How To Thaw Chicken Fast (30-60 Minutes)

With so many competing priorities these days, it can be easy to forget to take your meats out of the freezer a few hours before it is time to make the evening meal. Frozen chicken and beef can make for a frustrating situation when your family is hungry and ready to eat. But with concerns around food-borne illnesses and adequate safety, warming poultry cuts, in particular, can create anxiety for many home cooks.

Improperly handled raw meats can be linked to a variety of illnesses. Salmonella, E. coli, staphylococcus aureus, and listeria monocytogenes can all make you quite sick. And in extreme cases, these illnesses can lead to death. Using the proper tools and ways to thaw, and ensuring that you cook the chicken to an internal temperature of 165° Fahrenheit, can significantly reduce health-related risks.

Two Methods to Avoid When Thawing Chicken

To reduce your risk of illness, plan to avoid these methods when thawing frozen chickens.

  1. Do not set your frozen chicken pieces or raw foods out on your counter, or out of your refrigerator for more than two hours. Bacteria will thrive at room temperature, especially in what is called the danger zone. The danger zone is meat at temperatures at or between 40°F and 140°F.
  2. Do not rinse your poultry under running water. Though it might seem counter-intuitive that you want to rinse potential pathogens off your chicken before dinner, the splash of the water can get onto other items (including your hands, arms, and clothing), which can then lead to cross-contamination.

Five Safe Methods to Thaw Chicken

Fortunately, thawing chicken is not as complicated as one might think. Take a look at this list of thawing techniques to have your family dinner recipe ready in no time.

  1. Use the Blazin’ Thaw Defrosting Tray. If you have 30 minutes or so before you need to cook the chicken, the Blazin’ Thaw Defrosting Tray will safely and effectively thaw frozen chicken pieces. To speed up the process, use a tongs to flip the bird over every 15 minutes or so. The silicone edging and deep channels provide an escape route for the liquid that will inevitably start to run off the chicken as it's thawing. The channels also ensure that adequate airflow gets underneath the meat, further speeding your progress while keeping the quality of your defrost chicken at its best.
  2. Don’t defrost chicken at all. It’s not necessary to defrost frozen chicken before cooking, and using this method gets you cooking quickly! Unless you must cut your chicken into small pieces first, go ahead and cook it in its frozen state. Further, if your lunch or dinner recipes call for the raw meat to be divided into cuts before cooking your meal, check your information to see if the non-thawed chicken would suffice. Skip the refrigerator and microwave and plan to cook chicken breasts, boneless thighs, or even a whole bird for a longer period of time first, and then cut it into right-size parts or shred it later.
  3. Use your microwave to defrost your chicken. When you want to thaw chicken quickly, the microwave method requires just a push of a button. Set your microwave by pressing the defrost button or something similar, or set it to half the normal power. Run it for 2 to 3 minutes to thaw frozen chicken or other frozen foods. You may need to refer to your microwave's instruction manual or included reading for proper settings, cooking methods, and tips. It will take attention on your part to let the frozen chicken in the microwave stand for a minute, check it, and repeat the on off steps as necessary. If you have a smaller amount of chicken, ground chicken, or a small chicken breast package, be sure to pause to break pieces apart or flip them over. One thing to remember is that this way of using the microwave can heat and defrost chicken unevenly, leaving some inside sites frozen, some outside parts cooked, and compromising quality in the middle. Using this method is best for small poultry amounts like chicken breasts or boneless chicken cuts. Plan to cook thawed chicken or ground meat for your meal recipe right away to avoid germ growth after using this method.
  4. Submerge your chicken in a plastic bag in cold water. Though this isn’t the fastest method to thaw frozen birds, you can use the cold water method if you have a bit of time to spare. Make sure that your frozen chicken is sealed in an airtight and leak proof plastic bag (zip-closure storage bags work best). Fill a large bowl or your kitchen sink with cold tap water, and then submerge the package of chicken in the bowl. You may want to place a weight of some kind over the leak proof bag to ensure that the bag remains submerged in the cold water. Change the cold water every 30 minutes. Never submerge your poultry in hot water, as a hot water bath can raise the temperature of the thawing meat and create perfect settings for germ growth. Depending on the amount of chicken, the entire water bath process may take about two to three hours. Times vary for smaller parts and lesser amounts. 1 pound of frozen chicken may take about an hour to thaw to the correct temperature inside and outside.
  5. Let your chicken defrost in the refrigerator. If you need to defrost a lot of chicken before cooking, the tried and true refrigerator method is ideal to safely thaw multiple-pound poultry packages. Unlike with microwaves, refrigerator thawing methods take about 24 hours so it's ideal to plan ahead before cooking time. Some people prefer the fridge thawing method because it's relatively hands-free so you can catch up on video content on YouTube or TikTok. After moving it from the freezer to the fridge, make sure to cook your fridge-thawed poultry within the next 48 hours (or one to two days).

Keep Your Hands and Cooking Materials Clean

While working with raw chicken cuts throughout these thawing methods, be sure to wash your hands frequently. Use the back of your hand to turn on the faucet and then wash hands right away with warm soapy water for at least 20 seconds. Use a clean paper towel or clean rag to turn off the tap when you are done.

As for other kitchen tips and safety guidelines, after cooking ensure all tools and prep areas, including your microwave, are either hand-washed with disinfecting dish soap or are placed in the dishwasher to run in the next cycle. Use an antibacterial cleaner to disinfect surfaces and your water faucet. This way, proper adherence to safe raw meat handling will ensure you stay healthy and not get sick from meat bacteria.