Cooking tips

How to safely freeze and thaw meat

Stock up on your favourite cuts of meat when they're on sale, and then freeze them until your next BBQ.


John Cullen

Grilling can be one of the quickest and easiest ways to cook and spend a bit of extra time outdoors. It also gives food a delicious char and smoky flavour that only a BBQ can! If you’re planning to have the grill fired up all summer long, I recommend stocking up on the cuts of meat you like during sales to freeze and use as needed. It’s a great way to save some money — plus, if you decide to throw an impromptu BBQ party, you’re ready to go.

Here are some tips on safely freezing and thawing meat:

Freezing raw meat: Remove from existing packaging, re-wrap in plastic wrap, then seal in a freezer bag. This will help prevent freezer-burn. On average, meat will stay fresh in the freezer for up to four months.

Thawing raw meat: There are four preferable ways to thaw meat — in a refrigerator, in cold water, in a microwave, and as part of the cooking process. Under no circumstances should meat be left to thaw on the counter!

1. Refrigerator thawing: Place frozen packaged meat on a plate, then store it on the lowest shelf in the fridge. This will prevent any drippings or cross-contamination with other foods. Allow a day or more for large items (such as turkeys, whole chickens and roasts) to thaw.

2. Water thawing: Place frozen, packaged meat in a vessel or sink large enough to submerge it under cold water. Check the water to make sure it stays cold and when it gets warmer, then refresh with cold water. This method may take a few hours, depending on the size of your meat. Using this method requires you to prep and cook the meat immediately.

3. Microwave thawing: For those with a microwave, use your defrost setting to properly thaw your meat. Using this method requires you to prep and cook the meat immediately.

4. Cooking: Sometimes meat can also go straight from frozen to grill.  If you’re grilling frozen meat, allow for a longer than normal cooking time to account for additional thawing time.

Use these tips to grill up one of these sizzling recipes:

Miso-glazed pork kebabs
Grilled steak with spicy cilantro sauce
Chicken, shiitake and asparagus skewers
Lamb antipasto skewers
Inside-out cheddar burgers
Grilled steak sandwiches with salsa fresca
The new classic burger