You’re already hungry, but the chicken is still in the freezer. Many people soak their frozen chicken in hot water to quicken the thawing in this situation. But can you defrost chicken in hot water without any adverse results?
If you don’t want to get sick, don’t thaw chicken in hot water. Using hot water to thaw chicken makes the thawing process faster. But it is not safe. For one, it will cause the formation of dangerous bacteria. It will also begin to ‘cook’ the external parts of the chicken before its inner section is thawed.
Frozen chicken meat might have dormant bacteria like salmonella. So, if you thaw it in hot water, the inactive bacteria will start to grow because of the rising temperature. Pretty soon, the bacteria will spread across the surface of the meat.
Read on to learn more about thawing frozen chicken in hot water, if it’s safe or not, and the proper ways of thawing frozen chicken.
Can You Defrost Chicken in Hot Water?
Not Advisable to Thaw Frozen Chicken in Hot Water
Can you thaw chicken in hot water? Using hot water to thaw frozen chicken is not advisable. This practice is not safe. Even if you are pressed for time and you already need to cook the chicken from the freezer, don’t do it. You can get sick if you do.
Salmonella May Multiply and Spread
Inside the frozen chicken, there are dormant bacteria such as salmonella. By defrosting frozen raw chicken in hot water, those inactive bacteria will spring to life. As the temperature rises, they will grow in numbers and spread all over the chicken meat.
Do Not Thaw Perishable Food in Hot Water
Chicken is a perishable food. Moreover, you should not thaw all perishable foods in hot water. You shouldn’t leave them at room temperature for over two hours. As I’ve already mentioned, dangerous bacteria live inside perishable foods.
Exposure to Foodborne Illness
Eating chicken thawed in hot water exposes you to foodborne illness. The same is true with defrosting frozen cooked chicken in hot water. According to the Food and Drugs Administration, there are about 128,000 people who get sick and hospitalized due to foodborne illnesses.
Proper Thawing Makes Chicken Safer to Eat
If you don’t want to be part of these statistics, you need to thaw frozen chicken the right way. You can learn the proper ways of thawing chicken in just minutes. Proper thawing will make your chicken tastier, but it will also make it safer to eat.
How to Safely Thaw a Frozen Chicken
Do Not Thaw Frozen Chicken in Hot Water or on the Countertop at Room Temperature
Safely thawing frozen chicken until ready to cook can be easily learned and easily done. But first, you should keep in mind that you should not thaw frozen chicken in hot water or on the countertop at room temperature.
There are safer methods of thawing frozen chicken. These methods will enable you to thaw frozen chicken meat and prevent it from getting into the danger zone of 40°F to 140°F. At this temperature range, dangerous bacteria start to multiply.
Thaw Whole Chicken Inside the Fridge
Generally, whole chicken and larger chicken cuts should only be thawed inside the fridge. Of course, you can use the microwave to thaw frozen chicken. But that will begin to cook the outer surface of the meat before its inner portions are given time to thaw.
How Long to Defrost Chicken in Water?
It will take a long time to defrost whole chicken in a bowl of cold water.
But you can shorten the time by cutting the whole chicken into small manageable pieces. There are other effective and safer ways to thaw frozen chicken. The rest of this article will dwell on their details.
How to Thaw Frozen Chicken in Cold Water
This method is effective if you need to thaw your chicken from the freezer quickly:
1. Take the Frozen Chicken and Put It In a Sealed Bag
It could be a leak-proof zipper storage plastic bag or a vacuum-sealed bag. The tight plastic seal will prevent the water-borne bacteria (from the cold water) from contaminating the frozen chicken.
2. Put the Chicken in a Bowl of Cold Water
You must submerge the whole frozen chicken in cold water for this method to be effective. This process will take about two to three hours.
3. Cut the Frozen Chicken Into Small Pieces
If you cut the frozen chicken into small pieces, you could reduce the thawing time to one to two hours. The cold water will eventually acquire the temperature of the room. So, refill the cold water after every 30 minutes.
4. Other Tips for Thawing Several Cuts of Frozen Chicken in Cold Water
If you are thawing several cuts of frozen chicken, this is what you need to do to thaw them faster:
- Put the lump in a tight, zipper-type plastic bag and soak it in cold water.
- If the chicken pieces are thawed enough to be separated, open the bag and pull them apart.
- Put the separated chicken pieces back again into the plastic bag.
- Continue the process until all the chicken pieces are fully thawed.
As I’ve said, using cold water to thaw frozen chicken will only take about one to two hours. But if you are thawing whole frozen chicken, it will take longer, maybe two to three hours. After the frozen chicken pieces are thawed completely, you should cook them right away.
Note that it is not good to thaw frozen chicken under running water. Doing this will spread bacteria as the water splashes around your countertop and kitchen. This can cross-contaminate other food items in your kitchen.
How to Thaw Frozen Chicken Inside the Fridge
Safest and Most Dependable Way of Thawing Frozen Chicken
This is the safest and most dependable way of thawing frozen chicken. This is also the easiest method because it does not require much of your attention. However, this is not the quickest way to thaw frozen chicken. So, plan if you want to use this method.
One Day to Thaw a Whole Frozen Chicken
On average, it takes one whole day for a whole frozen chicken to thaw using this method. But once the chicken is defrosted, you can put it inside the fridge for up to two days before cooking.
So, if you have a pound of frozen chicken in the freezer, move them to the fridge at least 24 hours before you plan to cook it.
Two Days to Defrost a 5-pound Whole Chicken
Larger chicken weighing more than one pound and bigger chicken cuts may take longer to defrost. For instance, it will take around two days to defrost a 5-pound whole chicken.
The good thing about thawing frozen chicken inside the fridge is that you can use the meat for up to three days without fear of it being contaminated with dangerous bacteria. Still, this will depend on how fresh it is when you buy it.
Again, can you defrost the chicken in hot water? Do not defrost the chicken in hot water since bacteria might grow and multiply. Also, the hot water will cook the chicken’s exterior.
How to Use the Microwave to Thaw a Frozen Chicken
Press a Button
For an easy method of defrosting chicken, you can use the microwave. There are new models of microwaves that can thaw or defrost chicken by simply pressing a button.
Check the Microwave’s Manual
If you have a modern microwave, it is almost certain that it is equipped with this function. Check its manual to see if it has any directions on how you can do this.
Immediately Cook the Chicken
Keep in mind that frozen chicken thawed in a microwave oven should be cooked right after defrosting it. The reason is that microwaves heat the meat from 40°F to 140°F, the temperature range where most bacteria usually multiply.
The only way to eradicate dangerous bacteria is to cook the chicken at the correct temperature.
Steps to Follow If Your Microwave Does Not Have a Defrost Function
If your microwave has no specific button for meat defrosting, you can still use it to thaw frozen chicken. You need to follow these steps:
- Set the temperature of the microwave to defrost
- Check every couple of minutes to see if the chicken is thawing correctly
- Periodically move the chicken around the oven, and flip them to ensure even thawing of the meat
- Keep in mind that even if you flip the chicken around, its thinner parts will cook a little while its thicker part will still be thawing.
- Once thawed, the chicken must be cooked immediately
Why Do You Need to Handle Frozen Chicken Properly
Causes Foodborne Illness
As I’ve mentioned at the start, foodborne illness causes the hospitalization of around 128,000 people in the United States every year. The hard thing to swallow here is that some people are dead.
This is why the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration has warned people to be careful in handling the food they put into their mouths.
Bacteria in Improperly Handled Chicken
According to the USDA, some of the strains of dangerous bacteria that can be found in improperly handled chicken meat are the following:
- E. coli
- Staphylococcus aureus
- Listeria monocytogenes
Can Even Cause Death
These harmful organisms can make you sick. Worst, they can kill if their adverse effects are not treated immediately. So, our government agencies are encouraging you to practice proper thawing of your frozen chicken and other frozen meats and foods.
Check the Cooked Chicken’s Internal Temperature
To be safe to eat, the cooked chicken’s internal temperature must be at least 165°F. Defrosting your chicken properly will help it achieve this internal temperature while cooking. This will significantly reduce your risk of getting a foodborne illness.
Frequently Asked Questions
Defrosting chicken in hot water has elicited so many questions about its safety. You may be interested in reading the answers to the most often asked questions about this topic. Here they are:
Can I Use Hot Water to Defrost My Frozen Chicken?
No, it is not safe to use hot water in thawing frozen chicken. Two adverse consequences will result if you will do this.
First, it can cause dormant bacteria inside the chicken meat to be active and multiply. Hot temperatures will activate them. Second, hot water will begin to cook the outer portions of the chicken meat while the inner portions are still thawing.
How Can I Safely and Quickly Defrost a Chicken?
If you want to defrost your chicken safely and in a reasonably short time, you can put it inside a tight and leak-proof plastic bag and then submerge the whole thing in cold water.
You can prevent dormant bacteria from multiplying inside the chicken while still getting it thawed without waiting for two or three hours.
What Is the Danger of Thawing Frozen Chicken in Hot Water?
If you defrost your frozen chicken in hot water, you risk activating the dormant bacteria inside the chicken meat. As the temperature of the chicken meat gradually increases, the inactive bacteria will come alive and begin to multiply.
Soon, these dangerous bacteria, such as salmonella, E. coli, and other toxic organisms, will be all over the chicken meat. This is why the FDA and the USDA do not recommend this practice.
If the bacteria get inside your body, they will make you sick. You may even be hospitalized if your condition becomes worse.
Can I Thaw Frozen Chicken Under Running Hot Water?
It is also dangerous to thaw frozen chicken under running hot water. It will trigger the dormant bacteria inside the meat, and they will start to multiply. You also risk cross bacteria contamination in your kitchen with the other food you prepare.
What Is a Safe Way to Thaw Frozen Chicken?
There are several ways you can safely defrost a frozen chicken. They will not encourage the formation of bacteria inside the chicken meat that can endanger your health. Here are some of these methods.
- Use cold water to thaw frozen chicken
- Defrost the chicken inside the fridge
- Use your microwave to defrost frozen chicken
How Long Does It Take to Thaw Frozen Chicken?
It depends on what method you use. Generally, cold water will take around two to three hours to thaw frozen chicken. You can shorten the time by cutting whole chicken into small and manageable pieces. You can cut the time by a half-hour or an hour if you do this.
In Closing: Can You Use Hot Water to Defrost Chicken?
You should not use hot water to defrost the chicken. You will get sick if you do. While hot water will make the thawing process faster, it will encourage the formation of dangerous bacteria in the chicken meat.
In addition, hot water will also start to ‘cook’ the outer parts of the chicken meat before its inner portions are thawed.
It is safer and less dangerous to thaw frozen chicken meat using cold water, although it will take longer. You can also thaw the frozen chicken meat inside your fridge or use your microwave oven. Using hot water to thaw frozen chicken is placing your health at risk.