How to Defrost Meat

Many people are aware of the dangers of raw meat and the illnesses it can cause. So determining how to defrost meat is probably one of the most important aspects of cooking it. If meat is not defrosted correctly, bacteria can multiply fast and then the food becomes dangerous. To learn how to defrost meat properly and safely so you can enjoy it, scroll past the jump.


  1. Image titled Defrost Meat Step 1 preview
    Defrost meat in the refrigerator where the temperature is always at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius).
    • Plan ahead for defrosting meat in the refrigerator since it will take time.
    • Place wrapped or covered meat on a dish to catch any raw juice runoff.
    • Defrost the meat for a full 24 hours. Large cuts of meat, such as whole birds or roasts, can take 24 hours for every 5 lbs. (2.3 kg) of meat.
    • Cook ground or stew meat and poultry within 2 days of thawing for refrigerator defrosting.
    • Cook other meats such as pork, beef, steaks and roasts within 3 to 5 days of thawing.
  2. Image titled Defrost Meat Step 2 preview
    Defrost meat using cold water for a faster method of thawing.
    • Place the meat into a leak-proof plastic bag. A leak in the bag could compromise the safety of the food, leading to bacterial growth.
    • Submerge the bag with the meat in cold water and change the water every 30 minutes. The frozen meat will decrease the temperature of the water, slowing the thawing process if the water is not changed.
    • Defrost small amounts of meat in approximately 1 hour. Larger pieces of meat can take up to 2 to 3 hours.
    • Cook the meat immediately.
  3. Image titled Defrost Meat Step 3 preview
    Defrost meat using the microwave for the quickest method of thawing meat.
    • Remove all packaging and place unwrapped meat on a microwave-safe plate.
    • Defrost the meat on low or use the thaw setting on the microwave.
    • Cook the meat immediately after thawing in the microwave. Thawing meat in the microwave can partially cook or warm the meat. Do not store for later cooking.


  • Refrigerator defrosting allows meat to be refrozen without cooking.
  • Meat can be cooked from the frozen state without thawing first, but it will take longer to reach a safe temperature. Be sure to check the meat's temperature after cooking to ensure that it is safe to eat.


  • Always wash your hands after handling raw meat and beware of cross contamination.
  • Thawing meat by the cold water method requires cooking the meat before refreezing it.
  • Defrosting meat in the microwave requires cooking the meat before refreezing it.
  • The colder the refrigerator, the longer it will take to defrost meat.

Things You'll Need

  • Refrigerator
  • Plastic Bag
  • Cold Water
  • Microwave-safe Dish
  • Microwave

Article Info

Categories: Food Preparation