How To Defrost Chicken Faster

Did you think far enough ahead to defrost it?

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It doesn't happen overnight, unfortunately. If you have ever tried to thaw a frozen whole chicken in the refrigerator, expecting it to be thawed by the next morning, you will be disappointed. It will take at least four (4) whole days for a whole chicken, completely frozen, to thaw in the refrigerator. 

If you have the foresight to place the frozen chicken in the refrigerator at least four days before you need to prepare and cook the chicken, you're a better kitchen manager than many of us. You probably also have a weeklong meal plan set, too. This is where the problem lies. Most of us are not that good a kitchen manager that we think that far ahead. Some of us may think two or even three days ahead at most. Even then, the preparation for these meal plans may be as far as making sure that we have the ingredients to pull it off when we shopped for groceries last weekend.  

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If you failed to think far enough ahead that the whole chicken on your counter is frozen or even half frozen, you are in luck. We know of one sure way to get that whole chicken defrosted in a few hours rather than a few days in the refrigerator!

The tip is this: let the frozen chicken thaw in water

Why in water? Under food safety guidelines, frozen food should never be left on your counter to thaw. There are only four recommended ways to thaw frozen food, including a whole chicken:

  • • in the refrigerator
  • • in cold water 
  • • in the microwave 
  • • on the stove
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The refrigerator is said to be the safest way but it's also the longest of all the thawing methods. The quickest is by not thawing the frozen meat at all and cook it straight from frozen. Cooking frozen meat is best suited for dishes that are either braised, stewed, simmered in a broth, or a steak or pork chop. The drawback to cooking with frozen meat is that the cooking time will easily be almost twice as long as normal. This is great news for some, but not so if it's a whole chicken you're going to prepare and cook. 

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Microwave thawing is faster than the refrigerator but still takes time and some effort to do. The drawback of using this method is that the chicken has a tendency to heat up in certain areas if you don't turn the chicken over regularly. To do this, you simply need to place the frozen chicken in the microwave and set the power to "Defrost", "Low", or around 10% power and the timer for 5 minutes. Flip the chicken over and thaw again. Do this until the chicken is completely thawed through, which could be after 10 cycles. 

If you want less effort in thawing your whole chicken, you can try the cold water method. Here's how to do it properly:      

  • 1 Place your sealed, packaged frozen food in a bowl big enough for the water to cover it. 
  • 2 Add enough water to cover the frozen food. If necessary, place a weight on it to keep it in the water. 
  • 3 Set it aside for about 1 hour. 
  • 4 Drain the now icy water and refill the container with tap water. 
  • 5 Repeat these steps until the frozen food is thawed completely. 
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Want to do it a little faster? Use warm water and stir the water around so that when the frozen chicken comes in contact with the warm water, the hot/cold transfer will be quicker. The idea here is to quickly encourage the frozen crystals to melt but not enough to cook the meat yet. Remember to move the water around until it turns cool before setting it aside for that hour. The warm water can encourage bacteria to multiply. 

Try it! Defrosting food, especially meat, can take hours but with this easy tip, you can do it in less time, with less effort, and with less waste. 

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