Is it OK to defrost fish in a microwave? Any particular precautions?

Generally, what is the best way to defrost fish in 15 or 30 minutes before cooking?

Sometimes it comes in plastic, sometimes not.

If problematic, why? Except some parts becoming very hot

Assume the time from defrost until eating is less than 1 hour. I am mostly thinking about quality.

  • 1
    As far as safety, it's fine to defrost fish in the microwave. It's a terrible way to defrost as far as quality. What is the fish packed in if not plastic? "Sometimes it comes in plastic, sometimes not" - what do you mean? How fish is stored for freezing is very important. Can you leave the pieces in the fridge for the day? That's the best way. Otherwise, cold water is a fast way to defrost fish. Depending on the size of the pieces, it may only take a minute or two.
    – Jolenealaska
    Commented Mar 25, 2017 at 18:20
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    How big are the pieces? How do you plan to cook them? Sometimes you can cook fish from frozen.
    – Jolenealaska
    Commented Mar 25, 2017 at 18:21
  • @Jolenealaska 1) Varies, usually in a pan. 2) So the answer is no? If I can't do it in a short time, I would like to have some idea what the disadvantage is 3) I mean..sometimes it is transparent plastic tightly packed around each piece.
    – Olav
    Commented Mar 25, 2017 at 18:39
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    A lot of this is a duplicate of cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/9515/… - those are the good ways, assuming it needs to be defrosted in the first place.
    – Cascabel
    Commented Mar 25, 2017 at 18:46
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    @Olav Safety is the main concern when defrosting, and under cold running water is fast. Maybe the better one (linked from the first one I linked) is cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/36999/… - it also mentions in the microwave, including why it's often not good for taste.
    – Cascabel
    Commented Mar 25, 2017 at 18:50

1 Answer 1


Defrosting anything in the microwave is dodgy. They're designed for serious heating, and don't heat completely evenly, so they tend to start cooking food before it's fully defrosted, even on low power. It might not be quite as bad as "defrosting" in a pan on the stove, but it's not great either.

That's especially bad for fish, since it cooks and overcooks quickly. You can maybe get away with a quick partial thaw in the microwave if you're careful, but it wouldn't be my first choice - it's pretty risky in terms of quality.

If you're in a hurry, I'd definitely suggest thawing with running water, as described for example in this question/answer. Of the safe methods, it's the fastest one that won't also cook your food. Especially for small/thin things like filets, it's pretty fast, and on top of that you can err on the side of not fully thawing to save time, and let it finish thawing while it cooks.

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    100 agree. I personally hate thawing any raw protein in the microwave. Alsways turns out dry and tough for me. Fish seems especially problematic, but fish fillets are quick and easy with water. Cold water, they stay in safe temp zone and thaw in very little time. If not wrapped in water tight vac seal, just toss time into sealed bag.
    – dlb
    Commented Mar 26, 2017 at 1:08
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    Under water is my goto defrost method also. For anything from fish to joints of beef. Prawns especially, which will thaw in 30 seconds.
    – Doug
    Commented Mar 26, 2017 at 9:17

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