June 14, 2024
Thawing chicken is a challenging task when done quickly. Read this article to learn safe and effective ways to thaw chicken, including using a sous vide machine, cold water, refrigerator, and microwave, and tips. Find out which is best for you and your situation.

How to Quickly Thaw Chicken: Methods and Tips

Thawing chicken is an essential step in preparing any recipe that calls for it. However, sometimes we forget to take the chicken out of the freezer in time or have unexpected dinner guests we need to feed. In such situations, it can be tempting to toss the frozen chicken in the microwave or leave it out on the counter to defrost quickly. However, such methods come with their own risks, including bacterial growth and foodborne illnesses. In this article, we’ll explore several methods for quickly thawing chicken that are safe, effective, and suitable for different situations.

Method 1: Defrost Chicken in Cold Water

This method involves placing the frozen chicken in a leak-proof plastic bag and submerging it in cold water. To do so, fill a bowl or sink with cold tap water and place the bag in it, ensuring that the water remains cold throughout the process. Change the water every 30 minutes to ensure that the water temperature stays below 40°F.

The approximate time required to thaw chicken using this method is 30 minutes per pound of chicken. However, the actual time may vary depending on the size and thickness of the chicken as well as the water’s temperature and quality.

While this method is relatively quick and straightforward, there are some risks involved. For example, the chicken may become waterlogged or start to develop bacteria if it’s not handled correctly.

Method 2: Defrost Chicken Using the Microwave

The microwave method is one of the fastest ways to defrost chicken. To thaw chicken in the microwave, make sure to use the defrost setting and select the appropriate weight for the chicken. Check the chicken at regular intervals to ensure it doesn’t start cooking or developing hot spots.

Using this method has some advantages, such as being highly convenient and quick. However, there is a greater risk of the chicken starting to cook and developing hot spots that can make the chicken unsafe to eat. Therefore, it’s essential to make sure the chicken continues to be frozen in some spots and cooled all around.

Method 3: Cook the Chicken Straight from the Freezer

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can skip the defrosting stage entirely and cook the chicken straight from the freezer. While this method is only suitable for specific cooking methods (such as grilling, frying, or baking), it eliminates the need for defrosting and saves time.

To cook chicken straight from the freezer, add five to ten minutes to the cooking time and make sure the internal temperature reaches the safe threshold of 165°F. However, there is a greater risk that the chicken may cook unevenly, leading to some parts being overcooked and others undercooked.

Method 4: Defrost Chicken in the Refrigerator

The refrigerator method is the safest and most recommended way to defrost chicken. It involves placing the frozen chicken in a shallow dish or plate and storing it in the fridge. Make sure to keep the chicken in its original packaging or wrap it tightly with plastic wrap.

The refrigerator’s constant temperature (below 40°F) ensures that the chicken defrosts evenly and remains at a safe temperature throughout the process. However, this method requires advance planning, as it can take several hours, or even a few days, depending on the size of the chicken.

If you’re in a hurry and need to thaw chicken quickly, consider using one of the other methods described in this article.

Method 5: Use a Sous Vide Machine
Method 5: Use a Sous Vide Machine

Method 5: Use a Sous Vide Machine

Sous vide is a French cooking technique that involves cooking meat by sous viding it in a water bath at a precise temperature. It’s a highly precise way to cook meat and, as a side benefit, can be also used to quickly and safely defrost chicken.

To defrost chicken using a sous vide machine, set the machine to the appropriate temperature (typically around 140°F) and place the chicken in a sealable bag. Make sure that the chicken is fully submerged underwater. The machine will thaw the chicken quickly, typically in about an hour, depending on the chicken’s size and thickness.

The advantage of the sous vide method is that it’s precise and quick. However, the method requires investing in a sous vide machine, which can be expensive and requires space in the kitchen.


Thawing chicken quickly can be a challenging task, but there are several methods available that can help. The method you choose will depend on several factors, such as the time you have available, the equipment you have on hand, and the cooking method you plan to use.

To recap, defrosting chicken in cold water or using a microwave are the fastest methods but come with risks such as bacterial growth or uneven thawing. Cooking chicken straight from the freezer is an excellent option for specific cooking methods but can lead to uneven cooking. Defrosting chicken in the refrigerator is the safest and most recommended method, but it can take several hours. The sous vide machine is a precise and quick option but comes with the requirement of an investment in equipment.

Ultimately, the best way to thaw chicken quickly is the method that works best for you and your situation. Experiment with different methods and see which one works the best for you.

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