Wood cabinets and kitchen counter with microwave and oven

How to thaw ground beef in the microwave

Whether you’re grilling up burgers or making your family’s favorite meatloaf, ground beef is a staple ingredient in many recipes and a handy item to keep in the freezer. If you have frozen ground beef and need to get meal prep started quickly, defrosting in the microwave can be quick and simple. Read this guide to learn how to defrost ground beef in the microwave and other defrosting tips.

How many minutes does it take to defrost ground beef in the microwave?

It takes approximately 8-10 minutes (per pound) to properly defrost ground beef in the microwave. This time can be applied for several different types of meat. It is important to cook the ground beef immediately after defrosting, as bacteria can grow if it sits for too long.

How to defrost ground beef in the microwave

Using your microwave can help simplify the process and make it easier to thaw ground beef quickly. Read these 4 simple steps to learn how to defrost ground beef in the microwave with minimal effort, and always refer to your owner’s manual for more information about using your microwave’s Defrost setting.

Container icon

Step 1: Choose a container

Remove the ground beef from its original packaging and place it in a microwave-safe container. Glass, microwave-safe plastic containers and microwave-safe resealable bags are all suitable for defrosting ground beef in the microwave.

Microwave icon

Step 2: Choose your setting

If your microwave has a Defrost button, select that option. If it doesn’t, you can set your microwave to 20 to 30% of its full power by using the Power Level button. Refer to your owner’s manual for model-specific information about Defrost settings. 

Circular arrow icon

Step 3: Defrost the ground beef, flipping periodically

Defrost the ground beef for 8-10 minutes (per pound) in the microwave, flipping it periodically or breaking chunks apart. Flipping the meat every few minutes can help ensure it thaws evenly. Refer to this chart on microwave defrosting if you have more than one pound of ground beef.

Cooking icon

Step 4: Cook the meat immediately

Once the ground beef is fully defrosted, you should cook it immediately to help avoid the growth of bacteria. Preparation for the rest of the meal, like cutting vegetables or gathering seasonings, is best done ahead of time so you are ready to cook the meat as soon as it finishes thawing. Or get your family involved in prepping the sides while you focus on cooking the ground beef, which can help get dinner on the table faster.

Person opening fridge Person opening fridge

Microwave defrosting vs. other defrosting methods

Besides defrosting ground beef in the microwave, you can also use the fridge or cold water to thaw ground beef. The microwave is the quickest way, but these other methods are also helpful if you have more time to work with.

Refrigerator defrosting may be the best option, since the frozen meat will remain in a consistent temperature until it thaws. Place the packaging on a middle shelf in your refrigerator. It can take up to 24 hours to thaw 5 pounds of ground beef. Make sure your refrigerator is set to 40 degrees or lower, and cook the meat within one to two days of defrosting. 

Defrosting in cold water can be faster but requires more attention. Make sure the meat is in a watertight bag or container to help prevent bacterial growth. Place the bag in a bowl of cold water and switch the water every 30 minutes until the meat is fully thawed. Cook your ground beef immediately after defrosting. If using this method, only refreeze the meat after it has been fully cooked.

How long can thawed hamburger meat stay in the fridge?

When thawed in the fridge, hamburger meat can typically remain refrigerated for 1-2 days. If thawed in the microwave, ground beef should be cooked immediately, before storing in the fridge.

Container in microwave Container in oven

Quick tips for defrosting

Defrosting meat is a relatively simple process that can help you get your family’s dinner on the table faster. Follow these steps to help defrost ground beef or other meats for your next meal.

  • Plan ahead so you have time to defrost your meat in the refrigerator for 12-24 hours before the meal.

  • Take the meat out of its original package, unless noted otherwise.
  • Place the food in a microwavable container. These include glass, tupperware and microwave-safe resealable bags. 

  • Clean your microwave after use to ensure that cross-contamination does not occur.

Shop Whirlpool® microwaves

Whirlpool® microwaves help make it easier to defrost and prepare for a variety of meals for your loved ones with convenient Defrost and Power Level settings. Select Whirlpool® microwaves also include features like the CleanRelease® Non-Stick Interior, making clean-up easy with just the wipe of a damp cloth, in case defrosting or prepping gets a little messy.

Learn more about microwaves with Whirlpool brand

Gold home heartbeat logo over image of a tablet with Whirlpool blog page displayed in the background Gold home heartbeat logo over image of a tablet with Whirlpool blog page displayed in the background

home heartbeat

Ready for more tips, home hacks and appliance guides?