It’s almost dinner time, but you forgot to take the chicken out of the freezer. Kids are starting to get restless as they get hungrier each passing minute. What can you do? What is the quickest yet safest way to defrost the chicken? Thaw the meat in the refrigerator? No, that takes too long.
What about the microwave? Well, that’s indeed an excellent idea! To save time and avoid a major hunger crisis, read along and find out how to defrost chicken in a microwave without breaking any of the hygiene rules.
The Hygiene Factor
Thawing chicken safely is not as easy as it sounds. From using hot water to defrost to leaving the chicken package on the counter for hours, a lot of things that can go wrong during this process. But, don’t worry, it can happen to the best of us.
All you need is a handful of tips, and you shall never make any microwave thawing mistakes to expose your family (especially, the little ones) to potential foodborne illnesses.
Like various perishable foods, chicken is subjected to certain rules during the “Grand Thaw”. While frozen chicken can last indefinitely without going bad, the bacteria living on the outer layer begin to proliferate as soon as it reaches the temperature of 40ο F.
So, you need to be cautious when it comes to the so-called “Danger Zone”. This term is used to describe the temperature range in which bacteria tend to grow rapidly. So, any temperature between 40oF to 140oF entails a risk of bacteria-related food poisoning.
Before The “Grand Thaw”
If you plan to defrost chicken in a microwave, the first thing you need to be cautious about is the “Danger Zone” temperatures. So, make sure you set the microwave power quite low to avoid overheating. You don’t want those bacteria multiplying on your chicken.
At the same time, microwaving those chicken breasts for more than 10 minutes (tops) is not the best way to get its juices flowing. On the other hand, you risk sliding into the semi-cooked territory where food is always tough to chew. (Read how long can chicken stay in the fridge)
Lastly, consider putting small portions of chicken in the microwave so that they defrost faster. And (why not?) position these chicken pieces at the center of your microwave chamber where they are less likely to overcook.
During The “Grand Thaw”
Once you have set the microwave power and time accordingly, you are ready to defrost. However, you are not off the hook yet. This thawing method requires your attention. So, keep checking the chicken meat regularly since the outer layers may begin to cook after reaching the “Danger Zone” temperatures (40oF to 140oF).
Although no microwave manual comes with a fixed time for defrosting the chicken, you should look upon anytime from five to ten minutes (maximum). You may also need to turn the chicken meat over to allow better thawing.
Another point you need to consider has to do with cross contamination. To prevent such issue, it’s best that you keep the chicken pieces separate from each other. So, you could defrost chicken in batches.
After The “Grand Thaw”
Although the chicken is thawed, your work is not done here. When you defrost chicken in a microwave, you need to cook it immediately afterward. That occurs because the bacteria present tend to multiply due to favorable warm temperatures. So, the longer you take to cook defrosted chicken, the more bacteria build up.
Also, if you plan to refreeze some of the defrosted chicken, you should first cook it to get rid of all the remaining bacteria. If you want to know more about refreezing thawed chicken, go through this short video.
Why Microwave Is The One The Best Defrosting Options?
Even though other thawing methods (such as using cold water) are also efficient and safe, using the microwave is considered the best way to defrost the chicken. First off, microwave thawing takes half the time (sometimes even more) than other methods do. So, you can start cooking in no time.
Additionally, little to none of the chicken’s juices go to waste. Chicken retains its flavor allowing you to wow your little ones.
Which Are The Most Inappropriate Places To Thaw Chicken?
No matter if you are in a hurry and kids start complaining, it’s never safe to thaw chicken on the kitchen counter, the garage, the basement, the porch or outdoors in general. For more information on how to defrost chicken in a microwave (plus more) safely, check out this video.
What To Do If The Outside Is Defrosted But The Inside Is Still Frozen
Once you take the chicken meat out of the microwave, make sure to check for ice crystals on the inside by using your hand or something sharp such as fork or skewer.
If the meat is not entirely defrosted, you can always put the meat in a sealed plastic bag and place it under cold running water. However, microwaving it once more is much more efficient, but you should consider the risk of overcooking your chicken breasts (for example).
Despite the lack of time and your kids’ escalating hunger, you need to throw panic out the window. Defrosting chicken in a microwave is as easy as pie. So, feel free to comment and let me know if you have any questions or extra tips.
And remember, all you need is an easy step-by-step guide on how to defrost chicken in a microwave.
- Step 1 Remove the chicken meat from the packaging.
- Step 2 Using a microwave safe plate or container, spread small portions of the chicken meat in a single layer.
- Step 3 Position the plate in the center of the microwave chamber.
- Step 4 If your microwave is equipped with a defrosting setting, proceed accordingly. If not, set the microwave power mode as low as possible for maximum 10 minutes.
- Step 5 Watch the chicken periodically to avoid overcooking.