How to Thaw Meat Fast? (4 Best Ways for Safe Consumption)

Arianna Foster
Published by Arianna Foster
Last Updated On: December 5, 2023

There are a few options for quickly thawing frozen meat.

After hundreds of hours of research and trying different meat thawing methods, I was able to narrow down to a few meat thawing methods that will thaw your meat at a faster rate. This article summarizes my findings.

Continue reading to get to know how to thaw your frozen meat fast.

Quick Summary

  • Thawing meat quickly can be done using methods such as refrigerator thawing, cold water thawing, microwave thawing, and boiling water thawing.
  • Each method has its own set of guidelines and tactics to ensure the meat is safe for consumption.
  • It's also possible to cook frozen meat directly, although the cooking time will be about 50% longer than for fully defrosted or fresh meat.
  • After months of research and testing, we’ve compiled a meat delivery roundup of the top providers for quick delivery of fresh frozen meat.

Thawing Meat

Smaller slices of meat may thaw in cold tap water for approximately an hour, and microwaves speed up the action even more. Frozen meat may also be cooked safely.

It's better to plan and defrost meat quickly and safely inside the refrigerator, which will stay at a stable, steady temperature — 40 °F or lower [1].

4 Ways to Thaw Meat

Here are 4 guidelines and tactics that will guarantee fast thawing of meat, ensuring that the meat is safe for consumption.

1. Refrigerator Thawing

A person opening a fridge

Defrosting meat inside the refrigerator overnight. That's by far the best way to defrost meat fast and safely. By maintaining the meat at a consistent temperature of 40°F or below, the frozen meat may thaw gently and properly overnight.

  • Plan ahead of time because it can take up to a day (or night) to defrost meat.
  • Place frozen meat on a dish. Reason: When you defrost meat, the molecules of water within the flesh shrink somewhat as they transition from a frozen into a liquid form.

In this case, the vacuum packing will remain the same but may have tiny micro-holes left from stretching due to freezing expansion. This may enable some liquid or myoglobin to leak; therefore, using a dish helps prevent any spills.

  • Retain the defrosting meat on the bottom rack of the refrigerator to avoid any leaking beneath.
  • 1 - 2 hours before cooking, remove your steak from the refrigerator and set it on the countertop to get ambient temperature before preparing and cooking.
  • Any item defrosted in the fridge can be frozen again before and after cooking.

Also Read: Refreezing Meat

2. Cold Water Thawing

The cold water method is the best solution when you want food quickly and don't own or need to utilize a microwave to defrost meat.

This approach is most suited for tiny chunks of meat like chicken breasts, steaks, ground beef, pig loin, etc. It's not suitable for entire chickens or huge roasts.

  • Take the raw meat from the packing and put it in a clean, vacuum-sealed plastic bag.
  • Look for leaks and squeeze out as much air as you can before sealing the bag—excess air will lead to the floating of the bag and may take longer to defrost meat.
  • Place the bag inside a bowl of cool water.
  • Until the beef has defrosted, change the liquid after 30 minutes.

One kilogram of frozen beef will usually defrost in 30 minutes, but it shouldn't take over an hour.

Split the different pieces or chunks of meat immediately before they are defrosted enough to break apart to accelerate the procedure. If you're defrosting more than a kilogram of meat, distribute it over several dishes of cold water [2].

“Thawing times can vary, depending on the volume, temperature and movement of the water as well as the food’s thickness and how it’s wrapped.”
- Harold McGee, Food Science Writer

3. Microwave Thawing

A person pressing on a microwave

A microwave is a good option when meat needs to be ready quickly. Don't be wary of this useful alternative, which has cycles and settings created expressly for safe, consistent defrosting.

  • Remove the meat from its packing and place it in a container. Packaging material should not be microwaved unless specifically indicated. Defrosting is best done in a glass jar.
  • Choose the defrost meat choice. If your microwave lacks a defrost meat option, use the Power Level option to manually increase the power settings to 20% and 30%. If your device has a defrost option, it might ask you the kind of food you're defrosting and how much it weighs to determine the defrost duration.
  • Periodically turn, flip, or split up the meat. If your microwave doesn't have an automated turntable, spin the ground meat periodically to achieve even defrosting.
  • Cook frozen meat right away. Cook meat as soon as it has been defrosted. If you leave the ground meat in the microwave for too long, microorganisms can grow, so remember not to leave it there as you prepare the remaining part of the meal.

Also Read: How to Thaw Chicken

4. Boiling Water Thawing

Thawing meat in boiling water may be achieved in as little as 15 minutes without compromising the meat's value or safety.

This is a limited time for microorganisms to become harmful. It is a great way to defrost meat safely and quickly if you want to cook frozen meat sooner than later.

  • Start by heating the water to 140°. You can use the thermometer to measure the temperature.
  • Turn off the heat and place your frozen meat in a storage bag and place them in the water.
  • Stir it frequently since the meat may form bubbles of chilled water around it.
  • Set a reminder to ensure that it is not left in boiling water for too long (or you may end up with half-cooked meat).
  • You should cook the defrosted meat as soon as it has thawed.

Cooking Without Thawing

Frozen raw meats on a wooden board on a black table

When there isn't adequate time to defrost meat, or you're in haste, remember that it is okay to cook frozen meat. The cooking duration will be about 50% longer than advised for fully defrosted or fresh meat.

That's a very good deal when considering how long it would take to defrost 10-pound meat in the fridge.

Cooking frozen meat inside a slow cooker is not recommended. Its rate of defrosting meat is very slow, increasing the risk of introducing microorganisms and rendering it unsafe to consume.

Related Articles:


Does Meat Thaw Faster in Cold Water or Hot Water?

Meat thaws faster in hot water than in cold water.

Can You Leave Meat out to Thaw?

No. You cannot leave meat out to thaw. The top of the meat will heat up enough to become a breeding area for potentially harmful microorganisms, but the inside will stay frozen.

How Long Does It Take Meat to Thaw at Room Temperature?

It may take an hour or less to thaw meat at room temperature.

How Long Can You Thaw Frozen Meat in The Fridge?

You can thaw frozen meat in the fridge overnight, or at most 3 days.


Was this article helpful?

About the author

Arianna Foster
Nutritionist/Editorial Director
Arianna is a nutrition expert with unmatched management skills and a love for steaks. The only thing she enjoys more than educating people on how to improve their diet and live a healthier life is cooking and hiking.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *