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Another term for allowing food to defrost is ‘thawing’. Defrosting or thawing of food is the melting of a food item, bringing its temperature above the freezing point to remove ice. For instance, you’ve had your chicken in a deep freezer for days and you would like to use it to cook, but getting it to defrost on time is an issue and your children are soon back from school. What do you do?

Thawing Methods


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  • Refrigerator Thawing.
  • Cold-Water Thawing.
  • Microwave Thawing.

Here are some tips for defrosting food, easily and quickly.

Tips For Defrosting Meat

If you’re pressed for time and can’t allow the meat naturally thaw, your meat can be quickly thawed in cold or warm water, although warm water is a little riskier if you let some of the water cool for too long.

Cold Water Thawing

  • Place the frozen meat inside a sealable plastic bag that will comfortably fit.
  • Put the bag in a large bowl and fill it with cold tap water. Take a large glass or metal bowl out of your cabinet. The container must be big enough to fully submerge your food in the water. Place your frozen food item at the bottom of the bowl. Turn your sink’s water on and fill the bowl with the water.
  • Once your bowl is filled with water, submerge your food in the water. Leave the bowl in your sink or on your counter-top. The size, type, and density of your food will determine how long it takes to thaw. Stone cold meat can take up to an hour or two. You can tell if smaller meat are thawed by simply touching them. If they’re as soft as they’d be if they weren’t frozen, you’re good to go. Larger items may be frozen in the center though, making this method a poor choice for thicker foods.
  • Use a spoon or spatula to weigh the food down if it’s floating at the top of the water.
  • Change the water out every 30 minutes to prevent it from warming. The goal when thawing food in cold water is to keep the water significantly colder than room temperature so that dangerous bacteria doesn’t grow in your food. To keep the water temperature under 40 °F (4 °C), which is the threshold for dangerous bacteria, drain the water while refilling it in your sink once every 30 minutes. This will ensure that your food stays cold as it thaws.
  • Cook your food immediately after it’s fully thawed.

This is faster than refrigerator thawing and safer than hot water thawing. This cold water method is excellent for frozen meat.

Tips For Defrosting Baked Goods

For defrosting baked goods, you’ll have to be careful so you don’t end up making them soggy hence defeating the point. For baked goods, the best method you can use, is the refrigerator thawing. This means, taking it out of the freezer and putting it in the refrigerator. This ensures that it doesn’t get soggy. You can also use the microwave thawing method. You can certainly defrost bread entirely in the microwave, but it may get soggy as the ice crystals melt into the bread.

This method may not work with baked goods that contain filling, like pie or donuts with cream filling.

The microwave thawing method works for smaller baked goods, like individual scones, muffins, or croissants.

Tips for Defrosting Cooked Meals

Defrosting of cooked meals is best done by the refrigerator thawing method. It is recommended that you defrost ready-cooked foods in the fridge overnight.

Or use these other methods:

Cold water thawing: Submerge a bag of frozen food in cold tap water to slowly thaw. This method can take 30-minutes to 3 hours depending on the food volume.

Microwave thawing: Use the defrost setting to thaws food over several minutes without cooking it.


The time it takes to thaw cooked food depends on how thick the frozen food is. Try cold water thawing, microwave thawing or just put the frozen meal in a pot as part of the cooking process. If it is a meal that has water, you can add water to the pot and put the heat on low. This ensures the food doesn’t burn and melts easily.