How to Quickly Thaw a Whole Frozen Chicken

A whole chicken allows you to feed many people. Whole chickens are typically found frozen at supermarkets, and you need to thaw them completely so that you can cook them to a safe internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. If you are pressed for time, you will not be able to thaw the whole chicken in the refrigerator. You can quickly thaw a whole chicken in cold water or in the microwave, then proceed to cook the chicken the way you prefer.

Things You'll Need

  • Airtight bag
  • Cold water
  • Microwaveable dish
  • Plastic wrap

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Thaw in Water

Step 1

Place the whole frozen chicken in an airtight bag.

Step 2

Fill a sink full of cold water. Never use hot water to thaw the chicken. You will need enough to cover the chicken completely. Place the chicken in the sink.

Step 3

Change the water every 30 minutes until the chicken thaws completely. Thawing time using this method is about 1 hour per pound.

Thaw in Microwave

Step 1

Remove the whole chicken from its package.

Step 2

Place the whole chicken on a microwaveable dish.

Step 3

Place plastic wrap loosely over the whole chicken. Move the defrost setting on the microwave to medium-low. Check your user's guide, as some models will allow you to enter the weight of the chicken.

Step 4

Press the defrost button. Follow any directions that your microwave gives you. Defrost the whole chicken for 2 minutes. Check on the chicken frequently to feel for ice crystals inside the cavity. Continue to defrost the chicken in 2-minute intervals. The defrosting time will vary according to the size of the chicken and the power of your microwave.

Tips & Warnings

  • Remove the giblets from the chicken’s cavity once you thaw it.
  • Do not thaw a whole chicken at room temperature.
  • Cook a chicken immediately after you defrost it to prevent the growth of bacteria.


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