The Best Way to Defrost Steak: Fast & Safe Thawing Guide

frozen steak defrosting

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An extra guest for dinner, a sudden change of plans, or maybe you just forgot to get your steaks out of the freezer on time? 

We’ve all been there. Let’s take a look at how to quickly, and above all, safely, thaw out your steaks. We’ll share the best way to defrost steak in our fast and safe Meat Thawing Guide, so you can enjoy steak straight from your freezer in less than a couple of hours. 

What is the best way to defrost steak?

The best way to defrost steak is to place it in your refrigerator for approximately 24 hours. 

Defrosting your steak in your refrigerator ensures that it stays out of the danger temperature zone that is situated between 40℉-140℉. If you left your steak to defrost out on your counter or used hot water, you would risk it reaching these ambient temperatures where bacteria can rapidly multiply.

Another reason for slowly defrosting steak in your fridge is that this method is the best for conserving your steak’s texture. 

Steak doesn’t come cheap, so buying it on special and freezing it can be a great way to make the most of your hard-earned cash.

Defrosting steak in your fridge ensures that it will taste and feel pretty much as good as when it was fresh. 

However, even if you have the most organized of households, there can still be days when you need to defrost steak quickly. 

So, what do you do when you need to defrost steak quickly and safely? You use the quick thaw method. Here’s how:

How to defrost steak safely using the quick thaw method

The quick-thaw method involves placing your packaged steak in cold water to speed up the defrosting process. As the water is cold, you won’t risk your steak becoming susceptible to bacterial growth. 

While using hot water would speed things up, you are likely to risk your steak becoming a hotbed for harmful bacteria.

Using your microwave on defrost can be an option; however, it often ruins the texture of your steak. Plus, the steak will need to be cooked immediately afterwards for safety reasons. 

Using the quick thaw method allows your steak to rapidly defrost in a safe and easy way. What’s more, it won’t alter your meat’s taste or texture. It is by far the best way to defrost your frozen steak quickly. 

Depending on the size and thickness of your steaks, as well as how many you need to defrost, the time it takes to thaw completely can be anywhere between 30 minutes up to three hours. This is much faster than the average 24 hours required in your refrigerator. 

To speed up thawing out your steaks, we recommend placing each individual cut in its own bowl of cold water. 

What you will need

  • Your frozen steak(s).
  • A zip-lock bag or other water-tight plastic packaging (if your steaks are not already individually sealed/vacuum packed).
  • A large bowl or several bowls to match your number of steaks.
  • Cold water
  • A thermometer – to check that your water remains cool enough. (Optional extra)

Step-by-step guide to quickly defrosting your frozen steak

Follow these steps in order to safely and quickly thaw your frozen steaks.

  1. Prepare your steak for defrosting. If your steaks are already individually wrapped and sealed, then you can skip this step. Otherwise, take your frozen steak and place it in a zip-lock bag or other waterproof plastic sealed packaging. Be sure to do this for each individual steak for a faster defrost.
  1. Take a large bowl, or one for each steak, and fill with cold water. Make sure that your bowl is sufficiently large to entirely cover your steak in cold water. Otherwise, any parts that remain above the cold water level will be at room temperature and are likely to risk becoming a breeding ground for harmful bacteria.
  1. Place each steak in its own bowl, ensuring that each one is completely submerged. 
  1. Leave your steak to defrost, but don’t forget to regularly check the temperature of the water. You can use a thermometer, however, just touching the water with your fingertips will give you a good enough indication of whether or not the temperature has raised too much.
  1. Change the water out for colder, fresh water as soon as you notice any rise in temperature. 
  1. After a half-hour check on thinner steaks, they should be ready. For larger, thicker steaks, you may need to wait an hour or two longer. Don’t forget to keep checking and changing your water with these larger cuts. 
  1. When your steak is defrosted, remove it from the bag and cook. If it is still slightly frozen, you can still go ahead and cook it, just allow a few extra minutes for it to reach the correct internal temperature. You can check this with a meat thermometer

Tips for quickly thawing frozen steak

Stuck for time? Check out our tips for thawing frozen steak in a hurry.

Use zip-lock bags

Vacuum packed frozen steaks will thaw quicker, as the air has been removed from the packaging. If you are using zip-lock bags, squeeze as much air as possible out of your bag before sealing for faster defrosting. 

Weigh it down

Use a spatula, lid or kitchen spoon to help to keep you frozen steak fully submerged throughout the defrosting process. 

Leaks are bad

Make sure that your steak does not come into direct contact with the water, hence the necessity for a leak-proof bag. 

If your meat comes into contact with the water, bacteria could enter your food, or your steak may absorb excess moisture resulting in a watery, flavorless steak with a chewy texture. 

You don’t (always) have to defrost fully

If you’re really stuck for time, say you’re ready to cook and there’s a last minute addition to your party, you can always use this method to partially defrost your steak. Or you could even cook it from frozen

Frozen steak on grill

Just be sure to stick your frozen steak on to cook well before the others and to pay particular attention that it reaches the recommended internal temperature to ensure that any bacteria is killed off before consumption. 

The USDA states that meat cooked directly from frozen will take approximately one and a half times as long to cook. 

Wrapping it up

Frozen steaks are highly convenient. Ordering frozen speciality meats allows you to access cuts and high-quality grass-fed meats that you may otherwise not have a chance to buy fresh. 

It can also be a great way to save money on your weekly shop, by purchasing cut-priced steak to freeze and eat at a later date. Now that you know how to quickly and safely defrost your steak, any night of the week can be steak night, even at short notice!

Let us know your thoughts below in the comments. If you found this article to be useful, be sure to share it with your friends and family – everyone can benefit from knowing how to defrost steak quickly, easily and, above all, safely! 

Joe Clements

Joe Clements

As the son of a vegeterian, I grew up dreaming about meat. Now as the founder and editor in chief of Smoked Barbecue Source I get to grill, barbecue and write about meat for a living! I'm sharing everything I learn along the way on my journey from amateur to pitmaster.

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