How to defrost chicken

Find out how to safely defrost chicken quickly with these tips and tricks

How to defrost chicken quickly
(Image credit: Shutterstock )

So you forgot to defrost the chicken last night? Ah, we've all been there. But fear not, you might not have to resort to a 14 piece party bucket because we have got a few methods that could save the day. Bear in mind that when it comes to defrosting chicken you have to be super careful – we would take a boneless banquet over food poisoning any day – so follow these instructions carefully.

For more foodie tips, recipes and inspiration, head over to our recipes

How to defrost chicken in a microwave 

The best way the defrost chicken quickly is using a microwave. This is a popular way to thaw chicken, but you have to be really careful using this method because if you over-microwave/overcook or don't use the proper setting, the chicken will be unsafe to eat. 

Also, bear in mind this method with only work for chicken pieces – breast and thighs – you can't defrost a whole chicken in the microwave. Follow these steps to make sure you are defrosting your chicken safely:

1. Put your chicken pieces on a microwaveable plate. Only defrost one or two pieces at once. 

2. Turn your microwave to the defrost setting. If your microwave does not have this setting, do not use your microwave to defrost chicken. Keep scrolling for some equally easy, alternative methods.

3. Keep checking your chicken every minute until it has thawed all the way through (we have some tips on how to check it is defrosted below – have a read through those if you are in doubt). 

4. Be aware: you have to oven cook your chicken as soon as you have defrosted it in the microwave. 

How to defrost chicken in water 

This method takes a bit longer, but is much safer if you don't have a defrost setting on your microwave. Again, this works best if you are just defrosting chicken pieces. Just follow these easy steps to find out how to defrost a chicken using water:

1. Place your chicken pieces into sealed sandwich bags (you don't want the water to actually touch the chicken). 

2. Put the chicken in a large mixing bowl filled with cold water; warm water will risk bacteria growth. Make sure the chicken is submerged. 

3. Change the water every 20 to 30 minutes until the chicken is completely defrosted. 

How to defrost chicken in a fridge 

This is the best way to defrost a whole chicken, and this is definitely the safest method. So if you are not in a rush, we would always recommend defrosting your chicken in the fridge. Here's the best way to do it:

1. Put your chicken in sandwich bags, or if it's a whole chicken you are defrosting, try covering it in cling film, or you could put it in a roasting bag

2. Place the meat on a plate so juices don't escape onto your fridge's shelves and ruin other food. If you have a plate with a lipped edge, this would be your safest bet. 

3. Leave the chicken for at least five hours, but for a whole chicken, overnight is recommended. 

How to check that chicken is defrosted properly 

The easiest way to check if your chicken is defrosted if to cut a small section open and use your finger to test. The meat should feel soft and you shouldn't feel any ice crystals. Make sure the check the thickest bit of your chicken too, as this will be the part that will take the longest to thaw. Now wash your hands. Obvs.

Read more: