There are several reasons why you may choose to marinate meat, like chicken or beef.
Besides giving the meat more flavor, marinating the meat can tenderize it- and may shorten cooking times in some instances, depending on what you marinate with.
But, what about when you forget to pull something out of the freezer for dinner?
Can You Marinate Frozen Meat?
While it is possible to marinate frozen meat, it won’t produce ideal results. Thawed meat soaks up the marinade better and will likely take a shorter time to marinate. Still, if you are looking to tenderize a tough cut of beef or pork, marinating frozen meat is better than not marinating it at all. Try using marinades with a lot of acids, like lemon juice or vinegar, that will help to thaw the meat and possibly shorten the cooking time.
Thinking of marinating frozen beef, chicken, or pork? Here is what you need to know!
Soften Frozen Meat
If you plan on marinating and cooking meat for dinner, start to soften meat to prepare it for the marinade.
Ideally, you would remember to stick the frozen meat in the refrigerator to thaw overnight in the fridge- while you sleep, perhaps!
Another way to thaw the meat fast is in the microwave, though you will need to watch it and only use a microwave with a defrost setting for best results.
You may also soften and thaw meat by wrapping it tightly in a plastic bag and submerging it in tepid water intermittently to speed up the process.
Change the water as it becomes cooler from the frozen meat. An alternative to this approach is to simply put the meat under running water in your kitchen sink.
Did you know that salt can expedite thawing?
Liberally sprinkle your meat with salt to soften it in a hurry, but be wary of adding additional seasoning in marinades or during cooking as it could become too salty.
If you are still on a time-crunch, you may choose to skip the thawing process and cook the meat in a frozen state.
In this instance, you may choose to toss the meat and a few veggies on a sheet pan, drizzle with oil and your choice of seasonings, and bake at 400-degrees F until done!
Marinate Frozen Meat
Even if you are short on time and can’t wait for your dinner to thaw out, you still can make time to marinate the meat.
You will be glad you did- the meat will be more tender and flavorful, most certainly.
If you are going to give frozen meat a quick dip in your favorite saucy marinade, consider the following steps to effectively infuse your frozen meat with flavor!
- Have you selected your marinade yet? Now is the time to choose, prepare, or throw together your desired marinade for your meat. Remember that most marinades consist of an acid, like lemon or lime juice, as well as an oil of some sort, and seasonings. You can buy pre-mixed marinades in the dressing and sauce aisle of your favorite supermarket or grocery store.
- It makes a lot of sense to marinade in a resealable plastic bag for many reasons. One, is that the mess is contained, and you won’t have to worry about marinade leaking in your refrigerator during marinating. Second, this also prevents any bacteria from reaching your frozen meat during this process. No plastic bags? Try a bowl with a tight-fitting cover or lid.
- Put the frozen meat in the container with the marinade, and then put the container in the refrigerator to marinade for the desired amount of time. Remember that meat should be ideally marinaded for two to 24 hours in the fridge.
- Periodically check on your frozen meat in the marinade to ensure all the meat is soaking up the seasonings and sauce, and to perhaps move it around a bit.
- When you are satisfied that your frozen meat has been marinaded properly and adequately, go ahead and pull it out of the fridge to cook.
You can remove, rinse, or simply shake off the excess marinade- though some cooks will use it during cooking.
Be careful to observe safe handling directions and never cross-contaminate cooked and raw poultry or pork.
Frequently Asked Questions About Can You Marinade Frozen Meat
Can you marinate meat and then freeze it?
You can marinate meat and then freeze it if it has not been previously frozen. You can also marinate meat, freeze it, cook the meat, and freeze it again. Make sure to pay attention to food safety when handling and storing your meats and other food.
Is it bad to marinate meat for too long?
Marinating meat for too long can impact the texture and turn some meat mushy. Ideally, marinate meat for at least 30 minutes, but no longer than 24 hours. Depending on what is in your marinade, it could potentially cure and cook the meat while it is marinating.
How long should you marinate beef?
Generally speaking, beef should be marinated for two hours or longer, but no more than 24 hours. Over-marinating the beef may negatively affect the meat’s texture.
Go ahead and marinate your frozen beef, chicken, pork- or any meat that you happen to have in the freezer.
Remember that it may be more challenging to infuse frozen meat with the flavors of the marinade unless you leave it in a bit longer- but do not marinate your meat longer than 24 hours or it could turn to mush.
Daniel Iseli (Head Chef)
Hi, my name is Daniel and I am passionate about cooking. I have been cooking for the past 20 years and am happy to share my best recipes and cooking-related knowledge with you.