Defrosting Meat: Using Refrigerator, Cold Water and Microwave

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When you want the juicy rib-eye steaks to form part of your weekend meals, you can hardly wait.

However, you do not have many options if these foods are frozen and you plan to cook them in the shortest time possible.

Defrosting should be your next thing. Do not be attempted to leave your food to thaw on top of the countertop unless you want to risk food illness.

When food is left in the danger zone of 41°F to 135°F temperatures, bacteria multiply at a fast rate.

On the other hand, cooking frozen food is the last thing you can think of because of the frustrating results. The overall loss of quality, taste and the resulting watery protein are a huge turnoff.

Well, even though most of us are addicts regarding stocking frozen beef, sausages, fish and other foods, we need to take some special care when defrosting these foods.

Don’t be tempted to use hot water to thaw your beef steak just because you lost your patience; it is not safe. There are three options you can consider when you plan to thaw meat safely.


Using a Refrigerator

Sometimes you want to take your time and plan your barbecue or get-together in the best way possible without rushing.

Well, if you don’t plan to make several trips to the store, you will defrost your stocked ground beef, fish, sausages and more.

If that is so, the ultimate and safest way to achieve even and consistent meat thawing is by use of a refrigerator.

However, this method of defrosting meat is ideal when you are patient and plan to cook the meat in the next one or more days.

The number one reason as to why people prefer this method is because, once the food is fully thawed, you can cook it a day later or two in case there is a change of plans.

Pork, beef, veal, and lamb can remain in the freezer for the next 3 to 5 days.

For the next one or two days, poultry, ground meat, and fish can be kept in the freezer and remain safe for consumption.



Once you are okay with the time taken to thaw meat in a refrigerator, follow the following steps:


  • Place the meat to be defrosted on a sizeable sturdy plate and place it in the freezer. If the chunk of meat, roast or turkey can’t fit on a plate, use a large pan.


  • The purpose of doing this is to prevent moisture from the thawing meat from falling all over the freezer’s interior.


  • Do not remove the plastic packaging. It guards the beef being defrosted from any possible debris. Also, remember to poke the meat and turn it over to monitor the thawing process.


  • When the meat is fully thawed, do not touch it before washing hands. Adhere to hygiene practices to avoid contamination.


  • You may cook the thawed meat right away or refreeze it for later cooking.


Using Cold Water

This method is ideal when you want to get dinner ready in less than an hour or so. It is much faster compared to defrosting by the use of a refrigerator; the only downside is that it requires much attention.

Within an hour, you will defrost 5 pounds of meat while large cuts will thaw in 2-3 hours.

You have to monitor the thawing process to ensure the water used doesn’t get warm and result in the multiplication of bacteria. Additionally, once the food is fully thawed, it has to be cooked immediately.




  • Place your meat cutlets or chunk of steak in a leak-proof re-sealable bag. The purpose for doing this it to keep the food free from any bacteria that may be present in the water. When meet absorbs water, overall quality may deteriorate.


  • Press the re-sealable bag to remove the trapped air. In case the food is packaged in plastics, do not remove it.


  • Next, submerge the sealed meat in a bowl of cold tap water. The meat will thaw entirely over time.


  • However, remember to check the bowl after half an hour and refill when water starts to get warm. Water should remain he kept cold and fresh at all times.


  • When the meat is fully thawed, cook it immediately. Unlike the case with defrosting meat with a refrigerator, you cannot keep the food long after it is fully thawed.


  • If there is a change of plans, the only alternative you have is to refreeze the food after it is thoroughly cooked.


Using a Microwave

It is the fastest defrosting meat method. The downside of this method is that you have to cook the food immediately. Caution has to be taken not to use the wrong defrosting settings.

It is highly advisable to keenly go through the user’s manual before utilizing this feature.  If you are not careful, you may end up with partially cooked food.

Remove the plastic packaging and place the meat on a clean microwave-safe plate.

Defrosting plastic-wrapped meat in a microwave will result in moisture retention. It will cook some parts of the steak and affect the overall dish quality.

It is always advisable to place small cutlets in the center of the plate and large pieces at the center to avoid cooking the food in the microwave.




  • Remove the plastic packaging from the food


  • Place the meat on a large microwave-safe plate. Avoid using the Styrofoam trays that comes with frozen meat, and they are not microwave-safe at all.


  • Place the plate in the microwave and press the appropriate button. In most microwave brands, there is a specific “defrost” button. You will also be required to enter the weight of the meat to be thawed.


  • Check the meat for any hotspots from time to time.


  • Remove the meat when it is fully thawed and cook it. Do not touch meat with bare, unwashed hands. It would lead to contamination and eventually lead to food sickness.


If you missed our previous article “Your Perfect Guide to Beef Preparation,” You can check here.

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