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Accidentally Thawed Chicken in Hot Water? What to Expect

Thawing chicken, ideally, involves transferring the frozen chicken to the fridge 1-2 days before your planned chicken meal and allowing it to defrost slowly. But maybe, you forgot to transfer the chicken to the fridge earlier, and you have to get the chicken defrosted and ready to cook for dinner. 

Thinking you could quickly get your chicken defrosted in hot water, you ran a hot water bath and placed your chicken in it. However, unsure about the safety of thawing chicken in hot water, you decided to remove the chicken after a few minutes of thawing. 

And now, you’re here, on this page, because you want to know what happens when you’ve accidentally thawed chicken in hot water, what to do to salvage the situation, how to defrost chicken safely and quickly, and so on. Trust me; we’ve got the answers to all your questions right here! 

Accidentally Thawed Chicken in Hot Water? What to Expect

You should expect these two things to happen if you accidentally thawed chicken in hot water:

  1. The outer parts of the chicken directly in contact with the hot water will quickly reach the danger zone. The danger zone refers to temperatures between 40oF and 140oF, where bacteria flourish in foods. And because the middle of the chicken will take a longer time to thaw, bacteria have the chance to proliferate. This, in turn, increases the chances of you getting a food-borne illness.
  2. The outer parts of the chicken directly in contact with the hot water will start to cook before the inside thaws, resulting in uneven thawing of your chicken. Furthermore, the hot water will give your chicken a rubbery texture which you won’t like. 

Accidentally Thawed Chicken in Hot Water? How to Salvage The Situation

Defrosting chicken in hot water is a food safety hazard, and so if you have accidentally thawed chicken in hot water, the safest course of action is to thrash it and cook something else. But, you can still salvage the situation by cooking the chicken thoroughly immediately after defrosting. 

You’d be exposing yourself to the danger of food poisoning if your chicken is undercooked or not cooked immediately after defrosting in hot water. Also, please don’t leave it on the countertop or put it back in the freezer or fridge after defrosting.

Can You Get Food Poisoning From Defrosting Chicken In Hot Water?

Yes, you can get food poisoning from defrosting chicken in hot water if the chicken is not properly cooked afterward. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), foods must be kept at a safe temperature (<40oF) while thawing

Defrosting your chicken in hot water will bring your chicken to an unsafe temperature which supports the growth of the bacteria that may have been present in the chicken before freezing and allow them to multiply rapidly. This may lead to a case of food poisoning, especially if the chicken is not adequately cooked afterward.

Read also: How Long Can Cooked Chicken Be Out of The Fridge Before It Goes Bad?

How Long Does Chicken Take To Thaw In Hot Water?

Chicken takes about 10-30minutes to thaw in hot water, depending on the size of the cut. However, it is not recommended that you thaw your chicken in hot water as it is considered an unsafe defrosting method.

How to Defrost Chicken Quickly and Safely – Working Tips

Depending on the size of the cut, there are different ways to defrost chicken quickly and safely. But first and foremost, no matter how much in a rush you are, you should never thaw your chicken in hot water or at room temperature on the kitchen counter. 

Considering safety and the speed of thawing, there are two ways you can defrost your chicken; (1) Defrosting in cold water and (2) Defrosting in the microwave.

1# Defrosting in cold water

This method works well for small chicken cuts. You can also use it for larger sizes, but it will take a longer thawing time. To defrost your chicken in cold water, place your frozen chicken in a tightly sealed, leak-proof bag (vacuum-sealed bags, zipper-top storage bags), then submerge it in a bowl of cold water from your kitchen sink. Change the water every 30 minutes to speed up the defrosting process.

If you are defrosting more than one piece of chicken, once the pieces have defrosted enough to be separated, open the sealed bag and separate them, then re-seal the bag and return it to the water. Doing this will also help speed up the defrosting process. 

Defrosting chicken in cold water will take 1-2 hours, but larger cuts will take a few more hours to defrost.

2# Defrosting in the microwave

This method works well for ground/minced chicken and small chicken cuts but is not ideal for larger cuts and whole chicken. To safely defrost chicken in the microwave, remove the plastic or foil wrap and place your chicken in a microwave-safe dish or container, covering it loosely. Then set your microwave to defrost mode and defrost while checking and flipping the chicken periodically to ensure even thawing. See a guide for defrosting chicken in the microwave here.

This method takes about 10 minutes, depending on the amount of chicken you are defrosting. Make sure to cook your chicken immediately after defrosting.

NOTE: Although defrosting in a refrigerator may not be a quick method, it is by far the safest method for defrosting chicken while preserving the textural qualities of the chicken. So, it is best to plan ahead and slowly defrost your chicken in the refrigerator instead of opting for quick defrosting methods. Also, this method is the best and most convenient method if you are defrosting a whole chicken.

Is It Okay To Leave Chicken In Water Overnight?

Yes, leaving the chicken in water overnight is okay if its temperature is not brought within the danger zone. For instance, defrosting large cuts of chicken or whole chicken in cold water takes a couple of hours, and you may want to leave it overnight. That’s perfectly fine!

In conclusion, you should never thaw your chicken in hot water. Doing that will allow for the growth and proliferation of bacteria in the chicken. Moreover, you will end up with unevenly thawed, partially cooked, and unappealing chicken. 

However, if you have accidentally thawed chicken in hot water, cook it thoroughly immediately after defrosting. If you develop any symptoms of food poisoning such as diarrhea, stomach cramps, and vomiting after eating chicken accidentally thawed in hot water, throw it away and see your doctor immediately.