How to thaw frozen chicken

Discover how to defrost poultry from your freezer safely with these Test Kitchen tips.

By The Canadian Living Test Kitchen

This article was originally found in Canadian Living's Special Issue, Best Chicken 2008. Subscribe to Canadian Living today and never miss an issue!

Defrosting a frozen bird requires a bit of care – zapping it in the microwave can lead to dry, over-cooked parts, and thawing in the sink takes patience and a keen eye to keep the water cool. Here are our best tips from the Canadian Living Test Kitchen to thaw a frozen bird safely, plus, find out the fastest way to get cooked chicken for a recipe or onto the table.

• Never thaw chicken at room temperature.

• Thaw wrapped chicken on rimmed baking sheet or tray in refrigerator, allowing 5 hours per pound (500 g).

• Or thaw chicken in sealed packages, in cold water, changing water every hour and allowing 1 hour per pound (500 g).

• Once thawed in refrigerator or cold water, refrigerate chicken and cook within 2 days. Do not refreeze thawed chicken.

• You can thaw chicken in microwave oven on defrost. Chicken should be loosely covered and pieces turned, separated and rotated several times as chicken thaws. Allow about 5 minutes per pound (500 g) and cook the chicken immediately.

Tip: Need a cooked chicken in a hurry? A quick way to get cooked chicken for a recipe is to buy a rotisserie chicken from the local grocery store. A 3 lb (1.5 kg) rotisserie chicken provides 2-1/2 to 3 cups (625 to 750 mL) boneless skinless meat.

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