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How to Thaw Frozen Beef

When it comes time to prepare your frozen beef, you have a few options.

The Fridge

The best way to thaw frozen meat is by leaving it overnight in the fridge. It’s a slow process, but that allows for an even thaw and keeps the meat at a cold, safe temperature (below 40 degrees Fahrenheit). Allow around 16 hours for a typical 3 pound roast. After thawing, if left in the fridge beef will stay safe for 3-5 days. Be sure to place a plate or tray under the meat when it is thawing, just in case it leaks.

The Sink

Sometimes that kind of advanced planning isn’t feasible. In that case, your sink can speed things along. Fill the sink with enough water to completely immerse the sealed packages. Place the beef (still in its sealed plastic package) into the water, replacing with fresh cold water every 30 minutes. Plan on it taking about 30 minutes per pound to thaw the beef using this method. Keeping the beef below 40 degrees Fahrenheit is the key to safe defrosting over a longer time period, avoiding the growth of bacteria, so be vigilant about changing the cold water.

Quick thawing requires quick cooking, so plan to cook the beef immediately after its water bath. Cold water thawed meat can be kept in the refrigerator briefly but is best prepared as soon as possible.

Cook Frozen

On the other hand, we’ve come to be big fans of not defrosting at all before cooking beef. Except for Wagyu, which has fat that is known to melt at room temperature, it’s certainly easier, and many experts say better to cook beef directly from their frozen state.

For steaks, I often defrost for 2 or 3 minutes by putting the steaks (still in their vacuum-seal wrap) in a pot of lukewarm water just so the surface defrosts a bit and takes salting more easily.

Here’s a blog post I wrote detailing my technique of cooking from frozen.

Also, the USDA has things to say about how to safely thaw, so check that out too: USDA Guidelines on Thawing Meat.

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