I was in a hurry, put a pork butt and beef brisket in the sink with water and ice to thaw. (overnight) they were still cold this morning. Is it completely unsafe to try and smoke/cook on the grill? Or, can I still cook them just make sure they cook to a higher temp to ensure all bacteria is killed?

  • Can you be more specific than "Cold" (do you have a temp reading?) For foods there is a danger zone which you are 'probably' into, but perhaps for not so long as it would be a problem.
    – Cos Callis
    Commented May 6, 2018 at 13:12
  • I ran cold water from the faucet and dumped 2lbs of ice in the sink.
    – Jeff Berg
    Commented May 6, 2018 at 13:16
  • I did not check the specific temp just know it was cold to the touch.
    – Jeff Berg
    Commented May 6, 2018 at 13:17
  • 1
    Butt and brisket are probably being cooked/smoked for a good long time, so you do not need extra cooking. Commented May 6, 2018 at 13:45
  • Apologies for edit, checked dictionary after instead of before. I had no idea that ‘thaw’ was the legitimate meaning of ‘unthaw’ and the phone app wont allow me to ‘re-edit’ or roll back.
    – Spagirl
    Commented May 6, 2018 at 14:52

2 Answers 2


When it comes to "is it safe" questions it is difficult to give you a simple, direct, reliable answer...most often (as is the case here) you can't provide all of the information needed to 'give you a straight answer' (which is, of course, what you really want).

If the meat was 'safe' to begin with, if it was just left in the sink with cool water and ice overnight (~8 hrs) and if it is still cold to the touch...it is "probably" perfectly safe.

Then comes the question of "What is 'safe'?" Will eating this meat 'kill you'... highly unlikely. Will you want to remain near a toilet for a day or so? 'possibly' (but still very unlikely). Will eating this contribute to a stroke in 20 years? Your mileage may vary.

It is highly unlikely that this method of thawing has introduced any significant risk to your meat.


The main question would be: Were they fully submerged in water?

If yes there is very low probability bacteria could develop in cold (assuming refrigeration cold)

BUT to make sure when preparing such meat I usually put it on high temp for short time. First to keep moisturize in meat and second to drastically change temperature to kill any surface creatures.

It can be frying without oil (on very very hot pan) or just grilled on open blue flame for a few seconds. Then proceed with meat as you desire.

Hint: Acidic marinates had the same purpose to kill bacteria and remove any odd flavour/smell the meat could get in storage.

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