Tucking into a big, juicy steak is one of life’s greatest pleasures...which is why it’s heartbreaking to come home after a long day and realize that you forgot to take the meat out of the freezer. (Dammit.) Relax—flank steak tacos are still on the menu. Here are three easy methods to defrost your meat, depending on how much time you have.
If you have 24 hours, defrost steak in the fridge. This is by far the best method—both for safety (the fridge ensures no spreading of harmful bacteria) and taste (all those juices stay firmly in place). Sure, it requires some forward-thinking (try setting a reminder on your phone), but it’s also the most hands-off method. Simple take your meat out of the freezer approximately 12 to 24 hours before cooking, put on a plate to catch any juices and let it defrost in the fridge. A one-inch steak will take about 12 hours to thaw while some thicker cuts may need longer. Easy.
If you have a couple of hours, use cold water. Place steak in a leak-proof bag and in a bowl filled with cold water, making sure that the meat is fully submerged. Replace the water every 20 to 30 minutes to make sure it stays cold. Using this method, a thin, one-pound steak will take between one to two hours to thaw while a three-pound cut will take closer to three or four hours. Keep an eye on your steak frequently and cook immediately when thawed.
If you have five minutes, thaw steak in the microwave. First, a disclaimer: This method really isn’t the best. Why? Because the microwave can strip the steak of all those wonderful, chin-dribbling juices and leave you with tough meat. But if you’re really in a pinch, just place unwrapped meat on a plate and use your microwave’s defrost setting, making sure to check the status of your meat frequently. Depending on the weight and thickness of your steak, this method can take five to ten minutes.