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How to Defrost Meat Quickly Without A Microwave

How to Defrost Meat Quickly Without A Microwave

I grew up quickly defrosting meat — without a microwave. In fact, I’ve almost never used a microwave to defrost meat.

That’s because my method for defrosting meat is often faster than a microwave and defrosts the meat more evenly.

Nothing’s more annoying when it’s time to cook dinner than discovering your “defrosted” meat has a frozen center and cooked edges. Am I right?

With my method for quickly defrosting meat, you won’t have that problem again.

Wouldn’t fresh, never-frozen meat be better?

There’s no way around it. I keep a freezer full of meat from grass-fed and pasture-raised animals in my garage.

Every year, we buy a heritage breed hog from one of our friends, buy half a cow from a local rancher whose cattle are grass-fed, and buy however many pasture-raised hens we have room for.

They’re all processed by a local butcher and stored out in our freezer.

This is the only way to keep the meat affordable (I’m usually paying less than $3/lb for these beauties).

So, while I’d love to have “fresh, never frozen” meat, that’s just not Real Life.

I know I’m not alone in this.

Think these are the only two ways to defrost meat?

Any time I share a Facebook post about kicking your microwave to the curb, I inevitably get a comment like this one:

“I really want to do this. But how do you defrost meat quickly without a microwave?”

Many of my readers seem to think that defrosting is something that can only be done one of two ways:

1. Meat is moved from the freezer to the refrigerator, where it slowly defrosts over the next 24 hours.

-OR-

2. Meat is defrosted in the microwave.

I don’t use either method.

That’s because option #1 requires planning ahead, and I’m really terrible at that.

And option #2 usually defrosts unevenly (plus I hate microwaves).

So, what’s the big trick?

How do I defrost meat quickly without a microwave?

I use hot water.

Perhaps you’ve heard that quickly defrosting meat this way isn’t safe. That’s simply not true.

USDA researches have tested various methods for defrosting meat using 200 one inch thick beef steaks:

Air-thawing in the refrigerator took 18 to 20 hours, while the room-temperature water bath thawed the steaks in about 20 minutes, and the hot-summer-day bath in 11 minutes. These water-bath times are so short that any bacterial growth would remain within safe limits.
(source)

Notice that the warmer the water was, the quicker the defrost time.

In fact researchers at Utah State took it a step further, defrosting chicken breasts in 140F degree water.

That temperature is hot enough to eventually cook the breasts to medium-rare, but if you remove them when they’re defrosted (usually within 3-5 minutes), they’ll show no signs of cooking (source).

I usually opt for a middle ground.

I use the hottest water available from my kitchen sink tap. In my case, that’s 118F because that’s the temperature we’ve set our hot water heater to.

How to defrost meat quickly without a microwave, using hot water.

How to Defrost Meat Quickly WITHOUT Your MicrowaveIt’s super simple, really.

  • STEP ONE: Run kitchen tap water until it’s as hot as it can get.
  • STEP TWO: Plug the drain and fill your sink about half full with hot water.
  • STEP THREE: Submerge your frozen meat in the hot water to defrost.

The length of defrost time will vary based on a few factors:

1. How thick the cut of meat is. As a general rule of thumb, meat that’s an inch thick takes about 10 minutes to defrost this way. If it’s half an inch thick, it takes half that time. If it’s a couple inches thick, it takes twice that time.

2. How the meat is packaged. If it’s got insulating layers of plastic or paper wrap around it, it will take slightly longer to defrost. If it’s at all possible, I generally remove the packaging and place the frozen meat directly in the hot water bath.

3. The volume & movement of the water. The more hot water you have, and whether or not you occasionally stir your defrosting meat can also impact length of defrost time. That’s because the frozen meat can form a “cool spot” in the water. So if you stir the water and meat every couple minutes, you’ll help displace the cool spot and keep your meat defrosting more quickly.

(photo by anotherpintplease)

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I am a passionate advocate for REAL FOOD -- food that's sustainable, organic, local, and traditionally-prepared according to the wisdom of our ancestors. I'm also an author and a nutrition educator. I enjoy playing in the rain, a good bottle of Caol Ila scotch, curling up with a page-turning book, sunbathing on my hammock, and watching my three children explore their world.

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102 Responses to How to Defrost Meat Quickly Without A Microwave
  1. Jan's Sushi Bar
    July 16, 2014 | 2:33 pm

    I’ve been defrosting meat in hot water for years now. Like you, we have a freezer in our garage for grass-fed beef, pastured pork, goat and lamb and any locally hunted venison I can get my hands on plus a chest freezer in the basement for pastured poultry – I’m not about to ruin any of it with a microwave. We’re still hale, healthy and hearty.

    Since you’re giving a Breville oven away, I have to endorse it – I love mine. The only thing we use the microwave for any more is to reheat leftovers and melt butter.

    • Frederica Huxley
      July 17, 2014 | 9:23 am

      I don’t use a microwave any more! We reheat all our leftovers in a steamer – quick, even heating, doesn’t dry out and you don’t kill the nutrition.

      • Mel
        July 17, 2014 | 11:58 am

        I’ve been frustrated with reheating leftovers, because it requires using my pots and pans and sometimes they’re not free or me to use without washing them. Unfortunately, I’ve had to resort to using our microwave, which I hate doing! So, what’s this about a steamer??

        • Holly
          July 21, 2014 | 1:04 pm

          Seriously? Wash a pot. Good grief. If you don’t want to wash an extra dish, eat out of the pot or pan you heated in!

          The microwave has taken our brains away. When we remodeled our kitchen I overheard one worker ask another, “If they don’t have a microwave, how will they reheat their food?” All this while they are installing a high end oven for me. Wow. My oven has a defrost setting and dehydrating setting which is nice if you have it. I also set my food out on the porch most days. Since we live in Florida, it thaws very fast.

          Using ziplock bags is also handy for defrosting.

      • Carri
        July 23, 2014 | 2:19 pm

        Frederica, can I ask you what this steamer thing is that you use? Is it a regular pot of hot water or something much different. I can’t imagine reheating food this way but would like to avoid my microwave as well. Thanks~

  2. Eric Umbarger
    July 16, 2014 | 3:13 pm

    The water doesn’t have to be hot, Alton Brown had an episode on Good Eats many years ago about how cold water can thaw stuff super fast.

    I don’t even mess with that though, I just flip a cast iron pan upside down and lay the meat on that. The thick metal absorbs the cold and the meat thaws in no time with no fuss.

    Though actually most the time I just pull out meat at lunch time and it is ready by dinner. No germaphobe here.

    • Kristen Michaelis
      July 16, 2014 | 3:21 pm

      You’re right, the water doesn’t have to be hot. But the hotter the water, the faster the defrost time.

      Room temperature water will defrost steaks in about 20 minutes, but hot water does the trick in just 10 minutes.

      • michaela
        July 17, 2014 | 10:15 am

        I feel like a note about food safety should be added. I know the idea is to thaw quickly to use quickly which can avoid time temp abuse.its important to note that the longer you expose meat to the temp danger zone the better breeding grounds for food born illness. If you thaw in hot water don’t get distracted and go take a hot bath yourself unless you want to upchuck that meat it later.

        • CM
          July 20, 2014 | 6:03 pm

          If you’re cooking your meat thoroughly, you don’t need to worry about safety. And even the time it takes to soak in the tub wouldn’t cause food born illnesses.

    • togwdog
      July 17, 2014 | 10:18 am

      Yep, that’s what I use, too. Just take your largest, heaviest cast iron skillet, turn it upside down and set the meat on it.

    • Katrina
      September 20, 2014 | 8:06 am

      Call me a noob or whatever. It’s the first time I heard of this method. Brilliant! It’s time to put my cast iron to work :)

  3. mrfreddy
    July 16, 2014 | 3:53 pm

    I use my Sous Vide Supreme to defrost meat all the time. Set it to 86 degrees and go do something else. 140 if I’m in a rush.

    You can do the same thing with a rice cooker or a slow cooker, btw. Just fill it with hot tap water and set it on low. If you dont even have one of those, hot tap water in a cooler will do the trick almost as good.

  4. amber
    July 16, 2014 | 4:38 pm

    I have been doing the same thing for a while . it boggles my mind that anyone would want to microwave their meat to defrost it. It gets those cooked edges….yuck. My one question-Do you really keep your sink clean enough to fill it with water and soak meat in it? Even when I clean my sink, I do not feel comfortable with this method. I also feel it uses a lot more water than necessary. I choose to use a stainless mixing bowl or a glass bread pan, depending on how much meat I am thawing. It seems safer than making sure the sink, the drain opening and the drain plug is sterile enough.

    • Kristen Michaelis
      July 16, 2014 | 7:57 pm

      Yes, I do. After all, I’m going to cook the meat after handling it.

      I can see using a mixing bowl. I think it would take longer, though, since you wouldn’t have a very large volume of water providing the thermal mass.

    • Lori
      July 17, 2014 | 10:05 am

      I always clean my sink then thaw meat, then clean again, this time using something to kill the germs. Since I am COOKING the meat, any germs that may have been left behind by cleaning will cook out of the meat and be killed! But I want my sink clean (germ-proofed) AFTER I thaw meat, especially chicken, so I do not cross-contaminate by inadvertently touching inside of sink (like when you place a dirty plate in there) and then something else. Cooking heat is high enough to kill germs.

    • Jess
      July 17, 2014 | 12:31 pm

      I personally don’t like removing the meat from the packaging to do this, as the moisture seems to change the texture just a bit. Unless something is on styrofoam, I just put it in wrapped as is. If it does have extra packaging, I’ll put it in a ziplock bag before putting it in sink (or large bowl, but a hot sink def works better!)

  5. chantelle
    July 16, 2014 | 9:05 pm

    I’ve always done this, microwaves freak me out now. Everything was microwaved growing up and I always thought meat was disgusting. Well not so, but when you microwave it and then char the life out of it, ick, gross.

  6. flyboy
    July 16, 2014 | 9:52 pm

    safer way is to thaw it in a bowl or other container with a continuous small stream of cold water in it. I’m a commercial cook, and this is how we thaw batches of steaks for the line cooks to use at dinnertime. we buy the meat from a good provider and thaw it in the sink with running cold water; for a handful of 8-12 oz. steaks it rarely takes more than 15 or 20 minutes. a couple of hours will suffice to thaw a whole shoulder clod. this way you avoid parcooking edges and thin spots, which will happen in the hot water, especially with chicken or fish.

    up to you, but I highly reccomend cold running water. even the food inspector likes this, she smiles when she finds us doing it this way — and she’s strict!

    • Lori
      July 17, 2014 | 10:11 am

      I’ve never had problems with foods partially cooking on edges and I’ve been using the sink/hot water method for 40+ years. The health inspector likes it because they are strict (overly so!) on everything since the government always goes over and beyond what constitutes food safety. I can say this with surety as I had an uncle (now deceased these past 7 years) who worked for the health department in Columbus, Ohio and he could drive me crazy on the holidays! As a child, my grandma would leave food out most of the day for ‘grazing’, and if I did not have my turkey under wraps and in the fridge within the two hour time period the government (hence the food police known as health inspectors)he would start harassing me about getting that ‘bird cold and safe’. I can assure everyone that I have NEVER been sick from grazing on food that has sat out at the holidays for more than two hours! :)

  7. cindy
    July 16, 2014 | 10:56 pm

    I have been doing this for years and always wondered if it was wrong! Thanks for clearing that up…I guess we haven’t just been “lucky” all this time ;). Microwave defrost is disgusting…

  8. Lina
    July 17, 2014 | 9:21 am

    I do this too, and it works like a dream! I thaw my meat in a large bowl though, for easier clean up, and I refresh the hot water and flip the meat halfway through the defrost time. It works great!

  9. Beth
    July 17, 2014 | 9:30 am

    We do something similar: put the frozen meat directly in zip-lock bag, remove all the air, and seal. Submerge in cool water. Super easy!

  10. Deanne Quarrie
    July 17, 2014 | 9:33 am

    I have been doing this for years. I also repackage all of my meat into portions of my choice. As a single woman, grocery store packaging doesn’t work. So I divide it all up into one meal packs. (unless I want leftovers!) Then defrosting is easy as pie in hot water.

  11. Laurie Smith
    July 17, 2014 | 9:33 am

    You don’t know about just placing it on a relatively thick metal slab, like an overturned skillet? Thaws fast at room temperature! Stainless steel, cast iron, aluminum, but the thicker the better. So much easier.

    • Kristen Michaelis
      July 17, 2014 | 12:12 pm

      I have tried this method using my cast iron skillet, but prefer the sink method. It’s just so much faster!

  12. Audrey
    July 17, 2014 | 9:35 am

    Can you tell me how you clean your kitchen sink so it is clean enough to put your meat directly into it without all the nasty sink germs. Before and after defrosting your meat. Thanks!

    • Kristen Michaelis
      July 17, 2014 | 2:30 pm

      I’ve always cleaned my sink like this:

      1. Hot, soapy water scrubbing it.
      2. Sprinkle baking soda over the surface and “polishing” it. Then rinse the baking soda off with hot water.
      3. Splashing vinegar on it and rubbing it around to give it shine.

  13. Laura Homan
    July 17, 2014 | 9:44 am

    I buy my grass-fed ground beef in five-pound packages and divide it up in zippered plastic bags, flattening it and squeezing out the air so it’s less than a half inch thick and it thaws super fast on warm water. Or I make hamburger patties about a quarter inch thick and I don’t need to the at all–just toss them still frozen on the flaming grill as they do at a certain fast-food chain.

  14. HealingForReal
    July 17, 2014 | 9:52 am

    I’ve been doing this for the past year or so since my husband decided he didn’t like the microwave. It works well except for with ground beef in tubes. We bought some grass-fed from a friend who raises beef and the processor packs the ground beef in tubes. The center can still be frozen after 20 minutes. Now that we’re basically microwave-free (we have a Breville and LOVE it!) I think next time I will ask that the ground beef be packaged differently or get it not frozen and pack it in flats myself.

    Also…it helps if you’re thawing something for the next day to NOT FORGET it and leave it over night. Oops.

  15. Lori
    July 17, 2014 | 10:01 am

    I’ve been defrosting meats this way (hot water) for over 40 years and what I find helpful is to run water as hot as possible, fill sink, allow meat to stand in water about 5 minutes, then repeat by emptying water and running fresh hot water. The coldness of the meat cools the water and it can take longer than I want for it to defrost. I’ve been known to change the water out up to 3 times total for the quickest results. I raised 8 kids and so I often had 8-10 pieces of meat to thaw which means it can take longer as there is more meat.
    This way does not work for hamburger!

  16. Ann
    July 17, 2014 | 10:04 am

    Add me to the list of hot/warm OR sometimes cool water for defrosting. I was probably the last person on the planet to even buy a microwave ($400+ back then for a good one) and then later, (after realizing I was only using it for heating water, quick baked potatoes when I didn’t plan ahead, etc.) I decided to follow my heart and quit using it for safety reasons.

  17. another Beth
    July 17, 2014 | 10:14 am

    I’d remove any plastic before using warm or hot water since plastics leach chemicals when heated.

    I do recall the Alton Brown episode mentioned above where he determined that cool running water tested the best. I’ve had good luck with this method.

    I also have heard that hot water from the tap has picked up sediment and metals that accumulate in water heaters, so if using the hot water method, I might use cold water that I’ve heated in a tea kettle (thought it’s an extra step).

    By the way, you can also put frozen meat into a slow cooker or roaster oven, not to thaw it but to cook it. This works well for roasts when you’ve forgotten to thaw it in advance. I know many people who’ve done this safely and effectively for years.

    • Claudia
      July 24, 2014 | 5:14 pm

      You really need to be careful doing this. I had a nearly new Crockpot slow cooker and the ceramic portion cracked while cooking a frozen roast. My new slow cooker says not to cook frozen foods in it, so I no longer do that.

  18. msdrpepper
    July 17, 2014 | 10:18 am

    Funny – my mom and I used the hot water in sink method for decades even when it was supposedly bad to do… And at some point, I learned also that placing frozen meat in a metal pan will also thaw faster. I wouldn’t know if the metal pan is faster than hot water, but when I lived in places with ceramic sinks, I put my frozen items in a metal pan (I basically only use cast iron or stainless steel) and put that in sink filled with hot water (so pan is surrounded by hot water, inside and out.). These days, my kitchen sink is stainless steel so it’s a matter of making sure sink is clean before I put my hot water and frozen meat or other items.

    • Kelly
      July 21, 2014 | 8:49 pm

      So, do you pat the meat dry? I’ve wondered how this (and also the cold thaw) works towards the tenderness amd also seasoning/spice/flavoring absorption of the meat? Thanks! :)

  19. Denise Goodwin
    July 17, 2014 | 10:32 am

    Putting meat into water, hot or cold, sounds revolting. Doesn’t the meat end up waterlogged? Is there anything wrong with wrapping your meat in alfoil or clingwrap, then submerging it in water?

    • Bob Snitchler
      July 17, 2014 | 11:55 am

      I am curious about this also. I don’t think it would be much of an issue for chicken, but for beef and pork how waterlogged does it get?

    • Kristen Michaelis
      July 17, 2014 | 12:09 pm

      No. Studies have shown that the meat actually loses less of its juices being defrosted this way (compared to being defrosted in the refrigerator) and taste tests show that eaters can’t tell a difference between the defrost methods once the meat’s been cooked.

  20. Tanya
    July 17, 2014 | 10:40 am

    I also thaw chicken in water in a bowl in the sink. Whole chickens are trickier b/c they’re so “thick”. For me, once it’s mostly thawed, I run hot water in the body cavity until I can remove the neck and giblets.

    I also thaw steaks, etc. on a flat skillet. Sometimes I even do that on the top of the stove while the oven is heating up and I need the sink for other food prep.

  21. Vicki
    July 17, 2014 | 10:56 am

    I use cool water to defrost mean – not hot or warm. It’s safer and limits the likelihood of bacterial growth – and it’s very quick.

  22. George
    July 17, 2014 | 11:58 am

    just a comment in general I find your blog fantastic, I am Grass fed beef producer in northern Ontario Canada and I cannot thank you enough for reiterating my process for the safe a beef friendly way of defrosting meat. THROW AWAY THAT DAMN MICROWAVE, thnx

  23. Beth
    July 17, 2014 | 12:04 pm

    Many times I’ll just stick it in the oven frozen and start cooking it… (any reason why I shouldn’t do that?) Otherwise I’ll use this method if I need it pliable. Thanks for giving us alternatives to the microwave :).

  24. Moriah Barnes via Facebook
    July 17, 2014 | 12:16 pm

    No…got rid of mine almost 2 years ago and don’t plan on ever going back.

  25. Roxanne Elise via Facebook
    July 17, 2014 | 12:20 pm

    I rarely use a microwave. Just occasionally to warm leftovers for lunch at work when I don’t have access to a stove/oven. I hate microwaves though. I defrost things by running under hot water.

  26. Corinna Nicole Dabling via Facebook
    July 17, 2014 | 12:23 pm

    Wait, people don’t generally use the hot water trick? I’ve done that for forever! Way easier.

  27. Monika Charters MacLean via Facebook
    July 17, 2014 | 12:25 pm

    I thought it was dangerous to defrost meat in hot-water? I tried doing that and was warned by several people not to because it was dangerous.

  28. Corey Jackson-Burgess via Facebook
    July 17, 2014 | 12:28 pm

    I’ve always done the water method! That’s what I learned from my parents growing up. I didn’t grow up with a microwave, then had one for 7 years after getting married. I convinced my hubby to get rid of the stupid thing when we moved because we didn’t use it a heck of a lot. Instead I bought a nice convection/toaster oven. I think in almost 2 months he has “complained” about not have a radiation box twice. :)

  29. Omar Ayyash via Facebook
    July 17, 2014 | 12:31 pm

    microwaves are nuking waste, toxic.

    • flow
      July 18, 2014 | 4:35 pm

      “Nukes” are high-energy particles (such as neutrons and protons) that affect radio-activity — ie, making you glow-in-the-dark.

      Microwaves are a particular frequency of radiowaves, which are not particles. They are not radioactive, and do not create radioactivity.

      So no, microwaves are not “nukes,” and generally speaking do not cause toxins, at least no more than any other defrosting method being discussed here. Whichever, you have to be careful with food handling, especially not letting warm food be exposed for hours.

      phasis

      -neil-

  30. Omar Ayyash via Facebook
    July 17, 2014 | 12:31 pm

    steaming, or just allowing it to thaw out under sunlight or whatever should work I think :P

  31. Faye Cheetara Debenham via Facebook
    July 17, 2014 | 12:31 pm

    Just how i do it with hot water only takes an hr or so

  32. Jill C
    July 17, 2014 | 12:32 pm

    Another great way to defrost meat quickly is to put it on something made of aluminum. If there is some sunshine around to keep the aluminum warm, that’s even better. I usually use an aluminum baking sheet, and either sunshine, or I place the tray over my warming burner on my stove, since I’m lucky enough to have one. This method works great for flat meats, like steaks, chicken breasts and pork chops.
    I have been defrosting meat in warm water, even whole chickens and larger pieces, for DECADES with never any ill effects.
    I have only ever gotten sick with commercially made food (once with a sandwich from Wal-mart, once from food at a Golden Corral), so while good habits are a good idea, spreading fear about germs needs a good dose of reality.

  33. Lee Harper via Facebook
    July 17, 2014 | 12:32 pm

    I use a small counter top fan. Keep food in plastic bag in front of the fan and usually 30 minutes fully defrosted.

    • flow
      July 18, 2014 | 4:38 pm

      Oooo, I like that.

      No water to spread bacteria around. Just a little desk fan to keep the room-temperature air flowing past the meat.

  34. Mel
    July 17, 2014 | 12:33 pm

    I’m also curious about safely defrosting a 20-25 lb. turkey…how should I do that? Can I safely do that in a sink full of hot water if I change it out often?

  35. Kelsey
    July 17, 2014 | 12:44 pm

    What do you do with ground beef wrapped in paper? We also buy grass fed beef and have a stockpile in our freezer. I use the hot water method for all my cuts of meat, but what do you do with the ground meat?

    • Kristen Michaelis
      July 17, 2014 | 1:38 pm

      The same thing. If it’s packaged to be flat (say about an inch thick), it defrosts rather quickly this way (maybe 10 minutes). If it’s packaged in the round, it takes about a half hour and I usually have to replace the hot water once.

  36. Christine Manes via Facebook
    July 17, 2014 | 1:01 pm

    Scott Anderson

  37. Christine Manes via Facebook
    July 17, 2014 | 1:03 pm

    Monika Charters MacLean depends on how you do it… very hot water is ok. But room temp or below boil.. yes

  38. Elvia Rascon
    July 17, 2014 | 1:34 pm

    Love it, because this is how i unfrost meat! the best and easiet way to!

  39. Ericca Littleton Souther via Facebook
    July 17, 2014 | 1:42 pm

    Yes, we do this method as well.

  40. Emilie Porto Lobnitz via Facebook
    July 17, 2014 | 1:47 pm

    I always defrost in cold water. I’ve never heard of using hot. Gonna look into this now. Thanks :)

  41. Regina Marie Petersen via Facebook
    July 17, 2014 | 2:01 pm

    I usually just set it out in the morning and then we cook it in the afternoon for our supper. Used a microwave for a bit when I was growing up, but we didn’t always have one. Found out they were/are bad and decided to never have one. Got married and registered for a toaster oven :D Been pretty satisfied with that for heating up leftovers and using water to thaw things out quickly.

  42. Jeanette
    July 17, 2014 | 2:26 pm

    I’ve been defrosting this way forever, my mother taught me this trick & I also got rid of my microwave ages ago. I find it works very quickly.

    I also have this exact Breville toaster oven and in my opinion, it is the best. It has many smart settings, heats quickly and perfectly, and even looks beautiful on my counter.

  43. Karen
    July 17, 2014 | 2:29 pm

    I once thawed a 22 pound turkey overnight in the bathtub, scrubbed clean, of course…I changed the water three times. That’s what I get for forgetting, lol. Has anyone else had to make a half frozen turkey “give birth” to it’s own giblets? That’s a barrel of monkeys.

  44. Andrew G.
    July 17, 2014 | 2:32 pm

    Hey Kristen,
    Your method sounds great, but I have a question. Most people will say that you can’t use hot water for defrosting meat because it creates the right temperatures for bacteria to flourish on the surface of the meat. In the article, you said, “That’s simply not true.” But how did you come to that conclusion? If I can’t explain the reasoning to my family, they won’t eat the meat that I defrost in warm water.

    I really enjoy your blog, so I’m not trying to challenge you. I’m just seeking some clarification.

  45. Kelly
    July 17, 2014 | 2:32 pm

    We also heat the oven to 200 then turn it OFF and set a chunk of frozen meat inside. It will thaw within about five minutes. :)

  46. Lauren
    July 17, 2014 | 2:52 pm

    I use a stainless jelly roll pan..the raised sides are handy for any moisture coming off the meat. Unwrap meat and place on the pan. I am always suprised how quickly meat will defrost this way.

  47. Lois Norris via Facebook
    July 17, 2014 | 3:13 pm

    We have done it this way my whole life.

  48. Marisol Bryan ヅ via Facebook
    July 17, 2014 | 4:18 pm

    I do the same with my turkey. It will only take a couple of hours to have it ready and I use tap water

  49. Kelli Johnson
    July 17, 2014 | 5:19 pm

    Can I put a package of ground beef in a sealed ziploc and defrost it this way?

  50. Lois Rosenberry
    July 17, 2014 | 6:05 pm

    A friend recently told me that using cold water works just as fast or even faster than warm water. I tried it and I agree. Try it!

  51. Amy B.
    July 17, 2014 | 6:16 pm

    Use the cold water bath with fish or you will cook it…!

  52. Jennifer Franklin Lind via Facebook
    July 17, 2014 | 6:18 pm

    I have done this for years too! Learned it from my hubby ;)

  53. Molly
    July 17, 2014 | 8:31 pm

    Wow, $3/lb! I live in your area and am on the hunt for cheap grass fed meat in bulk. Would you be willing to disclose your sources?

  54. Lindy's Page via Facebook
    July 17, 2014 | 8:42 pm

    I have always defrosted meat this way since I was a child, so did my mother. I will also, if making a soup, stew, chili, curry, etc. will just put my frozen meat in the pot with a little water and a lid. Thaws and cooks in no time.

  55. Monica Antongiorgi via Facebook
    July 17, 2014 | 9:21 pm

    I also thought using cold water was safer especially since I separate the meat into individual baggies so I wouldn’t want to use screaming hot water with the plastic bags

  56. Molly Woodworth via Facebook
    July 17, 2014 | 9:52 pm

    Yes, but to defrost meat I just hang it out in the fridge for a day or two.

  57. Tannis Fong via Facebook
    July 17, 2014 | 10:56 pm

    I always use this method.

  58. stephen ansell
    July 17, 2014 | 11:24 pm

    I learned to do that trick in 1968 when i worked in the meat department at a national chained grocery in canada. We were told to defrost frozen chickens and turkeys in a stainless steel tub sink,filled with cold water. The birds defrosted in about 5 hours and then-(get this), were sold as fresh.

  59. Laura
    July 17, 2014 | 11:29 pm

    I usually remember to put meat in the fridge to thaw because I’m planning several meals each week so it’s not much thought for me. The other method I use a lot is simply cooking the meat frozen. Works great for chicken in pieces and lamb chops etc. I really wouldn’t use the sink method myself for 2 reasons. I don’t have a dishwasher and I usually need my sink during the thawing process. And two I feel bad about wasting one or more sinkfuls of water when we in CA are experiencing a serious drought. If I do use the water method I will use my biggest stock pot and put hot or cold water in it. Then use the water to water plants after the thawing is done.

  60. Carol Federoff
    July 18, 2014 | 5:01 am

    I had no idea anyone considered this unsafe. I do this all the time. :)

  61. Joan McDaniel
    July 18, 2014 | 6:43 am

    Great info. I think I already knew that but had simply forgotten how to defrost meat. I may of forgotten about hot water but I never knew the temp.

  62. Karen Barger via Facebook
    July 18, 2014 | 11:31 am

    I do this with almost every piece of meat I cook. Mostly I get home from work and have to figure out what’s for dinner and pull from the freezer. Gotta get me some organized so I don’t have to do it so much!

  63. Tina Malone
    July 19, 2014 | 10:27 am

    I went down the anti-microwave road for awhile but did some research and found out it’s unwarranted. Just something the real foodies have latched on to – and I consider myself a real foodie. Chris Kresser, who I respect a great deal, did a nice summary in an interview.Microwaves are not only safe, the nutritional value of the food isn’t degraded as much. If you would like to read his comments, go to this site and the info on microwaves is slight more than halfway down the transcript of the interview. If you don’t want to use a microwave for personal reasons, that’s fine. If you’re not using a microwave because the real foodies are telling you not to, then you need to do your own research: http://chriskresser.com/solutions-for-snoring-overactive-bladder-and-balancing-goitrogens-in-your-diet

    • Tina Malone
      July 19, 2014 | 10:30 am

      Also, as the interview points out, using your cell phone each day is significantly more dangerous than the microwave! Are you willing to give up your cell phone?

    • Kristen Michaelis
      July 19, 2014 | 10:58 am

      I agree that microwaves are safe. I just dislike how they heat SO UNEVENLY. Every time. No matter what the settings you use. They’re pretty much a cook’s worst nightmare.

      • Tina Malone
        July 19, 2014 | 3:26 pm

        I agree. I really don’t use my microwave to cook. But it’s great at reheating real food leftovers! I also purchased a microwave/convection oven combo and I love it. I use the convection oven more than the microwave.

  64. Omar Ayyash via Facebook
    July 19, 2014 | 6:50 pm

    doesn’t frozen burn the meat, or cook it? I know if fire heats up, so does cold. I know freezing destroys, the chemical patterns and makeup in the foods by natural senses.

  65. Omar Ayyash via Facebook
    July 19, 2014 | 6:52 pm

    Yes, freezing, destabilizes the patterns and makeup to be paired up differently. I get sick from frozen foods, and I noticed I feel better from fresh foods the most and they taste better. You can tell by taste if foods are good for you or not. Microwaving changes the flavors so you know it changes.

  66. Omar Ayyash via Facebook
    July 19, 2014 | 6:53 pm

    Microwaves make food and anything in the microwave nuclear waste and is disastrous for the earth.

  67. Ana
    July 21, 2014 | 9:49 am

    I’ve been doing this my whole life. Either let it sit or open the faucet and have a steady stream of water defrost it. Sometimes in a package, sometimes without. By the time I prepped other food ( chop onions etc) my meat is ready.
    I also don’t do nothing special when cleaning the sink. I just wash it. Never had any problems with food borne illnesses.

  68. mdv
    July 21, 2014 | 11:07 am

    I hate the microwave, too, but I find myself trying to be more careful about how much water I am wasting in general, as well. Any thoughts about how to be this efficient and also environmentally conscious? My initial thought is that I could use the water to, say, water plants, or something like that?

  69. Rose
    July 21, 2014 | 3:26 pm

    Thank you so much for this informative, but not new information. We’ve known this for years and it has been passed from generation to generation. That’s why it’s so important to listen to your mother and grandmother. I always stuck with my mother in the kitchen because she always put me to work. Now I understand and appreciate why, so she could pass what she learned from her mother to me and my sister. Thank you mom, from above. Thank you for taking the time and making sure I learned from the very best.

  70. Carri
    July 23, 2014 | 2:33 pm

    I too have been defrosting my meat in hot water for years. Isn’t that how our Mother’s and Grandmothers did it?! I usually take the meat out of the cellophane pkg and put it in a zip lock bag. I push the bag down into the water and let the water push all the air out of the bag, THEN I zip it closed. It sinks to the bottom and works much better that way. Oh how I wish I could afford to buy grass fed meat all the time. I’ve thought about getting a freezer but just can’t afford to buy the quality kind of meat to put in it. And with food getting more expensive and our income NOT increasing it just seems impossible. I cringe when I read about what they are feeding our animals (GMO’s etc.) and we are eating them! IM’ very perplexed about what to do. I know what the “Ideal” is but can’t afford it.

  71. Amber
    July 24, 2014 | 8:07 pm

    If you are defrosting in a package, don’t forget to reuse the water to water your plants!

  72. Cheryl Cope
    July 27, 2014 | 12:30 pm

    I discovered this method by myself years ago…do not remember how…but it works for me!

  73. Lisa F.
    July 29, 2014 | 3:44 pm

    I’ve been cooking frozen meats while they are still frozen! Found out it works one desperate evening, and we have been doing this for a long time now. Just cook the way you always do. You add some extra cooking time. I’ve done this with every thing except fish,(I don’t freeze seafood!).One extra bonus: there isn’t any watery taste!

  74. Trisha
    July 31, 2014 | 10:18 pm

    Just like everyone else I’ve heard it’s bad to defrost meat in hot water. But my mom has always done it that way and so have I. My family and I have never gotten dick from it.

  75. Debbie
    August 4, 2014 | 10:51 pm

    Curiosity question: Can you use this same hot water method for turkey at Thanksgiving time?

    Thanks for the post! I had never heard of such a thing. :)

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Who Am I?

My name is Kristen Michaelis. I'm a nutrition educator, author, and mother of three. I adore hats, happy skirts, horizons full of storm clouds, the full-bodied feel of wind as I ride motorcylces, reading in my hammock, and a hearty shot of Caol Ila scotch. I'm also a rebel with a cause.