How to Thaw Meat

Your freezer’s full and it’s almost dinner time. Learn to thaw any meat—from chicken to fish—in no time flat!

Raise your hand if you are great at stocking your freezer, but when it comes time to make a meal, you are equally great at avoiding it? You can’t see me, but both of my hands are raised. Utilizing your freezer stock requires a little bit of planning. But if you’re like me and planning is not your strong suit, here is my favorite tip for thawing meat—because most of us would rather have dinner sooner than later.

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1 Select your meat

For this exercise we’ll ignore the disorganized state of my freezer. This is a package of hamburger meat. It is frozen solid and we need to eat soon!

Best practice—if you remember to plan ahead—is to take your package of meat out of the freezer and let it thaw in the fridge overnight. (Your fridge should be set to 40°F or below).


2 Prep your meat

Put your frozen meat in a plastic bag if it is not already in leak-proof packaging. Try to remove as much air from the plastic bag as possible. Place your frozen meat in a bowl in your sink. Do not plug the sink.

3 Let it thaw

Fill the bowl with cold water. Let the meat float in the water—I like to turn it once or twice—and just let it sit. It won’t thaw immediately, but it will thaw within the hour. If you have more than a pound or so, it will take longer, but I try to always package my freezer goods in 1 lb. portions for easier thawing and meal prep.
Note that a larger cut (like a whole chicken, or example) will take a little longer. Give it 2 - 3 hours, depending on the size. And be sure to change out the water every hour. To maintain safe a holding temperature, the water must stay cold.
Ta-Da! Defrosted meat! No microwave or 24 hour waiting period necessary.

Want more? Watch this video for more defrosting tips and tricks. 

About Heather T.

Heather, who runs, has been making messes in the kitchen since she was a little kid when her mom handed her a cook book and told her, “If you can read, you can cook.” Today she serves up fresh, healthy eats, easy weeknight meals and decadent sweet treats.