Feed on

The safest way to defrost chicken is in the fridge, but sometimes you just don’t want to wait that long.

A whole frozen chicken might take up to 2 days, and even chicken breasts take several hours or overnight in the fridge to defrost properly.

If you’re making roast chicken the chicken will have to be defrosted first – same for Chicken Stir Fry.

How to Defrost Chicken

Other Defrosting Options (but not ideal)

  • You can defrost chicken in the microwave, but I find the chicken always starts to cook around the edges before the middle is properly defrosted
  • You can leave chicken on the bench top to defrost, but this is also not ideal. The outer meat defrosts first and can start to go ‘off’ before the centre is defrosted – especially in hot climates

My Preferred Option

  • I prefer to defrost chicken in water – a ‘trick’ I learned while working in my Uncle’s butcher’s shop when I was a young girl
  • My Uncle would put a whole frozen chicken into a clean bucket of cold water and within 2 or 3 hours he’d have a ‘fresh’ chicken. All he did was change the water a couple of times during the process

I’ve always remembered this how to defrost chicken method – and it’s very handy when you don’t want to wait a couple of days or overnight for your frozen chicken to defrost.

By the way, I’d never want to freeze, defrost or cook the 2 chickens in the above photos. Thank you Helen for providing amazing head shots of your beautiful chooks 🙂

Give it a Go

You can defrost chicken breasts this way in less than an hour – and chicken drumsticks don’t take that much longer. And there’s no need to use a bucket for chicken portions – a large bowl will usually do the job.  A whole chicken is defrosted and ready to cook in 2 or 3 hours – much quicker than 1 or 2 days!

Does it Spoil the Chicken?

No, it doesn’t appear to spoil the chicken at all.

I can’t taste the difference between chicken bought fresh and chicken defrosted in water.

Would it work for the Christmas Turkey?

Well, I’ve never tried it, but I guess if you have a big enough bucket it would work.  Remember to refresh the bucket with cold water a few times.

Chicken and Salmonella

As a precaution, remember you can get very sick (salmonellosis) from eating chicken (and turkey) that is not fresh.  My rule has always been, “if in doubt, throw it out” and I abide by this for all food, not just chicken.

As a general rule, if chicken smells bad after rinsing it under cold running water, it probably is bad, so get rid of it.  It’s not worth the risk.

Thanks for visiting my website. I hope you’ve found this How to Defrost Chicken handy hint useful.

Jan Littlehales

You might also enjoy:

Roast Chicken

Chicken Stock Recipe

Chicken with Apricots and Almonds


4 Responses to “How to Defrost Chicken – Handy Hints”

  1. Thanks for these helpful tips…..being a 21 year old first time out of homer, these hints will come in handy for me!

  2. Oh Boy – why didn’t I find your blog post yesterday, you would have saved me getting takeaway on a Monday night, as chicken breasts were still frozen when I got home from work. Hate leaving chicken out all day in this weather yet doesn’t defrost quick enough in the fridge,

    Thx for a grt tip

  3. Good luck in the kitchen ‘investment property loans’ – glad you found this handy hint helpful 🙂

    You’ll know for next time ‘food wine sleep’. Thanks for dropping by and commenting 🙂

  4. Lisa Wood says:

    Hi Jan,

    I never ever realised that there was so many different ways to defrost a chicken! I usually stick it in the fridge to defrost, or on the oven setting that is defrost! Sometimes we have stuck it out on the bench, but only for a short amount of time 🙂

    Thanks for sharing your tip about the water.


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