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Defrosting Meat in The Microwave

Freezing can be a great way to store your favourite meats for a rainy day or special occasions, but some people are still unsure whether you can defrost them in a microwave as opposed to leaving them in the fridge or on the side to naturally defrost.

With lots of different settings and cycles on modern microwaves, we outline whether it’s safe to defrost meats in a microwave and how to defrost certain meats like sausages, chicken, mince meat and so much more!

How to defrost meat in a microwave

Most microwaves are designed with a distinct defrosting setting, usually featuring a snowflake or a snowflake paired with a water droplet symbol. In addition, these microwaves frequently offer multiple defrosting choices for various food items, such as the ability to defrost by weight or by a specific time duration.

The wattage of your microwave is a critical factor in both cooking and defrosting food, and you can locate this information in your microwave’s manual or on its display. Most people own microwaves with wattages ranging from 700W to 900W, although they can extend from 600W to 1200W – (keep in mind that higher wattage microwaves speed up the cooking process, which is not ideal for defrosting!). When you choose the defrost setting or reduce the power, it effectively decreases the microwave’s wattage.

Steps to defrosting meat in the microwave

Whether you choose to buy fresh meat and end up freezing it to make it last longer, or buying frozen cuts of meat that will serve the whole family, you’ll eventually need to defrost it!

Step 1 – Remove packaging and place in/on a container

Unless specifically indicated otherwise, it’s advisable not to place food packaging in the microwave. For defrosting purposes, a glass container is the most suitable choice.

Step 2 – Selecting the defrost option

If your microwave doesn’t feature a specific defrost button, you can manually adjust the power setting to 20% or 30% using the Power Level button. In the case of a microwave model that includes a defrost button, it may ask about the type of food you’re defrosting and its weight to calculate the defrost time. If your model doesn’t require these specifics, you can input the defrost time manually, typically around 8 to 10 minutes per pound for meat.

Step 3 – Flip, rotate or split up the meat

If your microwave does not come with an automatic rotating turntable, it’s important to manually rotate the meat every few minutes to ensure even defrosting. Additionally, consider flipping large portions of meat or separating pieces that may be stuck together, as this will speed the defrosting up.

Step 4 – Cook straight away

Once the meat has thawed, it’s best to cook it immediately after as leaving it too long can cause bacteria to grow. If you’re unsure on what to cook, why not check out our recipes section?

Is frozen meat safe to eat and does it kill off bacteria?

Frozen meat is generally safe to eat as freezing can effectively halt the growth of bacteria. When meat is frozen at 0°F (-18°C) or lower, the low temperatures slow down microbial activity, preventing bacteria from multiplying.

Although saying this, freezing doesn’t necessarily kill all bacteria; it merely places them in a dormant state. Therefore, when you thaw and cook the meat properly, any bacteria present should be killed. It’s important to handle frozen meat with care, maintain proper storage conditions, and follow safe thawing and cooking procedures to ensure it is safe to consume.

Can you defrost minced meat in the microwave?

Yes, it is possible to defrost various types of minced meat, including pork, beef, turkey, lamb, and game, using the microwave.

However, it is highly recommended to opt for refrigerator defrosting, allowing for a duration of 24 hours or more for the best results.

Can you defrost sausages in the microwave?

Yes, it’s possible to defrost sausages in the microwave. Some varieties can even be defrosted while still in their original packaging, so make sure to check for this option. If the packaging doesn’t allow for microwave defrosting, simply remove the sausages from it and place them in a microwave-safe dish.

They are stuck together, don’t worry; they will separate more easily as they defrost. Choose the correct defrost setting or adjust the microwave to 40-50% power. Begin by microwaving for 2-3 minutes or until you can separate them with a fork. Once they are separated, continue to defrost in 2-minute intervals, checking and turning them as needed. Keep this process going until they are fully thawed, and then proceed to cook the sausages immediately.

Can you defrost chicken in the microwave?

Yes, you can defrost chicken in a microwave, but it’s critically important to handle this process with great care, considering the high-risk nature of chicken. This method is best suited for defrosting smaller chicken pieces, like breasts, rather than whole birds.

Should you decide to defrost your chicken using the microwave, it’s essential to cook it immediately to limit its exposure to the danger zone. To prevent any potential cross-contamination, remember to thoroughly wash your hands, utensils, and surfaces after handling raw chicken.

Can you defrost burgers in the microwave?

Absolutely, you can defrost burger meat and patties in the microwave, although using the refrigerator method is still the recommended approach. In case you need to microwave-defrost your burgers, take them out of the freezer and place them individually on a microwave-safe plate to speed up the thawing process.

You can also cook frozen burgers on a BBQ – check out our guide for more information!

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