Defrosting meats like bacon, steak, mince – even delicate shellfish like scallops – is fairly straightforward, even if you’re starting from a position of zero experience.
When it comes to meat on the bone, however (such as cuts like pork chops), things can get a little trickier.
Many people tend to ask, for example, can you cook pork chops if they’re not fully defrosted? Categorically not. You can cook some meat from frozen just fine, but with pork chops, which are on the bone, doing so is super risky. You should always fully defrost pork chops before cooking them.
In this article, we examine the five best methods for thawing frozen pork chops: their pros and cons, and instructions on how to use them.
Method One: Refrigeration
Approximate defrosting time: 12-24 hours
If you’ve read any of our other articles on defrosting meat, then you probably saw this one coming!
Refrigeration is, without a doubt, the safest, most hygienic, and effective means of defrosting any meat, including pork chops.
Here’s how to defrost pork chops in the fridge:
Step One: Remove your pork chops from the freezer. Place them (in their packaging or freezer bag) into an airtight container for which you have a lid.
Step Two: Place the airtight container containing your pork chops on the bottom shelf of your fridge. Make sure to keep the container away from any other open foodstuffs.
Step Three: Leave the pork chops to thaw in the fridge for 12-24 hours (the longer the better). After the allotted time has passed, test the pork chops to make sure they are fully defrosted. Leave the chops in the fridge for a few more hours if they’re not all the way thawed.
Step Four: Either keep the pork chops in their container in the fridge for up to 2-3 days after thawing (before cooking) or cook immediately, however you like. Just make sure to pat the chops dry, first.
If you’re still asking yourself how long does pork chop take to thaw? The answer is at least 12 hours, but up to around 24 hours depending on the size and number of the chops.
You can, of course, thaw pork chops in less time, using one of our other methods. However, if you have the time to do so, we always recommend defrosting pork chops in the fridge overnight.
- Safest, most hygienic method of defrosting pork chops.
- Easy and hassle free, just leave the pork chops to thaw in the fridge and come back later.
- Thaws the pork chop evenly throughout the meat, right down to the bone.
- Longest defrosting time of any method listed in this article.
- Can take up a lot of space in the fridge, depending on the number of chops. Space which you may not have to spare.
Method Two: Microwave
Approximate defrosting time: 5 minutes per lb (pound)
In case you’re wondering how do you defrost pork chops quickly? Using the microwave is the quickest way to defrost your pork chops, thawing individual chops in five minutes or less.
However, microwaves can negatively impact the overall quality of the meat’s texture and flavor. For that reason, I recommend using any other defrosting method if you can.
Here’s how to thaw pork chops in a microwave:
Step One: Remove the pork chops from the freezer, and from their original packaging. Place individual pork chops, one at a time, onto a microwaveable plate.
Step Two: Turn your microwave to the ‘defrost’ setting. If it doesn’t have a defrost setting, turn it to 30-50% power. Put the plate with the first pork chop on it in the microwave.
Step Three: Thaw the first pork chop in the microwave on the above power setting for 2 minutes. After 2 minutes, test it to see how thawed it is. Continue blasting it in the microwave in 1-minute increments until you deem the pork chop to be fully defrosted.
Step Four: Repeat as necessary until you have thawed all of the individual pork chops you plan to cook.
Step Five: Pat your thawed pork chops dry, and then proceed to cook them immediately.
- Microwaving is the fastest method for defrosting pork chops.
- Your pork chops will be thawed unevenly, hotter on the outside than on the inside.
- The microwave will probably begin cooking the pork chops, as well as defrosting them.
- Microwaves can impair the overall final taste and texture of your pork chops.
- Requires constant attention to ensure you do not overdo the pork chops in the microwave.
Method Three: Use a Defrosting Tray (e.g. the Thaw Master™)
Approximate defrosting time: 25-45 minutes
Defrosting trays like the Thaw Master™ are specially designed to thaw meats like pork chops.
Thanks to the aluminum alloy they’re made of, which has a thermal conductivity of up to 20,000 times that of ordinary metals, these trays can draw the cold from frozen meat.
In doing so, they thaw meat much faster than it would defrost if just left at room temperature.
Can you defrost pork chops at room temperature? Under almost no circumstances should you defrost pork chops (or any other meat, for that matter) at room temperature. Room temperature is the ideal breeding ground for bacteria which can cause food poisoning.
Only defrost pork chops at room temperature if using a patented defrosting tray, or the ‘pot and tray’ method described in this article.
Here’s how to defrost pork chops using a defrosting tray:
Step One: Set your defrosting tray out on the kitchen counter. Remove the pork chops from the freezer and take them out of their packaging.
Step Two: Put your frozen pork chops on your defrosting tray. Leave as much space between them as possible to give the tray space to work its magic.
Step Three: Turn the chops every 10-15 minutes. This is to expose both sides of the chop to the conductive metal in equal amounts.
Step Four: Leave the pork chops to thaw on the defrosting tray for around 25-45 minutes, depending on their thickness. Test the thaw by pressing the center of each chop every time you turn them until you are happy that they are fully defrosted.
Step Five: Pat your newly-thawed pork chops dry, and immediately cook them. It is best to cook meat thawed at room temperature on high heat, starting with a sear.
- Defrosting trays thaw your pork chops evenly throughout the cut, right to the bone.
- A quick and effective method of defrosting pork chops, thawing some thin chops in as little as 25 minutes (longer than a steak might take, due to the meat being on the bone).
- Requires you to have a defrosting tray, which not everyone has.
- Slightly risky, as food at room temperature for any length of time is at risk of picking up dangerous bacteria.
- There are still faster, less expensive methods available to you.
Method Four: ‘Pot and Tray’
Approximate defrosting time: 10-30 minutes
If you don’t have a specially designed defrosting tray, here’s a way to thaw pork chops using everyday household items.
Here’s how to defrost pork chops using the ‘pot and tray’ method:
Step One: Put a baking tray upside down on the countertop. Then, fill a large pot with room temperature water.
Step Two: Take your pork chops from the freezer, and remove them from their packaging. Place the chops in an airtight, preferably ziplocked bag. (Of course, if you froze them in a bag like this, you can just leave them in there.)
Step Three: Place your bag of chops on top of the tray, making sure the chops are in a single layer, within the circumference of the pot’s base. Then, rest the large pot on top of the bag of chops.
Step Four: Leave the chops to defrost for 10-30 minutes, turning the bag over every 10 minutes. (Thinner chops will take less time, thicker cuts more time.)
Step Five: Remove the thawed chops from the bag, pat them dry, and cook them immediately, as you usually would. (Best to start with a sear on high heat, and cook on a high heat throughout.)
- Second fastest pork chop defrosting method after the microwave.
- Utilizes the simplest objects from the kitchen.
- Thaws the pork chops evenly and throughout.
- Risky, as uses room temperature water to thaw the pork chops, putting them at slight risk of acquiring dangerous bacteria.
Method Five: Hot Running Water
Approximate defrosting time: 15-30 minutes
You should avoid exposing thawing meat to room temperature in almost every situation. Room temperature encourages bacteria growth, and this bacteria, if consumed, can cause food poisoning.
The hot running water method here should, alongside the microwave, be the last resort.
However, since it exposes your pork chops to The ‘Danger Zone’ (40-140F or 4-60C) is the range of temperatures at which meat begins to accrue dangerous amounts of unhealthy bacteria, which can cause food poisoning when consumed.
However, time is also a crucial factor here, and provided meat is only exposed to the ‘Danger Zone’ for a very limited amount of time, you should be safe.
Here’s how to defrost pork chops under hot running water:
Step One: Remove your pork chops from the freezer. If they are already in a ziplocked bag, leave them there, otherwise, transfer them into one. Remove all air from the bag before sealing.
Step Two: Place the bag of pork chops in a colander or sieve in the sink. Turn on the hot water and run it over the bag.
Step Three: Check to see how thawed your chops are every 10 minutes. Leave the pork chops under running hot water for no longer than 30 minutes.
Step Four: Remove your thawed pork chops from the bag, pat them dry, and cook them immediately.
- Fairly fast defrosting method, after the ‘pot and tray’ and microwave methods.
- Thaws the pork chops evenly throughout.
- Arguably the riskiest means of defrosting pork chops, as the constant exposure to warm, ‘Danger Zone’ temperatures carries an inherent risk of bacteria forming. This bacteria could cause food poisoning if consumed.
- Wasteful water use.
- Requires constant attention so as to expose the pork chops to the hot water for only as long as is needed, and no longer.
Thawing pork chops doesn’t have to be a cause for stress. Nor does it have to be laborious.
I would always recommend that you defrost any meat in the fridge overnight.
However, if you’re short on time, then your next best bet is to use a defrosting tray, or the unique ‘pot and tray’ method. The hot running water and microwave defrosting methods should be your very last resort.