Defrosting Chicken In The Microwave

You know that feeling when you’ve been planning that perfect roast chicken all day? The baked potato is in the oven, the salad is all ready to go, and you suddenly realize that you have forgotten to thaw the chicken. We’ve all been there!

So, have you considered how to defrost chicken in the microwave? Can it even be done, and if so, what is the best way to thaw a frozen chicken in the microwave?

We will explore two defrosting methods that will make sure you have a fully thawed chicken.

If you want to discover new chicken recipes, have a look at How To Poach Chicken Breast, Sriracha Chicken Wing, and Sticky Soy And Garlic Chicken Wings.

Whole cooked chicken

Why is defrosting a chicken in the microwave such a convenient option?

Here are a couple of reasons why you’ll love the option to defrost frozen chicken in the microwave:

  1. Speed: microwaving is a super speedy way to defrost a whole chicken. It takes a couple of minutes (usually) to partially defrost a chicken in the microwave instead of hours in the refrigerator.
  2. Space saving: popping your chicken into the microwave to defrost it is a real space saver as opposed to the fridge. Save valuable space in the refrigerator by going from the freezer straight to the microwave.
  3. Convenience: defrosting a chicken in the microwave is a super convenient method for anyone short on time. It eliminates the need to plan ahead!
defrosting a chicken in the microwave

It’s important to note that some food safety organizations do not recommend using a microwave to defrost a chicken. They prefer you to thaw the frozen chicken in the refrigerator instead.

Check out these interesting chicken articles.

A step-by-step guide to defrosting a whole chicken in the microwave

To start with, you’ll need to make sure you have a microwave-safe dish, some plastic wrap, and, of course, a microwave.

Here are the steps to the defrosting process for a frozen chicken in the microwave:

  1. Remove the plastic wrap: Remove any packaging or plastic wrap from the raw chicken and place it in a microwave-safe plate. The dish should be large enough that the chicken breasts can rest inside without its sides touching the dish.
  2. Cover the chicken: Cover the frozen meat with a clean plastic wrap sheet and ensure it’s securely wrapped. Securing it this way will prevent the chicken from drying out. Wrap the bird completely in plastic wrap so that there are no pockets of air. Doing it this way really ensures the bird doesn’t dry out.
  3. Place the dish into the microwave: You will want it to sit in the center. Set the machine to the defrost setting. If your machine doesn’t have a defrost setting, use the lowest power setting.
  4. Check the chicken every 5 – 8 minutes or so. Turn it around every now and then. To ensure an even thaw, monitor the chicken regularly and keep rearranging it in the microwave safe plate. This basically distributes the heat evenly.
  5. Check internal temperature: Use a food thermometer to ensure the perfectly thawed chicken has reached an internal temperature of 40°F or a little lower so that it is completely defrosted. It’s important that you don’t defrost the bird to a higher temperature as bacteria can begin to grow, which has food safety implications
Guide To Defrosting Whole Chicken

These are a few steps on how to safely and quickly defrost a whole bird in the microwave. If your microwave has a defrost setting, just use that and check your defrosted chicken constantly. It’s important to note that to defrost chicken in the microwave is not a good idea for larger birds like turkeys.

Defrosting a turkey in this way can lead to the outer layers cooking before the inside has defrosted. The best way to thaw large birds is in the fridge overnight. Depending on how big the bird is, that can take a few days for it to be completely thawed.

Tips and tricks for defrosting a chicken in the microwave

Here are a couple of pro tips and tricks to defrost chicken in a microwave:

  1. Don’t leave the frozen chicken in the microwave for too long. This can lead to the chicken breasts drying out or partially cooking in the middle.
  2. Ensure the microwave is clean before placing the chicken inside. This is a good way to prevent cross-contamination from any bacteria lurking inside the microwave to your defrosting chicken.
  3. Place the chicken on a microwave-safe dish before placing it onto the base inside. This will keep the microwave clean.
  4. Remove all packaging first. Don’t forget to check inside the chicken because some retailers will include the gizzards wrapped in plastic and placed inside the bird’s cavity.
  5. Use microwave-safe plastic to cover the bird, and add a microwave-safe lid over the container you want to thaw the chicken in.
  6. Check your defrosted chicken constantly. Keep flipping it and making sure it is thawing evenly.
  7. Cook the defrosted chicken immediately after thawing it to avoid the growth of bacteria.
Tips of defrosting a chicken in the microwave

How to defrost a chicken in the refrigerator

Here are the steps if you’d like to try defrosting chicken in the fridge. This method is a little slower but is generally considered the safer method for thawing frozen poultry.

  1. Remove the frozen chicken from all of its packaging. Place the frozen chicken on a shallow plate and discard the packaging.
  2. Place the frozen chicken in the refrigerator and allow it to defrost. This can take anywhere from 24 hours to 2 days, depending on the size of the bird, how full the fridge is, and how cold it is. Planning ahead to get this done in time is an important success factor when choosing this method.
  3. Sit your defrosting chicken on the bottom shelf. Choosing this spot for your defrosting chicken will prevent any blood and raw juices from dripping down onto other food items in the fridge. This is a key step in the prevention of food contamination.
  4. Cover the frozen chicken with plastic wrap to keep the bird moist and prevent its natural juices from evaporating.
  5. Check on your defrost chicken constantly. You want to cook it the minute it’s ready to reduce bacteria growth.
  6. Store any additional raw chicken in the fridge. This is the safest way to store chicken. Do not leave it out at room temperature. Note that defrosting chicken at room temperature is not recommended.
defrost a chicken in the refrigerator


Defrosting chicken in the microwave is certainly a quick and convenient method for thawing your bird. It offers speed, space-saving, and convenience, which is ideal for last-minute cooking. It’s important to take note of the safety-related guidelines to defrost chicken the right way.

Some safety tips include not over-microwaving to avoid harmful bacteria, thawing chicken in a microwave-safe container or a large bowl, and using properly defrosted microwave settings. Always rotate the chicken pieces every 5-8 minutes to ensure it is fully defrosted.

These methods ensure safe and efficient properly defrosted chicken that follows food safety guidelines. It will guarantee you a delicious, risk-free meal.


Can you refreeze defrosted chicken?

It’s not recommended to refreeze chicken once it’s been defrosted due to bacteria.

How to defrost chicken quickly?

The best way to defrost chicken quickly is to submerge the entire chicken into cold water. This cold water method of defrosting chicken protects your chicken from bacterial growth.

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