Quick tips for thawing chicken without using a microwave

By Bui Thuy   July 20, 2023 | 03:00 pm PT
When you have guests over or need to thaw chicken quickly, the following tips will help you thaw it quickly while still ensuring its freshness and minimizing loss of quality compared to using a microwave.

1. When there are guests over or there's a need for quick thawing, some people often use a microwave for thawing. However, this method can easily cause the fish or meat to undergo undesirable changes as the heat tends to partially cook the outer portion, resulting in less delicious dishes.

The method about to be shown utilizes common ingredients found in the kitchen such as salt, sugar, lemon, or vinegar, to facilitate quick thawing while maintaining freshness and preventing bacterial contamination.

By leveraging the properties of salt to draw out moisture and the equalizing effect of salt concentration as well as the water-retaining properties of sugar and the acid-breaking properties of lemon or vinegar, this method serves as a "golden secret" for thawing chicken quickly. Many chefs use it to keep the meat juicy and flavorful.

Before thawing, remove any packaging, plastic polystyrene trays, plastic food wrap, or cardboard boxes from the chicken.

2. Fill a container deep enough to submerge the chicken completely with water. Add a pinch of salt, sugar and squeeze some lemon juice into the water, then stir to dissolve. According to various studies, salt helps break down enzymes and damage bacterial DNA, thus inhibiting their growth.

Moreover, salt has an equalizing effect where high salt concentration in one environment (hypertonic) will move into a less salty environment (hypotonic) to establish equilibrium. Sugar helps retain the natural moisture inside the chicken during the soaking process. In Western cuisine, chefs often use a brine solution (saltwater mixed with sugar) to soak chicken breasts before cooking to make the meat tender and juicy.

Lemon or vinegar, containing acid, helps break down the connective tissues, resulting in faster tenderization. Therefore, this is a "golden secret" for thawing fish and meat, widely used by many chefs to keep the meat juicy and flavorful.

3. Place the chicken in a pot or deep container and pour in the diluted salt, sugar, and lemon solution. It's important to use clean containers to minimize bacterial contamination during the soaking process.

4. After about 30 minutes, the chicken will gradually separate into individual pieces, becoming tender and without any frozen spots, unlike when using the cold water thawing method. The skin will have a golden hue and the flesh will be fresh and pink.

Rinse the chicken thoroughly and prepare it into delicious dishes such as boiled chicken, ginger stir-fried chicken, or chicken fried with lemongrass and chili. Remember to clean the container thoroughly after soaking.


According to nutrition experts, in general, the best method for thawing fish and meat is the slow thawing method (wrapping and refrigerating them in the lowest compartment of the refrigerator).

Another common method is thawing with cold water, but if left for more than two hours, the food can be exposed to a dangerous temperature range that promotes bacterial growth and nutrient depletion. Thawing in a microwave often alters the food and compromises its taste when cooked.

Avoid using hot water for thawing as it can spoil the meat and create favorable conditions for bacterial growth.

Thawed food (meat, fish) should be cooked immediately to prevent re-freezing.

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