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Can you run frozen steak under hot water? (Explained)

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Can You Run Frozen Steak Under Hot Water?

Running a frozen steak under hot water can help rapidly thaw the meat better than the defrost setting on your microwave. It will ultimately have fewer changes in texture, and will only take slightly longer. 

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The problem is that hot water also carries enough thermal energy to actually start the cooking process in sections of the meat that thaw early. You could end up cooking the edges of a steak slightly before the thickest parts of the meat are even fully thawed. 

A thinly cut steak like a sandwich-style ribeye might be thawed under hot water in as little as five minutes. With thicker steaks like a New York strip, it might take up to 15 minutes for the deepest parts of the steak to be fully thawed. 

Ultimately, the best way to thaw frozen meat is in a cold-water bath with the slightest trickle of water dribbling down into the basin to keep the water circulating. If you are a little short on time, you can go with lukewarm water, which is better than microwaving and will still thaw rapidly, with a low risk of premature cooking. 

Once your steak is completely thawed, you should remove it from the plastic bag and pat it dry with a clean paper towel. Then you should season it and grill it as soon as possible. 

What Running Hot Water Over Frozen Steak Does?

Running hot water over a frozen steak will help rapidly thaw it, without the textural changes and uneven cooking that you would get from a microwave defrost cycle. However, the hot water still can prematurely start cooking the steak.

If the water is very hot, or you run the steak under hot water for too long, the fringes of the meat filet can start cooking, even though the thickest interior meat is still completely frozen. 

When you finally bring the steak to the grill, you run the very high risk of some parts of the steak being overcooked, while other parts might still be underdone. 

It’s also worth noting that the steak should be inside a vacuum-sealed plastic bag or zip-top bag with as much air removed as possible. A bare steak under hot water can also get soggy, which will affect the texture, and sear of the meat when you grill it. 

Should You Run Hot Water Over a Frozen Steak?

Running hot water over a frozen steak is something that should be left for times when you desperately need a thawed piece of meat in a hurry. Lukewarm water is a better alternative and will still have a relatively short thaw time, with less risk of starting the cooking process. 

The best way to thaw a frozen steak is to seal it in a plastic bag and submerge it in a cold-water bath. This technique takes advantage of water’s ability to act as a heat sink, without supplying any thermal energy to start cooking it. 

Simply fill the basin of your sink or a large mixing bowl halfway with cold water. Then turn on the tap to the lowest possible drizzle, this will let the water circulate to move the coldest water away from the steak. 

Within 30 to 45 minutes in the cold-water bath, the steak should be reasonably thawed enough to let you start preheating the grill. 

How Long You’d Need to Run Hot Water Over a Steak to Thaw It?

A thin cut of steaks like an inside skirt steak or a sandwich ribeye might be thawed in as little as 5 to 7 minutes running under hot water. A thicker steak like a 1.5-inch-thick New York strip or a 12-ounce Ribeye might thaw in 10 to 15 minutes under hot water. 

Larger bone-in cuts of steak like porterhouse, T-bone, and tomahawk ribeye steaks run the risk of still being frozen in the meat near the bone. Yet the meat at the edge of the filet could be thawed in 10 to 15 minutes. 

What You Should Do After the Steak Has Thawed?

Once you thaw a steak under hot water, or in a cold-water bath, you need to gill it as soon as possible. While you’re preheating the grill, you can remove the steak from the plastic bag and pat it dry with a clean paper towel

From there you can season it with salt, pepper, and any other seasonings just like you would any other thawed steak

If you were to refreeze the steak, the meat itself would still be safe for human consumption. However, it would likely suffer from severe freezer burn, and the texture would be unappealing when you cook it later. 

Final Thoughts

I personally only thaw a steak under running hot water in times when I need it thawed desperately fast. Then I do so with the understanding that when I take the steak off the grill later, the edges of the filet will likely be well-done by the time I have the thickest part of the meat cooked to medium-rare. 

Otherwise, I always use the cold-water bath method to thaw frozen steaks and any type of bone-in meat. The gentle drizzle of cold water from the tap keeps the thermal energy circulating and still gives me a reasonably thawed steak in 15 to 30 minutes. 

Once the steak is thoroughly thawed I try to grill it as soon as possible. This starts with patting it dry and seasoning it liberally with salt before I bring it out to a preheated grill. 

This article was written by Robert McCall, the founder of Robert also owns and operates the BBQ dropout YouTube channel where he demonstrates his first-hand experience cooking all kinds of meats and strives to provide helpful, authoritative content for people looking how to barbecue.

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