How to Defrost Chicken in Microwave: Quick Answers Guide

Chicken is a staple in many people’s diets. It can be prepared quickly and easily, making it a popular food for those who are busy or don’t have much time to cook. But, unfortunately, finding the time to defrost chicken before cooking it can often get overlooked. And that’s where microwaves come into play!

Whether you’re pressed for time or just looking for an easier way of doing things, microwaving your frozen chicken will allow it to thaw safely and quickly so that you can enjoy its deliciousness without any wait times at all!

In this article, you will learn everything you need to know about defrosting chicken in the microwave. We’ll cover how long it takes for your chicken to thaw, whether it’s safe or not, and many more tips commonly asked questions.

Can you defrost a chicken in the microwave?

Yes. You can defrost chicken in the microwave by following these easy steps:

1) Put the chicken in a microwave-safe dish. Use your timer to set it for 2 minutes per pound.

2) It is important to check the chicken while it is defrosting. If you leave it in the microwave for too long, it will start cooking instead of only defrosting. The safest way to go about this is to cook immediately after all necessary precautions have been taken.

3) According to food safety guidelines, you must cook raw poultry with a time/temperature combination specific enough to destroy pathogens present without drying out or undercooking them before consumption.

Is it safe to defrost chicken in the microwave?

Yes, defrosting frozen chicken in the microwave is possible. It’s a quick, safe, and simple way to defrost frozen poultry. When defrosting chicken in the microwave, however, you must exercise caution. While microwaving chicken is completely acceptable, it isn’t the safest method to thaw meat because you must be meticulous about the timing.

If you set your timer for too long, it will start to cook the meat. Furthermore, once the meat has been defrosted, it becomes unsafe after a while.

However, you can start cooking your recipe automatically when you have defrosted the chicken. If you follow the USDA food safety guidelines, it will most likely be safe to eat. Just remember that you can’t leave out raw poultry at room temperature for too long, or bacteria will grow and make it unsafe to eat. The safe limit for time is no more than two hours in room temperatures.

Moreover, if you want your chicken to be 100% safe to consume, thawing it before cooking reduces the chances of undercooking the chicken.

Do I need to defrost chicken before cooking?

Yes, you should always defrost the chicken before cooking to ensure it cooks evenly. The USDA recommends thawing frozen poultry by submerging it in cold running water, putting it in the refrigerator to thaw, or microwave thawing for best results.

Chicken can be easier to cut into pieces after it is thawed in the microwave oven. But some people think this can lead to unevenly cooked meat, which might still have other parts that are not cooked enough and contain harmful bacteria. However, this only happens if you overheat the chicken without following the proper procedures to thaw it in a microwave. Or if you were to leave it in the microwave too long.

Once it’s been thawed, cook your chicken immediately to reduce the growth of bacteria and spoilage. And keep in mind that poultry must be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit to be considered ready to eat.

How long does chicken take to defrost in a microwave?

It takes a microwave about 2 minutes to defrost a pound of frozen chicken. Keeping in mind that microwaves have variations in wattage, so it all depends on the power of your microwave, the number, and thickness of each piece, and how many pieces you’re trying to microwave at once.

The best way is to give it time – around 2-3 minutes per pound of chicken you want to thaw as that usually does the trick!

To make it even more foolproof, try defrosting one or two pieces at a time, rotate them halfway through cooking, and turning the plate now and then if your microwave doesn’t have a turntable plate. Doing so will make sure all parts cook evenly instead of specific areas getting hotspots due to too much exposure from microwaves.

Using 3-5 minute intervals should be more than enough for most microwaves no matter the wattage. Remember that the chicken will continue to cook as it thaws so err on the side of caution and use less time instead of more!

There are a lot of variables that determine how long it takes for your microwave to defrost the chicken. The most important thing is just making sure you’re setting aside enough time, rotating pieces halfway during cooking, and checking them every now and then until they’re done.

For smaller microwaves with lower wattage, try around three minutes per pound at least and give it a 30-second to 1-minute rest between heating. And always remember that there’s still some carryover cooking happening during microwaving too!

How do you defrost frozen chicken in the microwave?

Before thawing chicken in a microwave you need to take the chicken out of its packaging or plastic. Put it on a dish with a lid or in a zip lock bag and then microwave it for 2-3 minutes per pound.

Defrost by 30-second to 1-minute increments thereafter if the center of the chicken is slightly frozen. It is crucial to periodically check on your meat while using this technique in order to avoid overcooking. And once the chicken is done defrosting, cook it immediately.

What happens if you defrost chicken in the microwave too long?

When the chicken is defrosted in the microwave for too long, there are parts of it that can start to cook very slowly. This will cause the texture and taste of the chicken to become less desirable.

Additionally, there is a high chance of bacteria multiplying on the chicken if it is left defrosting at high temperatures for too long without being cooked. This can potentially create harmful side effects that are related to food poisoning.

So after thawing frozen chicken in the microwave, you should cook it immediately to avoid any further potential risks associated with leaving perishable foods out for over two-four hours within the “temperature danger zone” set by USDA guidelines at 40°F-140°F degrees Fahrenheit). If this occurs, then any bacteria that may have been present before freezing will start multiplying rapidly, leading to serious health problems or even death if you eat the meat.

How to defrost chicken in the microwave without a defrost button?

If your microwave doesn’t have a button to defrost, you will need to set it at 30% or 20% power manually by using the Power Level option found on most of the best microwaves. However, make sure that you do not set it any higher than 50% because the chicken might cook instead of thawing.

If your microwave has a button to defrost food, it will ask you what type of food you are defrosting and how much it weighs to figure out the defrost time.

If you don’t have either option, then you’ll need to reduce the heating time to 30-second or 1-minute intervals with an additional 30-second rest in between. This will allow you to achieve almost similar results.

Rotating it every 5-10 seconds will allow it to defrost more evenly while also preventing “hotspot/s” that cook the chicken. Continue this pattern until the chicken is thoroughly thawed.

Tips for defrosting chicken in the microwave

  • It is important to defrost the chicken before cooking it. This reduces the chance of undercooking the food and ensures it cooks evenly.
  • You can microwave chicken at 30% or 20% power if you don’t have a defrost setting on your microwave.
  • Rotate the food every 5-10 seconds for even cooking.
  • Do not cook it for too long because it may start to cook instead of thawing.
  • Cook it immediately after it’s done microwaving, or reduce time to 30-second intervals, resting in between.
  • Heating for 2-3 minutes is the best time frame to defrost the chicken.

The Bottom Line

Everything in this article is meant to help you defrost chicken in the microwave. The steps and tips in this article will allow you to thaw your chicken without any worries about undercooking or overcooking. Just keep in mind that it still depends on how much time is given for thawing. It may take some trial and error, but these microwaving techniques should give you a solid starting point for cooking frozen chicken at home!

Related: Can You Put Canned Food in the Microwave? Surprising Answers to Common Questions


How can I defrost chicken quickly?

To defrost frozen chicken quickly, you can use the defrost setting on your microwave. Place the frozen chicken on a microwave safe plate and select the defrost button. Make sure to turn over the chicken every few minutes until it is completely thawed.

What is the best way to cook frozen chicken?

Cooking frozen chicken requires more time than fresh or defrosted chicken. To ensure perfectly cooked chicken, bake it in an oven at 350°F for 50-60 minutes or until it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F. You can also grill or sauté frozen chicken after it has been fully thawed.

Can I cook frozen chicken without defrosting it first?

Yes, you can cook frozen chicken without defrosting it first. However, cooking times will be longer and may result in unevenly cooked meat. It’s recommended to fully thaw the frozen meat before cooking for best results.

How do I properly thaw and cook frozen chicken breasts?

To safely thaw and cook frozen chicken breasts, place them in a refrigerator overnight or use the defrost setting on your microwave if you need them sooner. Once they are fully thawed, season as desired and bake in a preheated oven at 375°F for approximately 25-30 minutes or until they reach an internal temperature of 165°F.

Is there any difference between cooking fresh and previously-frozen (defrosted)chicken?

There may be slight differences when cooking fresh versus previously-frozen (defrosted)chicken due to moisture content changes during freezing process but overall both types of meat should be cooked thoroughly to avoid foodborne illness risks such as salmonella poisoning which could occur with undercooked poultry products.

How can I defrost chicken breasts properly?

To defrost chicken breasts, place them in the refrigerator overnight or submerge them in cold water. Avoid using hot water or leaving raw chicken at room temperature to prevent bacterial growth. If you need to defrost quickly, use the microwave settings or let the chicken sit in a bowl of cold water.

Can I refreeze defrosted chicken?

It is safe to refreeze raw chicken that has been completely thawed and then cooked thoroughly. However, it is not recommended to refreeze raw chicken that has only been partially thawed or left at room temperature for more than two hours.

What is the best way to cook skinless chicken breasts?

The internal temperature of cooked fresh or thawed chicken should reach 165°F (74°C) for food safety reasons. To ensure even cooking, pound out thicker parts of the breast before cooking and avoid overcooking by using a meat thermometer.

Is it okay to use hot water when defrosting meat?

No, it is not recommended as hot water can cause bacteria growth on raw meat. Instead, use cold running water or submerge frozen solid meat in a bowl of cold water until completely thawed.

What does America’s Test Kitchen recommend for defrosting poultry?

America’s Test Kitchen recommends placing poultry such as chicken breast in a zipper-lock bag and submerging it into cold tap water while changing out the water every 30 minutes until completely thawed. Alternatively, they suggest using microwave settings with lower power levels for better results when microwaving frozen meats like poultry.

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