Can You Microwave Chicken?

Microwaving chicken isn’t as simple as throwing it into a pan and tossing it into the oven. There are a few steps you need to take to ensure it cooks through and remains moist. We’ve covered everything you could need to know when it comes to microwaving chicken below:

How to Microwave Chicken

Chicken is quite a broad term. There are different cuts that you’re likely to be interested in and each of these cuts will require a different method when cooking it in the microwave. We’ve covered 3 popular cuts of chicken below and how to go about using the microwave to cook them:

How to Microwave Chicken Breast

Chicken breasts are one of the most popular cuts of chicken. They’re easy to prepare, contain no bones and will take on plenty of flavour from spices and herbs (as the breasts themselves can be a little dry). If you want to microwave chicken breasts then here is the method to use:

  1. Flatten Breasts
    Bash the chicken breasts with a rolling pin or meat tenderiser to ensure they are all the same thickness. To prevent contamination, place the breasts into a bag or under a sheet of cling film.
  2. Place in Dish
    Place the evenly-sized breasts into a microwave-safe dish.
  3. Fill Dish with Water
    Fill the dish up with some water. The bottom third of the breasts should be covered by water.
  4. Cover
    Cover the top of the dish in plastic wrap tightly then pierce with a few small holes to allow excess steam to escape.
  5. Microwave for 4 Minutes Per Breast
    Microwave on full power for 4 minutes per breast. If you have 3 breasts, this means 12 minutes in total and so on.
  6. Check and Serve
    Check the breasts are cooked through and then serve.

How to Microwave Chicken Breast

How to Microwave Chicken Wings

Chicken wings covered in a sticky BBQ sauce are a real treat. But can you really recreate them, at home, in the microwave? Surely not?

  1. Lay Out Wings in a Dish
    Spread the chicken wings out into a dish. Between each wing, add a slice of lemon. This can impart both flavour and moisture to the chicken wings as they cook.
  2. Cover and Microwave for 12 Minutes
    Cover the dish loosely then, for a portion of 12-16 wings, microwave on full power for 12 minutes. Check the wings are cooked through after 12 minutes. If not, zap them for a further 3 minutes.
  3. Drizzle Over BBQ Sauce
    If you want sticky, BBQ-style wings then drizzle over your favourite BBQ sauce or make your own.
  4. Microwave for a Final 3 Minutes Uncovered
    Microwave the wings covered in the sauce for a further 3 minutes until the sauce has become sticky and glossy.

Chicken Wings Microwave

How to Microwave a Whole Chicken

Unbelievably, you can microwave a complete chicken in the microwave – if it fits, of course! Here’s the method you’ll want to follow to cook a whole chicken in the microwave:

  1. Remove Skin
    Slice into the skin and pull it away from the chicken. The skin will become slimy so it’s best to get rid of it now as it’s likely to break up if you try to remove it after cooking it. It should pull away in most places.
  2. Place into a Pyrex Dish 
    Find a dish that’s suitable for the microwave and that will hold the chicken completely.
  3. Season and Fill Cavity with Lemon
    Season the outside of the chicken with salt, pepper and your favourite dried herbs. Then place an onion or lemon sliced in two into the cavity. This will impart flavour and will also help to keep it moist.
  4. Microwave on Medium High
    Microwave on medium-high power for 10 minutes per 450g. If your chicken weighs 1.2kg, for example, then you’ll need to microwave it for 27 minutes.
  5. Check Temperature and/or Juices
    After it has been cooking for the recommended time, check the internal temperature. It should be around 70c. If you don’t have a thermometer, then check the juices run clear.
  6. Rest for 10mins
    If it is cooked, rest for 10 minutes before carving and serving as you normally would.

3 Tips for Microwaving Chicken

If you do decide to opt for microwaving chicken as opposed to cooking it in the oven or a pan then these are the tips you will want to take on board:

  • Don’t Forget Seasoning – In the methods above for breasts and a whole chicken, we’ve kept it very simple. But there’s nothing to stop you from marinating the chicken in your favourite spice mix. Even the addition of a little salt and pepper can go a long way to improving the flavour.
  • Invest in a Thermometer – If you’re always overcooking chicken in the microwave then invest in a thermometer. That way you can be sure that it is safe to eat but not over (or under) cooked.
  • Use Evenly Sized Cuts – Don’t try to microwave a fat breast alongside a skinny one. You need to microwave cuts that are almost identical in size to ensure they all cook evenly.

Advantages of Microwaved Chicken

There are of course several benefits to using the microwave to cook chicken. We’ve listed some of these below:

  1. Speedy
    There’s no denying that using the microwave is quick. You can toss it into the microwave and cook breasts in a few minutes and a whole chicken in 25 minutes. There’s no way that’s going to happen in a pan or the oven.
  2. Easy
    It’s also very easy. It’s hands-off and all you need to do is place the chicken into a suitable dish before placing it into the microwave. That’s all there really is to it making it one of the easiest ways to cook meat.
  3. No Mess
    Mess is kept to a minimum when using the microwave. There aren’t multiple pots and pans to contend with. You only need one dish and if you cover it suitably then there is little risk of it making a mess in the microwave either.

Disadvantages of Microwaved Chicken

However, it’s not all good news, unfortunately. There are a couple of noticeable disadvantages to using a microwave to cook chicken that may put you off doing so:

  1. Lack of Texture
    Unfortunately, cooking chicken in the microwave will lead to spongy, textureless chicken. With no direct heat, don’t expect crispy skin or fat and don’t expect the usual texture you get when cooking chicken. Chicken cooked in the microwave lends itself to being shredded or sliced.
  2. Lack of Colour
    Much like texture, the colour will also be missing from microwaved chicken. Once cooked through, you could throw the chicken into a hot pan or under the grill briefly to get some charred colour on the outside.

Chicken in Microwave Cons

How to Reheat Chicken in the Microwave

Reheating chicken in the microwave can be tough as there is a risk of it drying out. The best way to reheat chicken is to place it on a plate. Cover it tightly in a microwave-safe wrap then microwave on full power for 90 seconds.

Check the chicken is hot, if it is not, zap it for a further 30 seconds and keep checking it.

How to Defrost Chicken in the Microwave

To defrost chicken in the microwave safely, remove the chicken from the container it is in and place it into a microwave-safe dish. Cover the dish with clingfilm loosely – you need to allow some air to escape.

Turn on the defrost setting and run for 2-minute intervals. Check the chicken, flip it over then microwave it for a further 2 minutes. Keep checking the chicken until it is thoroughly thawed then use immediately. 

Final Summary

Microwaving chicken is both mess-free and convenient. But there are drawbacks to be aware of. If your goal is to get the chicken cooked so you can shred or slice it then use it in another dish then by all means use the microwave.

If, however, you’re looking to cook an unctuous roast dinner then perhaps you’d be better off sticking to the oven.