how long to defrost ground beef in fridge

In the refrigerator, ground beef, stew meat, and steaks may thaw within a day. Bone-in parts and whole roasts may take 2 days or longer. Once the raw ground beef thaws, it will be safe in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days. All other cuts of beef can be refrigerated safely for 3 to 5 additional days before cooking.

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.

What’s the best way to thaw ground beef?

Just pick one of the methods below next time you need to thaw frozen ground beef!

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.

Thawing Ground Beef in the Microwave

“Thawing in the microwave is best if you need a fast thaw time,” Saunier says. First, remove all store packaging, because its typically not heat resistant, says Brigman. Then place the beef in a microwave-safe container and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Next, select the defrost feature on the microwave or manually set it to 30 percent power. “If your microwave does not rotate automatically, rotate the container halfway through the defrosting process,” she says. You should also check the instruction manual for your microwave, which provides information on the proper settings for thawing.

When thawing ground beef in the microwave, Saunier stresses that the ground beef should be cooked immediately because some areas may start the cooking process during the thawing. “This brings parts of the food closer to temperatures at which bacteria multiply rapidly,” she says. Additionally, she notes that you should wash your hands with soap and water before and after handling raw ground beef to reduce the risk of food poisoning.

In the refrigerator, ground beef, stew meat, and steaks may thaw within a day. Bone-in parts and whole roasts may take 2 days or longer. Once the raw ground beef thaws, it will be safe in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days. All other cuts of beef can be refrigerated safely for 3 to 5 additional days before cooking.

FAQ

Does ground beef thaw faster in cold or 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.

Can you mix fridge thawing and cold water thawing?

*Chef’s tip: If time is limited, you can combine the refrigerator and cold water methods. Thaw the turkey in the refrigerator for two days and finish defrosting it in the sink with cold water on Thanksgiving morning.

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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