmful food bacteria.

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