How to Defrost Bread in the Microwave to Taste Fresh

While freezing bread is a great way to preserve that extra loaf you bought in bulk, you eventually need to thaw it back out. You tried leaving it on the counter to thaw, only to find it made your bread taste stale. Instead, let’s talk about how to defrost bread in the microwave for a fast and easy way to go from frozen to fabulous bread.

For another easy defrosting technique, learn more about how to defrost a bagel in the air fryer!

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Can You Defrost Frozen Bread in the Microwave?

Yes, you can defrost bread in the microwave. This method works best on sliced bread, and actually produces a better texture than thawing on the counter.  

It all has to do with moisture levels in your bread, and surprisingly the microwave will leave your bread feeling great so long as you don’t overcook it. Thawing it on the counter actually draws moisture out of the bread in a process called retrogradation, which is what leaves that stale taste.

Defrosting a whole loaf of bread is much trickier than slices in the microwave, due to the uneven heating you’ll experience. If you have a full loaf, try to defrost slightly, slice off the portion you need, and only finish defrosting those pieces.

It’s not good to defrost and refreeze bread anyway, as it will create ice crystal build up. So, only defrost what you need, or plan on using the whole loaf.

Is It Safe to Microwave Frozen Bread?

Yes, it’s completely safe to microwave frozen bread. The only exception would be if you wrapped your loaf in foil or non microwave-safe plastic.

Simply remove those items before beginning the defrost process to ensure it remains safe. All you need is the bread itself, a microwave-safe plate, and a paper towel. More on that later!

For more information on selecting a good plate, read about what the microwave safe symbol is so you know what to look for.

Why Does Frozen Bread Go Hard in the Microwave?

Frozen bread only goes hard in the microwave when it’s been overcooked and lost all its moisture. Over microwaving will eventually cause it to reach a crusty state, much like stuffing bread.

Unless you’re trying to make stuffing, the key here is to only cook your bread long enough to defrost it, and make sure to check on it regularly.

It’s also important to cover food in the microwave when you’re defrosting to help preserve moisture.

How to Defrost Bread in the Microwave: Step By Step

  1. Remove desired number of frozen bread slices from freezer
remove frozen bread slices from the freezer
  1. Arrange slices in a single layer on a microwave safe plate, leaving air space between them
arrange bread slices on a microwave safe plate
  1. Lay a damp (not soaked) paper towel over the slices on the plate
lay a damp paper towel over bread slices
  1. Cook on high power for approximately 20 seconds for square sandwich bread or 45 seconds for larger sliced round loaves
  2. Check the center of a piece with your finger to see if it is soft and warm
  3. If needed, cook an additional 10-15 seconds
defrosted bread in 20 seconds in the microwave

Generally, 30 seconds is about the maximum you’ll want to cook sandwich bread in the microwave for defrosting. Large slices from a loaf require 45-60 seconds on average. For very thick slices or very low wattage microwaves this may increase slightly.

Use your judgment and make sure to microwave in small (10-15 second) increments to check regularly. Overcooking will result in stale, hard, or rubbery bread.

If you’re defrosting more than 4 slices, do them in batches instead of trying to stack them all on a single plate. Since it only takes a few seconds it’s not much hassle for a much better outcome.

Your result should be soft, warm bread that’s ready for your delicious creation. Check out how to make grilled cheese in the microwave for some lunchtime inspiration!


Now that you know how to defrost bread in the microwave, your next tasty sandwich is less than a minute away. In fact, not only is it quicker, but your bread will be softer than if you just left it on the counter. That’s a win-win in my book!

Learn more about how to thaw foods in your microwave with our Whirlpool microwave how to defrost guide.

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Katie Vine