Learn How To Quickly Freeze And Defrost Ground Beef

Freeze And Defrost Ground Beef

There`s a list of delicacies that you can make using ground beef: tacos, burgers, and meatloaf to mention but a few.

Some people like to do a big grocery shopping at the end or the beginning of the month for dairy, meat, fruits and the like. Freezing processed meat reduces enzyme activity while minimizing microbiological changes that might otherwise negatively affect the quality of the product.

When done the right way, frozen meat will remain delicious and safe for consumption, and will at the same time retain its color, texture and nutritional value for a long time.

Important Points To Note

  • It is advisable to repackage the ground beef in air-tight bags and not in the packaging it comes in from the store. We will discuss why this is so in a while.
  • When you purchase ground beef from the store it will probably be in thick hunks. Repackaging it helps you create more surface area so defrosting will be easier. Repackaging the meat also helps you divide it into standard portions that can be used up in single recipes, say, half a pound to one-pound portions.

The Right Way To Freeze And Defrost Ground Beef

Freezing Ground Beef - 6 Easy Steps

Tools of trade
This is what you will require:

  • Beef
  • Ziploc bags or a vacuum sealer (see our best vaccum sealer reviews here)
  • A kitchen weighing scale
  • A rolling pin a permanent marker

1) Step One

Remove the beef from the packaging you brought from the store.

2) Step Two

Divide and weigh the portions into half a pound and/or one-pound portions.

3) Step Three

Put the ground meat in quart-size Ziploc bags for the half pound portions and gallon-sized Ziploc bags for the one-pound portions.

4) Step Four

Before sealing the bags, use a rolling pin to firmly press flat the meat and get rid of excess air. Half-inch thickness is recommended so it can be easy when thawing or defrosting the meat later.

Roll the meat flat in one direction and avoid back and forth rolling. Press out as much air as possible so as to avoid dehydration or freezer burn which can create an off-putting flavor in the meat.

5) Step Five

Indicate the date of purchase using a permanent marker. Well packaged, frozen ground beef will remain in good condition for three to four months.

6) Step Six

Place the bags flat in the freezer shelf. Once the meat is frozen, you can stack them together or stand them vertically.

Defrosting Ground Meat In 4 Easy Ways

There are a number of ways to defrost ground beef. Depending on the method you choose you will require a few things.

a) Defrosting In The Refrigerator

What you’ll need: a plate and a refrigerator.

How it’s done:

  • Move the Ziploc bag with the frozen beef from the freezer to the refrigerator and let it defrost slowly. Place the Ziploc bag on a plate and move it to the bottom shelf of the fridge to avoid the condensation from dripping into your other groceries.
  • This process will take between an hour and a couple of hours. Once defrosted, cook the meat or refreeze it within two days. You can refreeze the meat that you don’t use but if you can, avoid it for it can cause texture and/or flavor change in the meat. This is why it is important to divide and store the beef into portions that can be used up in your various recipes.
  • Defrosting in the fridge is the most recommended way of defrosting meat. You can move the meat from the freezer to the fridge in the morning if you plan to cook it for lunch or dinner. Or leave it overnight if you plan to use it for breakfast.

b) Defrosting In Cold Water

What you will need: the frozen beef, a large bowl or the sink, cold water and a heavy object, for example, a can of beans.

How it’s done:

  • Pour cold water in a large bowl and submerge the Ziploc bag with the frozen ground beef in it.
  • Use a can of beans or a big platter to help keep the meat submerged. You can change the water after every thirty minutes or, place the bag with the frozen beef in the sink and fill it up with cold water. You can also decide to leave the water running but to avoid water wastage you should block the sink and change the water after about thirty minutes.
  • Keep the meat submerged in the water to help quicken the process. Ensure the bag is well sealed so as not to get any water in the meat. The meat will be thawed and ready for your recipe in 5 to 10 minutes

Meat thawed in cold water can be refrozen and that is why it is important to use cold water. If you use hot water to thaw the meat, bacterial growth may be encouraged and that can be harmful to your health.

c) Defrosting Ground Beef In A Pan

What you will need: the beef, a pan/skillet, some water, and a stove.

How it’s done:

  • Unwrap or remove the frozen beef from the Ziploc bag and place it in a skillet with simmering water.
  • The water should be enough to cover the bottom of the skillet.
  • Cover the skillet allows the meat to steam and thaw faster.
  • After it starts to turn brown, remove the lid and scrape away the top to reveal the meat still frozen.
  • Keep the skillet covered and scrape at the meat every 4 to 5 minutes until all of it is thawed and brown You can go ahead and add your other ingredients into the skillet and continue cooking or, you can empty the meat into a bowl and start the process as the recipe calls.

d) Defrosting In The Microwave

What you will need: the ground beef, a plate, and a microwave.

How it’s done:

Say you forget to remove the ground beef from the freezer before leaving for work, what are you to do? You do not have to change the menu, just place the frozen beef in the microwave and press the “defrost” button.

It will take three to four minutes to defrost the half-inch-thick ground beef. It helps thaw faster if you flip or turn the meat halfway through the process. If the meat is not thawed in 4 minutes, repeat it again.

Since the meat will start to cook in the microwave, it is advisable to cook it right after defrosting and avoid refreezing it.

Refreezing meat thawed in the microwave might encourage pathogenic bacteria to grow which can cause illness if consumed. Hawing meat in the microwave is the fastest method to defrost frozen ground beef.


Freezing ground beef helps extend its lifetime. Properly frozen meat will remain safe for human consumption for up to 4 months.

After that, the meat may start to lose some of its value such as flavor and texture. To keep the beef safe store it at 40 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees) or below and cook at 160 degrees Fahrenheit (71.1 degrees Celsius) internal temperature.

The best way to defrost ground beef remains moving it from the freezer to the refrigerator to thaw slowly but if you had not thought of the meal you want to make beforehand, then you can use any of the other methods to quickly turn the block of frozen ground beef into recipe ready beef.