Learn about how to thaw meat below in our post. Thawing meat is an essential step in meal preparation, whether you’re a seasoned cook or a beginner in the kitchen. However, not all methods of thawing (aka defrosting) are created equal.
Some meat thawing methods are unsafe, leading to food poisoning and other health issues, while others are not as efficient, which leaves you with a less-than-ideal result.
Below, we’ll explore the acceptable and unacceptable ways of thawing meat, providing you with the knowledge you need to make informed decisions and ensure safe and delicious meals every time.
What is the Best Way to Thaw Meat?
The most acceptable way of thawing meat is to take your time. The number one trick to thawing frozen meat and poultry is to do it very slowly. When you defrost this way, you will not lose any juices and keep the quality of the mat intact.
With this is mind, it is good to bring out the frozen meat or poultry you want to use about a day in advance and let it thaw in the refrigerator.
Which Method of Thawing Meat is Unacceptable?
There are a couple of ways of thawing meat that are considered unacceptable. If you do use these methods, do NOT keep the meat at room temperature longer than 2 hours.
- Thawing at Room Temperature: Never that meat or poultry at room temperature. Thawing in this way causes the meats to lose juices, and you risk a chance of bacteria growing in the meat.
- Using Hot Water: This will cause parts of the meat to thaw faster, increasing the risk of bacteria growing and foodborne illnesses.
How to Thaw Meat & Poultry
There are three safe ways to thaw meat: in the refrigerator, in cold water, and in the microwave. Take a look below at how to defrost meat and poultry, so you get a perfectly defrosted piece of meat every time.
There are a couple of ways to defrost meat like flank steak (my favorite!), hamburgers, etc. Each of which I will explain in more detail below. They are sorted by the best method to the least favorable method.
- In the Refrigerator: Frozen meat will keep most of its juices after thawing if thawed slowly, still wrapped in the fridge.
- Under Cold Water: If you do need the meat quicker, you can run in under cold water. This method is quicker, but you will lose some meat juices using this method.
- Microwave: Use the defrost setting (medium power) If you do use the microwave to thaw, you will have to watch in VERY closely to make sure it doesn’t start to cook around the edges.
Tip: Make sure to use the meat you thawed within two days for the best results.
|Meat Type||Total Time to Thaw in Fridge|
|Roast, Steaks, Ham Over 4 lbs||4–7 hours per lb.|
|1″ thick||8–10 hours|
|2″ thick||11–14 hours|
|Flank Steak whole or half||8–10 hours or 4–5 hours|
|Ground Beef||24 hours|
|Spare Ribs whole or half||7–10 hours or 3 to 5 hours|
There are a couple of ways to defrost poultry, like chicken, duck, or turkey. They are sorted by the best method to the least favorable method.
- Refrigerator: Thawing poultry is best done in the refrigerator slowly for the best flavor and texture.
- Cold Water: Place the frozen, wrapped poultry in cold water (submerged) and let stand at room temperature. You can change the water as often as you’d like, but the more, the better. This method will be quicker, but the chicken or turkey will not be as juicy.
- Microwave: Use the defrost setting (medium power). If you do use the microwave to thaw, you will have to watch in VERY closely to make sure the chicken doesn’t start to cook around the edges. This way will make it lose juices, so only use this method if you really need to.
Tip: Make sure to use the poultry within two days of thawing for best results.
|Poultry||Thaw in Water||Thaw in Fridge|
|Cut Up Pieces (chicken, duck, turkey)||1–2 hours||3–9 hours|
|Whole Bird (under 4 lbs)||1–5 hours||12–16 hours|
|4-12 lbs||4–6 hours||24–48 hours|
|12 – 16 lbs||6–9 hours||2- 3 days|
|16 – 20 lbs||9- 11 hours||3–4 days|
|20 – 24 lbs||11 – 12 hours||4–5 days|
|Boneless Chicken Breast||1 hour per pound||1 day or more|
Can I cook frozen meat without thawing?
Yes, you can. Food from the frozen state are safe to cook. The cooking will take about 50% longer than the recommended time for fully thawed or fresh meat and poultry.
Are you supposed to thaw out meat in hot water?
No, You are not. Parts of the meat will thaw faster, increasing the risk of bacteria growing and foodborne illnesses.
Can I freeze, thaw and then freeze raw meat again?
This will depend on what method was used to thawed meat.
You can refreeze thawed meat without cooking it if the refrigerator method was used, but it may not be as good as if it had never been thawed.
Meats that have been thawed by the cold water method should be cooked before being refrozen.
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