A Last-Minute Hack for Defrosting On the Fly

There’s nothing like coming home from work and realizing you forgot to take the steaks for tonight’s dinner out of the freezer. We’ve all been there, but it doesn’t have to be that way. 

The best way to thaw meat is to plan ahead and let it defrost in the refrigerator, but that can take hours. When you need to get dinner on the table fast, an aluminum pan can speed up the process. 

Sandwich the frozen food—steak, fish, or even a flat-frozen bag of chicken stock—between two aluminum sheet pans. The metal will channel the ambient heat of frozen food in remarkably efficient fashion. Pork chops and steaks typically thaw in under an hour, fish and vegetables even faster. And as long as you don’t leave the food at room temperature for more than two hours, you’re in the food safety zone. (That doesn’t apply if the temperature of your kitchen is over 90°F, so don’t try this during a summer heat wave.) 

Chef Tip: The USDA recommends three ways to safely thaw meat: on a plate or in a container in the refrigerator, in cold water, or in the microwave. Defrosting meat on the counter for longer than two hours is not recommended, because food thaws from the outside in and bacteria can quickly grow on the defrosted areas while the middle is still frozen.