Defrost chicken quickly and safely

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Photo credit: Ryan Love

Everyone loves a good one Chicken dinner, and if you’re a planner, you probably just got chicken tucked away in your freezer. If you like it chicken wing, Drumsticks, Chicken breast, or a whole roast chickenHaving some frozen meat on hand is smart – you just need to know how to properly defrost chicken. Read on for a few best practices.

Ree Drummond is a huge fan of super easy chicken dinners like Chicken and pasta, Chicken Pot Pie, Chicken salad, and more. But before you reach into your freezer and get started, it’s important to follow some basic rules for thawing your chicken. The USDA recommends three main methods for defrosting chicken safely and efficiently: in the refrigerator, in cold water, or in the microwave (scroll down for details on all three). Whichever method you choose, take your time – rushing the process is not a good idea! And no matter what, don’t leave your chicken on the counter all day to defrost – you need to keep the chicken at a safe temperature during the defrosting process.

How do you thaw chicken without ruining it?

Just choose one of the methods below – if you follow these tips you won’t have to worry about ruining your chicken!

Fridge method:

All types of meat are best defrosted in the refrigerator – this allows the meat to defrost slowly, evenly and safely. Depending on which piece of chicken you have, this can take two days or even longer (thin chops take less time). To thaw your chicken in the refrigerator, place it on a rimmed baking sheet or plate (in case juices leak out of the packaging or bag) and refrigerate until completely thawed; Your refrigerator should be at 40 degrees or lower to do this safely. According to the USDA, if your chicken is properly thawed in the refrigerator, it can be kept in the refrigerator for another day or two without cooking. The meat can be refrozen without cooking – just keep in mind that the texture can change.

Photo credit: RYAN DAUSCH

Credit: RYAN DAUSCH

Cold water method:

This method is faster than the refrigerator method, but not as fast as the microwave. To do this, keep the frozen chicken in its wrapper (or in a well-sealed plastic bag) and soak it in cold water. Replace the water with fresh cold water about every 30 minutes to maintain a safe temperature. According to the USDA, it takes about two to three hours to thaw a 3 to 4 pound frozen chicken or packet of chicken pieces. You can thaw a whole turkey here too! Remember that once the meat is completely thawed, you should cook it immediately – do not refreeze it.

Microwave method:

If you’re in a hurry and don’t have a day or two to defrost, you are probably wondering how to defrost chicken in the microwave. This method can be super quick and convenient, but you need to cook the chicken right away once it’s thawed – don’t wait a few hours before cooking or put it back in the freezer. As with the refrigerator method, the time it takes to defrost chicken in the microwave depends on the cut and size. You can use your microwave’s defrost feature, but do so at intervals and check the chicken regularly as it thaws to prevent any portions of the meat from cooking in the microwave. You don’t want your meat to stay in the “danger zone” for long periods of time, which is between 40 degrees and 140 degrees when bacteria grow very quickly. Also note that the microwave method is best for small pieces of chicken – don’t try to defrost a whole bird in the microwave.

Can You Thaw Chicken in Two Hours?

That depends on the chicken cut and size. Two hours isn’t enough to thaw your chicken in the refrigerator, but if you’re only thawing a few pounds of chicken pieces using the cold water method above, it should be fine. (Thawing a whole roasting pan or deep fryer takes more than two hours.) Make sure to cook the chicken right away if you use this method.


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