Skip to Content

How To Defrost and Thaw Beef

How To Defrost and Thaw Beef

The truth is talking about defrosting beef can be gory for some, but it is a necessary conversation.

How often did you forget to remove your beef from the freezer? How many times have you left it sitting on the countertop to thaw?

Did you know that leaving it on the countertop to thaw can cause bacteria to develop rapidly? This is why how to defrost beef must be addressed.

Can I Refreeze Defrosted Beef?

Whether you can refreeze defrosted beef depends on your method to defrost it. For example, if your beef was thawed in the fridge, it is safe to refreeze.

However, if the beef was thawed in cold water or in the microwave, it cannot be refrozen.

The meat may have risen above 40°F and entered the temperature danger zone, which means you must cook the beef immediately after it’s thawed.

Can I Defrost Beef on the Countertop?

When it comes to defrosting meat on the countertop, this is an absolute no. Do not thaw meat on your countertop.

Beef cannot be left at room temperature for more than 2 hours. Beef will not thaw at room temperature within 2 hours.

The beef will enter the temperature danger zone, which ranges from 40°F and 140°F.

At these temperatures, bacteria will develop rapidly and expose you or anyone who consumes the beef to food poisoning.

Can I Defrost Beef in Hot Water?

If you defrost beef in warm or hot water, you will be playing a dangerous game. Yes, the hot water will defrost the beef.

However, it will also start to cook the beef causing it to thaw unevenly.

Furthermore, the hot water can cause parts of the meat to enter the temperature danger zone and trigger the rapid development of bacteria.

The only time warm or hot water is acceptable when defrosting meat is washing your hands, utensils, and surfaces, which the beef may have come into contact.

How Does Cold Water Defrost Meat?

Defrosting cold water in meat is like is placing it in a cold sauna.

As the beef sits in the cold water, its temperature will slowly begin to rise from the outside in.

Therefore it will not cook the outside of the beef before the inside is thawed.

In essence, the cold water will help the beef’s exterior maintain a safe temperature while giving the beef’s interior time to thaw properly.

Tips for Defrosting Beef

Have you ever cooked a partially thawed Denver steak and noticed that its exterior was dry and its interior was cold?

Unless you were aiming for a blue rare steak, the unevenly cooked steak happened because it was partially defrosted.

You should never cook partially defrosted beef.

Not only will it cook unevenly, but the interior may not come to the recommended temperature, increasing the risk of bacteria occurring.

If you are thawing a large cut of beef, it is easier to cut it into smaller pieces using a sharp knife.

However, cutting it into smaller pieces only works if you are making beef stew or kabobs.

If you are making brisket, you will have to wait for the entire thing to defrost.

Alternatively, you can cut your raw beef into smaller pieces when you bring it home from the store.

Place the raw beef into the freezer for a few minutes to firm up before cutting, then freeze it.

When you are ready to use your chopped beef, you can simply place it into the fridge to thaw.

How Long Does Beef Take To Defrost?

The defrosting time of beef depends on how it is defrosted and the cut you defrosted.

For example, itmay take 12-24 hours to defrost depending on your ranch steak.

If you are cooking a large cut of beef such as bottom round roast, it could take 4-7 hours to thaw. On average small or thin pot roasts will take 3-5 hours to defrost.

How Long Does Defrosted Beef Last in the Fridge?

The shelf life of defrosted beef depends on the type of beef you are defrosting.

Case in point, ground beef will last in the fridge 1-2 days are it’s completely defrosted.

On the other hand, other types of beef, such as Tomahawk steak, will last in the refrigerator 3-5 days after it’s been thawed.

Is a Bag Necessary When Defrosting Beef in Cold Water

Tawing beef without a bag in cold water is like going swimming without a swim cap. The beef will be exposed to moisture.

Although a bit of water is not bad, because you are thawing the beef in a lot of water, the beef may absorb the water and make it soggy.

This is especially true for ground beef. In short, if you defrost beef without a bag, you can bet your bottom dollar you’ll end up with bland, flavorless meat, no matter how much BBQ seasoning you add to it.

Furthermore, the beef will also lose some of its natural juices, which are essential to making gravy.

How To Defrost Beef

Yes, defrosting beef may intimidate some folks, but it is a relatively easy process.

How To Defrost Beef in the Fridge

Ovens are to reheating beef as fridges are to defrost beef. The refrigerator is the top contender when it comes to defrosting any meat, including lobster, shrimp, sausage, and beef.

Furthermore, the refrigerator is the safest and easiest way to defrost beef. Nevertheless, if you want to use this technique to thaw beef, you must plan in advance.

To thaw beef in the refrigerator, place it into a rimmed container.

The container will catch any liquid that is released from the beef as it thaws and prevent it from contaminating other foods.

Place the beef on a lower rack away from all other foods, including ready-to-eat foods or leftovers. Allow the beef to sit in the refrigerator until thawed.

If your cooking plans change, the beef can remain in the fridge for 3-5 days, or you can refreeze it.

How To Defrost Beef in Cold Water

Defrosting cold water will require more steps, but it will get you closer to devouring that juicy, delicious eye of round steakmuch faster.

To thaw beef in cold water, leave it in its original packaging. Place the beef into a leak-proof resealable ziplock bag.

The bag will serve as a barrier between the beef and the water and prevent it from becoming waterlogged. 

Place the frozen beef into a large container and fill it with cold water. If your top round steaks keep rising to the top of the water, place a heavy plate on top of it to keep them anchored.

Drain the water and refill the container with cold water every 30 minutes.

Smaller cuts of beef will thaw in 1 hour, while larger cuts of meat will take 2-3 hours to thaw. Cook your beef immediately after it’s been thawed in cold water.

How To Defrost Beef in the Microwave

Thawing food in the microwave comes with its drawbacks. First, the beef will thaw unevenly. The meat will start to cook, which means it will enter the temperature danger zone.

Second, because the meat was thawed unevenly, the beef will cook unevenly, resulting in some parts of it being drier than others.

Third, depending on the size of your meat, you may not be able to thaw the beef in the microwave.

For example, most conventional microwaves are not big enough to fit a brisket or a large roast. However, they are small enough to defrost ground beef or steak.

Nevertheless, the microwave is the fastest way to defrost meat. However, the microwave is only a last resort.

Thaw your beef in the refrigerator or use the cold water method if you have time.

To defrost your beef in the microwave, remove it from its original packaging and place it into a microwave-safe dish.

Place the beef in the microwave and press the defrost setting. If your microwave does not have a defrost setting, heat the beef at 30% power.

If you defrost a smaller beef cut, defrost it in 2-3 minute intervals. If you are thawing larger cuts of beef, thaw it in 5-10 minute intervals.

Additionally, make sure you rotate the beef to prevent it from cooking.

Cook the beef immediately after it’s been thawed in the microwave to inhibit the spread of bacteria.

How To Cook Beef From Frozen

There’s a common misconception that you cannot cook beef from frozen. Even though it would be best to thaw your beef before cooking it, you can cook beef from frozen.

You can heat up your kamado grill or cook your frozen beef in the oven or on the stovetop. The only drawback of cooking beef from frozen is it lengthens the cooking process by 50 percent.

Final Thoughts

Whether you bought beef in bulk or forgot to take it out of the freezer, it is essential to know how to defrost beef.

Defrosting meat the right way means you will end up with perfectly cooked beef instead of unevenly cooked beef.

You might also be interested in: