How to Quickly and Safely Thaw a Frozen Chicken Breast

Forgot to thaw the chicken breasts? Here's what you do.

When you're ready to make a delicious chicken dinner, yet your chicken breast is a frozen brick, follow these four simple steps to quickly thaw a boneless, skinless chicken breast in less than 30 minutes, so you can start cooking fast.

Now, conventional wisdom says that food must be thawed slowly. But food scientist Harold McGee found that short thawing times in hot water do not make the food less safe. Basically, it's because the chicken isn't in the temperature "danger zone" long enough to cause any problems.

Before we get to the bathing technique, here are a couple of things to keep in mind. Start with relatively thin chicken breasts. For quick thawing, you don't want anything more than an inch or so thick. Seal your boneless, skinless chicken breasts in a Ziploc bag (no waterlogged chicken allowed). Ok, we're ready. Let's thaw!

How to Thaw Chicken Breasts Safely and Quickly

Don't worry if the edges turn opaque. The hot water is mildly cooking the edges, but that doesn't affect the flavor a bit.

  • Run hot tap water into a bowl.
  • Check the temperature with a thermometer. You're looking for 140 degrees F.
  • Submerge the frozen chicken breast.
  • Stir the water every once in a while (this keeps pockets of cold water from forming).
  • It should be thawed in 30 minutes or less.

Yes, this method works on other cuts of meat, too! Just make sure your steak or chop is 1-inch thick or thinner so it thaws quickly enough.

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