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The Best Way to Defrost Meat

The Best Way to Defrost Meat


Don’t leave it on the counter

© Marcin Wos | Dreamstime.com

The freezer is one of the best ways to make your food last longer, especially when it comes to meat. When the time comes to cook that meat, however, it’s important to know the safest and most effective way to defrost it. And there’s a good chance you’ve been doing it wrong.

Foods You Should Never Freeze

The best method for defrosting any type of meat is to transfer it to the fridge. For example, when cooking a turkey, a large and frozen bird will take at least 24 hours to defrost for every 5 pounds. Smaller amounts, such as chicken breasts or a pound of ground beef, will take a full day to thaw in the fridge.

Note that temperature also affects the amount of time it will take to defrost meat; food in a refrigerator set at 35 degrees Fahrenheit will take longer to thaw than food in a refrigerator set at 40 degrees Fahrenheit, for example. After thawing, meats such as poultry, ground meat, stew meat and seafood should be good and safe for a day or two in the fridge before they start to go bad. Red meat should be good and safe for three to five days.

No matter what you do, don’t defrost meat on the counter. This can lead to bacteria multiplying, causing foodborne illness.

Once you’ve defrosted food in the fridge, it is possible and safe to refreeze it, but this may affect quality. After thawing, however, it’s best to use that meat and other ingredients in your freezer by turning them into a quick dinner dish.