How to Use Defrost on a Microwave

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Updated February 11, 2023

Even if you have a premium microwave oven, you cannot whip up a healthy meal without knowing how the features work. For example, you need to know how to use defrost on your microwave if you want the most from your frozen foods.


  • The defrost option on your microwave oven thaws frozen food by heating your food with 20-50% cooking power.
  • You should run the defrost sequence for 8-10 minutes per pound of raw meat you want to thaw
  • For produce, run the defrost cycle for one minute for every four ounces of food. In addition, split the produce into separate pieces as it thaws.

While some guides will tell you to use hot water to thaw cuts of meat or frozen vegetables, your defrost button cuts down on defrost time and potentially harmful bacteria. So, grab a microwave-safe plate, and we’ll show you how to use the microwave defrost function.

What is a Defrost Feature on a Microwave?

If you’re unsure what does defrost means in a microwave, it is different from the typical cooking process. The auto defrost feature lowers the cooking power by 30-50 percent. This ensures that your defrost cycle thaws your frozen meal without cooking it. In addition, the defrosting times are much faster than leaving food in the refrigerator or cold water. Keep in mind, that denser pieces of meat may require a higher power level or more cooking times to thaw thoroughly.

Lastly, if you want to know how microwave defrosting works on different models, read our guide on what a flatbed microwave is. For more guides, check out why microwave buttons aren’t working and how to set the clock on a microwave.

How to Use the Defrost Setting on Microwave Oven

Depending on what frozen food you’re defrosting, you may want to investigate what a recirculating microwave is to clear your kitchen from steam or odors. In addition, there is a slightly different defrost process between raw meat and frozen produce.

Insider Tip

If possible, break up your frozen food into small chunks before putting it through the defrost cycle. Then, your food will thaw more evenly and quickly than complete pieces.

STEP 1 Remove Frozen Meat or Produce from the Freezer

Take your frozen food from your freezer and remove any packaging.

STEP 2Place Food in a Microwave-Safe Container

Ensure your plate or container is microwave-safe, so it doesn’t melt during the defrost cycle.

STEP 3 Press the Defrost Button

You may have an auto-defrost setting. If so, insert your food into the microwave and skip step 4.

STEP 4 Set the Cooking Timer

For meat, set your defrost cycle to 8-10 minutes per ounce of food. Set your defrost cycle to one minute per four ounces of food for produce.

STEP 5 Monitor the Frozen Meat or Produce

Stop the defrost cycle every few minutes to flip and separate the food into smaller chunks. This will ensure even thawing of your meal.

Part 6 Remove the Meat and Immediately Cook It

It is a dangerous cooking mistake to leave thawed meat or produce sitting in the microwave. Instead, immediately start your cooking cycle to stop the spread of bacteria. Then, once you’re all done using the microwave and it’s been cleaned, then put the microwave cover on it to keep it dust-free.


Ensure your power level is at 20-50% of standard cooking power before defrosting it. If not, you run the risk of food poisoning.


Is it safe to defrost food in the microwave?

Unless you let your freshly-defrosted food sit for a while, defrosting food in the microwave is completely safe. Ensure that you cook your meal immediately after thawing it.

Is convection microwave cooking right for you?

Convection cooking is a fantastic way to give your food a baked exterior and quickly reheat leftovers. So, if you want to bake and microwave your meals, a convection microwave oven is a fantastic tool.

How to tell when chicken is properly defrosted

Your defrosted chicken should be soft at the thickest portion of the meat. Cut a small slit in the meat, and continue defrosting if you notice any ice crystals remaining in the frozen chicken.

STAT: The US Bureau of Labor Statistics found that 24% of microwaves on the market are range models. (source)

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