Do's and Don'ts for Defrosting Chicken

It's always best to "err on the side of caution" when it comes to defrosting chicken. You and your family's safety should always come first. 
Improper defrosting technique is often the culprit when it comes to cases of food poisoning involving poultry. That being said, there are some definite do's and don'ts concerning the process.


  • Always keep your defrosting chicken at a temperature lower than 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperatures above this are ideal for germs such as Salmonella, Listeria, Staphyloccus Aureus and other bad guys you don't want living in your food. The very easiest way to do this is by defrosting the chicken in the refrigerator.
  • Always wash your hands with hot, soapy water. Do this both before touching the defrosting chicken and after. Germs hate this.This being said...
  • Always wash every plate, bowl, tray, knife or other utensil that came in contact with the defrosting chicken thoroughly with hot, soapy water. Cross-contamination is a real concern when handling raw poultry. It is very easy to touch a contaminated surface and transport the contamination to multiple places around the kitchen. This is especially dangerous when preparing foods that will be eaten without cooking, such as salad.
  • Always cook chicken after defrosting using the microwave method or the cold water bath method.


  • Never attempt defrosting chicken on the counter-top for hours at room temperature. This breaks the above 40 degrees Fahrenheit rule unless you live in a meat locker.
  • Never refreeze previously thawed chicken.
  • Never refrigerate chicken defrosted using the microwave method or the cold water bath method.
  • Never allow other food to come into contact with raw, defrosted chicken or its juice.

Remember, chicken is safe virtually forever in its frozen state. It's only when defrosting and cooking that potential problems arise with food poisoning. 

Next: Ways for actually cooking frozen chicken

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