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How to defrost a chicken




This is the slowest way to defrost chicken, but is also considered the safest method.

  • Place chicken on a tray in the refrigerator. You can remove the packaging but if you do, cover the chicken with cling film. Make sure you have something underneath the chicken to catch any liquid that comes from the bird as this could otherwise spill onto other food in the fridge, contaminating it with bacteria.
  • A rule of thumb is to allow 10 hours per kilo defrosting time.

Cold water:

This is a faster method to defrost chicken.

  • Keep chicken in original packaging to ensure water doesn't leak onto the meat.
  • Fill a large bowl with cold water & place chicken in bowl.
  • Replace the water every 30 minutes to make sure the water remains cold.
  • A rule of thumb is to allow 60 minutes per kilo defrosting time.
  • Never use warm or hot water to defrost chicken this method.


This is the least preferred method to defrost chicken, especially a whole bird as it could result in uneven defrosting. I have used this method to defrost smaller cuts of chicken such as breasts. Defrosting times will vary with this method due to different microwaves.

  • Place chicken pieces on a microwave safe plate.
  • Use the defrost setting (most microwaves should have this), and defrost for 10 minutes, then check. Continue this method until the meat is defrosted.

Chicken that has been defrosted in the microwave should be cooked immediately.

If your microwave has an auto-defrost option in which you enter the weight & the microwave calculates the defrosting time. It is still important to check the chicken is properly defrosted though.


  • Don't defrost chicken on kitchen benches.
  • Always follow the manufacturers instructions on the packaging for safe defrosting methods.
  • Do not re-freeze chicken that has been defrosted. It can however be re-frozen after cooking.




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