Skip to main content Skip to header navigation

How to safely thaw meat

It happens to the best of us — you get home from work only to realize you forgot to take the chicken out to thaw. Now what?

Frozen chicken

There are plenty of different ways to go about thawing meat, but doing it safely trumps all. If your meat is improperly thawed, it can cause you and your family to get food poisoning. Here, we explain three different ways to go about thawing any type of meat the safe way.

Thaw in cold water

You can safely thaw your meat in cold water, and in fact it’s faster than thawing in the refrigerator. First, make sure the meat is in a tightly-sealed package. If cold water gets into the meat, it will make for a watery meal. Keep the meat submerged in cold water and change the water every 30 minutes. You don’t want the meat to enter into the dangerous zone of 70 degrees to 100 degrees F. For each pound of meat, it will take slightly less than one hour to thaw. Cook meat immediately after thawing.

Thaw in the refrigerator

Thawing meat in the refrigerator is the most popular way of thawing meat – only problem is you need to remember to do this before leaving for work in the morning. Typically, small amounts of food (one pound or less) take all day, or 8 hours, to thaw completely. Larger items, such as a turkey, will require 24 hours in the fridge for every 5 pounds of food.

In a hurry? Check out these 15-minute quick chicken recipe tips >>


Warning: Once the meat is thawed in the microwave, it needs
to be cooked immediately to prevent bacteria from growing.

Thaw in the microwave

Thawing meat in the microwave is a great option if you forgot to put it in the fridge before work, as it’s the quickest method. Most microwaves have a “defrost” setting you can use, but if not just set the power to 50 percent. On average, it takes 15 minutes to defrost one pound of meat. Continually check the meat to make sure it’s thawing properly.

Can you cook meat without thawing?

Yes! Technically, you don’t have to thaw your meat before cooking it. If you do plan on cooking frozen meat, it will take about 50 percent longer to cook, so plan accordingly.

Note: It’s not recommended to use this method, as it will increase your water bill if used often. The best method is always the refrigerator.

Any other tips?

One final way to safely — and quickly — thaw meat is by placing it on a plate and leaving it under cold, running water. By using running water, any bacteria that may grow are washed away. Small portions of meat will thaw in 20 minutes, and larger portions will take just one or two hours.

More thawing tips

Freezable foods that will thaw by lunchtime
Tasty cooking tips for frozen foods
Buying, storing and thawing turkeys

Leave a Comment

Comments are closed.