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How to Defrost Chicken in Microwave

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We have all been there and forgot to pull out the frozen chicken to put it in the fridge so it could thaw overnight. Now it’s dinner time and the chicken is frozen solid. So, is it possible to defrost frozen chicken in the microwave?

It is very easy to use a microwave to defrost chicken. During this process, you will have to be very careful. Using the wrong setting or overextending the defrost timing can jeopardize the final result.

How to defrost chicken in microwave.

How do you defrost frozen chicken in the microwave? To defrost chicken in the microwave, remove the frozen meat from its original packaging. Then, place it on a microwave-safe plate, and nuke on the defrost setting, or 30% power level, for 2 minutes per pound or until the chicken is fully thawed.

The information provided in this write-up will help you with the right way to defrost chicken in microwave. Covered below are the answers to your frequently asked questions. In addition, this article includes helpful hacks and microwave tips to thaw chicken in just a few minutes.

Can you Defrost Chicken in the Microwave?

Yes, you can defrost chicken in the microwave very easily and quickly. To defrost chicken in the microwave, place the pieces of frozen chicken on a microwave-safe plate. Sset the timer for two minutes per pound. 

It is important to keep a close eye on the chicken as it thaws in the microwave. During this process, access chicken frequently to check whether it is defrosted properly or not. 

While defrosting chicken in the microwave, the heat is on low. Leaving it in the microwave for a long time will start cooking the meat slowly instead of only defrosting it. 

Defrosted chicken should be cooked immediately after thawing it to avoid the growth of any harmful bacteria. According to the USDA food safety guidelines, chicken is a perishable food. It is susceptible to the rapid growth of food-borne bacteria.

Fried chicken wings in microwave.

Is it safe?

Yes, it is safe to thaw chicken in the microwave. Moreover, the microwave is the quickest way to defrost frozen chicken.

While defrosting chicken in the microwave, be careful as it can start cooking if the timer is set for too long. Since the microwave uses low power heat to thaw, the meat will begin to cook very slowly once it has been defrosted.

Moreover, you should cook your recipe instantly as soon as the chicken has been defrosted. Raw chicken is a perishable food that should not be left out at room temperature for very long. 

The USDA food safety guidelines recommend that raw poultry be cooked or stored under refrigeration within 2 hours. Overextending this time period can lead to rapid growth of food borne bacteria.

Do I need to defrost chicken before cooking?

Yes, it is important to defrost chicken before cooking any recipe. If the frozen chicken is not fully defrosted before cooking, the center will remain raw while the outside edges get overcooked.

As suggested by USDA, frozen chicken can be defrosted in three easy to follow methods. Thaw it by submerging a sealed bag under cold running water, put it in the fridge overnight or by using a microwave. 

After thawing, the previously frozen chicken becomes much easier to cook all the way through. Poultry must be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit to be considered ready to eat.

Keep the growth of bacteria found in raw frozen chicken to a minimum by cooking it immediately after being thawed.

How do you defrost quickly?

Defrost chicken quickly by using a microwave. Place the frozen chicken onto a microwave safe dish with a cover. Use the defrost setting or 30% power level to nuke for 2 minutes per pound.

For this purpose, it is key that you take the frozen chicken out of its original packaging and place it onto a microwave safe plate. A cover will help to trap any residual steam to gradually warm the frozen chicken rather than cooking it.

If the center of the chicken is slightly frozen, then continue defrosting for 30 second increments until the chicken is completely thawed. 

How long does it take?

It takes two minutes per pound to defrost frozen chicken in a microwave. However, it depends upon the wattage of your microwave, the number of pieces of chicken and the thickness of each piece you want to thaw.

While defrosting chicken in the microwave you will have to put one or two pieces of chicken on the plate at a time. Set the timer of your microwave to 2 minute to defrost the frozen chicken. 

At the half way point, it is optimal to flip the pieces over and rotate the plate around. This will expedite the process, avoid hotspots and make the meat defrost evenly.

What happens when you try defrosting chicken in microwave for a long time?

When defrosting chicken in a microwave for a long time, the chicken will begin to cook very slowly. Additionally, the chances of bacteria multiplying on chicken can increase.

When the chicken becomes warmer than 40 degrees Fahrenheit, then the bacteria present on it before freezing start multiplying rapidly. If it is left at room temperature for over two hours, the risk of contracting a food borne illness greatly increases. 

After thawing frozen chicken, you should cook it immediately to avoid the effects of such harmful infestation of bacteria growth. The time temperature guidelines provided by the USDA state that perishable food should be in the temperature danger zone, 40°F to 140°F for no longer than 4 hours.

Plate with whole chicken.

How to Defrost Without a Defrost Button

To defrost chicken in your microwave even if it does not have a button, set the power of your microwave at 30% to use the low power to thaw the frozen meat.

Even if your microwave does not have a defrost button you can set the timer of the microwave to 2 minutes to defrost one pound of chicken. Adjust the timer according to the weight, thickness, number of pieces and the wattage of the microwave oven.

It’s recommended to rotate the frozen meat and separate any pieces that loosen up after each duration. This will expedite the defrost time and allow the frozen chicken to thaw more evenly without developing hotspots that cook the chicken.

Expert Tips & Tricks

You can quickly defrost chicken in a microwave by following the tips provided here:

  • The settings of every microwave can differ from one another, so follow the manufacturer instructions to get the best results.
  • While defrosting chicken in a microwave, be careful to avoid overextending the time and this will cause the frozen chicken to dry out during the process.
  • Remove the frozen chicken from the original styrofoam and plastic packaging.
  • Place the chicken on a microwave-safe plate to collect the juices that drip from the meat as it thaws. Glass or ceramic dishes are generally microwave safe materials.
  • Defrost chicken for two minutes at a time just by using the defrost setting of the microwave.
  • Check the doneness of the chicken during this process to ensure that they are properly defrosted. 
  • Separate any pieces that loosen up and rotate the meat as it defrosts avoid overcooked hotspots.
  • Once the chicken has fully defrosted, cook your recipe instantly to minimize the growth of harmful food borne bacteria.
Plate with whole chicken.
How to defrost chicken in microwave

Best Way to Defrost Chicken in the Microwave

The best way to defrost chicken in the microwave is by following the instructions provided by the manufacturer. Other tips to follow may include:

  • Follow the instructions on the package of chicken for manufacturer guidelines.
  • Place whole pieces of frozen chicken in a microwave-safe bowl.
  • Microwave using the defrost setting of your microwave or 30% power level for two minutes.
  • Check their doneness after two minute intervals.
  • Separate any pieces when they loosen up and rotate the portions to prevent the development of hotspots that can cook the chicken.
  • Never defrost chicken at room temperature as this can escalate the growth of food borne bacteria.
  • To refreeze defrosted chicken, it is recommended to cook the chicken before refreezing.

Final Thoughts

You can easily defrost chicken in the microwave if you do not have time to wait for it. But while defrosting them in a microwave you must be careful as leaving it in the microwave for too long can increase the risk of growing harmful bacteria.

Additionally, the chicken may cook slowly even when the microwave is on the defrost setting. If the microwave does not have a defrost button, then set the power level to 30% to achieve the same results.

Remove all frozen chicken from the original packaging as the wrappers may not be suitable for use in the microwave. Instead, place the unwrapped frozen chicken on a microwave safe plate before nuking.

Microwave on low power for 2 minutes per pound to thaw the chicken. Rotate and separate any pieces that loosen off the block in between each interval to expedite the process and promote even defrosting.

Total defrosting time in the microwave depends on the thickness of the meat, whether or not it has bones, the weight of the meat, number of pieces and the microwave wattage 

Raw chicken is susceptible to rapid growth of bacteria. Cook the defrosted chicken right away to minimize the growth of food borne bacteria. 

There you have it, everything you need to know about defrosting frozen chicken in the microwave. With these simple instructions you will have perfectly thawed chicken in just a few minutes.

Chicken in microwave.

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Paul Governor

Saturday 19th of February 2022

Great post, as usual! I love to defrost all my chicken all 2.49 pounds (priced at 3.48 US Dollars per pound) in my defrost-capable microwave! The defrosted chicken always tastes phenomenal after defrosting and cooking to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit! It goes great with any other non meat based food. It has to. Thanks again!


Saturday 19th of February 2022

Thanks for sharing Paul! Be sure to fully defrost before cooking so that you don't end up with ice cold spots in the center of the chicken, and always cook to an internal temperature of 74 degrees Celsius or 165 degrees Fahrenheit so that it is safe to eat.