How to Defrost Meat: A Step-by-Step Guide

Flip through our guide for defrosting meat, then watch our how-to video.

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Follow these easy steps for success every time you defrost meat.

Step 1: Defrost Overnight
The best way to thaw meat safely is to plan ahead. Defrost it overnight on a plate in the refrigerator. By the next day, you're ready to cook.

Step 2: Safety Tip
Never keep meat at room temperature for more than two hours. Once you've thawed frozen meat, you can't refreeze it unless it's in a stock, soup or liquid.

Step 3: Cooking Frozen Meat the Same Day
If you have frozen meat you want to cook today, there is a faster way to thaw: the "cold water" method. Keep the chopped or ground meat wrapped tight. Note: Proper packaging prevents bacteria from forming and water from seeping in.

Step 4: Cold-Water Thawing
Place the wrapped meat in a large bowl and fill with cold water. Change the water every 30 minutes as the meat continues to thaw. A 1-pound package of meat can thaw in an hour or less. Packages of 3 to 4 pounds can take more than two hours.

Step 5: Ready to Cook
Remember, don't refreeze thawed meats. If you follow these tips, dinner will be ready in no time.

Step-by-step photos

How to Defrost Meat 01:24

Forget to defrost? Get our tips for thawing chicken and all cuts of meat.

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