The fastest way to defrost chicken is to use the microwave, but when you choose this method, it's important to cook it immediately afterward. The preferred way to thaw chicken involves letting it sit in the refrigerator overnight.
The best way to defrost a boneless chicken breast is to refrigerate it overnight. If a microwave is used, the chicken should be cooked right away.
Fastest Way to Defrost Chicken
To get expert advice on defrosting chicken, LIVESTRONG.com interviewed Toby Amidor, MS, RD and Wall Street Journal best-selling author of the Create-Your-Plate Diabetes Cookbook. Her preferred manner of thawing chicken is to put it in the refrigerator overnight, but this method requires a little advance planning.
Microwaving is a quick way to defrost chicken, although it's not the best way. "To do this, place the raw chicken on a platter or shallow bowl that will collect the juices. Microwave at 30 percent power for 2 minutes, and then separate the frozen pieces and turn them over. Next, microwave at 20 percent power, 1 minute per every half-pound of chicken breast, turning the chicken every minute," Amidor says.
If you choose to thaw in the microwave, cook the chicken immediately afterward, the dietitian states. "Because you get uneven distribution of heat when using the microwave, meat must be cooked right away upon thawing. You can use any cooking method you wish."
Read more: Fastest Way to Defrost Chicken Wings
Defrosting Chicken Don’ts
Amidor strongly warns against defrosting chicken on the counter. "First, bacteria tend to multiply in temperatures between 41 and 135 degrees Fahrenheit. When raw chicken sits out at room temperature, pathogens can grow to amounts that cooking won't be able to destroy, which makes it unsafe to eat. In addition, the juices from the chicken can contaminate the cooking space, including the countertop, and anything else in the area."
The time it takes for frozen chicken to thaw at room temperature will vary, depending on the amount, she notes. "However, to keep chicken safe to eat, it's advisable not to leave it out on the counter at all."
Defrosting chicken in hot water is never recommended, cautions Amidor. "I don't even advise thawing chicken under cold water as a primary method of defrosting. If you placed your chicken in the refrigerator the night before and it's not fully defrosted, then you can finish the thawing processes by running cool water over it. The water should be 70 F or below."
More Chicken Precautions
Bacteria are found in raw or under-cooked chicken. To prevent a foodborne illness, follow recommended guidelines in storage and cooking, says the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service.
According to the Food and Drug Administration, raw chicken breasts will stay good for one or two days in the refrigerator and nine months in the freezer. Once chicken is cooked, put it in the refrigerator within two hours: If the temperature is warmer than 90 F, put it in the refrigerator within one hour, recommends the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Read more: How Long Can You Eat Chicken Leftovers?
When cooking chicken, use a food thermometer to ensure the internal temperature reaches 165 F. The USDA gives the following approximate cooking times for boneless chicken breasts:
- 20 to 30 minutes in a 350 F oven
- Six to eight minutes for each side on a grill
- 25 to 30 minutes on a stove top.