How to Use Your Cast Iron Skillet to Thaw Meat

Forget to take the chicken out of the freezer? Here's a simple trick that will help speed up dinner prep.
No microwave needed.
No microwave needed. / Benedek/E+/Getty Images (cast iron skillet); Jobalou/DigitalVision Vectors/Getting Images (ice cube background)

If you thought your cast iron skillet was a kitchen staple before, then this viral hack will show you just how irreplaceable the tool truly is. Sure, you can use it to make anything from cornbread to potato gratin to brownies. But you can also wield it for a vital part of meal prep.

You can use the handy kitchen tool to de-freeze any slab of meat. It can handle a steak, chicken breast, or whatever else you plan to cook, though ensuring the food is thinly sliced will make it more effective. Make sure you cook the meat as soon as it’s finished thawing to ensure it stays bacteria-free. 

If you want to try thawing your meat out in this easy and efficient way, bust out your cast iron and follow these simple instructions:

  1. Wrap the skillet lightly in plastic wrap to prevent the raw meat from touching it directly.
  2. Invert the pan and place the meat on top of the plastic wrap.
  3. Flip the meat roughly every 20 minutes so it can thaw evenly.

This cooking hack almost seems too simple to be true. But there’s a simple reason why it’s so effective, and it all comes down to what cast iron skillets are made of.

You’ll notice the pan becomes increasingly cold as the meat begins to thaw. That’s because the heat from the skillet is transferred to the frozen food through the scientific process of conduction. The pan will absorb warmth from the air and transfer it to the cold meat. Because cast iron is dense, it can retain heat better than something like a countertop or cutting board; this is why frozen food in a cast iron skillet will thaw faster than it would if just left on the counter. 

You don’t have to limit yourself to meat, either. If you have any frozen fruit or vegetables you’ve been itching to use, try tossing them in a cast iron skillet as well (just be sure to change the plastic wrap so they don’t come in contact with the same surface as any raw meat).

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