Keeping a supply of meat in the freezer can be essential for busy families, but even the most organized cooks might forget to thaw meat for that night's dinner. Zapping frozen meat in a microwave would seem to be a good solution, but it can result in cooking the meat on the inside while still leaving it partially frozen on the outside. Several other methods allow you to safely thaw meat that you plan to cook right away.
The ideal method to defrost meat is to leave it in the refrigerator overnight, according to the USDA. Thawing in the refrigerator is best way to retain the quality of the food. The amount of time it takes to thaw meat depends on the type and quantity of meat. Allow at least 24 hours for most meat.
Submerge the frozen meat in a cold water bath. Fill a bowl with cold -- not warm -- water and place the package of frozen meat in it. Make sure the meat is completely covered with water, and change the water every half hour or so. Do not use warm water, which may encourage bacterial growth.
Cook meats in their frozen state. Allow at least 50 percent more time than it would take to cook thawed meat.
Meat or poultry that has been in the freezer too long won't spoil, but its color, texture and taste may change.
When you freeze meat or poultry, divide it into small packages. Smaller portions will thaw more quickly than large ones.
Never defrost meat or poultry at room temperature or in hot water. This can lead to contamination.