How to defrost pork chops

Are your pork chops on ice? Here’s how to bring them back to a prep-friendly temp.

Get this: Pork is the world's most-consumed animal protein, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Foreign Agriculture Service. And the average American eats 1 ¼ pounds of pork each week. That's a lot of tenderloin, ribs, and chops!

So if you've stocked up on enough pork chops to last you for a while, here's what you need to know about how to safely thaw them:

How to Thaw Frozen Pork Chops

First things first: No matter which method you choose for how to thaw frozen pork chops, do not do so at room temperature (aka simply leaving the pork chops on the counter until they de-ice). If you allow it to hang out at your usual thermostat temp, it's a big food safety risk since it puts your food in the "danger zone" of 40° F to 140° F for enough time to encourage the growth of bacteria, the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns.

The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) recommends the following three safe ways for how to thaw frozen pork chops — or any smaller or sliced cut of meat, such as beef steak, salmon filets, or chicken breasts.

How to Thaw Frozen Pork Chops in the Refrigerator

If you're able to plan ahead, this is a safe and easy way to thaw frozen pork chops.

  • Place frozen pork chops in a container, such as a casserole or baking dish, to catch any potential drips.
  • Allow to chill at refrigerator temperature (35° F to 40° F) for 12 to 24 hours, depending on pork chop size and whether you froze the pork chops individually or together.
  • After thawing pork chops in the refrigerator, you can keep them in the refrigerator safely for 3 to 5 days before cooking.

How to Thaw Frozen Pork Chops in Cold Water

Quicker, yet a bit more fussy than refrigerator thawing, using cold water can be a safe way to thaw frozen pork chops — if you do it correctly.

  • Unwrap frozen pork chops and place in a leakproof zip-top plastic bag.
  • Submerge the bag of frozen pork chops in a big bowl or pot of cold tap water.
  • Replace the water every 30 minutes until thawed. A one-pound chop thaws in about an hour, while a 4-pound stack may take about 3 hours.

Food safety tips: Don't use your sink, because if any leakage occurs, you might be introducing bacteria onto sink surfaces. And don't use warm or hot water, as it may increase the pork chops' temperature into the danger zone.

How to Thaw Frozen Pork Chops in a Microwave

Plan to cook your pork chops immediately after thawing in the microwave, as portions of the pork chops may defrost and land within that temperature danger zone.

  • Unwrap frozen pork chops and place on a microwave-safe plate to catch any potential drips.
  • Lightly cover plate with heat-safe plastic wrap to prevent any splatters from spraying around the microwave.
  • Cook at 50 percent power for 2 minutes, flip, and cook for 2 minutes more.
  • Repeat as needed, depending on the size of your pork chops.

What to Do When You Don’t Have Time to Thaw Frozen Pork Chops

If you're in a huge rush and don't have time — or prefer not — to microwave, you should be able to cook most of your pork chop recipes starting with frozen pork chops. Estimate that you'll need to cook for about 50 percent more time than is listed in the recipe for thawed or fresh meat.

This article was co-authored by our trained team of editors and researchers who validated it for accuracy and comprehensiveness. wikiHow’s Content Management Team carefully monitors the work from our editorial staff to ensure that each article is backed by trusted research and meets our high quality standards.

There are 11 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.

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The best and the safest way to defrost frozen pork chops is to leave them to thaw in the refrigerator overnight. This, however, takes a bit of meal-prep foresight. Fortunately, you can still make dinner on time even if the chops are in the freezer when you get home. With cold water and a microwave, you have 2 quick, safe ways to defrost ice-cold chops in a pinch.

How to defrost pork chops

  • Bacteria multiplies more rapidly starting at 40°F so using cold water only keeps the pork chops below this temperature. [1] X Research source

How to defrost pork chops

How to defrost pork chops

  • You could also place the bowl under a running tap, though this way will waste water.

How to defrost pork chops

  • Once thawed in cold water, pork chops must be cooked before you can freeze them again.

How to defrost pork chops

  • If the pork chops are different sizes, place the smaller or thinner ones in the center of the plate as the edges of a carousel are the hottest. [5] X Research source

How to defrost pork chops

  • The “defrost” setting on a microwave is equal to 30-50% power. [7] X Research source

How to defrost pork chops

  • If the chops are stacked, start with 30-second bursts and separate the pieces into a single layer as soon as you can.
  • The edges of the pork chops may begin to cook during this process.

How to defrost pork chops

  • As with cold-bath thawing, you can safely refreeze the pork chops after cooking.

How to defrost pork chops

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How to defrost pork chops

How to defrost pork chops

How to defrost pork chops

How to defrost pork chops

How to defrost pork chops

  1. ↑https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/food-safety-fact-sheets/safe-food-handling/danger-zone-40-f-140-f/CT_Index
  2. ↑https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/food-safety-fact-sheets/safe-food-handling/the-big-thaw-safe-defrosting-methods-for-consumers/ct_index
  3. ↑https://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/cooking-tips-techniques/preparation/how-to-quickly-thaw-meat
  4. ↑https://oureverydaylife.com/fastest-way-can-defrost-frozen-pork-chops-21987.html
  5. ↑https://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/cooking-tips-techniques/preparation/how-to-quickly-thaw-meat
  6. ↑https://www.fsis.usda.gov/shared/PDF/Microwave_Ovens_and_Food_Safety.pdf
  7. ↑https://products.geappliances.com/appliance/gea-support-search-content?contentId=18763
  8. ↑https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/safe_microwave_defrosting
  9. ↑https://agrilifeextension.tamu.edu/solutions/safely-thawing-turkey/
  1. ↑https://www.sciencefocus.com/science/where-is-the-coldest-part-of-the-fridge-the-bottom-or-the-top/
  2. ↑https://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/basics/chill/index.html
  3. ↑https://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/basics/clean/index.html

About This Article

The best way to defrost your frozen pork chops is to leave them in the fridge overnight. However, if you’re pressed for time, you can defrost them in water. Just put the pork chops in a sealable bag and submerge them in a bowl of cold water. If your pork chops are stacked, separate them as soon as you can so they defrost quicker. It should take individual pork chops about 30 minutes to defrost, but if it takes longer, replace the water with cold water to keep it at the right temperature. Alternatively, place your pork chops unwrapped on a plate and microwave them on a low or defrost setting for 2 minutes at a time. Flip them each time so they thaw evenly. This should take between 5 and 10 minutes. For more tips, including how to easily separate stacked pork chops, read on!

How to defrost pork chops

It’s always a red-letter day when you catch a great sale on pork chops or other family favorites. It’s even better if you have enough freezer space to take full advantage of the low price. Of course, it means you’ll need to plan your meals far enough ahead to thaw the chops before you use them. Ideally you’d do that overnight in your refrigerator — the safest method — but if you forget, there are quicker ways to defrost.

Microwave Defrosting

Your microwave oven is probably the fastest way to defrost pork chops, but it does present a few practical problems. For one thing, the defrost function’s effectiveness varies wildly between brands and models. More importantly, microwaves heat unevenly. Turn your chops frequently to ensure that they thaw evenly, and separate them as soon as possible if they’re stacked. They’ll thaw more evenly in a single layer. If your microwave tends to cook one section of the chop and leave others frozen, interrupt the defrost cycle periodically by opening the door, and let the chops sit for five minutes so their temperatures can equalize.

Cold Water Defrosting

For small packages of chops or individual chops, cold water defrosting can be as quick as microwave defrosting. Place the tightly wrapped chops in a deep bowl and fill it with cold water. Change the water after 20 to 30 minutes, or leave cold water trickling into it so it’s constantly refreshed. Individual chops can thaw this way in 20 to 40 minutes, depending on their thickness, while packages of chops can take an hour or more. If the chops are stacked, separate and refrigerate the top and bottom chops as soon as they’re thawed, then rewrap and continue thawing the remainder.

Food Safety Tips

When you’re thawing chops or any other food, it’s important to observe good food-handling practices. Never thaw foods at room temperature, which encourages bacterial growth. Microwave thawing always raises at least part of your chop into the food-safety “danger zone” between 40 degrees and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Microwave-thawed foods need to be cooked immediately to remain food safe. For water thawing, use the two-hour rule. Foods are generally safe at room temperature for up to two hours, so keep your thawing time within that limit. Wash your hands, utensils and work surfaces with hot, soapy water before switching from meats to other foods. That minimizes the risk of cross-contamination between foods.

Packaging Tips

Any time you have pork chops to freeze, follow a few simple tips for trouble-free freezing and thawing. Always package the chops in a single layer, which enables them to freeze and thaw more quickly. This ensures that they spend less time in the food safety “danger zone.” When your freezer space is limited, freeze the chops individually and bag them together, with parchment or wax paper in between, so they can be easily separated. Ensure that the packaging is airtight, both to preserve their quality in the freezer and to minimize leaking juices when they’re thawed.

Are your pork chops on ice? Here’s how to bring them back to a prep-friendly temp.

Get this: Pork is the world's most-consumed animal protein, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Foreign Agriculture Service. And the average American eats 1 ¼ pounds of pork each week. That's a lot of tenderloin, ribs, and chops!

So if you've stocked up on enough pork chops to last you for a while, here's what you need to know about how to safely thaw them:

How to Thaw Frozen Pork Chops

First things first: No matter which method you choose for how to thaw frozen pork chops, do not do so at room temperature (aka simply leaving the pork chops on the counter until they de-ice). If you allow it to hang out at your usual thermostat temp, it's a big food safety risk since it puts your food in the "danger zone" of 40° F to 140° F for enough time to encourage the growth of bacteria, the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns.

The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) recommends the following three safe ways for how to thaw frozen pork chops — or any smaller or sliced cut of meat, such as beef steak, salmon filets, or chicken breasts.

How to Thaw Frozen Pork Chops in the Refrigerator

If you're able to plan ahead, this is a safe and easy way to thaw frozen pork chops.

  • Place frozen pork chops in a container, such as a casserole or baking dish, to catch any potential drips.
  • Allow to chill at refrigerator temperature (35° F to 40° F) for 12 to 24 hours, depending on pork chop size and whether you froze the pork chops individually or together.
  • After thawing pork chops in the refrigerator, you can keep them in the refrigerator safely for 3 to 5 days before cooking.

How to Thaw Frozen Pork Chops in Cold Water

Quicker, yet a bit more fussy than refrigerator thawing, using cold water can be a safe way to thaw frozen pork chops — if you do it correctly.

  • Unwrap frozen pork chops and place in a leakproof zip-top plastic bag.
  • Submerge the bag of frozen pork chops in a big bowl or pot of cold tap water.
  • Replace the water every 30 minutes until thawed. A one-pound chop thaws in about an hour, while a 4-pound stack may take about 3 hours.

Food safety tips: Don't use your sink, because if any leakage occurs, you might be introducing bacteria onto sink surfaces. And don't use warm or hot water, as it may increase the pork chops' temperature into the danger zone.

How to Thaw Frozen Pork Chops in a Microwave

Plan to cook your pork chops immediately after thawing in the microwave, as portions of the pork chops may defrost and land within that temperature danger zone.

  • Unwrap frozen pork chops and place on a microwave-safe plate to catch any potential drips.
  • Lightly cover plate with heat-safe plastic wrap to prevent any splatters from spraying around the microwave.
  • Cook at 50 percent power for 2 minutes, flip, and cook for 2 minutes more.
  • Repeat as needed, depending on the size of your pork chops.

What to Do When You Don’t Have Time to Thaw Frozen Pork Chops

If you're in a huge rush and don't have time — or prefer not — to microwave, you should be able to cook most of your pork chop recipes starting with frozen pork chops. Estimate that you'll need to cook for about 50 percent more time than is listed in the recipe for thawed or fresh meat.

If you thawed out some ham or a pork roast for dinner but ended up making something else, or you simply have a lot of leftovers after a party, you may be wondering if it’s safe to refreeze. You may wonder: Can uncooked pork be refrozen? What about cooked pork? The answer is yes; you can refreeze pork, but it’s important to take the proper steps to ensure that it will be tasty—and safe—to eat when you thaw it for later use.

How to defrost pork chops

Freezing Pork

If you thawed pork in the refrigerator, and can't use it right away, you can safely refreeze it, whether it's been cooked or not. Just place it back in the freezer within a few days of thawing. It might be a touch drier when you go to use it (due to the second thawing and reheating), but it will still taste great.

Just know that according to the Department of Agriculture’s guidelines, you should never refreeze meat that has been left out for more than two hours, and one hour if the temperature is above 90 degrees. In fact, pork that has been left out for an extended period of time shouldn’t be eaten at all. No one likes to throw out food, but it’s better than getting food poisoning.

Packaging Pork for Refreezing

Wrap your pork tightly in freezer paper or a freezer bag to prevent freezer burn, which happens when foods are exposed to air. If you use freezer bags, be sure to squeeze all the air out of the bag before you seal it. Then, label the packaging, so you don’t forget what’s inside. Everything starts to look the same once you toss it in the freezer.

If you have a large amount of cooked pork to freeze (as sometimes happens after a party or get-together), consider dividing it into smaller portions before you freeze it. Individual servings or family meal-size servings are both handy to have on hand for busy days, and it's nice not to have to thaw out a huge amount of pork to gain access to the smaller portions you may need.

You can also save yourself time by asking the butcher to package your pork in freezer paper and in certain portions before you buy it. For example, ask the butcher to wrap your ground pork in 1-pound packages or include only two pork chops per package.

Thawing and Using Refrozen Pork

Since your pork already spent some time in the fridge before you refroze it, it's best to have a plan before you pull it back out of the freezer. Try to use it as soon as it's thawed, so you don't put anyone who eats it at risk for food-borne illness.

While ham can last up to ​two months in a freezer, freezing foods doesn’t kill bacteria. So, if the pork spent three days in your fridge during the first go-round and another three days in the fridge on this go-round, that adds up to lots of time for bacteria to grow and multiply.

How to defrost pork chops

If you are a fan of pork chops, and like to stock up, freezing can keep them safe to eat indefinitely. But safe doesn’t always mean fresh, so when it comes to freezer storage, it is important to understand that quality degrades over time. The taste and texture of pork chops can change, depending on whether they were cooked or raw before freezing, or whether you wrapped them well enough to endure the deep freeze.

Raw pork chops keep in the freezer for four to six months before quality diminishes. Store the pork chops in their original packaging when freezing. Freezing for two months or less requires no additional wrapping. To store the pork chops longer, wrap the original packaging with heavy-duty aluminum foil, freezer wrap or plastic wrap or slip the package of pork chops in a plastic freezer bag.

Cooked

Cooked pork chops stay good in the freezer for approximately two to three months before quality begins to suffer. Wrap any leftover pork chops in heavy-duty aluminum foil or freezer wrap before putting them in the freezer. Shallow freezing containers also work well for freezer storage. If the pork chops are still warm, put them in the refrigerator in the shallow container to cool before transferring them to the freezer.

Thawing

Thaw your frozen pork chops in the refrigerator the night before you need them. It takes approximately 12 to 14 hours to defrost a 1-inch-thick pork chop. It is also safe to thaw raw pork chops in cold water — wrapped in an airtight bag — as long as you change the water every 30 minutes. Thawing raw and cooked pork chops in the microwave is also possible, using the defrost button or medium-low setting, according to manufacturer’s instructions.

Precautions

Cook raw pork chops immediately after microwave defrosting or defrosting in cold water because they are exposed to room temperature long enough to develop bacteria that cause food-borne illnesses. Thorough cooking is essential to kill bacteria and whether you are reheating or cooking pork chops for the first time, the internal temperature of the pork should reach 145 degrees Fahrenheit. Press a meat thermometer into the pork to ensure doneness.

How to defrost pork chops

How do you defrost pork chops? First rule: Don't do it at room temperature. Microwave, refrigerate or run the chops under cold water to thaw the meat properly. Otherwise, you may be at risk of contracting a foodborne illness.

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Pork Cooking and Safety

Pork, meat from hogs or domestic swine, is the most widely consumed meat in the world, says the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA FSIS). Among the many cuts of pork is the pork chop, which comes from the loin, the part of the animal defined by the National Pork Board as extending from the animal's hip to shoulder.

The USDA FSIS explains how to safely handle pork before or after cooking. Once purchased, pork should be placed in disposable plastic bags to contain leakage and then stored in the refrigerator for no more than five days or in the freezer for no more than six months.

As for cooking time, the USDA FSIS suggests seven to eight minutes for a 3/4-inch chop. The internal temperature, which can be measured with a meat thermometer, should be no less than 145 degrees Fahrenheit. Pork that is pink after being cooked doesn't necessarily indicate that the meat is raw or undercooked. It may be due to certain ingredients or a cooking technique.

Methods of Thawing Meat

Another important element of food safety for pork chops is using the proper thawing methods. There are a few ways to defrost meat safely, according to the Government of Canada: in the refrigerator, in the microwave and with cold water in a sealed package. Leftovers can be microwaved or refrigerated, though once defrosted they must be consumed immediately and cannot be re-frozen.

For defrosting in the refrigerator, place the pork chop on a tray or plate to prevent leakage. Leave the meat in the refrigerator for about 24 hours — the time it takes to thaw completely — then cook as soon as possible. You'll know if your food is defrosted if all the ice crystals have melted away, says the UK Food Standards Agency.

Thaw in the microwave by first putting the pork chop in a microwave safe container. Cover the container, while leaving a small part uncovered for the steam to escape. Use the defrost mode on your microwave before cooking.

You can also defrost your meat with cold water. The Government of Canada advises either placing the meat under cold running water or submerging it in water. In both cases, the pork chop should be wrapped in a leak-proof bag.

If you submerge the pork chop in water, make sure to change the water in the bowl every 30 minutes until it's fully defrosted. Small packages of meat that are about one pound, may defrost in an hour or less, says the USDA FSIS.

Defrosting Meat at Room Temperature

What does the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have to say about defrosting meat at room temperature? Don't do it. Food should never be thawed at room temperature. Thawing pork chops on the counter, for example, could allow for bacterial growth and result in foodborne illness.

The USDA FSIS explains that food should not be left out at room temperature for more than two hours, as bacteria multiplies quickly in temperatures between 40 and 140 F.

If you don't have time to defrost your food, it's still safe to cook it immediately, says the USDA FSIS — just be aware that cooking time may increase by 50 percent.

If you make the mistake of defrosting meat at room temperature, you run the risk of contracting a foodborne illness or food poisoning. Symptoms might include fever, diarrhea, vomiting and dehydration, writes Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Once you've safely defrosted and cooked your pork chops to perfection, serve them with sides like brown rice and steamed broccoli or try our Thanksgiving Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Roasted Green Beans, Mushrooms, and Onion for a delicious, satisfying meal.

How to defrost pork chops

Before Defrosting Pork Chops, You Need to Know This!

How to defrost pork chops

Before you start the process of thawing your pork chops, here is some important information you need to know:

If meat, like pork chops are not thawed PROPERLY you open up yourself to the danger zone & the growth of harmful bacteria.

What is the Danger Zone?

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) states, that the Danger Zone is the range of temperatures 40 ° and 140 °F, where bacteria harmful food borne bacteria multiplies and grows quickly.

These harmful bacteria, like E. coli, Salmonella, among others, are associated with food borne illnesses and poisoning.

This is why we stress that it is extremely important that you follow recommended thawing instruction.

How to Thaw Pork Chops: A Look at the Best Options

How to defrost pork chops

When thawing pork chops, you have three options to choose from.

  • Overnight in the refrigerator
  • Cold water bath
  • Microwave

Each method has their own pros and cons.

We will take a more detailed look at each below.

Overnight in the Refrigerator: The Best Method

The recommended way to thaw frozen pork chops is to let them sit overnight in the refrigerator.

With this method, you can feel secure that it will be safely defrosted and ready to be used by the next morning.

Steps:

    Remove frozen pork chops from the freezer, a day before you plan to use it.

Important: Raw meat, like pork chops, should be stored on the bottom shelf so juices don’t drip onto other foods and cause cross-contamination.

Pros: This is the safest method to thawing pork chops. Perfect for those who plan their meals ahead of time.

Cons: Slow method (can take 8 to 12 hours). Not recommended for people who need their pork chops defrosted quickly.

Overnight thawing is a slow method and not ideal for people who need the tofu thawed quickly.

Microwave: The Quickest Option

If you are in a rush, then the microwave is the best way to get your pork chops thawed quickly.

Steps:

    Remove the frozen pork chops from the freezer and place in a microwave-safe rate or container.

Pros: Great option for those who need to defrost their pork chops quickly.

Cons: The pork chops can begin to cook, if not properly monitored or a high power setting on the microwave is used.

Cold Water Bath: Another Quick Option

While not the fastest method (microwave wins), the cold bath method is another quick option to consider, if you are in a rush and need your pork chops thawed quickly.

    fill the kitchen sink or container with cold water from the kitchen faucet.

Note: The process could be sped up if the container with the pork chops is placed under a faucet running cold water.

While this is a much quicker process, we do not recommend it, simply because you will be wasting a lot of water.

Pros: Quick option that can have your meat thawed and ready to be cooked in about 30 minutes.

Cons: If left unattended for too long, there is a possibility that the meat could enter the DANGER ZONE.