Find out how to defrost chicken safely in four ways. All of these methods are absolutely safe and foolproof. So go ahead and pick one depending on the amount of time you have at hand.
Have you ever decided to make chicken for dinner, only to realise that you forgot to take it out of the freezer in time? Yep, me too. But as someone who’s encountered this problem one too many times, I have learnt my lesson the hard way. I have now equipped myself with quite a few methods of defrosting chicken safely, and that’s exactly what I am going to share with you today.
Is frozen chicken better than fresh?
A few years ago, I used to be wary about buying frozen chicken as I believed that they lacked nutritional value, were less healthier, and just not as safe for consumption. However, I now buy frozen as well as fresh chicken, depending on convenience and availability. For one, frozen chicken has a longer shelf life and it also tends to be less expensive than fresh chicken. Plus, having frozen chicken in my freezer means I always have some at hand for last minute meals or unexpected guests. Lastly, commercially frozen chicken is usually frozen immediately at very low temperatures, thereby making sure that it doesn’t lose any nutrients and is absolutely safe for consumption by the time you are ready to cook it.
So now that we know frozen chicken is absolutely safe for you, here’s let’s see how to defrost chicken safely…
Method #1: How to defrost chicken in the refrigerator
This one’s for all the planners who know exactly what they’re going to be cooking when.
- Take the chicken out of the freezer and place it in a big bowl. The bowl will help catch any water from the defrosting and prevent a mess.
- Now place this bowl in the refrigerator overnight or the cmorning of when you’re planning to cook.
That’s it! The only thing is that defrosting chicken this way is a slow process and can take anywhere between 7 - 12 hours depending on the amount of chicken and the type of cut you are defrosting. But according to experts, this is the safest way to defrost chicken. Besides, once the chicken is in the refrigerator, the process is pretty hands-off and doesn’t require you to do anything until you are ready to cook.
Method #2: How to defrost chicken in cold water
This is my preferred method to defrost chicken, simply because it doesn’t require too much pre-planning, is quicker, and absolutely safe.
- Fill a big bowl with cool tap water. Make sure the water is cool to touch, not warm or hot, especially during the summers.
- If it is warm or hot, throw in a couple of ice cubes to maintain the correct temperature.
- Place the frozen chicken (still in its original packaging) in this bowl in a way that the entire packet is fully submerged.
- Change the water every 30 minutes or so.
This method is great because it requires no pre-planning, and needs just 1-2 hours to defrost the chicken completely. However, it is important to change the water 2-3 times to prevent it from getting too warm. Warm water increases the chances of developing bacteria which can make the chicken unsafe for consumption. I usually start the process when I come to make my evening chai and by the time it’s time to start making dinner, the chicken is perfectly defrosted and ready to cook.
Method #3: How to defrost chicken in running cold water
This is a method commonly used by restaurants to defrost their chicken quickly, and is also often recommended by chefs and experts. Here’s what you need to do:
- Place the chicken (still in its original packaging or a zip lock bag) in a big bowl of cool tap water.
- Place the bowl under the tap in such a way that there is a thin stream of water running over the chicken at all times.
This method defrosts chicken much quicker than the previous two methods as it doesn’t let the temperature of the water change. Plus with this method, you won’t have to change the water. However, I personally do not prefer defrosting chicken this way as it leads to a lot of water wastage.
Method #4: How to defrost chicken in the microwave
If you are super pressed for time and want to defrost your chicken quickly, then the defrost function on your microwave is your best bet.
- Remove the chicken from its packaging and place it in a microwave-safe dish.
- Turn on the defrosting function of your microwave and defrost it in short 2 minute intervals at a time.
- Make sure to flip the chicken a couple of times to ensure that it is defrosted evenly on all sides.
- Once the chicken is completely defrosted, cook it immediately.
Even though a microwave does defrost chicken very quickly and is great for the times when you are in a hurry, I personally wouldn’t recommend this method. Not only can the high heat from the microwave start to cook the chicken, but it can also lead to heat spots as well as a change in texture.
However, if you do decide to thaw your chicken in the microwave, make sure to cook it immediately after and never refreeze it. This is because the high temperature of the microwave can sometimes be a breeding ground for harmful bacteria, and the best way to ensure the chicken is safe for consumption is to cook it at the correct temperature right after it is defrosted.
Some things to keep in mind when defrosting chicken
- Never thaw the chicken on the counter or in warm/hot water. This is because the outer layer of the chicken can get defrosted and warm, while the insides are still frozen. This can lead to the outer surface becoming a breeding ground for bacteria and contaminate the chicken, thereby making it unsafe for consumption.
- Avoid refreezing thawed chicken. Refreezing defrosted chicken can lead to a protein breakdown as well as breed harmful bacteria. So it is best to consume it immediately after (or at least on the same day) it’s defrosted.
Now that the chicken is defrosted, it’s ready to cook. If you are looking for some inspiration, here are some of my favourite chicken recipes you’ll absolutely love:
- Restaurant style butter chicken masala
- Easy chinese chilli chicken dry
- Chicken ghee roast
- Creamy lemon chicken scallopini
There are a lot more chicken recipes on the blog for you to try. Simply type chicken in the search bar and take your pick!