Wondering how to cut frozen ground beef so you don’t have to defrost it all? It’s a tricky prospect, and you could wind up injuring yourself if you’re not careful. This guide will help you explore your options.
How To Cut Frozen Ground Beef
To cut frozen ground beef, place it on a cutting board on a stable surface. Use a sharp serrated knife to cut the meat into thin slices, making a sawing motion and applying gentle pressure as you go. Once you have what you need, refreeze the rest of the meat or put it in the refrigerator to defrost.
Why Cut Frozen Ground Beef?
I like to stock up on ground beef whenever it’s on sale. Of course, I do that with all sorts of meat products, from brisket to pork butt to chicken thighs. But buying in bulk has drawbacks—chiefly, what am I going to do with all this meat?
The easy answer would be to freeze it, or at least some of it. Most of the time, I’ll portion out the ground beef before putting it in the freezer. That way, I can defrost only as much as I need.
That’s not always the case, though. Let’s assume you have a giant block of frozen ground beef, and you only need to defrost a portion of it. Cutting into the solidly frozen block is one option—though it’s not the only one, as I’ll get into later on.
How To Cut Frozen Ground Beef
You can cut frozen ground beef as long as you have the proper tools and handle everything with caution. Let’s break it down, step by step.
Assemble Your Tools
This task doesn’t require any fancy equipment. All you really need are a sharp knife—preferably a serrated one—and a large cutting board.
Sharpen the knife before you begin. If your knife is dull, it might slip, which could be disastrous. You also need to make sure that the cutting board you’ve selected is big enough to hold the entire block of ground beef.
Prepare the Beef
Take the ground beef out of the freezer and remove any packaging. You might have to wait 30 minutes to an hour before the wrapper will come loose, but don’t worry—you’ll still be able to return the meat to the freezer afterward.
Once the meat is unwrapped, arrange it on the cutting board. Use a meat mallet or a similar blunt, heavy tool to break the meat into smaller chunks. This will make the task more manageable.
If the meat is packaged in a cylindrical tube, you might need to use a dish towel or oven mitt to get a good grip on the end. Otherwise, it might roll away when you’re trying to cut it, which increases the risk of injury.
Use the knife to cut the ground beef into thin slices. It’s easiest if you cut it into small pieces and use as many as you need, rather than trying to cut a piece that’s exactly the right size.
Move the blade back and forth in a sawing motion, applying gentle pressure. Once you’ve cut off as much as you think you’ll need, you can either refreeze the rest or put it in the refrigerator to continue defrosting.
It might not be necessary to cut the meat while it’s still frozen solid. There are other ways to get what you need while still preserving the frozen sections. Here are a few ideas.
One option would be to defrost a segment of the ground beef by submerging that part of the package in water. Once the meat has softened a bit, use a sharp knife to carve away the part that’s defrosted.
When you have what you need, put the ground beef in the refrigerator to finish thawing. Once it’s ready, it’s best if you cook it off immediately.
I’m not in love with this method for a couple of reasons. For one, you have to make sure to cut off the entire thawed portion. It’s not a good idea to refreeze meat that’s been defrosted in cold water, though you can do so if you used the refrigerator to thaw it.
On a related note, you should return the frozen portion to the freezer immediately afterward. To do this, you’ll have to wrap it well. Otherwise, the exposed part will be prone to freezer burn.
Thawing and Refreezing
As an alternative, you can defrost the entire batch of ground beef, then refreeze whatever you don’t need. I used to think it was dangerous to put thawed meat back in the freezer, but that’s only true under a specific set of circumstances.
As long as the meat was defrosted in the refrigerator, you can refreeze it as many times as you need to. Repeating the process more than once will result in drier meat, though. Try to defrost and refreeze the ground beef only once.
When you’ve used the cold water method (or the microwave) to thaw meat, you have to cook it right away. That’s why I recommend cooking it off immediately when using the partial thawing method described above, even though only a portion of the meat was in the water.
I like this method because it allows me to portion out the meat and freeze it in smaller batches. As I mentioned, I prefer to do this before freezing the meat in the first place, but when that’s not possible, this option is the way to go.
Use The Microwave
I consider this technique to be a last-resort option. It’s better to avoid the microwave altogether, even when it comes to simple tasks like defrosting.
In this case, you wouldn’t be using the microwave to thaw the meat entirely—just enough to make it easier to cut. The problem? You won’t be able to refreeze the meat afterward, and it will be necessary to cook it off as soon as it finishes defrosting.
Personally, I don’t see the point of cutting the meat into smaller portions if you’re going to use it all anyway. What’s more, the microwave might actually cook the ground beef in places, instead of merely thawing it out.
If you do decide to use the microwave to make the cutting task easier, enlist the defrost setting or set the unit to run at 30 percent power. Zap it in 30-second increments, and cut into it as soon as it’s malleable enough to handle.
- Freeze ground beef as soon as you know you won’t be using it within the next few days. The longer you keep it around, the less time you’ll have to cook it off once it’s defrosted.
- Make sure your freezer is set at or below 0 degrees Fahrenheit.
- If time allows, remove the original packaging and rewrap the beef before freezing it. You’ll want to force as much air out of the wrapper as possible to stave off freezer burn.
- Label and date the packages so you’ll know how long the meat has been in there.
- Store ground beef in the freezer for no longer than 6 months. A storage period of 3 to 4 months is preferable.
Large blocks of frozen ground beef are unwieldy and difficult to manage. It’s better to freeze the meat in portions from the outset. If you haven’t taken that step, be sure to use caution when cutting the meat into slices.
Hi there! I’m Darren Wayland, your BBQHost. My love of great barbecue inspired me to curate this site as a resource for all my like-minded fellow pitmasters out there. When I’m not researching and learning all I can about the latest tips and techniques, you can find me at the grill—that is, if you can spot me at all through the clouds of sweet-smelling smoke. And since you asked, yes, that probably is barbecue sauce on my face. Welcome to the party!