How to Defrost Steak (3 Easy Methods)

If you’re wondering how you can defrost steak, you’re in the right place!

In this guide, you’ll learn:

  • What supplies you’ll need
  • 3 different methods of defrosting steak
  • And much more!

What You Need to Know About Defrosting Steak

Steak is one of the most delicious and easy meals on the market. But when you buy your meat in bulk, you might find it difficult to thaw it in time for cooking. So how can you defrost meat fast?

The best way to defrost steak is by placing it in the fridge 24-36 hours before cooking. If it is too late for that method, you can also defrost steak by submerging it in cold water, or putting it in the microwave on the defrost setting in a pinch. You can also cook your steaks while frozen.

Want to learn more about all the steak defrosting methods? Let’s look at some tips and tricks for defrosting steak you can use to make your dinner delicious!

Supplies You’ll Need for Defrosting Steak

There are a few different methods to defrost steak, and each one requires different supplies.

In general, you’ll need:

  • Cutting Board and a Sharp Knife: If you’re defrosting a thick cut of steak, you may need to cut it into smaller pieces to help it defrost more evenly.
  • Resealable Plastic Bag: It can be helpful when you choose to defrost your steak in the fridge to place it in a resealable plastic bag. This will help to prevent any cross-contamination.
  • Cold Water: If you’re defrosting your steak in cold water, you’ll need a large bowl or pot of water. Keep in mind that you’ll need to change the water in the bowl a few times during the process.
  • Microwave-Safe Plate: If you’re using the microwave to defrost your steak, you’ll need a safe plate to use in the microwave.
  • Fridge Space: To defrost your steak in the fridge, you’ll need a place in your fridge that is large enough to accommodate the steak. This is usually on the bottom shelf of the fridge.

Now that you know what supplies you’ll need, you’re ready to defrost your steak.

Read More >> Best Steak Knives

How To Defrost Steak (3 Methods)

You can defrost steak in various ways, each with its own set of benefits and drawbacks.

The three most common methods are:

  • In the fridge
  • Using cold water
  • In the microwave

How to Defrost Steak in the Refrigerator 

Defrosting steak in the refrigerator is the best way to defrost steak if you have the time. It’s a slow process, but it’s effective and safe.

The USDA recommends that you allow about 24 hours for every five pounds of meat. So, if you’re defrosting a one-pound steak, it will take about four to five hours to thaw. 

Defrosting steak in the refrigerator is the best way to thaw thick cuts of meat.

To defrost your steak in the fridge, follow these steps:

Step 1: Place the steak on a plate or cutting board and put it in the fridge.

Step 2: Allow the steak to defrost for a few hours or overnight if possible.

Step 3: Once the steak is thawed, cook it immediately. If the steak is not thawing evenly, you can turn it over or rearrange it on the plate.

Read More >> How Long Does Steak Last in the Fridge?

Defrosting Steak in Cold Water

Cold water is the next best option if you’re short on time. It’s faster than defrosting in the fridge, but it still takes a while.

Why cold water and not hot water? Hot water can actually start to cook the outside of the meat while the inside remains frozen, which is why cold water is best.

According to The American Meat Science Association, bacteria in meat starts to grow at temperatures above 40°F. So, if you’re using hot water to defrost your steak, you’re at risk of bacteria growth.

To defrost your steak in cold water, follow these steps:

Step 1: Place the steak in a resealable plastic bag and seal it tightly.

Step 2: Place the bag of steak in a large bowl or pot of cold water.

Step 3: Change the water every 30 minutes to make sure it stays cold.

Step 4: When you see the steak starting to thaw, remove it from the water and cook it immediately.

How to Defrost Meat Fast: Microwave Method

If you want to defrost your steak quickly, the microwave will work. Keep in mind, though, that microwaving it too long can cause it to start the cooking process or cause it to be dry and tough.

It’s also important to note that you should only use this method if you’re going to cook the steak immediately afterward. The microwave can start to cook the meat, so it’s not recommended as a long-term storage method.

One thing to keep in mind when defrosting a steak in the microwave is to make sure that the steak is evenly defrosted. If one side of the steak is defrosted more than the other, it will cook unevenly. To avoid this, flip the steak over halfway through the defrosting process.

To defrost your steak in the microwave, follow these steps:

Step1: Place the steak on a microwave-safe plate and put it in the microwave.

Step 2: Set the microwave to defrost mode and defrost for about 1 minute.

Step 3: Check the steak and flip.

Step 4: Continue to defrost in the microwave, flipping it every 30 seconds until the steak is thawed. You want to make sure you’re not fully cooking it during this process.

Step 5: Cook the steak immediately after it’s thawed.

Read More >> How to Reheat Steak (Without Drying It Out)

What Meat Thawing Methods Should You Avoid?

Any of the three thawing methods we listed above, fridge, microwave, or cold water, are safe ways to thaw steak. However, the microwave method should be avoided unless it is needed as a last resort. This is because microwaving your steak to thaw it can cause the steak to lose juices and become tough. 

It is also difficult to tell when your steak is finished thawing in the microwave. One thing you can do with this method that does make it slightly more efficient is to use the thaw button on your microwave. 

How Long Does it Take to Thaw Steak?

How long it takes to thaw steak will depend on the method you choose. If you choose the fridge method, thawing steak takes about 24 hours. If you choose the cold water method, it takes 1-4 hours. With the microwave method, your steak will thaw within a few minutes and begin to cook. 

What is the Best Way to Thaw Steak?

The best and easiest way to thaw steak is by putting it in the fridge the day before. Unfortunately, this method does require some forethought (and you could forget!) which is why many people end up using the cold water or microwave methods. 

Is it Safe to Cook Frozen Steak?

If you don’t want to microwave your steak but it is too late for the fridge or cold water method, know that it is safe to cook steak which is frozen. It will just need more cook time(about 50% more). Also be aware that it can be difficult to cook a frozen steak to rare or medium rare so you will likely need to settle for at least cooking it to medium. 

How to Cook Frozen Steak

The best way to cook a frozen steak you don’t have time to thaw is by throwing it on the grill. You will just want to make sure you add 50% to your normal steak cook time. Also note that it will be impossible to marinate frozen meat, so you’ll want to remember to add a little salt and pepper before you serve your steaks!

How to Tell if you Have Freezer Burn on your Steak?

If you see (or hear) that your steak has ice crystals on it or it has gray or brown spots on it after pulling it out of the freezer, it’s likely got freezer burn.

While you can a steak that has freezer burn, you’ll be disappointed. It will taste flavorless and have a tough texture. 

How To Determine Whether a Steak Is Still Safe To Eat

There’s nothing worse than taking a bite only to realize it’s gone bad when it comes to steak. Unfortunately, it can be tough to tell whether a steak is still safe to eat, especially if it’s been in the fridge for a few days. However, there are a few things you can look for to help you determine whether your steak is still safe to eat.


Color is one of the first things you’ll want to look at when determining whether your steak is still safe to eat. If the steak is a deep red color, it’s probably still fresh. However, if the steak is starting to turn brown or gray, it’s probably gone bad.


If you’re still unsure whether your steak is fresh, you can try touching it. Fresh steak should be firm to the touch. Its texture will have changed due to the growth of bacteria. However, slimy or mushy steak is a sign that you should throw out your steak.


Another way to tell whether your steak has gone bad is by smelling it. Fresh steak should have a slightly sweet smell. If the steak smells sour or ammonia-like, it’s probably gone bad and should be thrown out. This will help you avoid any food poisoning.

Read More >> How to Tell if Steak is Bad

What You Need To Know About Defrosting Steak

The importance of defrosting steak cannot be overstated. If you don’t take the time to do it right, you’ll end up with a less than ideal final product. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you learn how to thaw steak:

  • The type of meat will affect how long it takes to defrost. Thick cuts of steak will take longer to defrost than thin cuts.
  • You should never defrost steak at room temperature. It can lead to bacterial growth and make the meat unsafe to eat.
  • There are three safe methods for defrosting meat or steak: in the refrigerator, in cold water, or in the microwave.

It is okay to cook steak while it is still partially frozen. It is sometimes preferable as it can help prevent the meat from overcooking on the outside while the inside remains frozen.

However, you will need to use a lower cooking temperature and cook for a longer period if you choose to do this.

Read More >> How to Grill Frozen Steak

Do you have any other tips on how to defrost steak quickly? If so, share them in the comments below!

If you want to learn more about grilling, check out these other helpful resources!

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Shawn Hill

Hey, I'm Shawn and I love this site. With a wife and 7 kids, I get most of my grilling practice from feeding my own family. I'm here to help you learn more about grilling, smoking, and backyard BBQ! With almost a decade of manning the grill and helping over 25,000 aspiring grill masters, you're in great hands! I've tried just about every type of grill, accessory, and gadget you can imagine. Because of that, I am here to help guide you to the best of the best and help you save time and money by avoiding the junk.

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