how long defrost ground beef

It takes about 24 hours to fully thaw one pound of ground beef in the refrigerator, but if your beef is in smaller frozen batches it will defrost faster. Be sure to place the package on a plate to catch any drippings or juice that sneaks out as the meat defrosts.

Its a busy weeknight and youre in a rush to get dinner on the table. You gather all of your ingredients only to realize you forgot to thaw the most important one—the ground beef! Weve all been there. But dont throw up your hands and head to the drive-thru; thawing ground beef is easy, and it doesnt have to take hours.

With so many ways to spin it, ground beef is the ultimate meal-saver to keep stocked in your freezer. Not only is it easy on the grocery budget, it stars in so many favorite family meals from burgers and ground beef casseroles to Mexican recipes of every kind. It also hearties up pasta dishes, like baked ziti (a favorite in the Drummond household) and Ree Drummonds spaghetti and meatballs. But when it comes to defrosting ground beef, its important to do it the right way. The USDA recommends three different methods for thawing ground beef: in the refrigerator, in the microwave, or in cold water, so no matter if you only have a few minutes to spare or remember to plan ahead, theres a method for you. Read on for when and how to try these thawing tricks.

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.

How to defrost in the refrigerator:

According to the USDA, this is the safest method for thawing ground beef, and if you plan ahead, its also the easiest! Keeping the meat cold while it defrosts prevents any harmful bacteria from growing. Be sure your refrigerator is set to below 40 degrees and place your ground meat—in its packaging or sealed in a zip-top bag—on a plate or in a dish with sides to catch any drips. Place the dish on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator (the coldest part) and allow it to thaw. Cook the meat within one or two days of defrosting. With this method, as long as the meat never gets above 40 degrees, you can even refreeze it within a few days if needed.

How to defrost using cold water:

Quicker than thawing in the refrigerator but not as quick as using a microwave, this method may take some babysitting, but it works like a charm. To start, make sure the beef is in a watertight, zip-top bag. Next, place the bag in a large bowl and pour cold water over it so that the meat is submerged. Youll want to change the water every 30 minutes until the meat is thawed. With this method, be sure to cook the meat immediately and never try to refreeze it.

It takes about 24 hours to fully thaw one pound of ground beef in the refrigerator, but if your beef is in smaller frozen batches it will defrost faster. Be sure to place the package on a plate to catch any drippings or juice that sneaks out as the meat defrosts.

FAQ

How long to leave ground beef out to thaw?

Leaving frozen ground beef out for more than 2 hours is unsafe. Additionally, you can’t refreeze the ground beef after leaving it out.

How long does it take to defrost meat at room temperature?

Perishable foods should never be thawed on the counter, or in hot water and must not be left at room temperature for more than two hours.

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