How to defrost frozen chicken
Are you about to start prepping for dinner and you realize your chicken is still frozen and needs defrosting because you forgot to put it in the fridge overnight to thaw?
Don't panic! Here are some simple tips on how to defrost a frozen chicken so it can be cooked, whether you're boiling, frying, or grilling.
How to defrost chicken
Storing poultry in the freezer is a great method if you buy meat when on offer or might not have the time to cook it straight away. However, frozen chicken means extra cooking time if you forgot to do the needful.
Do you know that you can defrost poultry safely in three ways? Yes, you can defrost chicken in the fridge overnight (the best and safest way), in cold water (perfect for when you are short on time), and lastly, in the microwave. The latter is my least favorite way, as the chicken will be separated but can somewhat come out partially cooked.
How to defrost frozen chicken in the fridge
This method is not the fastest but definitely the safest. It is stress-free but would require that you plan ahead. Depending on the size of poultry you want to thaw, it can take anywhere from 5 hours to 24 hours. This time frame may vary if you are to thaw a whole chicken or thaw a big bird such as a turkey which may take up to 72 hours to thaw completely.
All you have to do is place the frozen chicken on the bottom shelf of the fridge, you can place the chicken in a rimmed tray or container so it catches the juice from dripping all over the fridge or other contents in the fridge. This can cause contamination thereby spoiling the rest of the food in the fridge and you really do not want that.
Related post: how long can defrosted chicken stay in the fridge
Thawing frozen chicken in cold water
Defrosting chicken in cold water takes less time than defrosting it in the fridge but can be slightly risky. This method works best for small-sized poultry like boneless, skinless breasts and wings. Depending on the size of the poultry it can take around 30 minutes or longer to fully defrost.
To defrost chicken in cold water, make sure the poultry is placed in an airtight freezer bag. Fill a bowl with cold water and submerge the chicken in it completely. Make sure the water is cold as warm water can easily allow bacteria growth.
Change the water every 30 minutes until the chicken is fully thawed and separated.
PS: you can soak the frozen chicken in the kitchen sink if you don't have a bowl.
How to defrost chicken in the microwave
This is supposedly the quickest way to defrost chicken, however, it's not the most effective way as the chicken can start to cook if you use the wrong setting or you leave it in the microwave longer than needed
Place the frozen chicken on a microwavable bowl or plate, use the defrost function of the microwave and defrost according to the weight of the chicken. If your microwave does not have a defrost function, you can reduce the power of the microwave to about 20-40% of its full power. This way the microwave defrosts the chicken and does not cook it.
Open the microwave from time to time and flip the chicken every 2-3 minutes until it's fully thawed. Remove the chicken from the microwave and cook it immediately.
How do you know that the chicken is fully thawed
A frozen chicken will be rock hard, while fully thawed chicken would have a soft, squishy texture when you poke or squeeze it. Also, there will not be any ice crystals in the poultry.
How long does it take to defrost chicken in fridge
This will be dependent on the cut of the chicken and the weight in general, more importantly, if it is clumped together or not. It can take anywhere from 5 hours to 24 hours.
Can I defrost chicken at room temperature
No, it is recommended to defrost poultry at room temperature or overnight on the countertop. Room temperature allows bacteria to grow and can cause food poisoning if not done properly.
How long to defrost chicken in cold water
This will depend on the weight of the poultry, but usually, around 30 minutes to an hour should be enough time for it to thaw. Don't forget to change the cold water every 30 minutes.
Can I thaw chicken in hot water
Do not thaw chicken in hot water, it can increase the risk for bacterial growth and food poisoning. The irregular temperature can allow bacteria to multiply quickly which would definitely not be good for you. Just use cold water, changing it every 30 minutes or so will do the trick.
Can you refreeze frozen chicken
Refreezing poultry is strictly prohibited as the continued freezing and defrosting can cause bacterial growth which makes it unsafe to eat.
How long to defrost chicken in microwave
Depending on the weight, it will take anywhere from 15-25 minutes using the defrost function. Reduce the power of the microwave to 20-40% if yours doesn't have a defrost function. Open the microwave every 5 minutes and check the progress to avoid cooking the poultry.
How long to defrost whole chicken in fridge
This can typically be anywhere from 24 hours to 48 hours. Small whole chicken should be fully thawed in 24 hours while bigger poultry can take up to 48 hours. Never defrost chicken on the countertop or any other surface, this can lead to bacterial growth and food poisoning. If you need to thaw your bird quickly you could place it inside a sealed plastic bag and submerge it in cold water. Make sure the water is constantly changed every 30 minutes until the chicken is fully thawed.
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How To Defrost Frozen Chicken
- large bowl or the microwave
- Frozen Chicken
How to defrost chicken in cold water
- Remove the chicken from the freezer, place the chicken in a sealed frozen bag if it is not already in it.
- Fill a bowl with cold water from the tap and fully submerge the frozen chicken in the cold water
- Change the water every 30 minutes until the chicken is fully thawed.
How to defrost chicken in the fridge
- Remove the fridge from the freezer
- Double bag the chicken in a ziploc bag or place it in a bowl or rimmed plate
- Place the frozen chicken in the bottom shelf of the fridge and leave to thaw overnight.
How to defrost in the microwave
- Remove the chicken from the freezer then remove any other packaging from the chicken as well.
- Place the chicken on a rimmed plate and place it in the microwave
- Enter or select the weight of the chicken in your microwave, this will automatically give you the total estimated time the chicken will be fully thawed. Open the microwave from time to time, to turn or flip the chicken so that it thaws evenly. Reduce the power of the microwave to 20-30% of the overall power if your microwave does not have a defrost function. Start checking every 4 minutes.
- Remove the chicken from the oven once it is fully cooked and cook immediately