4 Methods For Defrosting Food Safely


Oh no! You’ve just arrived home and have forgotten to thaw your food for dinner. You need to defrost it quickly but aren’t quite sure how to do this without compromising your safety.

That’s where this article comes in!

When thawing frozen food, it’s always best to plan to ensure that the food item remains at a safe, constant temperature. But if you are in a bit of a pickle, your kitchen is packed full of useful tools that’ll help you to get the job done.

If you want to learn how to thaw an uncrustable or simply want to ensure you employ safe defrosting practices, we’re here to help!

  1. Defrosting In The Refrigerator

One of the best and most effective ways to defrost food safely is in the refrigerator. Here, food will not need to pass through to the Temperature Danger Zone – usually between 40 °F and 140 °F (5 ºC – 60 ºC) where bacteria will thrive and also multiply quicker.

If you want to defrost food using this method, make sure that the core temperature is below 5 ºC and that all of the items that are being defrosted are placed on the lowest shelves in the fridge to prevent splashes or drips from contaminating other foods.

Remember to plan when you need to defrost food items as they can take a considerable amount of time to fully defrost! Small items may take at least a full day to properly defrost.

Bigger items like frozen chicken or turkey may take a couple of days to defrost. The general rule of thumb with these food items is that you must allow at least 24 hours of defrosting time per every 2.5kg of food you are trying to defrost. 

  1. Defrosting In The Microwave

If you’re in a bit of a time crunch, a microwave may prove to be a blessing in disguise. These powerful devices have specific settings where you can completely defrost smaller items to be cooked immediately.

Before you defrost these items, you must make sure to remove the food item from any of the packaging that are not deemed as being microwave safe. This includes plastic wraps, cardboard boxes, and polystyrene trays, to name a few.

If you want to prevent cross-contamination you should place the item you want to defrost into a clean and microwave-safe container so any excess juices that leak from the food can be collected. Make sure to cover this with a lid and leave a small gap so that steam can escape.

Remember that a microwave does not evenly distribute heat through food. As a result, you must make sure to stir the item throughout the defrosting process to make sure everything is properly defrosted. You will find specific instructions on your outer food packaging.

  1. Defrosting Under Cold Water

Defrosting food under a stream of cold running water is the least effective way of defrosting food. This is because the food items can easily dip into the Temperature Danger Zone.

If you do opt to defrost food under cold running water, there are a couple of important health and safety factors you must keep in mind. To begin, you must use a sink that is sanitized to limit the risks of bacteria gaining access to the food. 

The space must also be big enough for the food item to be covered by cold water. Submerging the food into this water is crucial to the success of this method. You should store the food in waterproof and leak-proof containers to prevent any cross-contamination from occurring. 

  1. Defrosting As Part Of The Cooking Process

It’s also possible to thaw food as part of the cooking process. Some foods have been designed to be cooked from frozen including frozen vegetables and hamburger patties.

If you were to cook hamburger patties on the grill then you will thaw and cook them to a minimum internal temperature of around 155˚F (68˚C) for approximately 15 seconds in a single step.

Defrosting food as part of the cooking process is pretty safe but only if you use it for foods that have been designed to be cooked in this way. You have to follow the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure that it is safe for consumption!


We hope that you now have a better understanding of these 4 effective methods for defrosting food safely. Make sure you follow any manufacturer’s instructions to ensure food is thoroughly defrosted before you begin to cook it.