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How To Defrost Chicken Breast In Microwave?

When it comes to making a quick and easy dinner that all the family will enjoy, chicken is a firm favorite.

But what about the days we go to grab the chicken to start our meal, and then realize it’s still in the freezer and hasn’t been defrosted?! Our quick and easy meal just got a bit more complicated. Or has it? 


Cooking chicken from frozen can lead to chicken being cooked on the outside but uncooked in the center. This would be a breeding ground for harmful bacteria.

And let’s face it, nobody wants a bout of food poisoning to start their evening! It is therefore imperative that chicken is thoroughly defrosted before cooking. Fortunately, there is a simple way of defrosting chicken safely and quickly using your microwave oven.

We all know that there is nothing worse than dry, rubbery, chicken. What’s more, by following these simple steps, you don’t need to sacrifice taste for convenience.

We will look at the correct way to defrost your chicken breast so that it is safe to eat and just as tasty as fresh chicken. 

Defrosting Chicken In The Microwave

Using your microwave oven to defrost chicken breasts is simple to do when you know how to do it. Unlike other methods of defrosting, such as placing in water, or thawing in the fridge, this foolproof method is super quick and easy.

First things first you will need to prepare. Remove chicken breasts from the freezer and separate them into one or two breasts. Any more and they will not defrost evenly. If you are defrosting a larger amount of chicken breasts, you will need to defrost them in sections.

Place chicken breasts onto a microwavable plate. You can check if your plate is microwave friendly by looking at the underside of your plate or dish. 

Change your microwave to its defrost setting. The defrost setting can be found on your microwave’s keypad and is useful as it will automatically alter your microwave’s heating power to between 30%-50% of its full capacity.

If your microwave does not have a defrost setting as standard, you can manually adjust the power to a lower setting. 

It is imperative that you either use the defrost setting or manually lower the power settings of your microwave before defrosting your chicken breasts. The reason for this is that if the chicken is defrosted too quickly it will begin to cook on the outside whilst the inside will remain frozen. 

Generally speaking, a single chicken breast will take around 2-3 minutes per pound to defrost. Start by initially defrosting for 1 minute, followed by 30-second intervals. The reason you need to check and turn your chicken every 30-seconds is to prevent a rubbery texture.

By regularly checking your chicken breast you will also be able to stop your chicken from beginning to cook.

Once you believe your chicken is fully defrosted, cut a small incision in the fleshiest part of your breast. The chicken should be soft with no ice crystals remaining.

Is It Safe To Use Your Microwave To Defrost Chicken?

It is perfectly safe to use your microwave to defrost chicken breasts if done correctly. The main things to factor in are that you should defrost chicken in manageable amounts, ensure your microwave setting is changed to defrost, and that you regularly check and turn your chicken. 

It is also important to be prepared to cook your chicken straight away once defrosted. This is important because your chicken breasts would have reached a certain temperature during the defrosting process. 

Thawed meat defrosted in a microwave oven will have an internal temperature of between 40 degrees Fahrenheit and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. In food preparation terms this is known as the danger zone. Uncooked food left too long at these temperatures becomes a breeding ground for harmful bacteria. 

The longer your chicken is left the more the bacteria will rapidly multiply. If you have defrosted your chicken in batches, place the chicken into the oven at staged intervals.

The only way to kill harmful bacteria is for the internal breast to reach a temperature of at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

Can You Refreeze Chicken Which Has Been Defrosted?

If managed correctly, it is possible to refreeze chicken that has been defrosted. To ensure food safety, this will need to be done within 2 days of thawing, or a maximum of 4 days after cooking.

If you are going to refreeze your defrosted chicken, then the sooner you can do so, the better. 

It is also worth noting that raw chicken should only be refrozen if it was originally thawed in a refrigerator. This is due to the harmful bacteria that can breed from microwave oven defrosting.

You should also never refreeze chicken breasts that have been reheated. This is again due to the harmful bacteria’s that can breed from heating and cooling food.

If you are looking to refreeze your chicken, it is best to do so as quickly as possible and when your chicken is at its best quality and freshness. This is important because chicken that is frozen can impact its taste and texture. Chicken that is then refrozen runs the risk of losing even more taste and drying out even further.

The texture can also be protected further by adequately storing your chicken in an airtight container or ziplock bag to prevent freezer burn.

It is also important when refreezing your chicken breast that you freeze as quickly as possible at a temperature lower than 0 degrees Fahrenheit to maintain the quality of your chicken.

To refreeze your chicken quickly, use a shallow container as this will assist in speeding up the process.

Should You Defrost Chicken Before Cooking?

To ensure that your chicken breast is evenly cooked, it is a much better option to defrost your chicken before cooking. However, as mentioned previously, you must cook your chicken immediately after thawing in the microwave to eliminate any risk of bacteria spreading. 

Along with using your microwave oven to defrost your chicken breast, you can also defrost your chicken using other methods. The most used method, if you have the time, is to allow your chicken breast to naturally thaw in the refrigerator. Generally speaking, you should allow 24 hours for this. 

To do this, place chicken into a sealed ziplock bag and on a lipped plate or bowl to minimize any excess juices from spoiling the contents of your refrigerator. 

Thawed chicken in the refrigerator can be kept for 24 hours before it needs to be cooked.

You can also defrost your chicken breast in cold water. To do this, simply place your chicken in a sealed ziplock bag, and fully submerge in a bowl of cold water. The length of time needed to defrost chicken this way will depend on the amount of chicken. As a guide, it would take around an hour to defrost 500g of chicken.

To avoid bacteria breeding, ensure that the water used is cold and changed every 30 minutes. Similarly to using the microwave to defrost, you should cook the chicken immediately after defrosting.

If you need to cook your chicken directly from frozen, then it is possible to do so by boiling or pressure cooking. However, the texture will be very dry and tough, and you will need to ensure that the inside is fully cooked before eating. 

You should always avoid slow cooker cooking as this will keep chicken at a lower temperature allowing bacteria to develop. As previously stated, it is always recommended to cook chicken immediately after thawing. 

Top Tips For Thawing Chicken Breast In A Microwave


Defrosting a chicken breast at home using a microwave can be done safely and quickly. These are our top tips to ensure your chicken breast is both safe, and enjoyable to eat:

  • Make sure you don’t place too much chicken into the microwave at once. Ensure that the chicken breasts are spread evenly to reduce the risk of cooking the meat during the thawing process
  • Change your microwave to the defrost setting, or lower its power setting to 30% – 50%. This is to maintain a steady temperature throughout the process to defrost gradually and not begin to cook
  • Check your chicken breast at regular intervals throughout the process and flip every 30 seconds to promote even thawing
  • Check that your chicken is fully defrosted before proceeding to cook
  • Be prepared to cook your chicken immediately after defrosting to reduce the risk of harmful bacteria growing

Frequently Asked Questions

Can You Defrost A Whole Chicken In The Microwave

If you can fit a whole chicken in your microwave, then in simple terms, yes you can defrost a whole chicken in the microwave. However, this does not mean we would recommend you do so.

A whole chicken would take a long time to defrost in the microwave, meaning that the chicken would be exposed to harmful bacteria for a prolonged period. Similarly, this would also result in chicken that is very dry and tough.

How Long Does It Take To Defrost A Frozen Chicken Breast In The Microwave?

Defrosting a chicken breast in the microwave takes around 2 minutes for every pound of meat. Ensure that you do not place too much in your microwave and that the chicken is evenly spaced to speed up the process.

Is It Safe To Defrost Chicken In The Microwave

As long as you stick to the golden rules of microwave defrosting, there is no reason why defrosting your chicken breast in the microwave is not safe. The main consideration here is that the chicken is not kept in the microwave for too long so that it does not start the cooking process.

The other thing to take into consideration is to be prepared to cook your chicken immediately. Prepare your oven so that it is preheated before placing the chicken in. 

Thawed chicken that is left at the temperature from defrosting is extremely harmful to health as it is the perfect temperature for bacteria to grow. Ensuring that you can cook your chicken immediately will reduce this risk.

Does Defrosted Chicken Taste As Good As Fresh

There is no reason why defrosted chicken breast should be less tasteful than a fresh chicken breast if prepared and cooked correctly. 

The main thing to look at here would be to use chicken that had been frozen as quickly as possible so that it was fresh. 

Similarly, you want to avoid starting to cook your chicken in the microwave as this will lead to dryness. An evenly defrosted chicken breast, cooked correctly, can be as delicious as its fresh counterpart.

Final Thoughts

Whilst defrosting chicken in the microwave can be a daunting task, once you establish the basics it is a safe and easy way to get your chicken breast ready for cooking.

As long as you stick to the basics, make sure that you don’t begin to cook your chicken in the microwave, and that you cook your chicken immediately after thawing, you really can’t go wrong with this method. 

Whilst many people will favor the natural method of defrosting, the convenience of microwave defrosting really can’t be knocked. The option to readily be able to cook family favorites from the contents of your freezer is a huge bonus for busy families.

Not only that, by using frozen products you can make big savings on your grocery bills. Similarly, freezing your unused foods will impact your household waste and the environment. Happy cooking!

Jess Smith