Beef Thawing Methods

Perishable foods should never be thawed on the counter, or in hot water and must not be left at room temperature for more than two hours.

Refrigerator Thawing

  • Place the item you wish to thaw on a plate with a lip or bowl on the lowest shelf of the refrigerator (to keep any drippings from being spilled onto shelving or food below). 
  • A pound of ground meat can require a full day to thaw in the refrigerator.
  • After thawing in the refrigerator, items such as ground meat and stew meat should remain safe and good quality for an additional day or two before cooking.  Red meat cuts (such as roasts steaks) should remain safe and good quality 3 to 5 days.
  • Food thawed in the refrigerator can be refrozen without cooking, although there may be some loss of quality.

Cold Water Thawing

  • If you forget to thaw your beef for dinner, this method is faster than refrigerator thawing but requires more attention.
  • Thawing in cold water, 40 degrees or below, is safe and faster than refrigerator thawing.
  • The vacuum sealed beef should be submerged in cold tap water, changing the water every 30 minutes so it continues to thaw.
  • Small packages of beef (about a pound) may thaw in 1 hour or less.
  • A 3 to 4 pound package may take 2 to 3 hours.
  • Once thawed, beef must be cooked immediately and should not be left out.
  • Foods thawed by the cold water method should not be re-froze. 

Microwave Thawing

  • Not recommended, please don't do it!