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Watch and learn: You don’t need to thaw steak before cooking it

cook frozen steak without thawing it
AP Photo/ Modernist Cuisine LLC, Nathan Myhrvold
By Jenni Avins
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Procrastinating carnivores, rejoice! Cook’s Illustrated‘s Dan Souza took on the conventional wisdom that frozen steaks should be thawed before cooking, and found it to be invalid. As you’ll see in the video below, Souza and his team froze eight steaks, then thawed some in the refrigerator, while leaving the others frozen. They seared each set of steaks in a pan, and then transferred them to a 275 °F (135 °C) oven.

The testers found that the steaks cooked directly from their frozen state not only retained more moisture than the thawed steaks, they also had less overcooked meat (see the “gray band”) near the seared edge, as shown below. The science makes sense. Because the frozen steaks are, well, freezing cold, their meat would take longer to overcook. But it’s still relatively easy to raise the surface temperature fast with hot oil, for a good sear.

Screenshot/Cooks Illustrated

Here are Cook’s Illustrated’s instructions for cooking frozen steaks without thawing them first.

Screenshot/Cooks Illustrated

Watch the video for helpful tips for optimal freezing. (Don’t just toss them in a Ziploc bag.) In his book On Food and Cooking, food science expert Harold McGee writes that “well-frozen meat will keep for millennia.” Before you test that theory, note that in a taste test, fresh steaks will still beat those previously frozen—thawed first or not.

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