Defrosting Chicken Quickly—and Safely: 5 Methods to Try Now

by Rienzi Mosqueda

Planning to cook delicious meals with your skinless chicken breasts in the freezer but they're as hard as a rock? Prepare your chicken recipes because in no time you'll be turning those frozen chicken breasts, or any other cut, into attractive meals!

Here are some of the safest and fastest methods to thaw your meat. But remember, larger packages take longer. Stay away from any foodborne illness by sticking to a safe defrosting process. Choose your favorite method below!

Best Method to Quickly Defrost Chicken: Hot Water Bath

The safest and fastest method to defrost packages of chicken is the Hot Water Bath Method. However, the Hot Water Bath requires precision. You'll have to place your meat in water that's hot enough to defrost it, but not enough to cook its outer layer.

Do not attempt to run hot tap water directly onto your chicken. Defrosting in hot water is bad, but by following the steps below, this defrosting process can be done safely.

Average Defrosting Time: 8-30 minutes

Quality: Flesh stays fresh and keeps the chicken moist.

Safe: Yes

How to Defrost Using the Hot Water Bath Method:

  1. Place your chicken pieces inside water-proof, resealable bags.
  2. Prepare hot water with a temperature of 60°C. You may use a kettle to boil water and wait for the temperature to drop. Recommends using a food thermometer to check.
  3. Place water inside container and submerge the bag with the chicken. Stir once in a while.
  4. Check after a few minutes and cook immediately after thawing.

How to Tell a Properly Defrosted Chicken:

To check if your meat is defrosted, make a cut and feel the inside with your fingers. If it's still icy cold or has some ice flakes, it's not fully defrosted yet.

Other Quick and Safe Methods for Defrosting Chicken

Looking for other ways to defrost the frozen chicken cuts you bought from Fish n' Chix? Here are more safe defrosting methods.

Cold Water Bath Method

Cooking your package of chicken breasts for later? Then the cold water method is a great option. Although this defrosting method takes a bit of time, it's one of the safest methods to thaw your meat.

Average Defrosting Time: 1 to 1.5 hours

Quality: Meat remains fresh and tender once cooked.

Safe: Yes

How to Defrost Using the Cold Water Bath Method:

  1. Place raw chicken in airtight packaging.
  2. Place cold water (temperature range of around 4°C) inside a container and submerge the chicken.
  3. Replace the water bath every 30 minutes to maintain water temperature. You may also place ice cubes inside your bowl of water. Repeat until fully defrosted.

Microwave Method

For last-minute plans to cook your cuts of chicken, microwave thawing is one of the quicker methods. However, be aware that microwave thawing may bring your chicken up to a temperature where harmful bacteria may grow and cause food poisoning.

Average Defrosting Time: 2 - 13 minutes

Quality: Meat remains tender, but if done excessively, it becomes dry.

Safe: Yes

How to Defrost Using the Microwave Method:

  1. Transfer frozen food to a microwave-safe dish.
  2. Place inside the microwave and set on chicken defrost setting for 2 minutes.
  3. If it's not yet defrosted, flip the chicken and repeat step 2.

Cold Tap Water Method

If you have access to cold running water, this may be an ideal method. Doing this process keeps your poultry in a cold environment while defrosting so it's safe from bacterial growth, however, it requires a lot of water. See the steps below.

Average Defrosting Time: 1 hour

Quality: Just like the cold water bath method, this keeps your chicken moist and fresh.

Safe: Yes

How to Defrost Using the Cold Tap Water Method:

  1. Place pieces of chicken inside an airtight bag.
  2. Put a container just below your sink, and place the chicken inside.
  3. Keep a cold stream of water flowing on your chicken and wait for it to defrost.

Refrigerator Method

Were you able to plan your tasty meal? The refrigerator method is not the fastest method, but it is the safest method for defrosting your frozen breasts or even your whole chicken.

Average Defrosting Time: 24-48 hours

Quality: Using this thawing process keeps your meat fresh with little to no drops in quality.

Safe: Yes

How to Defrost Using the Refrigerator Method:

  1. Keep meat in its original packaging and place it on a rimmed tray to prevent cross-contamination.
  2. Place poultry inside your fridge and wait for it to defrost. It's best to keep it on the lower part of your fridge.

Defrosting and Thawing Methods to Avoid

No matter what rush you are in, stay away from these defrosting methods to prevent bacterial growth and food poisoning. The rule of thumb is to not let your poultry stay in temperatures between 5°C and 60°C.

  • Defrosting in warm tap water - Thawing your frozen chicken using water straight from the faucet is bad unless you have a cold water setting. The average temperature of tap water in some locations in the Philippines is around 24°C, placing it within the unsafe temperatures mentioned above.
  • Extremely hot water bath method - Though it may seem like the quickest method, it may partially cook your poultry and may introduce bacteria growth. Remember, the hot water method needs to be done at a precise temperature and to place frozen chicken inside reselable bags.

Avoiding the Dangers of Improper Chicken Defrosting

Enjoy eating your boneless chicken breasts or chicken thighs safely! While the idea of a rapid defrosting process is tempting, it's not safe. You do not want bacteria growth on your food, and you definitely want to stay away from any foodborne illness. Keep in mind that food safety should be your priority when preparing your meals. Cook your chicken in soups or chicken pot pie or whichever delicious recipes you want, just be sure that your meat has thawed properly.

It's also best to buy your frozen chicken from trusted retailers like Fish n' Chix to be sure you're buying fresh.

FAQs

Can you defrost chicken in the counter?

No. The average room temperature is around 20°C, thus placing your meat in unsafe temperatures. 

Can you cook frozen chicken?

Yes, but adjust the cooking method and cooking time to make sure your food is safe for consumption. Remember, the internal temperature for cooked poultry should be around 73°C. 

Can you refreeze defrosted chicken?

Only with the refrigerator method, yes. But remember, these are perishable foods so it's best to consume them right away. 

What is the safe temperature for chicken?

Store your chicken at temperatures below 4°C.