How to Defrost Chicken Fast

Freezing food is so helpful in a variety of different scenarios.

Whether it be because they were selling off meat cheap in the grocery store and you want to stock up because you bought too much meat and you don’t want it to go out of date, or simply because you want to free up freezer space. 

Freezing can be a very handy way to prolong the life of your meat and allow you to use it in the freezer. 

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But there is one thing that is frustrating about freezing food, and that is the defrosting process.

The best and safest, way to defrost the majority of frozen goods is by transferring them to your fridge the day before you want to use them. But this is easier said than done.

Remembering to get the meat out the day before you want to use it is simple to forget, and it is not always possible if you impulsively decide to use the meat that you froze earlier.

If this method does not seem feasible to you, there’s no need to worry because there are lots of other ways you can defrost your chicken.

If you want to defrost your chicken fast, this guide is definitely the one for you. 

Food Safety

Before we move onto the different methods that you can use to defrost your chicken quickly, we must highlight the importance of food safety.

If you are in a rush to defrost your chicken it is easy to forget about all of the food safety procedures, but as it is meat that you are defrosting you should be particularly cautious. 

A lot of people don’t take food safety seriously, and it can be particularly easy to forget about it until you are the one suffering from food poisoning.

According to the CDC, every single year 1 in 6 Americans will fall ill with food poisoning, 128,000 will be hospitalized with it and 3,000 will lose their lives due to poor food safety. 

Meat, especially chicken, is prone to causing food poisoning if it is not cooked or defrosted properly so you should take extra care when defrosting your meat, even if you are in a rush to get it done. 

Out of all the different types of bacteria which cause food poisoning, chicken is most commonly associated with salmonella.

The methods that we have included in this guide are safe to use if you follow them correctly, however, you should never thaw chicken on your countertop or wash the frozen chicken under running water. 

Both of these methods put you at risk of serious food poisoning and so they should be avoided at all costs. 

How to Defrost Chicken Fast

Now, let’s move onto the methods that you can use to defrost your chicken quickly.

As we’ve already mentioned, you have a few options to choose from and all of these will be better suited depending on your situation. 

The first, and perhaps most common, method is to defrost the chicken in the microwave. Most microwaves come specifically designed to defrost frozen food at a much quicker speed than other options.

However, this method is only appropriate if you are planning on cooking the chicken immediately after it has defrosted. In the defrosting process, the microwave will heat the chicken to any temperature between 50 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit which is a prime temperature for bacteria to grow.

If the chicken is not cooked properly and immediately after it has reached this temperature, the bacteria will continue to grow and you will be at high risk of food poisoning from the meat. 

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Another, great and quick method to defrost chicken is through the use of cold water. As we’ve already highlighted, you should never hold uncooked chicken under running water in your kitchen.

As the water is running it is likely to splash off of the chicken. This will cause any bacteria on the surface of the chicken to also splash around your kitchen which could lead to cross-contamination and cause other foods to give you food poisoning. 

But it is safe to defrost chicken in a bowl of stagnant cold water. While defrosting chicken in the microwave will take only a few minutes, defrosting chicken in cold water will take approximately 3 hours.

This is a longer process, however, it is still much quicker than defrosting chicken in the fridge overnight. 

To do this, you should place the chicken in an airtight, leak-proof bag. If you prepare the chicken before freezing and put it in an airtight bag, you can simply add this bag to the water, there is no need to transfer it.

It is vitally important that you use an airtight bag as if water comes into contact with the chicken it could damage the skin or cause bacteria to come into contact with the meat.

Simply fill a large bowl with cold water and submerge the bag of chicken. The water will require changing every 30 minutes for the defrosting process to be successful, and after 3 hours the chicken should have defrosted completely. 

The final option you have is to simply cook the chicken from frozen. However, this does increase the cooking process by 50% of the time and is only appropriate with certain dishes. So while this process completely removes the defrosting time it does increase the cooking time significantly. 

Factors to Consider

Before you decide which method to use to defrost the chicken, you should consider the meal that you want to use it in. As we’ve already mentioned, different methods will be more appropriate for different meals.

You should also consider how restricted you are on time. For the best results from the defrosting process, professionals would recommend defrosting the meat slowly.

So unless you want to eat the meat immediately, defrosting in a bowl of water might be a better option than defrosting in the microwave. You should consider all of your options and your situation before choosing a defrosting process. 


In short, the fastest way to defrost chicken is in the microwave as your chicken will be defrosted and ready to cook within a matter of minutes.

However, if you defrost the chicken through this method it will require cooking immediately, so if you want to defrost meat ready to cook later on in the day, the cold water method might be better suited.

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