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

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


17 Answers 17


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 internal temperature 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.


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.


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.


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.



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.


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.


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

  • 2
    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
    Commented Feb 13, 2014 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
    Commented Feb 14, 2014 at 8:59

I learned to cook as a very young, new bride from my husband's aunt who had cooked for the USO in World War II. I learned before microwave ovens were commercially available. This was in 1970.

I cooked chicken and rice from frozen cut up chickens and made spaghetti sauce from frozen ground beef. They were good and no one got sick. I expect the key was the moist heat and relatively long duration the meat was simmered.


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.

  • 5
    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
    Commented Apr 23, 2013 at 22:52

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.


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.

  • 3
    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
    Commented Nov 27, 2013 at 17:27

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.


As food safety is the foremost consideration here, I'd say it's OK to cook frozen food right out of the freezer. There's no germs involved, and any surviving germs will be thoroughly cooked by the oven or stove. And cooked germs/microbes taste good!

I BBQ meat taken directly from the freezer hundreds of times now. I can attest to the taste of my BBQ! meat and my good health.

  • As you are concerned with food safety I have to add from a culinary point of view: If you manage to get the internal temperature up to a safe level while not drying out the outside....
    – Stephie
    Commented Mar 31, 2015 at 20:44

Cooks Illustrated (the people behind America's Test Kitchen) recommends cooking steak frozen instead of thawed. "Sampling the steaks side by side, tasters unanimously preferred the cooked-from-frozen steaks to their thawed counterparts." See also here for a video explanation.


Plan ahead with a little bit of preparation:

If you cut your meat into smaller pieces and separated the pieces with wax paper before freezing it, it would take a lot less time to get it to the dinner table.

My mother learned this very quickly having that two boys like to eat. When she made hamburgers (mixed with onions, parsley, etc.) or a meatloaf, she would freeze patties, as well. I supposed you could do the same with chicken or fish by just cutting it up into smaller pieces. (I'm assuming you're not buying it frozen.) Get thinner cut pork chops and make sure they are separated before freezing. You can also cut smoked sausages that come in one long piece before freezing for the future; but, they can be sliced when frozen with a good sharp knife if you are careful.

Salmon patties are a good thing to have in the freezer, too. These freeze well and taste delicious: https://www.goodinthesimple.com/4-ingredient-salmon-cakes/


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.


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.

  • 3
    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
    Commented Aug 18, 2013 at 10:18

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