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How To Defrost Steak

Knowing how to defrost steak the right way is all it takes to enjoy a delicious chunk of meat at dinner, rather than having to run to the bathroom constantly because you are suffering from food poisoning. 

If you do not want to experience the latter, then it is time to listen up! 

Having made the most of freezing steak and learning how to defrost it properly, I have been able to keep the steak at its best a lot longer to enjoy at a specific time.

Defrosting steak the wrong way can have some consequences that, trust me, you will not want to experience.

How Should You Defrost Steak?

Sometimes when steak is bought for a delicious meal, life can get in the way.

Perhaps that dinner is no longer going ahead (you have opted for takeout instead), or maybe you just need the steak for the weekend but today was the only spare time you had to buy it?

Whatever the reason, freezing steak is a helpful thing to do. It means that we can keep the steak in good condition, and use it at a later date.

However, you might just think that placing it on the countertop and leaving it to thaw is the best way to go about it. Unfortunately, while it might be a go-to, you are more likely to experience food poisoning this way.

So, how should you defrost steak?

One of the simplest ways is by placing it in the refrigerator overnight. It needs to be at a temperature that is 39 degrees (4 degrees Celsius) or below.

While this might take longer than you expected, it ensures that the steak stays bacteria free and safe to eat. 

This is because keeping it at a low temperature, but one that will not freeze it, allows the prevention of bacteria forming. Also, it means that the steak will keep hold of its tenderness and overall taste.

Why Is It Important To Defrost Steak Properly?

If you do not defrost the steak properly, then you risk suffering from food poisoning, or the steak not tasting like it should, even though it is edible. The texture of the steak can change too, making it appear chewier. 

Giving the steak enough time to defrost in a controlled environment will make sure your digestive system is very thankful. 

However, how long you actually leave it for also depends on the thickness of the steak.

While overnight might do a good job for a thinner cut, if it is particularly thick, you might need to wait longer. For this reason, you will need to plan ahead if you need the steak for a specific occasion. 

At the very least, you should leave the steak to thaw out for around 12 hours. Even so, to allow it to thaw completely, wait for 18 to 24 hours before cooking it. 

If the steak is super thick, then there is a chance you might need 30 hours for it to defrost thoroughly. You can try to cook your steak from frozen (even Wagyu!) but don’t be surprised if the results are not what you are looking for.

How To Know A Steak Is Fully Defrosted?

How To Know A Steak Is Fully Defrosted?

Once 12 hours have passed, it is worth checking on the steak to see if it has thawed out yet. A thin steak might be ready, so it is always worth giving it a go.

Firstly, give the steak a poke. The meat should feel firm to the touch with a subtle give. Secondly, there should be no ice surrounding or on the steak. 

If you are still unsure, use a meat thermometer on the thickest area of the steak. If you see that it is 39 degrees or under, then the steak is ready to be cooked with.

If the steak is 41 degrees or above, then the steak is too warm and there is a good chance that you need to turn down the temperature in the fridge.

How Should You Not Defrost Steak?

You may be tempted to just place the frozen steak on a countertop and let the room temperature defrost it, but this one one of the worst things you can do.

The warmer environment will attract bacteria to form, causing the steak to potentially harm you.

If you are going to leave it for hours like this, you might as well just place it inside the cooler refrigerator instead. While it will take hours to defrost, it will be much safer to consume.

Another thing you might be tempted to try is putting the steak in the microwave using its built-in defrost function.

While it will not harm you to eat a steak which has been defrosted in the microwave, it may ruin the steak.

A steak is very sensitive to sudden temperature changes. This means that the microwave may cause the texture or taste to become spoiled, and the juices may disappear leaving the meat dryer than the saharan desert. 

However, there is a way to do this method without ruining the steak if you are short on time. This is by only using the microwave to defrost the steak, rather than to cook it.

Spending around 5 to 10 minutes defrosting it should be plenty of time, but consider longer if the steak is thick. 

Also, always check on the steak. If the allotted defrosting time has not passed but it seems to be ready to cook, then remove it from the microwave. 

Final Thoughts

When it comes to defrosting steak, you will want to leave it in the fridge to allow enough time for it to defrost properly and at the right temperature.

If defrosted wrong, the steak can cause you to become ill due to a buildup of bacteria, but also it can taste different, be super dry, or have an odd texture.

Hopefully this quick guide will help you to defrost a steak properly.

Want to learn more? Read all my articles about wagyu steaks and more



Richard is the founder of SteakBuff. He manages the team of expert writers on the site and is a foodie who loves eating steaks

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