Whirlpool Microwave – How to Defrost Guide

I know why you’re here. You forgot to take something out of the freezer last night for dinner, didn’t you? Never fear, that’s one of the microwaves best features in my opinion! This Whirlpool microwave how to defrost guide will explain how to make the most of your microwaves thawing function.

If you don’t have a Whirlpool brand, some of the controls and settings may differ, but the same general principles should still apply.

whirlpool microwave how to defrost guide dinners done quick featured image

How to Use the Defrost Setting on a Whirlpool Microwave

  1. Select the Defrost button on the microwave. The Whirlpool Defrost symbol is a snowflake with a raindrop underneath
  2. Choose the code between 1-6 depending what you’d like to defrost
  3. Enter the weight in tenths of a pound for meats, or quantity for breads, etc
  4. Press Start
Using microwave defrost function

The below chart shows the foods assigned to each code. Note that this does vary between different Whirlpool Microwave models, so be sure to consult your manual or read the digital output carefully to verify.

CodeFoodWeight or Quantity
1Meats1 oz to 6.5 pounds
2Chicken & Poultry1 oz to 6.5 pounds
3Fish & Seafood1 oz to 4.25 pounds
4Bagels & Bread1 to 6 quantity
5Fruit Juice¼, ¾, or 1 pound
6Rolls & Muffins1 to 6 quantity
Whirlpool Microwave Defrost Settings Chart

The times for bagels and bread may look high, but that’s entirely normal. The setting is programmed to perfectly thaw your baked goods. Check out our guide on how to defrost bread in the microwave for more helpful tips!

Whirlpool Microwave Defrost Settings 1, 2, and 3

Whirlpool microwave defrost settings 1, 2, and 3 apply only when using the quick or auto defrost function on an equipped model. The different settings are assigned to different meat defrost programs:

  1. Meat
  2. Poultry
  3. Fish

If you defrost a lot of meat for your cooking, learn more about how to defrost ground beef or thaw chicken breasts easily in your microwave. 

How to Use Whirlpool Microwave Auto Defrost

  1. Select the Auto Defrost Button
  2. Choose setting 1, 2, or 3 depending what you’d like to defrost
  3. Enter the weight (which accepts tenths of a pound up to 6 pounds)
  4. Press Start

If the food you’d like to thaw doesn’t fall into one of Whirlpool’s 3 pre-programmed defrost categories, choose the one that is closest, or switch to regular defrosting instead. 

When using the “closest” option, make sure to keep an eye on your food, as the setting likely won’t be perfect. For example, I generally pick “poultry” when I need to thaw bacon, but tend to pull it out much earlier than I would a piece of chicken. 

Learn more about how to defrost bacon in the microwave so you can be the king or queen of breakfast!

Defrosting Manually With Your Whirlpool Microwave

  1. Choose power level and adjust to 20-30%, then hit Enter
  2. Set Cook Time for approximately 10 minutes per pound of food
  3. Select Start

If none of the pre-programmed options work for your defrosting needs or your unit doesn’t have a defrost function, you can always create your own personalized thawing program. 

This also works well if you’re thawing a very large piece of food that’s bigger than the pre-programmed maximums.

Just reduce the power down, and set the cook time based on the weight of your food:

Food WeightApproximate Time to Defrost
1 pound9-10 minutes
2 pounds18-20 minutes
3 pounds27-30 minutes
4 pounds36-40 minutes
5 pounds45-50 minutes
6 pounds55-60 minutes
Approximate Whirlpool Microwave Defrosting Times by Weight

Make sure to check in periodically during the defrosting process. Every food will be slightly different, even at the same weight, so it may take slightly more or less time. 

For very large items, I recommend cutting into smaller pieces and/or spreading out as much as possible to ensure the most even heating.

How Does Defrost Work on a Whirlpool Microwave?

Defrost on a Whirlpool microwave, or any microwave for that matter, works by cooking food at a reduced power level over a longer period of time. Much like placing it in your fridge overnight, this slowly raises the temperature of your food to thaw but not cook it.

Generally, defrost uses 50% or less power. Most commonly, defrost ranges fall between 20-30% of power. So, if you have a microwave without a dedicated defrost setting, you can manually adjust your power level down to achieve the same effect.

Learn more about power levels and how many amps a microwave uses in our guide.

What is Auto Defrost on a Whirlpool Microwave?

Auto defrost, available on some microwave models, works the same as the defrost or thaw setting. The main difference is that it removes some of the other selections to achieve a “quick menu”.

It’s not as precise as dialing in specifics, but is handy when you’re in a hurry. 

The Whirlpool auto defrost symbol features the same snowflake and raindrop as the traditional thaw option, but with 3 squiggly horizontal lines preceding it to indicate speed.


Whirlpool microwaves offer a handy way to defrost your foods when you need them ready to cook quickly. Thanks to a variety of different settings available, you’ll be on your way to cooking your meal in no time.

Always make sure to use a microwave safe container and cook your food immediately after defrosting for safety!

For more info about the microwave safe symbol, check out our guide to help keep you safe!

Katie Vine