Thawing Meats

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

  • About
Frozen meats are usually thawed before cooking. The simplest method—leaving the meat on the kitchen counter—is neither safe nor efficient. The surface can rise to microbe-friendly temperatures long before the interior thaws, and air transfers heat to the meat very slowly, at about one-twentieth the rate that water does. A much faster and safer method is to immerse the wrapped meat in a bath of ice water, which keeps the surface safely cold, but still transfers heat into the meat efficiently. If the piece of meat is too large for a water bath, or isn’t needed right away, then it’s also safe to thaw it in the refrigerator. But cold air is an especially inefficient purveyor of warmth, so it can take days for a large roast to thaw.