*This* is the best way to defrost chicken

Hands up if you love chicken. Us, too. It’s healthy, easy to cook and can be prepared in a myriad of ways. (See exhibit AAnd BAnd C.) But what to do if you accidentally forget to take it out of the freezer and you need it tonight? Don’t worry—here are three quick-ish ways to get dinner on the table in time.

If you have 12 hours: Defrost in the fridge
This is by far the best method to thaw your poultry since it doesn’t expose the meat to warmer temperatures—better for both safety and texture. And while yes, it does take some planning (try setting a notification on your phone to remind you), it’s also the method that requires the least amount of hands-on attention. Simply take your chicken out of the freezerup to two days before you plan on cooking it, put it on a plate and place on the bottom shelf of your fridge. Winner winner, chicken dinner.

If you have 2 hours: Submerge it in cold water
When you only have a couple of hours before you need to cook your chicken, try the cold water method. Place frozen meat in a tightly sealed, leak-proof bag and then in a bowl of cold (never hot) water, ensuring that the meat is fully submerged. Change the water every 30 to 45 minutes to make sure that it stays cold. Depending on the type of cut, your chicken could thaw in anything from about an hour (ground chicken, for example) to several hours for bigger pieces. Once thawed, cook immediately. 

RELATED: Try this tonight: 

8 PHOTOS
Chicken dinners with 5 ingredients or less
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If you have literally no time: Cook your chicken from frozen
Another option? Not thawing at all. Yep, you can actually cook chicken in its frozen state, you just need to add about 50 percent more cooking time. This method works best for recipes that require braising or slow-cooking, rather than sautéing or frying since the excess moisture in the frozen chicken will prevent the meat from getting that crispy, browned exterior.

What not to do
The big no-no: Leaving chicken out on the counter to thaw. Why? Because meat must always be kept below 40°F to prevent bacteria from multiplying, says the USDA. And while you technically can thaw your poultry in the microwave, this isn’t necessarily the best method. First, because it’s easy to mess up (you need to remember to stop and check the defrosting progress every 30 seconds or so), and second, because it could impact the texture. But no matter which defrosting method you choose, use a thermometer to check that your cooked chicken reaches at least 165°F before eating.

Related: Recipes to make this week: 

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Chicken recipes
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Chicken recipes

Hawaiian Shoyu Chicken

"Hawaiian Shoyu Chicken is marinated in a soy, brown sugar marinade with a little bit of spice from the cayenne pepper.  It’s easy to whip up the marinade in the morning, head off to work and saute the chicken in under 30 minutes when you get home. {gluten free}" - Seasonal Cravings

Get the recipe here!

Sambal Chicken Skewers

"While these skewers are really good on their own, with some rice and grilled veggies, I could easily see the meat removed and piled high on a sandwich with Asian sub fixins like cucumber, carrot, and cilantro with a little extra of the sauce on top." - Wit and Vinegar

Get the recipe here!

Buttermilk Fried Chicken and Waffle Sliders

"This recipe basically calls upon the lord of all things moist, buttermilk, to produce fried chicken that is juicy as all get out." - Probably This

Get the recipe here!

Spicy Lime Jalapeno Chicken Soup

"After three months of crunching on salads I’m yearning for the tenderly cooked vegetables and poached chicken in the perfect bowl of soup." - Hola Jalapeno

Get the recipe here!

Brazillian Paprika Chicken Stew with White Beans

"A hearty and comforting Brazilian Paprika Chicken Stew is possibly one of the best ways to warm up this fall/winter. It is also very easy to make and done in one pot!" - Olivia's Cuisine

Get the recipe here!

Tequila Honey Lime Chicken

"Tequila Honey Lime Chicken – juicy chicken marinated in a smoky chipotle, a touch of honey and chili powder then finished with a super quick and fresh red pepper salsa!" - With Salt and Wit

Get the recipe here!

Roasted Chicken Sausage with Potatoes and Apples

"This simple, sheet pan dinner recipe is a sweet and savory combination of smoked chicken sausage, tart Granny Smith apples and baby potatoes tossed with olive oil, shallots, thyme and a touch of honey." - My Gourmet Connection

Get the recipe here!

Chicken Cacciatore

"I love how quick it comes together and it really tastes like a giant hug! There's something so comforting about stews, right? And this chicken stew is my jam." - Fix Feast Flair

Get the recipe here

Skinny Chicken Enchilada Soup

"It’s brimming with shredded chicken, plump black beans, sweet corn,  tangy enchilada sauce, lots of fragrant cilantro, and topped with a HEAP of cheese." - A Happy Food Dance

Get the recipe here!

Baked Greek Chicken

"It is so incredibly easy to make – just toss everything into an ovenproof dish and throw it in the oven." - The Wanderlust Kitchen

Get the recipe here!

Honey Curried Chicken

"Looking for a chicken dinner with a little bit of bold flavor? This Honey Curried Chicken is an easy chicken dinner with only 6 ingredients and 10 minutes prep time." - Taste and Tell

Get the recipe here!

Filipino BBQ Chicken

"Jon’s secret is to broil both sides of the meat until charred. He swears it keeps the meat from becoming soggy & after trying just one bite, we knew it was how we’d be cooking meat from here on out!" - Public Lives Secret Recipes

Get the recipe here!

Straight Up Honky Kung Pao Chicken

"Most of these ingredients are already in your cupboard. If not, get them. You’ll be able to throw stir fry and fried rice together like a boss. Let’s do this." - Displaced Housewife

Get the recipe here!

Parmesan Crusted Chicken Meatballs

"Start the night with these juicy n’ flavorful chicken meatballs with golden crispy parmesan crust! So good, your guests won’t leave the appetizer table." - Sweet and Savory

Get the recipe here!

Lemon Garlic Spaghetti with Chicken

"This easy, flavorful pasta dish is a favorite of ours for a quick weeknight meal. It features tender strips of boneless chicken tossed with spaghetti, sweet tomatoes and a simple, light sauce flavored with garlic, onion and fresh lemon." - My Gourmet Connection

Get the recipe here!

Chipotle Chicken Tacos

"Add cilantro, sliced tomato and about a teaspoon of Chipotle mayo to each tortilla. Add a squeeze of lime juice onto each taco." - Nutrition by Mia

Get the recipe here!

Spicy Chicken Wonton Soup

"I love this soup for oh so many reasons. First of all, it's insanely easy to make. The ingredients are simple and easy to find and it's insanely comforting." - Fix Feast Flair

Get the recipe here!

Pan-Fried Chicken Breast with Cherry and Arugula Salad

"Lighter pan-fried chicken breast with cherry and arugula salad is the perfect weeknight meal that is light, nutritious, and delicious!" - Cooking and Beer

Get the recipe here!

Thai Peanut Chicken Quesadillas

"These Thai inspired quesadillas have a super quick but unbelievably addicting peanut sauce that gets tossed with the chicken and then drizzled all over the top." - The Whole Bite

Get the recipe here!

Mediterranean Chicken and Quinoa Salad

"The quinoa and chicken provide plenty of protein power. The supporting fresh ingredients add a robust backdrop without adding loads of unwanted fat and calories." - Today's Nest

Get the recipe here!

Balsamic Honey Glazed Chicken

"A whole roasted chicken is always going to be a seriously low faff, delicious meal to feed a whole bunch of people- and it's usually far cheaper than buying prepared chicken breasts." - Holly Likes to Cook

Get the recipe here!

Slow Cooker Goan Chicken Coconut Curry

"The curry is infused with delicious coconut milk and a blend of aromatic spices. I've tried to make it simple by skipping out several steps where the spices need to be fried with the onions and removed the oil completely." - A Brown Table

Get the recipe here!

Chicken Pot Pie Soup

"When I first made this chicken pot pie recipe, it almost didn’t make it to the point of getting topped with the puff pastry.  The filling was THAT good, I keep tasting spoonful after spoonful, so I knew it was only a matter of time before it just became chicken pot pie soup." - A Happy Food Dance

Get the recipe here!

Chicken Tortilla Soup

"I’ve lived as second fiddle to the other chicken soup my whole life. Heck, I know the other soup is special – there is an entire book series named after it." - Simply Sated

Get the recipe here!

Spicy Chicken and Sweet Potato Noodle Bowls

"I’ve made a variety of sweet potato noodle recipes recently—usually while listening to the Hamilton soundtrack (I was also late to that party)—but this Spicy Chicken and Sweet Potato Noodle Bowl remains my favorite." - Domesticate Me

Get the recipe here!

Bourbon Chicken

"This recipe for Bourbon Chicken is much more flavorful than any food court offering, plus the spice level can be easily adjusted to suit your tastes, you can use better quality chicken, and it is quick and easy to make at home." - Kitchen Joy

Get the recipe here!

Bone Broth Chicken and Vegetable Soup

"It has powerful healing properties that can help to boost your immune system, alleviate joint pain, brighten skin and go as far as making your hair shiny and bright." - Kitchen Living with Coryanne

Get the recipe here!

Napa Valley Chicken

"Napa Valley Chicken is baked in a sweet and savory tomato, onion, and garlic sauce and is one of my absolute favorite recipes from my childhood." - Garnish and Glaze

Get the recipe here!

Hawaiian Chicken Kebabs

"Hawaiian Chicken Kebabs can either be a simple weeknight supper or the hit of a barbecue!" - Souffle Bombay

Get the recipe here!

Cheesy Buffalo Ranch Chicken Roll Ups

"It is no surprise that I love using crescent rolls for dinner.  I used them in my super popular Chicken Ranch Club Roll Ups And my new favorite Cheesesteak Crescents, which are to die for!! Seriously a dinner I turn to ALLL the time!" - Life With The Crust Cut Off

Get the recipe here!

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