There are lots of ways to thaw frozen food: you can put it in the refrigerator, run it under cold water, leave it out on the counter, or even use the defrost setting on your microwave. Which method is the best and safest one to use?
Kitchen Fact: The safest place to thaw frozen food is in the refrigerator.
The refrigerator is the safest method of thawing food because it keeps the food out of the "Danger Zone" (temperatures between 40°F and 140°F, where bacteria multiplies rapidly) the whole time it is defrosting. It does takes some planning ahead to thaw food in the refrigerator — plan on a full day for most smaller items and one day for every five pounds of large cuts of meat like whole turkeys.
Besides safety, the other advantage of thawing food in the refrigerator is that it can be refrozen if you don't get around to cooking it, although the quality might suffer.
Kitchen Fact Source: The Big Thaw - Safe Defrosting Methods — for Consumers at USDA.gov
More Thawing Tips from The Kitchn
- 5 Ways to Safely Thaw Frozen Foods
- Did You Know You Can Thaw and Brine Meat at the Same Time?
- Skip the Thawing, Cook Frozen Fish Straight from the Freezer
- The Best Way to Quickly & Safely Thaw Frozen Meat