Expert demonstrates why it’s not advisable to thaw frozen steak before cooking

One of those delicious foods that many of us daydream about is steak. But that dinnertime fantasy is dashed if you neglect to remove your meat from the freezer in advance. Luckily, it’s optional to defrost your steak before cooking, as you may not be aware.

Are you prepared to try something new?

Dan Souza is the host of America’s Test Kitchen, the parent company of Cook’s Illustrated, and the editor-in-chief of the publication.

In this fantastic steak experiment, which has already received over 6 million views on YouTube, he conducts.

Souza attempts to disprove the conventional wisdom that a steak needs to be thawed (and some say room temperature) being thrown in a hot pan or on a grill.

The experiment begins by taking a big, beautiful, marbled strip loan steak and cutting it into 4 pieces.

Then the pieces were individually vacuum-sealed and frozen.

Half were left frozen and the other half were thawed overnight in the refrigerator the day before cooking.

To cook the steaks, Souza placed the frozen and thawed portions in a hot skillet and seared them for 90 seconds on each side before putting them in an oven set at 275 degrees, or medium rare.

Weighing each steak both before and after cooking allowed the food scientists to quantify moisture loss, among other things.

Are you prepared for the outcomes?

It was clear that the frozen steaks would require a significantly longer cooking time.

However, that makes sense and won’t completely derogate your plans for a steak dinner.

It took the thawed steaks about ten to fifteen minutes in the oven.

Not much of a difference as long as the steak is good, right?

What surprised us the most was that even the frozen steak managed to get a nice brown crust in the skillet.

We would have expected it to be too cold to brown. They also managed to develop their crust in the same amount of time (the 90-second sear).

In the end, both steaks are cooked in much the same way.

There was a surprise though…

The frozen steak, in many ways, cooked better, than the thawed steak. Underneath the crust of the meat are small bands of overcooked meat before you get to the nice, juicy center.

After both steaks were cooked, it was also surprising to see that the frozen steaks had thinner bands of that grey meat than the thawed ones did! To top it off, the frozen steaks lost an average of 9% less moisture during cooking. Come on, let’s eat! But until they taste well, none of this counts, right? All of the steaks appeared and were reported to have tasted excellent, thanks to the expert chef behind the pan.

The steaks cooked straight out of the freezer were, in fact, the undisputed favorite among the taste testers!

However, how?

Some of the results make sense when you consider them. The surface of the frozen steak will turn brown without overcooking much of the interior due to temperature variations, but it will still be relatively dry on the outside. Due to the slower cooking procedure, it is also difficult to overcook a frozen steak.

The perfect steak

According to Souza, the perfect steak will always be the one that has never been frozen.

Of course, not all of us have that luxury, but it’s good to know.

If you do want to freeze your steaks more often now that you know they can be cooked before they’re thawed, Souza has perfected the best freezing method.

First, put your steaks uncovered on a baking sheet covered in parchment paper in the freezer overnight (this helps dry them out so you don’t get ice crystals whizzing off of them when they hit the hot pan).


Then, the following day, wrap the steaks in plastic put them in an airtight bag (such as a Ziplock), and return them to the freezer.

When you do go to cook your frozen steak, it’s best to add oil to the skillet until it measures 1/8 inch deep (which is more than you might think!)

Finally, using a large skillet will cut down on splattering. Now there’s a way to have a steak dinner even if you forgot to take it out of the freezer to thaw.

We hope you give this experiment a try! Check out the video below to see all of the steps for yourself.



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