Pro Tips: How To Microwave Chicken Without Drying It Out

how to microwave chicken without drying it out

For those looking to make a delicious chicken dinner without the time to roast or grill, using a microwave may be your only option.


However, anyone that has any experience with microwaves knows that while they can cook quickly, the food is typically dried out in the process. In this post, we’ll address the problem and answer how to microwave chicken without drying it out.


As we said, to make a nutritious and tasty chicken dinner in the traditional way can take a ton of time.


From all the preparation time, seasoning the chicken, to cooking it all, a baked chicken can be very labor intensive. However, what do you do if you don’t have the time to dedicate to preparing your meal?


One option you can consider is to purchase premade packaged meals from the store, but the problem with those meals is that they can vary from too much salt to not enough portion size to limited menu options.


With all that said, we recommend that you use a microwave oven for your cooking needs. The beauty of a microwaved chicken is that you can prep it, cook it, and be ready to eat in as little as 10 minutes for raw chicken, to 1 ½ minute for reheated chicken.


So how do you cook a chicken in the microwave without drying it out?

Not All Microwave Ovens Are Created Equally

person putting casserole inside oven

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The first thing to understand is that every microwave oven cooks at different temperatures and wattages, so you’ll need to experiment a little to have a better idea of cooking time and temperature.


Also, cooking times will vary based on whether you’re preparing raw chicken or reheating a meal. To help, we’ll discuss both heating and reheating options in this post.


If you have the microwave user manual, look to see the total wattage the microwave cooks at, as this will give you a better idea of the highest temperature output.


The higher the wattage, the faster your cooking time will be and will range from 600–1200 watts.


Typically, higher wattage and faster cooking times mean that your food will be hotter and more evenly cooked, while the lower wattage will mean slower, less evenly cooked meals.


Knowing your microwave oven’s wattage will help you adjust your cooking methodology and timing.

Chicken Cooking Times

top view of whole chicken placed in between knife and fork

Image Source: Pexels

The thickness of the chicken is also something you need to consider. Thighs and legs won’t need as much time as a thick chicken breast, and we’ll offer a couple of suggestions on how to cook thicker pieces of chicken later in this post.


One last thing to take into consideration is whether the chicken is boneless or still on the bone. Having chicken on the bone will take longer to cook evenly, and more difficult.


Boneless chicken cut thinly will be the easiest, and fastest to cook, but that also means it will become dry faster.


To cook your chicken in the microwave safely, the first thing you need to do is make sure the chicken has thawed completely. One of the safest ways to thaw chicken is to place it in an airtight container and place on the shelf of a refrigerator overnight.


You want the container to be sealed so that fluids can’t spill out and contaminate other food.


Thawing chicken completely will help make sure that it will cook evenly, whether by standard or microwave methods.

  • Place chicken in a sealed container in the refrigerator or beneath cold running water
  • Keep separate from other foods
  • Clean all surfaces with an anti-bacterial cleaning agent to prevent cross–contamination after thawing
  • Thaw chicken thoroughly, cook or store in the refrigerator immediately

Finally, make sure that the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 170 degrees. This temperature is above the recommended threshold of 165 degrees but will guarantee that the chicken is safe to eat.

Simple Yet Delicious Microwave Chicken Recipe

roasted chicken placed on top of tray

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To make a delicious and fast microwave chicken meal, we have a simple, easy to follow, recipe. The key is to have enough garlic and spices to flavor the chicken, with enough chicken broth as to cover the chicken pieces and, in essence, broil it in the microwave.


The first step is to make sure all the chicken has been thawed entirely and separated from each other. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and add any additional spices you may want. Place pieces into a casserole dish that has enough space between pieces of chicken that they aren’t resting on top of one another. There should only be a single layer of chicken in the dish.


Be careful that the pan is microwave safe, most dishes made of porcelain are, but to be sure, check the underside of the bowl, where typically safe microwave designations are placed.


Once the chicken is in a casserole dish, add two crushed garlic cloves and pour enough chicken stock over the chicken to cover the bottom of the pan. The liquid should cover the bottom of the pan and up to ½ the chicken. You can add more garlic, or garnish with lemon, by taste and choice.


Next, cover the casserole dish with a microwave-safe lid. The top should be secure but with one corner loose, to allow steam to escape during cooking. If the top is too snug, the steam will build up during cooking and blow the lid off the dish, possibly causing damage to the interior of your microwave oven.


Set your timer for four minutes and cook on high. After this time, remove the pan and uncover the dish. Never handle the container with your bare hands as it may heat up during cooking and become unsafe to touch and be careful to avoid the steam as you remove the top.


Using tongs or a spatula, rotate and turn the chicken over in the dish. Once rotated, recover the bowl as before and place back into the microwave. Continue to cook on high heat for 5 minutes. Once the timer finishes, remove the chicken and check that the chicken no longer has any pink in the breast and that the internal temperature should read at least 165 to 170 degrees.


Ideally, you’ll let the chicken rest. Resting means sitting aside away from heat allowing liquids to reabsorb into the meat. Additionally, by making the chicken rest before testing the temperature will be a more accurate result. If the temperature of the chicken stays stable or even increases away from direct heat will help eliminate new bacteria.


A good meat thermometer should be inserted into the thickest part of the chicken to read the temperature ideally. For bone-in chicken, check the temperature in multiple locations, from the thickest part of the meat to an area next to the bone.


Since microwaves cook at different temps and heat, if the chicken is not an ideal temperature, recover and place in the microwave to cook at 1-minute intervals until the temperature is at 170 degrees.

Lemon Parsley Chicken Breast

sliced roast chicken with lemon slices

Image Source: Pixabay

  • Make a delicious, succulent chicken dinner quickly with our Lemon Parsley Chicken Breast recipe.
  • Select thawed chicken breast
  • Season the chicken with salt and pepper as desired
  • Place chicken in microwave safe pan with thickest parts toward the edge of the pan
  • Add additional seasoning and garnish such as garlic, lemon, parsley
  • Add liquid, preferably chicken broth to pot. Cover the bottom of the pan, up to ½ the chicken
  • Cover the top of the container with up to ¼ opening in the corner
  • Cook on Medium for 14 to 16 minutes, remove from microwave and rotate chicken pieces once.
  • Let sit 1 minute, check internal temperature to be at least 170 degrees
  • If not at 170 degrees, continue to cook covered chicken on 1-minute intervals until 170 degrees
  • Once done, let sit for 1 minute, slice into desired serving size and serve.

Immediately store any leftovers in an airtight container and place in a refrigerator for storage.


The key with how to microwave chicken without drying it out is that there needs to be enough surrounding liquid to keep the dish wet and it should be covered during cooking to help retain moisture.


Some steam will be released, but that is also part of the cooking process, in effect helping steam the chicken.

Quick and Easy Reheating Suggestion

To reheat chicken quickly and easily, we suggest that you use smaller pieces, placed in a safe microwave pan, covered with a moist cloth, and cooked on high for up to a minute and a half.


Keep in mind how you prepared the chicken the first time will affect how dry or moist the chicken is after reheating.

  • Cut into chicken into small pieces
  • Place onto a microwave-safe plate
  • Cover with a damp paper towel
  • Reheat on high for 1–1 ½ minutes
  • Remove lid, let sit

The best option for a nutritious meal is to make it at home, and our pro tips on how to microwave chicken without drying it out will help you create something delicious and fast.


Keep in mind that the best way to prevent any food from drying out is to simmer it over time. If that is just not an option, choosing the right casserole dish or pan for a microwave is essential.

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