can i thaw ground beef in hot water

Keeping the water running can be wasteful, so placing frozen ground beef in a bowl of cold water is effective. Change the water about every 30 minutes and most products will be thawed in just a few hours. Never use warm water to thaw meat, as it provides a perfect environment for bacteria to grow.

There are a few methods, and the one you choose will probably come down to how much time you have.

It has happened to all of us: Its 5 p.m. and you just realized you forgot to defrost the ground beef you need for tonights dinner. This doesnt mean you need to keep it in the freezer and save it for a different day—you can still get the meal you planned on the table without waiting hours for the meat to defrost. There are a few different thawing methods you can choose from based on how much time you have before you need to start cooking: Ground beef can be thawed in the refrigerator, in cold water, and even in the microwave.

Defrost in Hot Water

Defrosting ground beef in hot water is the second quickest method, it is mostly hands off, and it defrosts the meat fairly evenly (or, at least, it doesn’t cook any of the meat while other parts are still frozen). This is totally my favorite method!

While historically frowned upon, recent studies have found that it is safe to defrost meat in hot water if we follow certain rules. This method can only be used with smaller amounts of meat, so that it only takes a short amount of time and there’s not a risk of the growth of harmful bacteria. For ground beef, 1 to 1 and 1/3 pounds as it comes packaged is fine. If you buy a bigger package of meat, package them into one pound packets before freezing, if you’re planning to use this method.

To defrost in hot water, you’ll fill your sink or a large pot with hot tap water. Sealed in a zip-top bag, submerge the ground beef into the water. It can be helpful to use a heavy plate or pot to keep it submerged and surrounded by water. Every 5 minutes or so, check on the meat and break it up some. (Unlike with the microwave, you don’t need to remove any.) Within 30 minutes, you’ll have defrosted ground beef ready to go!

You should cook ground beef that is defrosted using this method immediately.

Defrost In Cold Water

Defrosting ground beef in cold tap water is the second slowest method, and it also results in evenly defrosted meat. This method is mostly hands-off. It works best if the meat no longer has its original packaging and has been transferred to a zip-top bag.

To defrost ground beef in cold water, the ground beef needs to be in a securely sealed zip-top bag, whether the meat is still in the original packaging or not. This is so that no water gets to the beef. So start by putting the meat (or the meat and its packaging if the packaging is frozen to it) in a zip-top bag, if it isn’t already.

Fill your kitchen sink or a large bowl with cold water and add the meat in its bag. If the original packaging was frozen to the meat, you can open the zip-top bag periodically to see if you’re able to remove the frozen packaging. Once you do, the temperature of the water can get closer to the meat and it will defrost more quickly.

This defrosting method takes about an hour for a pound of ground beef, so it requires a little bit of thinking ahead. It is hands off if you don’t have to worry about the packaging.

Thawing Ground Beef in the Refrigerator

While it might not be the way to go if you need the meat for tonights dinner, if you have enough time for this method, defrosting ground beef in the refrigerator is the way to go. “Thawing ground beef in the refrigerator is our preferred method for safe thawing,” says Britanny Saunier, executive director of Partnership for Food Safety Education. According to Saunier, this method gives you better control of the temperature and avoids the danger zone—the temperature at which bacteria multiply rapidly, which is between 40 and 140 degrees.

The first step is to set your refrigerator to 40 degrees or below as measured by an appliance thermometer. Place the ground beef, still in its packaging, on a tray with a lip or in a container that can capture any juices as it thaws. Next, Saunier says to put the ground beef on the bottom shelf of your refrigerator to prevent any runaway juices from dripping on other raw products, which can cross-contaminate your food.

Keeping the water running can be wasteful, so placing frozen ground beef in a bowl of cold water is effective. Change the water about every 30 minutes and most products will be thawed in just a few hours. Never use warm water to thaw meat, as it provides a perfect environment for bacteria to grow.

FAQ

Is it safe to thaw beef in hot water?

No, meat and poultry should not be thawed in hot water. They must be kept at a safe temperature during thawing. For more information on thawing see our fact sheet The Big Thaw.

Is it better to defrost with hot or cold water?

So, instead of using warm water to thaw your food in a pinch, the USDA says the safest way is to put your food inside of a leakproof, plastic bag and submerge it under cold water.

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