Raw chicken that has been frozen must always be fully and properly defrosted before it is cooked.

This is to reduce the risk of contracting food poisoning from meat that has been insufficiently or improperly cooked. Here, we talk about how to defrost chicken properly.

While thawing chicken does not require any special techniques, some methods are safe and others should be avoided.

It is important to know these safe methods of thawing chicken in advance so that you have sufficient time for the chicken to defrost fully before cooking.

frozen chicken in a yellow tray
Frozen chicken


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

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. This is to eliminate the risk of cross-contamination by defrosting juices of other foods in the fridge.

Cold water

Where time is short, speed up the chicken thawing process by submerging the chicken completely, still wrapped, in cold water.

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

Warm or hot water must never be used. 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

Your microwave should only be used as a last resort. If you have to defrost chicken in the microwave it can be a safe 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 not 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.

Microwaves are amazing, aren’t they? Have you read my post yet on amazing things you didn’t realise microwaves could do?

Why we should avoid cooking chicken from frozen

When it comes to cooking with chicken, it’s important to know how to ensure a safe and delicious meal. One question that might come up is whether or not you can cook with frozen chicken. Well, yes you can, but it’s not recommended for a number of reasons.

The main reason is that frozen chicken can take longer to cook. This can lead to bacteria growth if not heated to the proper temperature. It’s best to thaw the chicken first to ensure even cooking and reduce the risk of foodborne illnesses. While it requires planning, taking the extra time to thaw your chicken will result in a safer and tastier meal.

How to thaw chicken – essential information

Always place raw or defrosting chicken and other meat on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator. This is 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 really important that all meat, including chicken, is adequately defrosted. Always check that your chicken has defrosted all the way through by removing all packaging.

Insert a knife to check the flesh is defrosted throughout and there are no ice crystals inside the cavity. Place the packaging in the bin and wash your hands.

You should always ensure that frozen chicken meat is defrosted properly. NEVER re-freeze uncooked meat if it has been frozen once already.

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

Remember, never leave defrost chicken at room temperature or in direct sunlight. This will encourage bad bacteria to grow on your raw meat. 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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About Author

Hi, I’m Jen Mellor; I live in Nottingham, UK. and use my knowledge and experience in weight loss and confidence to help you become your own cheerleader and best friend. I am usually seen wearing colourful leggings and love to wear bright colours. Wear what you love, and be proud of your style and choices!

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