How to Thaw Chicken Breasts

Written by grace restivo
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How to Thaw Chicken Breasts
Chicken breasts thawed improperly can be unsafe to eat. (fried chicken breast on a white background. image by James Insogna from

To reduce the risk of food-borne illnesses, chicken must be cooked, handled, refrigerated and thawed properly. According to the Food Safety and Inspection Service, chicken should never be defrosted on the counter or left at room temperature. Chicken defrosted improperly will allow the chicken temperature to rise above 4.44 degrees Celsius, enabling bacteria to multiply rapidly. At the recommendation of Food Safety and Inspection Service, chicken parts should only be defrosted in the refrigerator, in cold water, or in the microwave oven.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Leak-proof plastic bag
  • Deep bowl or pot
  • Microwave-safe plate

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  1. 1

    Thaw the chicken breast well in advance because of the length of time required.

  2. 2

    Place chicken breasts in the original packaging on a plate to collect the water that may leak during thawing. The chicken may be placed in a plastic bag in lieu of the original packaging.

  3. 3

    Place the plate inside the refrigerator. Allow boneless chicken breasts 24 hours to defrost. Bone-in breasts will require two or three days to defrost. The thawed chicken breasts can then be stored in the refrigerator for one or two days before cooking or can be safely refrozen without cooking first.

  1. 1

    Place the frozen chicken breasts in a leakproof package or plastic bag.

  2. 2

    Fill a deep bowl or pot with cold tap water and then add the chicken breasts. The chicken breasts should be entirely submerged.

  3. 3

    Replace the water with cold water every 30 minutes. Allow an hour for a 0.454kg. package of boneless chicken breasts to thaw; 1.36kg. of bone-in breasts will take two to three hours to defrost. Chicken breasts thawed using the cold water method must be cooked immediately.

  1. 1

    Remove the chicken breasts from the original packaging.

  2. 2

    Place the frozen chicken on a microwave-safe plate and defrost on low heat. Allow six to eight minutes for each pound of chicken. If available, follow the manufacturer's instructions and use the microwave defrost feature.

  3. 3

    Immediately cook the chicken breasts to prevent bacteria growth. The defrosted chicken breasts can be cooked in the microwave, oven, hob, or grilled.

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