How to Thaw Meat Easily, Quickly, and Safely

February 02, 2021

So, you have a recipe calling for “Step 1. Defrost the meat”…but what exactly does that entail? We are here to provide you with an easy to follow methods based on USDA guidelines for defrosting meat easily, quickly, and safely:

Method 1. Refrigerator Thawing

Do you have time to spare before cooking? Try refrigerator thawing. This is the safest, best way to thaw meat. It is the simplest but most time consuming method — just transfer your meat from the freezer to the refrigerator and leave overnight. 

Method 2. Cold Water Thawing

This is the ideal approach for when you need the meat to thaw quickly in time for dinner tonight. Cold water (not hot/warm!) thawing works best for smaller cuts of meat (not whole or large cuts). Start by removing the meat from its packaging and putting it in a sealable plastic bag, pressing out the air before sealing it shut. Then, simply place the bag in a bowl of cold water, changing it every 30 minutes or so to ensure it remains cold. It should take between 30 minutes -1 hour to thaw. You can speed the process up by separating the individual parts and placing in different bowls of cold water. 

Method 3. Microwave Thawing 

This is the quickest method, defrosting meat in only a few minutes, but is not the preferred method. However, it works in a pinch. Simply use the defrost setting (50% power, or the lowest power setting) on your microwave and heat over small increments until it is properly thawed. 

Method 4. Cook without Thawing 

For whole birds, roasts, or large cuts of meat that you need to get onto the table quickly, you can cook them from their frozen state. This is perfectly safe to do, but will take 50% longer than the normal cook time. However, you should not cook frozen meat in a slow cooker as it might introduce bacteria and be unsafe to eat. 

Tips and Tricks:

  • You can refreeze meat as long as it was properly defrosted using the Refrigerator Thawing method. 
  • Never thaw meats by leaving them at room temperature or putting them in hot/warm water.

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