The Safe Thaw Series-Cold Water Thawing

How many of us have forgotten to thaw the frozen meat? You look at the clock around 2 p.m. the next day wondering what’s for dinner and guess what, it’s the chunk of frozen meat in the freezer. Oops, your revert to option B and eat at your favorite restaurant.

I’ve been there and done that, especially when I worked full-time. I’ve even done it a time or two (okay, more than a handful) when I haven’t worked full time. You CAN safely thaw your frozen meat within an hour or two depending on the amount. YOU DON”T HAVE TO REVERT TO OPTION B EVERY TIME. I know the microwave is tempting to use for thawing, but generally meats tend to cook even when it is in defrost mode. I prefer the cold water method demonstrated below.


This is two separate pounds of beef stir-fry that has been vacuumed sealed. I fill my sink halfway with cold water and submerge the two packages under the water. Because I had this in my thawing box the night before, it’s partially frozen in the middle so I’m guessing an hour or less sitting in cold water will do the trick. You can also use your thawing box ( I use a plastic shoe box) filled with water for smaller packages of meat.

If your meat is fully frozen, it may require up to three hours or more depending on the amount. It is safest to change the water every thirty minutes to an hour because the water temperature climbs, especially on hot and humid days and more bacteria can breed. Your safest bet is to change the water every thirty minutes on hot days. Simply drain your sink or pot/pan/plastic shoe box you are using to submerge your meat and fill it again with cold water.

One pound packages take approximately an hour or less and three to four pound packages take three to four hours. The food does need to be in a leak proof package. Most of my food is packaged in freezer bags so this is safe, but if you have a butcher wrapped packaged (original package not vacuumed sealed), place it in a gallon size freezer bag BEFORE submerging in cold water. This will prevent water absorbing into your meat (USDA GOV).

Bottom line: Not everything has to be thawed 24 hours, though it’s a safe method when you remember (see I do it in a plastic shoe box here).

There are tricks of the trade IF you forget to thaw it in your refrigerator. We’ll look at another one next week as part of the Big Thaw series.

Did you find this information useful? Do you have any safe thawing tricks?

Leave a Reply