Thawing Beef

Refrigerator Method | Microwave Method
Defrosting Time | Additional Thawing and Defrosting Tips



Refrigerator Method

(Recommended)

Frozen beef should not be defrosted at room temperature. Harmful bacteria may grow rapidly under such conditions. The best method for thawing beef (or any other type of meat) is to place it in the refrigerator where it will defrost slowly and safely. A large cut of beef may require 2 days to defrost in the refrigerator. The meat should be placed on a plate or dish (to catch any juices that may drip from the thawing meat) and stored on the lowest shelf of the refrigerator.

Microwave Method

(Not Recommended)

If it is not practical to wait for beef to thaw in the refrigerator, it is possible to defrost the meat in a microwave oven using the proper defrost setting, but it is not recommended. Some microwave ovens may not defrost the meat evenly, which may allow some portions to become fully thawed while other areas may still be frozen. While waiting for the frozen areas to defrost, harmful bacteria may grow rapidly in the thawed areas of the meat. It is best to use small market cuts or small slices of beef, which are safer to defrost with this method than large cuts. Never use a normal cooking setting to defrost the meat. Beef cuts should be cooked promptly (within a few minutes) after defrosting in the microwave and ground beef must be cooked immediately after thawing. Microwave defrosting should be used only if necessary and should not be the thawing method of choice.

Defrosting Time

Approximate Defrosting Times
(Refrigerator Method)

Steak
(one inch thick)

Defrost in the refrigerator for:
12 hours


Steak
(thicker than one inch)

Defrost in the refrigerator for:
Up to 24 hours



Pot Roast
(thin)

Defrost in the refrigerator for:
3 to 5 hours per pound


Pot Roast
(thick)

Defrost in the refrigerator for:
4 to 7 hours per pound

Oven Roast
(small)

Defrost in the refrigerator for:
Up to 5 hours per pound


Oven Roast
(large)

Defrost in the refrigerator for:
Up to 7 hours per pound

Ground Beef
(half inch thick patties)

Defrost in the refrigerator for:
12 hours


Ground Beef
(one pound bulk)

Defrost in the refrigerator for:
24 hours

Additional Thawing and Defrosting Tips

  • Beef that is not fully defrosted should not be cooked because the exterior of the beef may become overdone before the interior has had a chance to cook to the proper temperature.

  • When thawing beef, it is easier to cut it into pieces for stew meat or kabobs before it is fully defrosted. After cutting, the beef can then be refrigerated until it has fully thawed.

  • Fresh raw beef, which has not been frozen, can be cut easily if it is placed in the freezer for a few minutes to firm it up.

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