Ground beef is sublime, make no mistake about it. Hamburgers won’t even exist with ground beef, and people love burgers all the time. This is why so many people want to know how to thaw ground beef fast, or how to defrost ground beef quickly. Some people want to know how long to thaw ground beef in the fridge, as well as how to defrost ground beef fast. We’re going to answer these questions and more, so hang on tight.
The Best Method to Thaw Ground Beef
According to the USDA, the safest way (still) to thaw ground beef is by thawing it out slowly in the refrigerator. There are a couple of reasons why this is the best practice.
The main reason is that the cold environment inside the refrigerator prevents the accelerated growth of bacteria on the meat.
So what we don’t want is for bacteria to wake up and start multiplying in the meat while we are defrosting it. Thawing inside the fridge takes a bit of time, yes, but it will ensure that your meat will be safe to prepare afterward.
You will need about 24 hours of thawing time per five pounds of meat. So just compute the thawing time based on the weight of your ground beef. After thawing the flesh, you have a maximum of two days (in the refrigerator) to prepare the ground beef.
Remember that thawed meat cannot be stored indefinitely in the fridge, and must be prepared immediately. In case you can’t prepare the flesh, you also must not refreeze it, as studies have shown that refreezing raw meat accelerates bacterial growth when you thaw it out again. What you can do is cook the meat first, and then freeze the cooked meat afterward – this is perfectly fine.
- Thawing meat in the refrigerator is the safest way to thaw meat, hands down.
- The risk of developing foodborne illness from eating the meat is very low or virtually eliminated.
- Any kind of meat can be thawed this way.
- You need to plan your meals so your meat will be thoroughly thawed out when it is time to prepare the meat.
- You cannot prepare meals abruptly when you want to thaw in the refrigerator.
Thawing Ground Beef More Quickly
While the USDA recommends refrigerator thawing, it also mentions that you can defrost meat with a microwave or with cold water.
To thaw ground beef in the microwave, follow these steps:
- Place your ground beef in a large microwaveable bowl. Remove all wrappings or packaging materials. Make sure that you do not have any plastic, foil, or Styrofoam inside the microwave.
- Set the microwave to the appropriate power level based on the manufacturer’s instructions. This is usually marked as 50% power or “defrosting” on the power knob.
- Be sure to check in on your meat regularly as we want to avoid the outer surface taking on the hue of being cooked.
- Prepare your meat ASAP after defrosting with a microwave. Do not leave the meat out at room temperature, as this may cause bacterial growth to spike.
Bacteria thrive in warmer temperatures, so if your meat is heated on the inside and partially cooked on the outside, expect any surviving bacteria to begin multiplying, and this is simply not safe.
- Probably the fastest method of thawing meat available.
- Virtually the easiest method of thawing too, because all you need to do is add the meat to a microwaveable bowl and leave the microwave oven to do its job.
- A good idea if you are pressed for time, and you have other things going on.
- Some microwave ovens may have a different power setting for defrosting and may end up semi-cooking your meat after a few minutes.
- Not the most precise method of defrosting because it involves the application of heat.
- You need to prepare the ground beef immediately after defrosting, and you can’t refreeze it because it is technically partially cooked already.
To thaw ground beef with cold water, you may follow these steps:
- Do not remove the original packaging of your ground beef. Grab a large zip lock bag and squeeze out as much air as you can before sealing it.
- Place the plastic bag in a large bowl. The bowl must be spacious enough to accommodate the beef and contain enough water to submerge the meat.
- Open the tap and fill the bowl with cold water, not warm or hot water. As much as we’d like to recommend hot water, we can’t, because of any sudden increase in temperature, again, it may cause a sudden shift in the bacteria in the meat. So use only cold water. Make sure that the meat is submerged in the water.
- Be sure to refresh the water in the container every 30 minutes. As the ground beef thaws, the water will get colder, and this will reduce the effectiveness of the thawing method. Refreshing the water will ensure that that your ground beef will be thawing out at an ideal rate.
- Thawing with cold water requires about 30 minutes of thawing time for every pound of frozen food. You will still need to slightly plan if you are using this method for thawing your meat.
- Slows down bacterial growth and easy to do.
- It only requires a reasonable amount of time before it thaws out the meat entirely.
- Has to be refreshed every 30 minutes to maintain the rate of defrosting.
- May not be done with warm water as this may increase the spread of bacteria.
- Will require multiple containers if you are thawing out several batches of ground beef at a time.