How To Defrost And Thaw Venison

If you're a fan of this protein-rich red meat, it's good to always have it in stock in your freezer. But do you know how to thaw it properly? We've asked the meat experts and here's what they say.

There are three safe ways to defrost venison. You can choose from any of these:

  • Transferring venison in the fridge
  • Immersing deer meat in cold water
  • Using the defrost setting of your microwave

Continue reading to learn more about the proper way to thaw deer meat. We'll let you know how much time it'll take to completely defrost your venison depending on the meat cut and thawing method used. We'll also answer questions regarding refreezing venison, how long it can sit at room temperature, and if you can cook it in its frozen state.


A venison, elk sirloin tip roast, How To Defrost And Thaw Venison

How do You Thaw Venison?

Many people delight in the earthy, sweet, and somewhat stronger flavor of deer meat. They say it is good red meat because it is very rich in protein. Just put some sage, rosemary, and bay leaves to season it and you've got yourself a tasty venison steak or roast.

But before cooking, you've got to thaw your venison properly and safely. Meat experts recommend three safe ways to defrost this red meat. This is by putting it in the fridge, cold water, or the microwave.

The safest way to thaw deer meat is in the refrigerator. Just transfer the frozen meat to the fridge and wait for it to defrost completely. Depending on its weight, it might take somewhere between 24 and 72 hours to thaw your meat thoroughly.

How do I defrost venison quickly?

Venison raw deer meat on a cutting board with herbs

Since it'll take between 1 and 3 days before venison meat is fully defrosted in the fridge, you obviously need other options in case you have to use this meat for your steak or roast.

There are two ways to thaw your frozen venison quickly. One is by soaking it in cold water. It takes 30 minutes to defrost half-pound deer meat. Change the water every half-hour so that the meat will continue to thaw.

Of course, there's the microwave to help speed things up. It will only take you more or less 10 minutes to thaw your frozen venison. Meat experts suggest you check the meat every 60 seconds to see if it is defrosting well.

If you don't really have time to thaw your deer meat, you can actually cook it in its frozen state. However, it'll take you longer to cook it thoroughly. Expect cooking time to take 1.5 times longer than the usual length of time you allot to put together your favorite venison dish.

How do you thaw ground venison?

Ground venison is easier to thaw than whole meat cuts. There are three safe ways to thaw your ground venison so you can use it for your favorite deer meat dishes. These are by using the fridge, cold water bath, and the microwave. The time needed to fully defrost your ground meat would depend on the method you choose.

Using the fridge

This is the safest and simplest way to thaw your ground venison but it also takes the longest time. You just transfer the meat to the fridge and let it thaw there. It might take 12 to 24 hours to fully defrost the ground deer meat.

The good thing about thawing in the fridge is that you can keep the meat in there for 2 to 3 days before cooking it. You won't be in a rush because you still have time to plan the perfect dish and prepare the other ingredients you need.

Using the cold water bath

This is a faster way of thawing your frozen ground venison. For your reference, it usually takes 30 minutes to defrost half a pound of ground meat. But keep in mind that you have to cook your meat immediately once it has fully thawed. Here's how to do it:

1. Put your ground deer meat in a sealed plastic bag or container.
2. Fill a bowl with cold water.
3. Submerge the meat in water.
4. Change the water every 30 minutes so that your meat will defrost continuously.

Using the microwave

This is the fastest method for thawing your ground meat. But like the cold water bath, you need to cook it immediately to avoid the growth of harmful bacteria. Here's how to defrost your ground venison using the microwave.

1. Transfer your meat to a microwave-safe dish.
2. Put it in the middle of the microwave.
3. Use low heat or the default defrost setting to thaw your meat. This usually takes a couple of minutes. Check every 60 seconds to see if it has thawed completely.

Can you thaw and refreeze deer meat?

The answer to this question would depend on how you thawed your deer meat. Venison that has been defrosted using the cold water bath and microwave methods should be cooked immediately and cannot be refrozen. This is due to the fact that putting it in the microwave might have already started the cooking process. Meanwhile, the higher temperature in the cold water bath method is also conducive to bacterial growth. To prevent this, you must cook the meat right away.

Deer meat that was thawed properly in the refrigerator can safely be refrozen. However, there are conditions that you need to keep in mind to ensure food safety. You have to refreeze the meat within 3 to 4 days after thawing it in the fridge. The deer meat shouldn't have been left outside of the fridge for more than 2 hours. Lastly, as long as the meat wasn't exposed to temperatures above 90 degrees Fahrenheit, then it is safe to refreeze it.

Can I cook venison from frozen?

As mentioned earlier, if you do not have time to thaw your venison completely, you can go ahead and cook it straight from the freezer. However, the cooking time will be longer. Add 50% more time to your overall food preparation so that you can be sure that the meat is completely cooked.

So, if it takes you 15 minutes to prepare venison steak, the grilling time for frozen venison will take approximately 23 minutes. But it's still best to use a food thermometer to check if the meat has reached 145 degrees Fahrenheit.

How long can deer meat sit at room temperature?

It isn't wise to let your deer meat sit at room temperature for too long. It might encourage the growth of harmful bacteria which could lead to foodborne diseases. For this reason, it isn't recommended for you to thaw your frozen venison on the counter.

According to the USDA, you shouldn't leave your deer meat at ambient temperature for more than 2 hours. Always remember this 2-hour rule to keep food out of the danger zone. If the temperature outside is above 90 degrees Fahrenheit, you shouldn't leave it sitting there for more than 1 hour.

Can you eat deer meat that was left out overnight?

Meat is an ideal breeding ground for bacteria. This is why you should discard deer meat that has been sitting out for more than 2 hours. More so if it was left out overnight! If the weather is warm, then the limit is only up to 1 hour. Just imagine the number of bacteria that has accumulated on your venison if it has been left behind overnight! As they say, when in doubt, throw it out. Spare yourself from diarrhea, stomach cramps, and other foodborne diseases.

Final Thoughts

Thaw your deer meat safely by transferring it to the fridge, immersing in cold water, or using the microwave. The length of time to defrost it fully would depend on the thawing method that you choose. It could range from 72 hours to just 10 minutes.

For more defrosting tips, check out the following:

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