How often have you found yourself frustrated because you forgot to take the chicken out of the freezer to thaw, and now it’s time to cook and all you have is frozen chicken!
While it is advised to leave chicken to thaw in the fridge overnight, as this is the safest way to defrost frozen chicken, you can also defrost chicken in the microwave.
You will have to follow certain guidelines and safety tips to ensure that the chicken defrosts properly.
How do you defrost chicken in the microwave? When defrosting chicken, you will have to remove all packaging and place the chicken on a microwave-safe plate. From there, you can defrost the chicken on 30% power for 2 minutes for each pound that the chicken weighs.
Keep reading to find out more about how to properly defrost chicken in the microwave, if it is safe to do so, and how to defrost different types of chicken products safely!
Is It Possible To Defrost Chicken In The Microwave?
It is possible to defrost chicken in the microwave, and many people choose this as their go-to method, especially when they have little time to spare, or when they have forgotten to take their chicken out of the freezer earlier.
Many microwaves have a built-in defrost function, where you can choose the type of food you are wanting to defrost (in this case, chicken), and then add in the weight of the chicken.
The microwave then works out how long the chicken needs to defrost for and will adjust the settings accordingly.
If your microwave does not have this function, the general rule of thumb is that you need to leave the chicken in the microwave on defrost of 30% power for 2 minutes per pound of chicken.
This means that if you have a 5-pound chicken, you will need to leave the chicken to defrost for 10 minutes.
This isn’t always so exact, and you will need to keep a check on the chicken, and maybe defrost it for longer until it is all thawed properly.
You also want to avoid leaving the chicken to defrost in the microwave for too long, as it might start to slowly cook after a while, and this will ruin the taste of the chicken when it is properly cooked.
It is important to remember that you should cook microwave-defrosted chicken straight after defrosting it, to avoid any harmful bacteria growth, which can happen quickly with room temperature poultry.
Is Defrosting Chicken In The Microwave Safe?
There are many warnings on how you should and should not defrost chicken, as the chance of bacteria growth is always present, and foodborne illnesses from chicken or poultry can be quite serious.
When it comes to defrosting, there are ways that are recommended as safe, and others that we are told to avoid. The safest way to defrost chicken is to leave it in the fridge overnight, to thaw at a low and even temperature.
However, when you haven’t planned that far ahead, you can defrost chicken in the microwave, and it can be safe to do so.
However, there are some safety tips to follow to ensure that you are safely defrosting chicken in the microwave.
You should cook the chicken you have defrosted straight away, as you cannot leave room temperature or warm chicken to sit out. This can lead to harmful bacteria growth.
The maximum amount of time you could wait after defrosting the chicken is 2 hours. During these 2 hours the chicken should be kept in the fridge, but then cooked soon after.
The longer you leave the chicken out before cooking, the higher the chance of bacteria growth!
Do I Need To Defrost Chicken?
You might be tempted to try and cook chicken without defrosting it first, but it really isn’t advised to do so. You need to ensure that the cooking you are using is fully defrosted before you cook it.
Chicken that is not defrosted properly before cooking will not cook evenly.
The center of the chicken might still be frozen, and this means that if you follow normal cooking time for the chicken, the inside will be undercooked and even raw, and eating this can lead to serious illness.
Not only will the inside of the chicken be raw, but the outside of the chicken will be overcooked, tough, and chewy.
The internal temperature of a chicken should be 165°F to be safe to consume, and having a chicken that is fully defrosted first makes cooking it to this temperature much easier.
Defrosting chicken does not have to be difficult, using a microwave you can defrost your chicken in a very short amount of time, and get cooking straight away.
How Quickly Can Chicken Defrost In The Microwave?
You can defrost chicken in the microwave much quicker than you can by leaving it to defrost in the fridge or in a cold water bath.
How long it takes chicken to defrost in the microwave will depend on how powerful or effective your microwave is, but generally, it takes around 2 minutes for each pound that the chicken weighs.
It does take a little longer if you are defrosting chicken pieces, as you might not be able to fit them all on a plate at one time, and you will have to do a few batches of defrosting.
You will also need to flip the chicken over halfway through, to ensure that it is all defrosted evenly.
However, all of this still makes for a much quicker defrosting time than any other method, and for a regular roasting chicken, you could look at a rough defrosting time of around 10-15 minutes.
Keep a check on the chicken throughout the defrosting process to ensure that it is defrosting evenly and not overcooking. If your microwave has a good and effective defrosting function, it would take quicker to defrost a whole bird.
Can You Defrost Chicken In A Microwave Without A Defrost Function?
While most modern microwaves have a defrost function to choose from, yours at home might not.
This does not mean that you cannot defrost chicken in the microwave, but you do just have to set the microwave to the right power setting to be able to defrost the chicken slowly and evenly.
Most microwaves work at different heat and power levels, but generally, to defrost chicken in the microwave, you should set it to 30% power.
This is low enough to not heat the chicken too much or to cook it quickly, but still high enough to gently defrost the chicken in a short amount of time.
You can then use this power setting, and the rule of 2 minutes per pound, to defrost your chicken in the microwave, even without a defrost function!
Is It Bad To Defrost Chicken In The Microwave For Too Long?
You can actually defrost your chicken for too long, and this can be a bad thing. As the defrost function would have the microwave on a lower heat, the longer you leave your chicken in the microwave, the more chance there is of bacteria growth.
As the chicken warms to above 40°F, the chance of bacteria growth increases, and the chicken begins to cook slowly.
The danger zone for food is between 40-140°F, and if your chicken is left in this danger zone for too long bacteria could grow and you could contract a foodborne illness.
If not for the risk of bacteria, leaving the chicken to defrost for too long could see it begin to cook slowly, which will ruin the taste and texture of the chicken when it is properly cooked, and you will lose much of the quality.
Make sure to keep a check on the chicken as it defrosts to ensure that you take it out when it defrosted perfectly, and it is not left in the microwave for too long.
Helpful Tips For Defrosting Chicken In The Microwave
These helpful tips will ensure that your chicken is defrosted perfectly in the microwave. Make sure to follow these tips every time you defrost chicken using the microwave.
- Do not leave the chicken in the microwave for too long, as it might begin to cook and dry out.
- Check the power level of your microwave to ensure that you can adjust the settings to not be too high or low to defrost the chicken.
- Remove all packaging from the chicken before placing it into the microwave.
- Make sure to place the chicken on a microwave-safe plate before placing it into the microwave.
- Keep checking the chicken as it defrosts to ensure that you remove it from the microwave as soon as it is done.
- If any pieces of the chicken loosen up when defrosting, separate them so that it can defrost evenly.
- Once the chicken is defrosted fully, cook it straight away to avoid the risk of bacterial growth.
How To Defrost A Whole Chicken In The Microwave
Defrosting a whole chicken in the microwave is fairly easy, you just need to follow a few guidelines. Here is the best way to defrost a whole chicken:
- Remove all packaging from the chicken, including the plastic bag and any Styrofoam base. Make sure to note the weight of the chicken on the packaging, so you can set it to defrost for the right amount of time.
- Place the whole bird on a microwave-safe plate.
- Place the chicken into the microwave, and set the microwave onto the defrost setting, adding in the correct weight of the chicken. If there is no defrost setting on the microwave, place it onto 30% power and defrost for 2 minutes per pound.
- Check the chicken after every 2 minutes to see how it is defrosting.
- As the chicken defrosts, pieces might start to loosen up. You can pull these away from the chicken to allow for even defrosting.
- Once fully defrosted, remove the chicken from the microwave and cook it straight away.
The bigger the whole chicken, the longer it will take to defrost, but remember to allow it to defrost fully before cooking it, to ensure that it cooks evenly!
How To Defrost Chicken Cuts In The Microwave
Different chicken cuts, thighs, wings, drumsticks, quarters, can all be defrosted in the microwave quickly.
As all of the different cuts are of different sizes and different weights, you will need to take some care when defrosting them to ensure that none of them overcook or are left frozen.
Here is how to defrost chicken cuts in the microwave:
- Remove all of the plastic packaging and base from the chicken pieces.
- If you are defrosting different cuts of chicken, it is a good idea to separate them according to cuts or size, so that similar size cuts can be defrosted together, which ensures even defrosting.
- Place a few cuts of chicken onto a microwave-safe plate, ensure that the chicken cuts are not placed on top of each other, and there is some space between them. Too many chicken cuts on the same plate will not allow for even defrosting.
- Place the chicken cuts into the microwave, switch it onto the defrost setting or place it onto 30% power, and check the chicken every 2 minutes until defrosted. Turn the pieces over halfway through.
- Continue this for the different batches of chicken cuts, keeping similar-sized pieces together, until all of the chicken is defrosted.
- Cook the cuts soon after defrosting.
It is important to ensure that you only place similar size chicken cuts together so that they defrost at the same time, and none are left to overcook, or none are left frozen while others cook.
You will need to work in batches until all of the chicken cuts are defrosted.
How To Defrost Chicken Breasts In The Microwave
Chicken breasts often do not contain bones, which makes them a little easier to defrost in the microwave.
However, it is quite easy to slowly cook chicken breasts when defrosting them in the microwave, rather than defrosting them. Follow the below steps to ensure you defrost chicken breasts properly using a microwave:
- Remove all packaging from the chicken breasts.
- Place one or two chicken breasts on a microwave-safe place, depending on the size of your microwave and the size of the plate. The chicken breasts should have enough space between them and should not be overlapping.
- Place the chicken breasts into the microwave using the defrost function, or by setting the microwave onto 30% power. Defrost the chicken breasts for 1 minute, open the microwave and flip them over, and then place them back for another minute.
- Continue doing this until the chicken breasts are fully defrosted. Make sure to keep a check on them to ensure the chicken breasts do not start to cook.
- Remove the chicken breasts from the microwave once defrosted, and follow the above if there are more chicken breasts to defrost.
Work in batches to defrost a larger quantity of chicken breasts, to ensure the microwave isn’t overcrowded.
How To Defrost Chicken Nuggets In The Microwave
Many brands of chicken nuggets are fine to be cooked from frozen, but if you are wanting to defrost chicken nuggets before cooking, you can do so. Here is how to defrost chicken nuggets in the microwave:
- Remove any packaging from the chicken nuggets.
- Place chicken nuggets onto a microwave-safe place, laying them in a single layer, with some space between them. Overcrowding the chicken nuggets will mean that they do not defrost evenly, so you might have to defrost them in batches.
- Put the chicken nuggets into the microwave, and set it onto defrost or onto 30% power. Leave the nuggets to defrost in the microwave for 1 minute, turning them over halfway. Keep doing this until the nuggets have defrosted.
- As chicken nuggets are quite small, you need to make sure that they do not start cooking while defrosting.
- Cook the nuggets as soon as they are defrosted, once you have defrosted all of the nuggets in batches.
Chicken nuggets will take a very short time to defrost in the microwave, so make sure to keep a check on them so they don’t start to cook.
How To Defrost Chicken Strips In The Microwave
Chicken strips, like chicken nuggets, can sometimes be cooked from frozen.
However, if you need to defrost chicken strips first, you can do so quickly in the microwave so that you don’t have to wait for them to defrost in the fridge overnight!
- Remove all packaging from the chicken strips.
- Lay a few chicken strips onto a microwave-safe plate, making sure they are not overlapping or are too close together as this will not allow them to defrost evenly.
- Place the frozen chicken strips into the microwave on defrost setting or at 30% power for 1 minute.
- After 1 minute, turn the chicken strips over and place them back into the microwave for another minute.
- Continue to do this until the chicken strips are fully defrosted but make sure not to do it for too long and they begin to cook.
- If you have quite a few chicken strips to defrost, you will have to defrost them in batches.
Once all of the chicken strips have been defrosted, you should cook them straight away to avoid any potential bacteria growth.
Can I Freeze Chicken That Has Been Defrosted In The Microwave?
It is not a good idea to freeze chicken that has been defrosted in the microwave. Once frozen and then exposed to temperatures within the microwave, it is not safe to then refreeze the chicken.
This not only reduces the quality of the chicken, but it greatly increases the likelihood of bacterial growth. Only ever defrost chicken that you are going to cook straight away.
You should not even place chicken that has been defrosted in the microwave back into the fridge for longer than 2 hours, as the chance of bacterial growth is once again increased.
Make sure to only defrost the chicken in the microwave just before you are going to cook it. Do not leave it to sit out for more than 2 hours at room temperature either.
Now that we’ve gone over how to defrost chicken in the microwave, let’s take a look at a few related questions on the subject!
How do I defrost chicken quickly?
The quickest way to defrost chicken is to do so in the microwave. Other options, such as defrosting chicken in hot water, are not safe and can increase the chance of foodborne illness.
Done right, chicken defrosted in the microwave will still be safe to eat, and will still taste great.
Can I cook chicken from frozen?
It is not advised to cook chicken from frozen, as it will not allow for even cooking. However, it is possible to cook chicken from frozen if you increase the cooking time by half.
While this might give you cooked chicken, the chicken near the outside would probably be tough and not so great.
It is best to defrost chicken fully before cooking so that the inside is not left raw, and the outside is cooked perfectly too.
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