A Better Way to Thaw Ground Beef
Did you know that almost two-thirds of ground beef is frozen at home? If you are looking for a quick dinner solution, staring at a froze hunk of ground beef is a tough place to start. If you often face that frozen-solid ground beef brick and still wonder, “How do I quickly and safely thaw ground beef?” this article is for you.
Here are the pros and cons of four popular methods of thawing frozen ground beef with the time it takes, and , plus one new, innovative option you may not have heard of yet:
1.) Thaw Ground Beef in the Refrigerator
How to: Leave the brick of ground beef in the refrigerator overnight. When using this method, put the brick of ground beef on a large plate to catch any drippings.
Time it takes: The ground beef should remain in the fridge for at least 24 hours to defrost.
Pros: This is the safest method of thawing and is recommended by the USDA. In the fridge, the meat stays out of the danger zone—temperatures between 40° F and 140° F, where bacteria can thrive. You can also refreeze the ground beef again within 48 hours of defrosting.
Cons: While this is the safest option, it takes a long time for the beef to thaw. And you are giving yourself a “ticking time bomb”–perishable meat that either needs to be cooked or thrown away. Sometimes tastes and schedules change between when you decided to thaw the meat and dinnertime.
2.) Thaw Ground Beef on the Countertop
How to: Leave ground beef on counter to thaw.
Time it takes: 6 to 8 hours
Pros: This process is faster than defrosting ground beef in the fridge for 24 hours.
Cons: “Never leave ground beef or any perishable food out at room temperature for more than two hours,” says Julie Garden-Robinson, food and nutrition specialist at North Dakota State University. Leaving frozen ground beef out for more than 2 hours is unsafe. Additionally, you can’t refreeze the ground beef after leaving it out.
3.) Thaw Ground Beef in Water
How to: For this method, use cold water, not hot water. Make sure the ground beef is sealed in a bag. Next, put meat in the sink or in a large bowl in the sink. Weigh the meat down with something heavy. Change the water every 30 minutes. If meat is not thawed after the first 30 minutes, change the water, and continue the process.
Time it takes: 20 to 30 minutes
Pros: This is quicker than defrosting ground beef in the fridge and safer than leaving the ground beef to thaw on the counter.
Cons: This method is another ticking time bomb; if you go to this effort, you need to use it or lose it because you can’t refreeze the ground beef after thawing it in water.
4.) Thaw Ground Beef in Microwave
How to: Place the meat on a plate and use the defrost feature on your microwave. Do not defrost in store packaging.
Time it takes: 2 to 3 minutes, rotating and flipping meat every 30 seconds. Repeat until thawed.
Cons: With the microwave thawing method, you can’t refreeze the ground beef and need to cook the meat immediately. Uneven parts of the meat could be cooked (i.e., outside is thawed but inside is still frozen). Not to mention, you could create a huge mess in your microwave!
These are the main methods of defrosting ground beef quickly, but there is still a better way to thaw ground beef…don’t!
5.) New Pound of Ground® Crumbles® Frozen Uncooked Ground Beef
How to: Forgot to thaw the meat? No plans? No problem. New Pound of Ground® frozen ground beef crumbles is ready when you are. No defrosting needed. Made from 100% pure, all-natural* uncooked ground beef, Pound of Ground Crumbles® is simply quick-frozen into small pieces because small things cook faster. With Pound of Ground, there’s no need to thaw before cooking and it cooks from frozen in 7-8 minutes.
Time it takes to thaw: NONE — it is no-thaw ground beef.
Pros: It is easy and convenient. Keep a box or two of new Pound of Ground® Ground Beef Crumbles® ground beef in your freezer so you can make a real homemade dinner like tacos, spaghetti, or chili any night — with no defrosting or planning ahead.
Cons: You have to stock up before you need it…and you know you’ll need it the next time you forget to thaw the ground beef or don’t have a plan for dinner. Find new Pound of Ground® Ground Beef Crumbles® in the frozen section near the burgers at a store near you.
At-a-Glance Ground Beef Thawing Methods
Written by Sarah Meyer