You’re standing in your kitchen, staring at the frozen chicken on the counter. You’re craving a quick and easy dinner, and the idea of zapping it in the microwave sounds too tempting to resist. But before you nuke your poultry, you’ve got some concerns. Can you actually microwave chicken? Is it safe? Will it taste like cardboard?
Don’t worry my friend, I’m here to answer all of your questions. So, before you go ahead and press “start,” make sure to read this 5 minutes article for all the information you need to know about cooking chicken in the microwave.
Is It Possible To Cook Raw Chicken In A Microwave?
The answer is yes, you can cook raw chicken in a microwave, and it is safe to do so as long as you remember a few key things.
First of all, you need to make sure that all parts of the chicken reach an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit (74 degrees Celsius) to kill any food-borne bacteria that may be present. To check the temperature, the only reliable method is to use a food thermometer.
Second, don’t expect your chicken to come out perfectly crispy and golden brown. That’s not going to happen in a microwave. The microwave method is best suited for chicken recipes that call for moist, tender chicken that doesn’t have to be browned.
How Long Does it Take to Cook Chicken in the Microwave?
While the exact cooking time will vary depending on the size and thickness of your chicken, and the power of your microwave, in general, you can expect it to take about 4 to 5 minutes per piece of chicken.
To prevent overcooking, it’s a good idea to start with a short cooking time and then check the temperature after 3-4 minutes. If the chicken isn’t done yet, continue cooking in 1-minute increments until it reaches the proper temperature.
How to Cook Chicken in the Microwave
Now that you know you can safely cook raw chicken in a microwave, you’re ready to start experimenting with your own recipes. Essentially, what you’ll do is steam the chicken in the microwave, using a simple method that involves a bowl of water and some seasonings.
Here are some basic steps for cooking chicken in the microwave:
- Pound the chicken breasts between two sheets of wax paper to somewhere around 1/4 inch thickness.
- Place the chicken breasts in a microwave-safe dish. I recommend an 8×8 microwave-safe baking dish. The dish should be large enough to allow a bit of space around each piece of chicken.
- Fill the dish with water so that it reaches about 1/3 of the way up the sides of the chicken and your favorite seasonings. I usually use chicken stock instead of water for extra flavor.
- Cover with plastic wrap or wax paper. Don’t forget to make a vent by turning a small corner of the plastic wrap slightly up so that steam can escape.
- Place the dish in the microwave and cook on high for 4-5 minutes.
- Check the internal temperature of the chicken using your food thermometer. If it has not yet reached 165 degrees Fahrenheit, continue cooking in 1-minute increments until it reaches the proper temperature.
- Let the chicken rest for a few minutes before serving.
Did you know that water is not the only liquid you can use when cooking chicken in the microwave? You can also use store-bought broth, white wine, citrus juice, and a variety of other liquids to add flavor to your dish.
Each of these liquids will impart its own unique flavor to the chicken, so be sure to experiment until you find the combinations that you like best. As for the seasonings, you can use just about anything from salt and pepper to herbs, spices, and sauces.
Tips For Cooking Chicken in the Microwave
To ensure that your chicken comes out perfectly cooked and tender every time, here are a few additional tips to keep in mind:
Don’t Overcrowd the Dish
If you’re cooking chicken in the microwave, it’s important not to overcrowd the dish. When too many pieces of chicken are crammed together, they’ll cook unevenly and some may end up being overcooked while others remain undercooked. If you need to cook for more people, it is better to cook the chicken in batches instead of all at once.
Always Pick Boneless Chicken Breasts
While you technically can cook any type of chicken in the microwave, I strongly recommend sticking to boneless, skinless chicken breasts. They cook faster, are less likely to dry out, and have a more consistent texture.
Thaw Your Chicken Before Cooking
If your chicken is still frozen when you start cooking it, you’ll need to fully thaw it first. The best way to do this is by leaving it in the refrigerator overnight. If you need to thaw it more quickly, you can also submerge frozen chicken placed in a leakproof plastic bag in cold water. Be sure to change the water every 30 minutes so that it continues to thaw evenly.
Other Methods for Cooking Chicken
While cooking chicken in the microwave is a quick and easy way to prepare this versatile protein, it’s not the only method. Here are other popular methods for cooking chicken:
1. Roasted Whole Chicken
This classic recipe is perfect for a family dinner or special occasion. Simply roast a whole chicken in the oven with your favorite seasonings, and enjoy!
2. Braised Chicken
Braising is a great way to cook chicken if you’re looking for something that’s both tender and flavorful. Simply brown your chicken in a pan, then add it to a braising liquid of your choice (wine, broth, etc.), and let it cook until tender.
3. Fried Chicken
Ah, fried chicken. A Southern staple that’s loved by all. If you’re feeling extra indulgent, fry up some chicken for a delicious treat. Just be sure to not overdo it, as fried foods can be unhealthy if eaten in excess.
4. Grilled Chicken
Chicken grilled to perfection is a summertime staple. Fire up the grill and cook your chicken breasts (or thighs, or drumsticks) until they’re nice and juicy. Add some BBQ sauce or another favorite condiment, and enjoy!
5. Air-fried Chicken
Air frying is a healthier alternative to traditional frying, and it produces delicious results! Simply preheat your air fryer, add your seasoned chicken pieces, and cook according to the directions on your air fryer model.
6. Sous vide Chicken
Sous vide is a cooking method that involves sealing food in an airtight container and cooking it in water at a very precise temperature. This method produces extremely tender and juicy results—perfect for chicken!
How to Store and Reheat Leftover Chicken
Ideally, you should store cooked chicken within two hours of cooking. If it’s going to be longer than that, put it in the fridge. When it comes to storage containers, an airtight container is best.
If you need to store the chicken for 2 to 3 months, your best bet is the freezer. First, shred or dice the chicken, then place it in a freezer-safe container and store it in the freezer. Label the container with the date, and you’re good to go!
To reheat the chicken, simply microwave or heat it up in the oven according to your preference. Just be sure to thoroughly reheat and check for any signs of spoilage, such as discoloration or a bad odor.
5 Delicious Ways To Use Leftover Chicken
There are plenty of delicious ways to use leftover chicken! Here are just a few of my favorites:
Leftover chicken soup is one of the easiest and most delicious meals you can make. Simply shred your chicken and add it to your favorite soup recipe. Or, if you’re feeling lazy, just buy a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store and shred that. Voila! Instant soup.
2. Pot Pie
This is another great way to use up leftover chicken. Just add some frozen veggies and leftover gravy or cream of chicken soup to your shredded chicken and voila! You’ve got pot pie filling. Pour it into a store-bought pie crust or make your own and bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.
3. Chicken Salad
This is my personal favorite way to use up leftover chicken. Just add some chopped celery, mayo, salt, and pepper to your shredded chicken and you’ve got instant chicken salad. Serve it on bread or crackers for a quick lunch or snack, or pile it high on a bed of greens for a light dinner salad.
Everyone loves tacos, am I right? Shredded chicken tacos are so easy to make and they’re super delicious too. Just add your shredded chicken to some taco seasoning (or make your own with chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika, garlic powder, salt, and pepper), and heat until
warmed through, and then serve in hard or soft taco shells with your favorite toppings.
5. Breakfast Hash
This is a great way to use up leftover chicken AND veggies. Just saute chopped potatoes, onions, peppers, and shredded chicken in some olive oil until cooked through. Top with a fried egg and hot sauce for a delicious breakfast that will start your day off right!
So, there you have it! You can cook raw chicken in a microwave, and it is safe to do so as long as you remember to cook it until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit (74 degrees Celsius), and don’t expect it to come out perfectly crispy.
If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to cook chicken without having to worry about browning it, the microwave method is your best bet. Just make sure to use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature before eating.