Food & Grocery

How to Defrost Ground Beef – Some Methods to Thaw Beef Safely

How to defrost ground beef

Imagine when you are ready to bake a burger for an important party, but the solid brick of ground beef in the freezer is against you. Do not worry, there are quick, safe ways to thaw that frozen chunk of beef. If you can delay the start of a meal, the best way to defrost ground beef is in the refrigerator. However, if you still want to get the party started on time, a microwave and a bowl of cold water are quick and effective ways to defrost. If you do not know how to defrost ground beef, read on for the rest of the article.

How to Defrost Ground Beef in the Fridge

This method of defrosting is the one that takes the longest but it is considered the safest. This method is simple to implement and helps the meat to be defrosted evenly. For this method, to be able to defrost a pound of beef, you may have to wait up to 24 hours.

With the beef still in the zip top bag or in its original packaging, start by removing the meat from the freezer and placing it in a large serving plate or food storage container. Then put it in the refrigerator. When you can plan ahead, defrost in the fridge is a great method as it is very convenient.

defrost ground beef in the fridge

Note that the colder your refrigerator is, the longer it will take to defrost ground beef. For example, ground beef will defrost faster at 40°F (4°C) than when kept at 35°F (2°C).

As mentioned above, this is the slowest method. However, it is also the safest because ground beef is kept at a steady cold temperature. When you choose this method, you can keep the beef in the refrigerator for an additional 24 to 48 hours after thawing.

You can also refreeze ground beef. If you do not use up all the ground beef, return the rest to the freezer within 24 to 48 hours of defrosting.

Defrost Ground Beef in Cold Water

Thawing beef in cold water is the second slowest method after the above method. It also helps the beef to be defrosted evenly and efficiently. The method works best if the beef is out of its original packaging, and has been transferred to a zip top bag.

Defrost ground beef in cold water

To defrost beef in cold water, it needs to be in a securely sealed zip top bag. As a result, the water cannot penetrate the beef. So put the beef in a zip top bag, if it has not already.

With this defrosting method, a package of ground beef that is 3 to 4 pounds can take 2-3 hours to thaw. So you will have to think a bit before proceeding.

You should change the flax water every 30 minutes to keep your beef out of the “Danger Zone” and safe for you. The “danger zone” is a temperature range of 40 to 140°F. Once in this temperature range, foodborne illness causing bacteria thrive, and they can double their numbers within 20 minutes.

You make sure the water stays cool by continuing to add 1-2 ice cubes if your water is too warm.

If you choose this method, you need to use ground beef within 2 hours to prevent bacteria from growing. If you plan to use it after more than 2 hours, put it in the refrigerator for that period of time after it is defrosted.

Also to prevent bacteria growth, do not refreeze ground beef that you have defrosted in cold water. If you cannot use it after defrosting, you should cook it before freezing it again.

Defrost Ground Beef in the Microwave

For this method, do not defrost ground beef in the package to ensure it is safe in the microwave. Defrosting ground beef in the microwave is considered a quick method. Therefore, you can do it right before starting dinner.

It may not be easy to remove ground beef that is in the frozen state from the package. It is best to place the beef in a resealable plastic bag and zip it closed. Rinse the tray side of the beef under cold running water until you can remove the beef.

Defrost ground beef in the microwave

After removing the package, place the beef in a glass dish to prevent any spills from defrosted juice. Do not forget to cover the dish with another dish (or a lid).

Set the microwave to 50% power to help prevent the meat from beginning to cook. This method defrosts 3 minutes for every 1 pound (450 g) of ground beef. Some microwave ovens have a specific defrost mode that automatically calculates the time as well as the power percentage.

You need to check the ground beef every 45 seconds. Although most microwave ovens have a continuously rotating turntable inside, when defrosting ground beef using this method, it tends to defrost unevenly. In addition, you should also flip it every 45 seconds.

You should use your ground beef immediately after defrosting it in the microwave. Specifically, because it has warm spots where bacteria can grow, you should use it within 2 hours to be safe. If you plan to wait that long, please put it in the fridge.

Do not attempt to refreeze this cashew raw ground beef. Instead, cook the beef and freeze it later.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. If ground beef smells sour after thawing, what should I do?

You should check the expiration date or check its color. There should be no sour smell if you have handled everything properly. To be on the safe side, I recommend you throw it away.

2. Can you defrost ground beef while it Is still on the package?

Yes, except for the microwave defrost method field.

3. What is the way to know my beef is good?

Normally, your beef looks good and does not smell, it is good. Also, if it is fresh before freezing, it is good too.

4. Should I lower the refrigerator temperature to defrost ground beef faster?

Absolutely not! Everything else in your refrigerator will be adversely affected. Constantly raising and lowering the refrigerator temperature also consumes energy.

5. Can I defrost ground beef in cold water overnight?

No, your ground beef will be contaminated with harmful bacteria. You should put it in the fridge.


In general, defrosting beef in the refrigerator evenly thaws the beef. Additionally, it keeps the beef out of the “Danger Zone” and you do not need to use the beef right away. So it is clearly the best way. But if you are forgetful, the other methods are more suitable for you.

Emily Baber

With a professional background that ranges from booking concerts to conserving wildlife, Emily brings a diverse skill set and unconventional creativity to Spice. Her alignment with our mission and values goes back to her childhood and she energizes our message with conviction and fervor. She holds a degree in Spanish from The College of Wooster and has done coursework in Conservation Psychology.

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *