How to Thaw Chicken in a Microwave

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It is safe to defrost frozen chicken in a microwave.

Using a microwave is one of the safest ways to defrost chicken. Defrosting poultry in a microwave is only recommended for smaller cuts of chicken, like breasts or cutlets; a whole bird does not thaw well in the microwave. Microwave defrosting is a quick way to defrost meat and is recommended for last-minute preparation. Chicken should be thoroughly defrosted prior to cooking. Once defrosted, wash the chicken with cold water prior to cooking.


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Step 1

Remove all packaging and wrapping from the chicken and discard. You don't want to defrost the chicken in the microwave in its original packaging.

Step 2

Place the chicken in a microwave-safe dish or bowl. The dish or bowl should be big enough to catch any juices that may leak from the chicken while it's being defrosted.

Step 3

Turn the microwave to the defrost setting. Many microwaves have a defrost setting. This is different from the cook setting, as it doesn't cook the contents, it only warms them up enough to defrost.


Step 4

Defrost the meat for two minutes. Let it stand for a minute or two inside the microwave untouched before checking it to see if it needs to be defrosted further. If you still feel ice crystals on the chicken, defrost it for another minute or until completely defrosted and ready to cook. A thoroughly defrosted bird should be pliable.


Cook defrosted poultry immediately. Always wash your hands, utensils and surfaces before and after handling raw meat to prevent contamination.


Letting chicken defrost on the counter increases the chance that bacteria will grow on it. Avoid refreezing defrosted poultry.