Raw chicken that has been frozen must always be fully and properly defrosted before it is cooked. This is essential in order to reduce the risk of contracting food poisoning from meat that has been insufficiently or improperly cooked. Here we talk about how to properly defrost the chicken.

While thawing chicken does not require any special techniques, there are some methods that are safe and others that should be avoided. It is important to know these safe methods in advance so that sufficient time may be allocated for the chicken to defrost fully before cooking.

frozen chicken in a yellow tray
Frozen chicken


The best way by far to defrost a frozen chicken safely is in the refrigerator. This will take a minimum of 24 hours and could take up to 48 hours, depending upon the size of the bird.

So, if you’re planning a chicken dinner, make sure you get it out of the freezer in plenty of time. The chicken should be removed from any packaging and set in a deep dish. It should be loosely covered with some cling film or plastic bags.

The dish must be placed on the very bottom shelf of the refrigerator to eliminate the risk of cross-contamination by defrosting juices of other foods in the fridge.

When the chicken is fully defrosted, it should be washed thoroughly in cold water and patted dry with kitchen paper before finally being prepared for cooking.

Cold water

It is possible, where time is short, to speed up the chicken thawing process by submerging the chicken completely, still wrapped, in cold water.

This will cut the defrosting time approximately in half, compared to the refrigerator method. The water should be changed frequently, and care taken to ensure the chicken remains fully submerged at all times.

Warm or hot water must never be used as this will start the cooking process and this will significantly increase any risk of food poisoning. The chicken must again be washed thoroughly prior to being cooked.

Microwave oven

It should only be used as a last resort, but defrosting chicken in the microwave can be a good option. If you have been busy keeping fit and forgot to get the chicken for dinner out to defrost don’t panic.

The settings and time required should be determined by referring to the manufacturer’s instructions. Some microwaves may have a defrost setting.

When a chicken is defrosted in the microwave, it must be cooked immediately after the process is complete. This is due to the cooking process having likely begun and any delay leading to a risk of food poisoning.

Chicken should never be defrosted at room temperature. This would allow harmful bacteria to form and present an unacceptable risk.

Equally, it must never be cooked where any part of the bird is still frozen or even contains ice crystals.

If for any reason, a chicken can not be defrosted fully in time to be cooked for when it is required, alternative eating arrangements should be made, and no unacceptable risks should be taken.

Microwaves are amazing, aren’t they? Have you read my post yet on amazing things you didn’t realise microwaves could do? One of those appliances that all kitchens need.

Very important information

Always place raw or defrosting meat on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator, so that any juices or blood do NOT drip down and contaminate any other food product. Raw meat can be a source of food poisoning.

It is imperative that all meat, including chicken, is defrosted properly. Always check that your chicken has defrosted all the way through by removing all packaging.

Then insert a knife to check the flesh is not still frozen and that there are no ice crystals inside the bird cavity. Place the packaging in the bin and wash your hands.

Always ensure that frozen chicken meat is defrosted properly and NEVER re-freeze meat if it has been frozen once already.

Always wash your hands thoroughly when touching or dealing with raw meat. Wash thoroughly in hot, soapy water all kitchen utensils, plates, and dishes that have been in contact with raw chicken. Again wash your own hands thoroughly.

Remember, never leave a chicken to defrost at room temperature or in direct sunlight as this will encourage bad bacteria to grow on your raw bird. The raw and uncovered chicken will also encourage flies, so always cover it up.

Now you know how to safely defrost your chicken why not check out some of my amazing chicken recipes to find new meals to cook.

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