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I wonder if it is bad to cook frozen meat (chicken, fish, beef,...) without waiting it to be unfrozen?

Sometimes, I realize I forget to take meat out of my freezer beforehand, when I am too hungry already.

Thanks!

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14 Answers

up vote 19 down vote accepted

It's really a question of taste. It's not going to hurt you, but there will be some undesirable effects. For example, to cook turkey properly, it must come to an internal temp. of 180. If the meat is frozen, it is going to take a lot longer for the int. temp to rise that high, so the outside of the bird will be somewhat overcooked (compared to roasting a thawed bird). That meat will be much tougher than it would be otherwise.

If your question is querying as to whether it will cause ill health, then no, it will not. My mom does it all the time. Her roasts are tough, though. I have done this, but only when I am braising the meat, or using a slow cooker, which will cause the meat to be tender either way.

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I forget if this falls under the category of "convection" or "thermal diffusion" (if I'm wrong I welcome comments), but if you will take your frozen meat and put it in an airtight zip bag and then in a (clean) sink, run the faucet over this in tepid to cool water (not hot or even very warm). You will be amazed at how quickly this will thaw meat. It will thaw about an inch of meat about every 10 minutes.

The trick is that you want the littlest water possible, but enough to wash over the majority of the bag.

It will thaw your meat very quickly without having to microwave it or trying to cook a frozen piece of meat. If you're trying to thaw a roast then you're probably in trouble, but for thinner cuts of meat/fish/etc., this thaws very quickly.

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The reason you are normally advised to thaw meat before cooking is simply that it is then easier and more likely that it will be cooked through properly.

Therefore, you can cook from frozen, but you have to be especially careful that the meat is cooked through. A meat thermometer is ideal, but you can also use your eye and finger to see and feel the state of the meat.

It is safer if the meat is pre-diced or sliced as it will cook through easier. Some supermarkets sell bags of pre-sliced frozen chicken for stir fries that goes straight from the freezer to the wok.

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Thawing quickly will do more damage to the cells, causing the consistency of the meat to be less "natural". This also affects taste negatively.

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Is there any evidence for this? It is my understanding that cell damage is caused by the ice crystals that form during freezing. Shock freezing causes less damage to cells because the size of contiguous crystallized regions is smaller. Since all the damage is done at that point, I suspect that a potential effect of thawing speed is a myth. –  FvD Feb 13 at 11:17
    
Only personal experience. My personal home-cooked theory is that thawing quickly leads to a higher difference in temperature inside the material (warming it from the outside). This leads to more tension in cells, causing more damage. –  Niklas Feb 14 at 8:59
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You can cook from frozen in a pressure cooker and it only adds about 5 minutes per half kilo of meat to the cooking time. Also, cooking a turkey to 82C (180F) is far too high a temperature, you'll just dry the meat to the point of inedibility. Turkey breast is so lean that it really ought to be cooked to around 60C (140F); however, you can only do that reliably and hold it at that temperature for long enough (29 minutes) cooking sous vide so it's not an option for most people. The FDA poultry tables are very useful here for working out what temperature you can pasteurise the meat at. For instance, holding turkey at 68C (155F) for 72 seconds is sufficient to obtain 7-log10 lethality of salmonella.

http://www.fsis.usda.gov/OPPDE/rdad/FSISNotices/RTE_Poultry_Tables.pdf

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it would be advisable only in very thin on finely minced meat, where the is no risk of the food cooking on the outside and staying frozen (or raw) on the inside.

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I understand that it is not advisable to cook chicken frozen as the heat does not penetrate though to centre adding risk of samonella. I do cook roasts and corned silverside in slow cooker from frozen they usually turn out nice and tender with good flavour and I have never had any health problems.

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Actually, thawing as part of the cooking process is a thawing method recommended by the FDA, and approved by most boards of health. The problem is getting a quality outcome in doing so. –  SAJ14SAJ Apr 23 '13 at 22:52
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I have been cooking frozen meats (all) in a Romertopf cooker for 25 years or more and have never suffered any type of sickness. The Romertopf clay cooker keeps and cooks the meat in it's own juices, therefore, maintaining the integrity of the tastes. This includes all fowl and swine. Just maintain the recommended interior cooking temps.

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When cooked, frozen meat will release a lot of moist. This is undesireable, specially if you want to pan fry it, and it will prevent the meat to cook evenly.

As you can see from other answers, a good advice to quick thaw is to put the piece of meat on a zip bag and run it under warm mater.

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Based on my experience of working with meat in retail butchering preparation and sales settings for many years, and I have also been preparing meals for a forty year period.

I believe it is best practice to thaw frozen roasts as the thickness of the meat is an issue.

However, when it comes to steaks, chops, ribs or any meat which can be grilled it is not necessary to defrost. We simply place the meat on the oven grill or BBQ grill for a 7 -10 minute period after which it is then turned and left for a further 7 - 10 minute period. By this time the meat will be thoroughly defrosted right through and cooking beautifully

It can still be served either rare, medium rare or well done using this technique. We have found absolutely no difference to the texture, flavor or tenderness of meat cooked in this way in comparison to meat cooked fresh. We have compared the results with a frozen steak with a fresh steak cooking them at the same time and could find no difference in the end result.

I would not however cook frozen meat in a frying pan if you are wanting a flavorsome tender end result. In this instance I think the pan can not be made hot enough and the juices of the steak leak out and the meat is then sauteed instead of being seared quickly. In this situation if meat is to be pan fried because no grilling/BBQing is available then it is better to be fresh or defrosted.

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Oh my lord.... Cooking raw meat from frozen is a gamble. It can be very unsafe. If the inside of the meat doesn't come to temperature fast enough it is very very dangerous! Same deal with half way cooking meat and then freezing.unless you are working with fancy commercial flash freezers.. We are not capable of cooling it fast enough. I know lots of people do it. I also know almost always you can get by with it. But if you are at all concerned... Do not do it! Take a food handling class if you're interested. Typically available through te health department for a small fee.

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Correct me if I'm wrong, but as an amateur I stumbled on a way to cook frozen steak with amazing results. The main problem is the internal temp, and uneven cooking I just cut the steak into little cubes while it was still frozen, (not rock hard frozen, but thawed enough for me to cut through obviously). And keep turning while cooking - it's faster - your meet is now already cut, and it's a similar theory to how stir fry is cooked. I've had results that (with the right seasoning) made me feel like I was eating at Beni Hana's.

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While I am sure that is safe, and probably delicious, I don't think it meets the general idea of what a steak is any more. –  SAJ14SAJ Nov 27 '13 at 17:27
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It is possible, if cooking chunks of meat like beef/lamb steak, let it defrost for a bit so the outside is supple. Sear in a hot pan to brown the outside, then place in pre heated oven at 55c for 1 hour with 1 inch steaks medium rare, 4 hours for large cuts like beef fore rib or small leg of lamb.

Adjust temps for different tastes, medium 60c, well done 65. Chicken is best at 63c.

Check internal temp with a probe before serving.

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I've just completed my yearly work, health and safety certificate, and under their guidelines it is an absolute NO to cook meat straight from the freezer - meat, poultry and fish must be thawed overnight in the cooler. I'm not sure what the reason behind this manadate, but I've decided to adopt this practice in my home as well.

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That is certainly NOT true at least in US jurisdictions. Thawing as part of the cooking processes one of the explicitly permitted methods, along with thawing in the refrigerator, thawing by microwave, and thawing under running cool water. Many frozen convenience products are cooked directly from the frozen state. –  SAJ14SAJ Aug 18 '13 at 10:18
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