How Long To Defrost Chicken In Microwave?

Welcome to the world of culinary convenience!

If you’ve ever found yourself standing in your kitchen, staring at a frozen chicken and wondering how long it would take to defrost it in the microwave, you’re in the right place. 

Defrosting chicken in the microwave can be a lifesaver when you’re short on time or forgot to thaw your poultry in advance.

In this guide, we’ll delve into the precise answer to the burning question: how long to defrost chicken in microwave

Say goodbye to long waiting times and hello to juicy, ready-to-cook chicken in a flash.

Let’s dive right in!

How Does Defrosting In a Microwave Work?

Have you ever been curious about how microwave defrosting operates?

Microwave ovens defrost food by using electromagnetic waves to rapidly agitate water molecules within the food, generating heat through friction.

Although similar to regular cooking, the defrosting process typically employs lower power levels to minimize the cooking effects while still thawing the food.

The waves primarily target water molecules, which is why foods with higher moisture content defrost more quickly.

It’s essential to regularly rotate or stir the food to ensure it thaws evenly, as microwaves often heat inconsistently, leading to cold spots.

Advanced models come equipped with inverter technology, allowing for gradual heat increase, thus promoting even defrosting without cooking the food’s outer layers.

So how long does it take to defrost chicken in the microwave?

Please read this title below to know more!

How Long To Defrost Chicken In Microwave?

The duration for defrosting chicken in a microwave typically ranges from 8 to 10 minutes per pound, depending on the power of your microwave.

It’s crucial to check the chicken periodically while defrosting to prevent any areas from starting to cook.

There are many factors affecting the defrosting time for chicken in a microwave, such as the size and thickness of the chicken, the power of your microwave, and whether it is frozen or partially thawed.

1. Size and Thickness: Larger chicken pieces like whole chickens or thick breasts take longer to defrost than smaller pieces such as wings or thin cutlets. The thicker the piece, the more time is needed for heat to reach the center.

2. Microwave Power: Higher-wattage microwaves defrost chicken quicker than lower-wattage ones.

3. Initial State of the Chicken: Frozen chicken takes longer to defrost than partially thawed chicken. If your chicken has been out of the freezer before microwaving, reduce the defrosting time to avoid cooking it instead of thawing.

How To Defrost Chicken In The Microwave?

You’ve known how long to defrost chicken in the microwave.

Very fast, right?

So are you ready to volunteer to pound frozen chicken when your mother assigns you the task?

The steps below are very helpful for you.

Step 1: Take The Chicken Out Of The Packaging

Firstly, remove the chicken from its original packaging to avoid any potential melting of plastics or leaching of chemicals.

Transfer the chicken to a microwave-safe dish to catch any juices that may leak out to prevent a mess and reduce the risk of cross-contamination.

Step 2: Put It In a Container That Can Be Used In The Microwave

Place the chicken in a microwave-safe container, ideally with a lid to contain moisture and promote even thawing.

Ensure there is enough space around the chicken for air to circulate.

If a lid is not available, cover the chicken with a microwave-safe material like wax paper or a paper towel.

Step 3: Choose The Defrost Option

Most microwaves have a dedicated defrost setting, which adjusts the power level to suit the delicate process of defrosting.

It’s wise to consult your microwave’s manual and use the recommended defrost setting for chicken.

If unsure, default to 30-50% power.

Remember to turn or flip the chicken periodically for even thawing.

Step 4: Turn and Move The Chicken Around

Throughout the defrosting process, it is important to rotate and reposition the chicken every few minutes.

This action helps to eliminate cold spots where ice may persist, ensuring the chicken thaws evenly.

Additionally, use this opportunity to check that the chicken isn’t starting to cook on the edges, which could affect texture and taste.

Step 5: Cook The Chicken Right Away

After defrosting, it is important to cook the chicken immediately to prevent bacterial growth.

Do not refreeze uncooked chicken that’s been thawed in a microwave to ensure food safety.

Use a meat thermometer to check that the chicken reaches the proper internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) before consumption.

Is It Safe To Defrost Chicken In The Microwave?

Health-related issues in cooking are always a top concern.

So is it safe to defrost chicken in the microwave?

Or is there a safer way than this?

Absolutely, defrosting chicken in the microwave is a safe method, as long as proper food safety guidelines are followed.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) states that microwave defrosting is a safe and efficient way to thaw chicken, especially when time is of the essence.

However, it’s important to cook the chicken immediately after defrosting because some areas of the chicken may become warm and begin to cook during the microwaving process, which could potentially allow bacteria to thrive.

If you’re seeking an alternative to microwave defrosting, planning and allowing the chicken to thaw gradually in the refrigerator is a surefire safety method.

This method is slower but ensures that the chicken remains at a safe, constant, cold temperature, inhibiting bacterial growth.

Refrigerator thawing does take several hours or even a day, depending on the size and thickness of the chicken pieces.

Therefore, if you choose this method, be sure to plan your meals accordingly.

How To Thaw Chicken In The Microwave Without Using The Defrost Option?

This is also a good question regarding how long to defrost chicken in the microwave.

In case your microwave does not have a defrost mode, the best way is to use the lowest power setting (usually 20 to 30%) for around 8 to 10 minutes for every pound of chicken.

Be mindful to separate the chicken pieces as they begin to thaw, as this promotes more uniform defrosting.

Should the edges start to cook, pause and let the chicken rest for a moment to allow the heat to distribute before continuing.

Precautions To Take When Defrosting Chicken In The Microwave

When defrosting chicken in the microwave, taking certain precautions is key to ensure food safety and prevent contamination:

1. Avoid Partial Cooking: Microwave defrosting can sometimes start cooking the edges of the chicken. To prevent this, use low power settings and defrost for shorter intervals, checking the chicken frequently. 

2. Maintain Cleanliness: Keep the microwave clean to prevent cross-contamination. After defrosting, clean any surfaces that came into contact with the raw chicken, including the microwave turntable, with hot, soapy water.

3. Never Refreeze Raw Chicken: Once the chicken is thawed, it should be cooked immediately. Raw chicken that has been defrosted in the microwave and not cooked should not be refrozen to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria.

4. Cook Thoroughly Post-Defrost: Make sure to cook the chicken to an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) immediately after defrosting to kill any bacteria that may have proliferated. Use a meat thermometer for accuracy.

Following these precautions will help maintain the integrity of the meat’s texture, prevent foodborne illnesses, and safeguard your health.

Is It Okay To Freeze Chicken Again After Thawing It?

It is generally not recommended to refreeze chicken once it has been thawed, especially if it was thawed using a microwave.

The process of thawing and then freezing again can cause the growth of harmful bacteria, as each time the chicken is brought into the temperature “danger zone” – between 40°F (4°C) and 140°F (60°C) – bacterial proliferation is possible.

Additionally, refreezing chicken may also degrade its quality, texture, and flavor.

If the chicken is thawed in the refrigerator and remains cold (below 40°F or 4°C), it can be safely refrozen within the same timeframe.

However, if the chicken has sat out at room temperature for two hours or more, or one hour at 90°F (32°C) and above, it should be cooked immediately or discarded to prevent foodborne illness.

The best practice is to only thaw what will be used and to manage portion sizes when initially freezing the chicken to prevent the need to refreeze leftovers.

When in doubt, it’s always safer to err on the side of caution and fully cook or discard thawed chicken rather than refreezing it.

Some Fastest Ways To Thaw Chicken

Once you know how long to defrost chicken in the microwave and some closely related aspects to it, we all recognize that this method is really useful.

However, in case you don’t have a microwave, are there any methods to defrost the chicken safely and even quickly?

Below are some suggestions:

1. Cold Water Bath

A quicker method than refrigerator thawing, the cold water bath technique involves submerging the wrapped chicken in cold water.

Change the water every 30 minutes to maintain a cold temperature and prevent bacterial growth.

This method typically takes about 1 hour per pound of chicken.

2. Refrigerator Thawing

Plan and use the refrigerator to thaw your chicken safely over a longer period.

Place the chicken in a leak-proof container or bag to prevent cross-contamination.

This method can require up to 24 hours for a whole chicken or 2 to 9 hours for chicken parts.

3. Running Water Method

You can also thaw chicken using running water.

Place the chicken in a sealed bag and run cold water over it.

This method takes about 1 to 2 hours, depending on the size of the chicken cuts.

Remember, whichever method you choose, it’s important to cook the chicken immediately afterward to ensure food safety.


Defrosting chicken in the microwave is a quick method to thaw your poultry when you’re pressed for time.

While many wonder how long to defrost chicken in the microwave, a general guideline is to start with an initial timer of eight to ten minutes per pound and check the chicken frequently.

However, always refer to your microwave’s manual or use its built-in defrost function for the best results.

This ensures that the meat thaws evenly and minimizes the risk of partially cooking the chicken during the defrosting process.

Chef Chip Roman is one of the most exciting and talented chefs in Philadelphia. He has his own catering business, Charles Roman Catering, as well as Roman Restaurant Group which includes Blackfish, Mica, and Ela. He graduated from Drexel University in 2002 with a degree in business and culinary arts. Chip Roman is a classically trained chef who has worked in some of the most prestigious kitchens and chefs in Philadelphia, including Le Bec Fin’s George Perrier and Marc Vetri’s Vetri.

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