Ground beef is one of the most popular meats chosen for dinner. When it comes to defrosting frozen ground beef, you have three safe options — and one method you need to avoid.
Defrost ground beef in the refrigerator
This is the easiest method to defrost ground beef – but it also takes the longest, so you need to plan ahead.
· Keep frozen ground beef in its original package, covered, and placed on a plate or tray to prevent ground beef juice from dripping onto other foods.
· Place frozen ground beef in the refrigerator – make sure your refrigerator temperature is set at 40°F or lower.
· You will need about 24 hours for each pound of frozen ground beef that you plan to defrost in the refrigerator.
Here’s how long it takes to defrost ground beef in the refrigerator (approximately):
-Half a pound: 12 hours
-1 pound: 24 hours
-1.5 pounds: 1 day plus 12 hours
-2 pounds: 2 full days
Do you have to cook frozen ground beef right after it is defrosted? No – as long as the ground beef has been defrosted in the refrigerator. Ground beef thawed in the refrigerator can be kept for an additional 1 to 2 days in the refrigerator before cooking.
Another plus of defrosting ground beef in the refrigerator: If your plans change and you decide not to cook ground beef anymore, you can safely refreeze thawed ground beef in within 1 to 2 days (although there may be a loss of quality).
Thaw ground beef in cold water
You can defrost frozen ground beef much faster in cold water. But compared to defrosting in the refrigerator, this process will require a lot more attention from you.
· Make sure frozen ground beef is in leak-proof packaging or plastic bags.
To defrost ground beef, dip the bag in cold tap water – never use warm or hot water, as that can cause the outer layer of the food to heat up to a temperature where harmful bacteria start multiply.
Change the water every 30 minutes, to make sure it stays cold enough.
Using this defrosting method, you should estimate a defrosting time of about 60 minutes per pound of ground beef.
Here is the time to defrost ground beef in cold water (approximately):
- Half a pound: 30 minutes
-1 pound: 1 hour
-1.5 pounds: 90 minutes
-2 pounds: 2 hours
If you used the cold water method to defrost your ground beef, you will need to cook the ground beef as soon as it is completely defrosted.
You should not refreeze raw ground beef that has been thawed in cold water. However, once the ground beef is cooked, you can refreeze it if you wish.
Defrost ground beef in the microwave
The fastest way to defrost ground beef is in the microwave.
· Check your microwave owner’s manual for minutes per pound and power level to use for defrosting.
· Remove all external packages.
· Place on a microwave-safe dish to catch any juices that may leak.
If you defrost ground beef in the microwave, you need to cook it immediately after defrosting.
How not to defrost frozen ground beef
You should never defrost frozen ground beef on the counter at room temperature or in hot water. By either method, the outer layer of ground beef can stay between the bacterial breeding temperatures of 40°F and 140°F for too long to be safe.