How To Thaw Chicken: 6 Hacks For Safety & Quickness

How To Thaw Chicken: 6 Hacks For Safety & Quickness

how to thaw chicken
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Thawing meat fast, especially chicken, can put you on the fast-track to food poisoning. That's why it's important to know how to thaw chicken properly. Rather than risk illness, use these six tips for safely thawing chicken fast.

Use Cold Water Thaw

Cold water thawing on chicken meat
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Cold water thawing is the best way to thaw any meat (or vegetables for that matter) faster and safer. The important rule to remember when it comes to thawing meat is never to use warm or hot water. That warmth helps bacteria grow, which will make you sick.

Make sure that you seal the frozen chicken in a bag, pushing as much air out as possible, and then submerge it in a bowl of cold (the colder, the better) water. It will need to soak in here for about a half an hour. If you want it to thaw faster keep the cold water running over it (this doesn't speed thawing a lot, but it will cut a few minutes off the time).

Defrost in the Microwave

defrosting chicken in a microwave oven
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If you have a microwave, why not use it to its full potential. There's a reason your microwave has a defrost button. You can quickly thaw chicken and have it ready to prepare in no time. Remember, thawing in a microwave can dry the chicken out a bit, so be careful.

There are some specific settings to use when it comes to safely thawing chicken, or any other meat, in the microwave. Follow them, and they will help ensure your chicken doesn't give you, or anyone else, food poisoning.  

Which setting you use will depend on how fast you want it thawed, and how long you thaw your meat will depend on what type of chicken (thighs, wings, breast) you're thawing. Epicurious has all the instructions you need to thaw anything in the microwave.

Boil It

boiling water
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Boiling chicken to thaw it is a great idea, depending on how you intend to use your chicken. Boil your chicken until it's is fully cooked if you're using it for sandwiches or salads. If you plan to bake it or fry it, boil it until you can stab a fork in it and then finish cooking it (immediately) however your recipe requires.

Never partially cook your chicken and then let it sit before you finish the cooking process. That warmed up (or hot) chicken is a breeding ground for bacteria when not fully cooked. If you don't feel like there should be so much worry about foodborne illnesses, talk to someone that works in the food industry.

Freeze Smarter

chicken on ice
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You’ll have a lot less trouble figuring out how to thaw chicken if you freeze smart. Freezing smart, what's that? It's as simple as not freezing a bunch of pieces of chicken that are stuck together.

Make sure that your chicken pieces, whether they're wings or breasts, are individually frozen. A clump of chicken will take longer to thaw than one individual piece. If you're going to use chicken in soups or sandwiches, consider chopping it up before you freeze it. Smaller pieces will thaw and cook faster.

Prepare Ahead

chicken wrapped in bacon
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Instead of waiting until the day you need to cook your chicken to thaw it, prepare it ahead of time.

The chicken will usually thaw overnight in the fridge, make sure it's in a sealed package and that the individual pieces aren't all clumped together (this will greatly slow the thawing process). You can also combine the cold water and refrigerator methods to thawing your chicken to ensure it's thawed the next day when you need to cook it.

Make sure you put the packaged chicken in a dish of some sort. As it thaws, it could leak, and you don't want chicken juices ruining the rest of the food in your fridge. It's also wise to keep it on the bottom shelf of the fridge.

Buy Fresh - Use Fresh

whole fresh chicken
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There's no need to figure out how to thaw your chicken if you buy it fresh and ready to cook!

Another reason to buy fresh, most store-bought frozen chicken comes with added sodium because of the juices they use to freeze it and keep it from drying out.

If you buy fresh and choose to freeze, you'll want to freeze pieces individually for better thawing. Chop some up for stir-fries and other meal options before freezing.

Consider meal-prepping by pre-cooking and throwing together variety packs of veggies and all the other goodies you'll need to make a complete meal.

Get Thawing

Remember, when determining how to thaw chicken - your strategy will depend on how fast you need it thawed and what type of meal you plan on cooking. Have a plan of action and thawing will be a snap!

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Mary H. Dixon

Mary has the work background of being a sales consultant and insurance policy adviser for a number of local firms. Her hobbies include freelance teaching at a teenager community center and taking an active role in her weekend reading club.
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