How To Defrost and Thaw Ground Beef

Raw Ground Beef

There’s no doubt that ground beef is one of the most versatile meats on the planet. It’s no wonder you’ve picked up a few extra packages of ground beef that were on sale and stored them in your freezer.

Defrosting ground beef improperly can lead to harmful bacteria that can make you sick. Just like you need to know how to tell if ground beef is bad, you must also know how to defrost ground beef correctly.

Do I Have To Defrost Ground Beef Before Cooking It?

Although it seems easy to throw frozen ground beef into a skillet, you should defrost it before cooking it. In particular, if you plan to make BBQ meatloaf or BBQ hamburgers, you need to defrost it to shape it into a loaf or patty.

Nevertheless, you can cook ground beef from frozen by adjusting the cooking method slightly and ensuring the ground beef has a temperature of 165°F.

If you plan to cook frozen ground beef in a crockpot or the oven, you need to cook it high. If the temperature is too low, the ground beef will take longer to cook, increasing the risk that bacteria can multiply during the cooking process. However, you can avoid bacteria exposure by using faster cooking methods such as an instant pot, stovetop method, or sous-vide method.

Can I Refreeze Defrosted Ground Beef?

In short, whether you refreeze ground beef depends on how it was defrosted. For example, if you do not use ground beef that was thawed in the fridge, you can refreeze it within 48 hours without having to worry about bacterial growth.

However, if you thaw your ground beef in cold water or in the microwave, you cannot refreeze it. You must cook the ground beef before refreezing. If you refreeze ground beef that was defrosted in the microwave or cold water, bacteria may develop and lead to a foodborne illness.

How To Buy Ground Beef

Contrary to popular belief, buying ground beef is not as simple as picking up a package of meat at the grocery store and placing it inside of your cart. You need to carefully inspect the package of ground beef to ensure it is not exposed to oxygen or has come into contact with other foods or surfaces.

When shopping for ground beef, select a package that is tightly wrapped. The ground beef wrapping should be free of tears, and it should not be wet or have loose wrapping.

Place your ground beef into a separate plastic bag. Should your ground beef start leaking, the plastic bag will prevent the ground beef juices from contaminating your other groceries. Place your ground beef into your cart away from ready-to-eat foods such as rotisserie chicken or salad greens.

How To Store Ground Beef

In regards to storing ground beef or any other meat, the rule is to store meat in the refrigerator or freezer the minute you get home. You can leave the ground beef in its original packaging if you intend to cook the ground beef if you intend to prepare it soon. Ground beef stored in the refrigerator has a life span of 1-2 days.

If you intend to keep ground beef longer than 1-2 days, freezing it would be your best option. To freeze your ground beef, remove it from its original packaging and place it into a resealable freezer-safe bag.

Before you seal the bag, flatten the meat with a rolling pin until it is 1/2-inch in thickness. Do not roll your rolling pin back and forth over the ground beef.

Flattening the ground beef allows it to thaw quicker than a large quantity of meat. In addition to this, flattening the ground beef also removes excess air from the bag, which can cause freezer burn or dehydration.

Remember to wash the rolling pin with hot soapy water before using it. Seal the ground beef, label it with the amount of ground beef and the date, and place it into the freezer.

Safety Tips For Defrosting Ground Beef

Never defrost ground beef at room temperature. It’s no secret that we have all thawed meat on the counter overnight.

While the ground beef will eventually defrost, this is not the safest option when it comes to thawing meat. Bacteria multiply rapidly between40 °F and 140 °F. Therefore, if ground beef sits in the temperature danger zone for more than 2 hours, bacteria will multiply, causing you to develop a foodborne illness.

Do not thaw ground beef using hot water. In the same way, thawing ground beef on the countertop exposes it to dangerous levels of bacteria; thawing meat in hot water can also expose ground beef to harmful bacteria. In addition to this, when frozen ground beef comes into contact with hot water, the texture is altered.

As the hot water cools down, the ground beef becomes subject to unsafe temperatures. Moreover, the hot water could potentially cook the ground beef. In the end, you’ll end up with ground beef that is cooked on the outside and frozen on the inside.

Do not store ground beef in the freezer for more than 4 months. Yes, ground beef is safe indefinitely when it is stored in the freezer, but only for a short while. After 4 months, the ground beef’s qaulity, flavor, and texture will start to deteriorate.

How Long Does Ground Beef Take To Defrost?

The time it takes to defrost ground beef depends on the amount of ground beef and how it is defrosted. On average, a 1-pound package of ground beef will take about 24 hours to defrost in the refrigerator. In contrast, defrosting a pound of ground beef in the microwave will take 3 minutes. The cold water method for defrosting ground beef will take about 1 1/2 hours.

How To Defrost Ground Beef

Defrosting ground beef is no harder than defrosting a turkey or salmon. There are 3 ways to defrost ground beef: the fridge, microwave, and using cold water.

How To Defrost Ground Beef In The Refrigerator

Defrosting ground beef in the fridge is the best way to thaw it. Yes, it takes 24 hours to defrost it, but it is the safest method as it keeps the beef out of the temperature danger zone. In addition to this, the fridge will keep the ground beef cool while keeping it warm enough to defrost the meat.

To defrost frozen ground beef in the refrigerator, place the ground beef onto a large plate that is large enough to catch any juices that may leak from the ground beef while it thaws. Place the ground beef onto a lower shelf in your refrigerator away from other foods such as leftovers or ready-to-eat foods. If you place the ground beef near or on top of other foods, the juices from the ground beef could drip onto them and contaminate them, which could make you sick.

Allow the ground beef for 24 hours until it is soft and pliable.

How To Thaw Ground Beef In The Microwave

The microwave is the quickest method to defrost ground beef. However, the time it takes to defrost ground beef in the microwave can vary depending on the amount of beef and your microwave’s wattage.

To defrost your frozen ground beef in the microwave, remove it from its original packaging, place the ground beef into a microwave-safe ziplock bag. Next, place the ground beef onto a microwave-safe plate and press the defrost setting on your microwave.

Alternatively, you can also defrost the ground beef on 30% power until the beef is defrosted. Defrost the ground beef for 1 1/2 minutes, then turn it over and defrost it for an additional 1 1/2 minutes. Cook the ground beef immediately after it has been thawed to prevent bacteria from developing.

How To Defrost Ground Beef In Cold Water

If you forgot to pull your ground beef from the freezer, you could defrost it in cold water instead of thawing it in the microwave. While your ground beef will not defrost in 3 minutes, it will not take 24 hours to defrost your ground beef. In 1 hour, you will have thawed beef.

Although you should never thaw ground beef in hot water, defrosting it in cold water is safe as long as the cold water is changed to prevent it from becoming too warm.

To defrost ground beef in cold water, place the ground beef into a resealable ziplock bag. Place the frozen ground beef into a large bowl or your sink and add enough water to submerge the ground beef. Place a large, heavy plate on top of the ground beef to keep it submerged and keep the ground beef at a safe temperature.

Allow the ground beef to sit in the water for 30 minutes. If the meat has ice crystals or it is still stiff and hard when touched, it is not thawed. Replace the water and defrost the ground beef for another 30 minutes.

On the other hand, if the ground beef is soft and free of ice crystals, it is defrosted. Cook your ground beef immediately after it is defrosted.

Final Thoughts

Most people stockpile a ton of ground beef in their freezer. We have forgotten to take the ground beef out of the freezer on many occasions and found ourselves frustrated. Luckily, you know how to defrost ground beef 3 different ways.

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