Cryopreservation of adherent cells is crucial for commercial cell therapy technology, including effective distribution and storage. Fast thawing has been shown to increase cell recovery in vitrified samples. Previously, radiofrequency (RF) has been investigated as a heating source on large samples, either with or without magnetic particles. Also, laser heating with the aid of dye or nanoparticles has been utilized on sub–millimeter samples successfully. For slow freezing cryopreservation methods, the influence of rate of thawing on viability is less clear. Cryopreservation of surface adhered cells result in many cases in detachment from the surface. We illustrate how intense infrared radiation from a focused halogen illuminator accelerates thawing. We show that two epithelial cell lines, retinal pigment epithelium cells and heterogeneous human epithelial colorectal adenocarcinoma cells, can be effectively cryopreserved and recovered using a combination of slow freezing and fast thawing under infrared illumination. We were able to successfully thaw samples, of 2–4 mm thick, including the media, on the order of a second, providing a heating rate of thousands of Kelvin per minute. Under optimal conditions, we observed higher post–thawing cell viability rates and higher cell adhesion with infrared thawing than with water bath thawing. We suggest that bulk warming with infrared radiation has an advantage over surface warming of surface–attached cells, as it alleviates cell stress during the process of thawing. These findings will pave the way for novel approaches to treating substrate–adhered cells and 3D scaffolds with cells and organoids. This technology may serve as a crucial component in lab–on–chip systems for medical testing and therapeutic use.