Can You Refreeze Meat?

Medically Reviewed on 8/18/2022
Can You Refreeze Meat?
Thawing and refreezing degrade the quality of the meat.

It is possible to refreeze meat even after thawing. Thawing is defrosting the meat in the refrigerator. However, occasionally, if the meat gets warm outside the fridge, it is susceptible to bacterial colonization. These foods may not be refrozen.

3 myths and facts about refreezing meat

  1. You cannot refreeze cooked meat: If the food is not left outside for more than two hours, it is safe to refreeze cooked meat.
  2. You cannot freeze and refreeze thawed meat: If the frozen food is thawed properly with all the precautions, it is safe to consume.
  3. Hot foods should be cooled before freezing them: Keeping the leftovers outside may cause contamination. So, once the leftovers have stopped steaming and reduced condensation, they can be safely put into the freezer.

What is thawing and what happens when the meat is thawed?

Thawing is a simple process to get frozen food to become soft or liquid again.

When the frozen meat is thawed, it is safe to refreeze it. This may however affect the taste and consistency of the meat.

11 tips to refreeze meat

  1. Avoid exposing frozen meat to outside air at room temperature for more than two hours. If it is exposed to the outside air for more than two hours and at more than 90 °F temperature, it is not safe to refreeze.
  2. Thaw frozen meat in the refrigerator or by putting it in cold water. The temperature of the meat should be about 40 °F.
  3. Cold water thawing is putting the meat packed in Ziplock bags or leakproof packages in the cold water.
  4. The best way is to put the meat from the freezer in the refrigerator at least 12 to 24 hours before cooking.
  5. Frozen meat, poultry, and seafood are safe to refreeze after thawing.
  6. Thaw timings:
    • Ground meat, steaks, chicken breast, and chops take 18 to 24 hours to thaw.
    • Whole chicken and roasts take 24 to 36 hours.
    • Large roasts, bulk packs, and turkeys take 36 to 72 hours to thaw.
  7. Always check for expiration date because foods beyond that date are not recommended for refreezing.
  8. Any meat can be thawed only once and refrozen, do not keep on repeating. This causes food poisoning.
  9. Avoid refreezing if the poultry, seafood, or red meat is defrosted using a microwave.
  10. Avoid refreezing meat if it is already kept under running water or cold water.
  11. Avoid refreezing if the meat is defrosted on the kitchen counter because your kitchen counter may have microorganisms that can contaminate the meat.


According to the USDA, there is no difference between a “portion” and a “serving.” See Answer

3 types of thawing

  1. Refrigerator thawing: The safest way of thawing. Put the frozen food in the refrigerator for a complete day and overnight.
  2. Microwave thawing: Remove the plastic wrapping around the meat, and thaw it microwave defrosting setting. Cook immediately after thawing. Cooked food items can be refrozen.
  3. Cold water thawing: This is the fastest way of thawing; it takes a couple of hours depending on the size of the meat. Wrap the meat in waterproof packages or a tight container and put it in cold water. Make sure to change the water every 30 minutes. Once it is thawed, cook immediately.

8 important things to be considered before refreezing meat

  1. How long has been the meat thawed? The longer the meat is kept for thawing, the higher the chances of contamination.
  2. The meat appears fresh after thawing.
  3. Check the odor. If there is any foul odor, avoid refreezing.
  4. Check if it is sticky to the touch. Sticky means that it is not safe to refreeze it.
  5. Check the seal and package. If it is sealed properly and tightly packed, it will maintain the quality and freshness of the meat.
  6. Remove other food items from nearby to avoid cross-contamination.
  7. Place the meat on the lower shelf of the refrigerator to avoid any leakage from the meat.
  8. Always buy frozen meat so that the meat will not be exposed to outside air or temperatures for a longer time.

3 risks of eating refrozen meat

  1. Although refrozen meat is safe to eat, it is always recommended to eat fresh foods to avoid contamination risks.
  2. Refreezing done after perfectly thawing is safe to eat. However, any error in the thawing process will cause the multiplication of bacteria, which could result in food poisoning.
  3. Thawing and refreezing degrade the quality of the meat. During the process, large crystals of ice defrost and the texture of the meat gets dry. The flavor and nutrients are lost.

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Medically Reviewed on 8/18/2022
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May I refreeze the food in the freezer if it thawed or partially thawed?

Following Rules, Refreezing Thawed Meat Is Safe.