Can You Cook Chicken That Was Thawed to Room Temp?

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How To Thaw:

There are several good ways that you can thaw chicken. Please note, these ways do not include being defrosted on the counter at room temperature or in a bowl of hot water. These are both risky, as they both allow the chicken to sit at dangerous temps that allow bacteria to grow quickly. The dangerous temperatures are between 40 to 140F. 

The best ways to thaw chicken are in the refrigerator, in a bowl of cold water or in the microwave on defrost. Each one of these allow the chicken to be thawed safely. 

Refrigerator Thawing:

Thawing chicken in your refrigerator means placing frozen chicken directly into your fridge and allowing them to sit in the cool fridge until they have defrosted. Once they have defrosted, the time that they are good thawed in the fridge begins. 

The amount of time it takes a piece of chicken to thaw depends on what it is as well as it’s size. For example, a smaller chicken breast generally takes about one day to thaw in the fridge. Pieces of chicken with bones take longer, usually around two days. The USDA notes that pieces of poultry can be left in the fridge one to two days after being defrosted. 

Cold Water Thawing:

Cold water thawing is when a piece of frozen chicken, is placed into a bowl full of ice-cold water. It then remains in the ice-cold water until the chicken thaws. Once it thaws it is removed and prepared. 

The amount of time chicken breasts takes to thaw varies between one to two hours in ice cold water. Larger pieces of chicken will take over two hours to thaw in cold water. It may be a bit difficult to use this method for thawing a whole chicken as the entire body would need to be submersed in the water. 

Microwave Thawing:

Microwave thawing is probably the fastest way to defrost chicken. It is done by placing your chicken in the microwave and keeping a close eye on it. You will want to use the defrost function if your microwave has it. 

To do this at home, check the manual for your microwave to be sure exactly how yours works. Most simply have a defrost button for you to press, and then put in the weight of your food. IT will then require you to flip the food over after a given amount of time. Unique to microwave thawing, any meat that is thawed using this method should be prepared and cooked right away. Meat that has been defrosted in the microwave should not sit in the fridge raw. 


Can You Cook Frozen Chicken?

Baking chicken from frozen is possible. It’ll only take a longer time, but definitely doable. But, when it comes to frying the meat, it won’t be very effective. Since the meat will get crispy on the outside before it cooks on the inside, it’s absolutely not advisable to cook chicken while still frozen.

Read More: How to Smoke a Turkey on a Pellet Grill? How to Cut Tri-Tip Steak Like a Pro How Long To Marinate Chicken? How Long to Grill Chicken?

Hot water stream

Using hot water is an excellent last resort if you

Using hot water is an excellent last resort if you don’t have access to a cold water bath or microwave. You will need to get your temperature readings dead-on, so you will need an accurate meat thermometer for the best results.

I mentioned earlier that meat temperatures for chicken between 40°F and 140°F run the risk of allowing bacteria to thrive, putting you at risk of catching food poisoning.

Where this and cooking cold chicken differ is that the high temperatures in a grill or oven mean that meat is only in this temperature range for a very short amount of time, which means that the bacteria doesn’t have enough time to develop. We can use the same principle to apply to using hot water.

Place the chicken in a large bowl, and insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of its flesh.

Keep a constant stream of hot water pouring over the meat. Allowing it to sit in hot water means that the water will cool down, making it ineffective.

Ensure that you cook it immediately after thawing so that the surface of the chicken is not exposed to the effects of bacteria.

Thawing in the Microwave

This is a last resort, since microwave thawing can dry out the outer parts of a chicken, leading to a woody texture. Don’t thaw a whole chicken in the microwave, only smaller parts. Boneless cuts do best.

Take the chicken from its packaging and put it on a microwave-safe dish that’ll hold any liquid the chicken may release. Use the defrost setting (not full power) and check on the progress every two minutes. Refer to your microwave’s manual for specific directions.

Cook chicken immediately after thawing in the microwave. The warmer internal temperature of chicken that’s been thawed in the microwave is ripe for bacteria growth, so it should be cooked right away.

Do not refreeze chicken that’s been thawed in the microwave. 

Nick Evans

foolproof method: Overnight in Refrigerator

While the above methods can thaw meat fast, the easiest and most foolproof way is to let meat thaw overnight in your refrigerator.

This is a foolproof method because the meat will never enter the Danger Zone unless you have your fridge set to above 40°F / 5°C.

Even if you don’t have time to use this method today to thaw your meat, remember it for the next time you want to thaw something. Take it out of your freezer the day before and place it in your fridge.

The temperature in the fridge will gradually thaw the meat and keep it in a safe range.

To speed up this process, you can also combine it with the cold water thawing method. Seal the meat in a bag or vacuum-sealed packaging and place it in a bowl of water. Place that bowl in the fridge to thaw overnight.

As explained earlier, the meat will thaw faster in water than air, so thawing your meat in water while in the fridge is far more effective than merely placing the meat in the fridge.

Cook Without Thawing

When you’re really in a pinch, you don’t have to thaw frozen meat before cooking. Believe it or not, it’s safe to cook fresh-out-of-the-freezer blocks of ground turkey, solid cuts of chicken, and bricks of ice-cold steak. The meat will take longer to cook (about 50% more time), and it’s not ideal for achieving golden-crispy skin or a perfect sear. However, it’s an option that’s always there for you — even when perfectly thawed protein isn’t.

Just avoid cooking frozen meat in the slow cooker — it can spend too much time thawing and become unsafe to eat.

Cooking Frozen Chicken

You can cook chicken in its frozen state.  The general rule of thumb is to add another 50% of cooking time from the time suggested in the recipe.  Certain cooking methods, such as braising, or cooking it in the slow cooker, or using the chicken in soups and stews lend themselves better to cooking frozen meat.

Other methods (like sautéing, roasting, or microwaving) may yield slightly uneven results or a less-than ideal texture.  It’s very likely that the outside of the chicken may cook faster than than the inside.

For instance, you won’t be able to get a nice caramelized exterior on a piece of frozen chicken if you sear or sauté it, as the the chicken will slowly release moisture as it thaws while cooking in the pan, preventing browning.  So best to defrost the chicken before cooking it using these methods, and pat it dry.

Fast Method 1: Microwave Defrost

It should be no surprise that the fastest way of defrosting meat is to use a microwave’s defrost setting.

All modern microwaves should have a defrost setting that allows you to set the total weight of the meat you want to defrost. Once you enter the weight, the microwave will work out the ideal settings to defrost it as quickly as possible.

Important: the microwave rapidly defrosts the meat, which will likely bring parts of it up to the Danger Zone. To prevent bacteria from building up after thawing, make sure you immediately cook it.

Don’t use your microwave to defrost your meat, then let it sit for an hour or two at room temperature. Make sure you time the defrost so you can immediately cook it afterward.

Do not let it sit at room temperature after defrosting.

How Long Does it Take to Thaw Chicken?

Depending on which method you use, chicken can take anywhere from 2 days to 30 minutes to thaw. 

The refrigerator method can take up to 2 days, depending on how many lbs of frozen chicken breast you have. 

The cold water method takes up to 1 hour per pound.

The microwave takes 10-20 minutes, depending on the amount of chicken.

Chicken Can Be Cooked While Frozen

Chicken can also be cooked while it is still frozen. This is a lesser-known fact, but it can be done. The only thing to remember with this is that it may take 50% more time to cook than if it was thawed. It also needs to be sure to reach an internal temperature of at least 160F. If you keep these two things in mind, there is no need for your chicken to be fully thawed in order to cook it. 

4. Microwave it

If you want to know how to defrost chicken fast, the answer is to microwave it. But this technique barely makes the cut, because while it’s speedy, it can also be risky if not done right.

The main problem is that if you don’t cook the microwave-defrosted chicken right away, you run the risk of bacterial growth. "You need to cook the chicken immediately after it's been thawed in the microwave, since it essentially starts the cooking process and puts the meat in the food safety 'danger zone,'" Sharp says. If you let this partially cooked meat sit around, any bacteria present will not have been killed yet, giving it the chance to grow, the USDA explains.

The other drawback is that, even if you do it safely, microwave-thawed chicken breast is never going to be the most delectable choice. "In my experience, most chicken pieces are not equally shaped all over, so by the time a thicker piece thaws through, the thinner smaller bits and edges have already started to cook and get rubbery," Sharp says. And nobody wants a rubbery chicken breast for dinner.



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