Science: Make the Best Steaks By Cooking Frozen Meat (No Thawing!)

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Conventional wisdom holds that frozen steaks should be thawed before cooking, but we wondered if you can cook frozen meat straight from the freezer. Cook’s Illustrated Senior Editor Dan Souza explains our cooking experiments.

WATCH: How to Make the Most Perfect Bacon Ever https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2guC4Badq2s

WATCH: How to Quickly Defrost Meat
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4a2hQpj6Dxc

Recipe for Ultimate Charcoal-Grilled Steaks: http://cooks.io/2lsTUYe
Recipe for Grilled Frozen Steaks: http://cooks.io/2lsXUYu
Recipe for Pan-Seared Thick-Cut Strip Steaks: http://bit.ly/ULQJwD

EXPERIMENT

We cut a strip loin into eight steaks, cut each steak in half crosswise, put the pieces in vacuum-sealed bags, and froze them. We then thawed half of each steak in the refrigerator overnight and kept the other half frozen. Using our preferred method, we seared both sets of steaks in a hot skillet for 90 seconds per side and then transferred them to a 275-degree oven until they reached 125 degrees, or medium-rare. To track moisture loss, we weighed each steak before and after cooking.

RESULTS

Not surprisingly, the frozen steaks took longer to finish cooking through in the oven (18 to 22 minutes versus 10 to 15 minutes for the thawed steaks). What was surprising was that the frozen steaks actually browned in the skillet just as well as, and in the same amount of time as, the thawed steaks. Furthermore, they had thinner bands of gray, overcooked meat directly under the crust than the thawed steaks had. We also found that these steaks lost on average 9 percent less moisture during cooking than the thawed steaks did. Sampling the steaks side by side, tasters unanimously preferred the cooked-from-frozen steaks to their thawed counterparts.

EXPLANATION

A fully frozen steak is extremely cold, which prevents overcooking while the surface reaches the very high temperatures necessary for browning reactions. As for the difference in moisture loss, we know that when meat is cooked to temperatures higher than 140 degrees, its muscle fibers begin to squeeze out a significant amount of moisture. As its slightly thicker gray band indicated, the steak that had been thawed had more overcooking around the edge, so it made sense that it also had greater moisture loss.

THE TAKEAWAY

While we prefer to start with steak that’s never been frozen for the best texture, if we do have frozen steaks on hand, from now on we’ll cook them straight from the freezer. (But if you can choose between frozen vs. fresh, definitely go for fresh.)

Here’s what to do for the best frozen steaks: Freeze steaks, uncovered, overnight on a baking sheet (this dries them out to prevent excess splattering during cooking), then wrap them tightly in plastic wrap, place in a zipper-lock bag, and return to freezer. To ensure that the steaks brown evenly, add oil to the skillet until it measures 1/8 inch deep. And because frozen steaks will splatter more during searing, use a large skillet.

See this tip on Cook’s Illustrated: http://cooks.io/2lt45vQ

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Comments

General Looch says:

Anybody that does this is a drone

theBraxil says:

>freeze your steaks and deep fry them
Ok.

Nick says:

The only steak i ever really eat is venison, which must be frozen. I hate having to think so far ahead about when i’ll eat a steak so it can thaw. This video is good news for me, i’m excited to try it.

Grilled says:

If it’s not over charcoal you fucked it up.

MrManUnicorn says:

Ramsay is shitting himself.

JD W says:

I cook great steaks as in never well done!!! I heat my grill to 500f then put the steaks on the grates. When I flip I move them to the other side which are still at 500f. Back to the first side when the grate returns to 500f but placed 45 degrees to form the pattern. Then back to the other 600f side. This all takes only a few minutes! Medium rare! I also coat my steaks in my special dry tub 24 hrs before. Same with hamburgers! Cheers!!!

NigelTMY says:

You cooked the frozen steak in the same pan/oil as the thawed one. the oil temperature is bound to drop once you put in the frozen steak affecting the thawed steaks cooking process.

Grindin'78 says:

What kind of oil should you use?

Mad5cout says:

For all saying “don’t freeze it to begin with” slamming the video. Got to 1:48

Owen James says:

They should have called this video “how to ruin a steak!”

ali essa says:

wait you put the frozen one in the same pan as the normal steak? you know you’re supposed to sear it not boil it and the temp will go significantly down with the frozen steak in there…

Matthew Thomas says:

complete b.s.

ledzeppelinfan1001 says:

“Well a fully frozen steak is extremely cold.” Yeah no shit bruh

charlie chambless says:

nice instead of 8 minutes searing both sides we are going to add an extra 12 and say it’s roughly the same amount of time.

Erkin Sevindik says:

Mediumrare is 130-145°C …at least in mz opinion

crankylifter says:

America’s Test Kitchen used to be great ten years ago. Now it’s just bland apprentices hosting like this bearded hipster boy who can’t even make cooking a steak look interesting.

Stephen B. Smith says:

Ramsay: The steak is fresh right?
Test Kitchen: No, its frozen. Frozen steaks are the best we don’t even thaw the damn thing
Ramsay: FUCK ME!!!

james rolison says:

how would one marina it?

fish cake says:

Wouldnt it be cold on the inside after cooking

CSfrozenfood says:

Wow.. nice video.

tinoushgtr says:

I never use oil. This steak or rib eye has enough fat by itself to not stick to the pan. It will taste better to use it’s own fat for cooking it. Make sure you pan is really hot before laying your meat in it. Just some sea salt is all you need.

Warren Joseph says:

What about a well done or medium well. People always posting how to cook steak vids and it’s always medium rare cooks. I want to see something that’s cooked beyond rare and medium rare and medium. imo anybody can cook a steak that’s half raw. let’s see somebody cook a fully cooked steak that’s full of juices.

Rusty Shackleford says:

“We still prefer to start with a fresh steak”. But you just said you prefer them frozen, hands down.

v1j2j3 says:

Let’s how Gordon Ramsey rate it.

LittleMopeHead says:

Bullshit.

Albert Yang says:

The premise that you are cooking steaks that are frozen is problematic already…

Joe Rockhed says:

Sounds fun in a science lab, where you have fire sprinklers on the ceiling lol

Julian Choque says:

good, at least you tried!! im gonna try too…

GunCollector007 says:

Go ask for a frozen steak at Peter Luger’s or Sparks and you will end up in the freezer!

Wes K says:

Soooo, it’s an 1 day wet aged process.

Nibir U says:

EATING STEAK IS A BIG MISTAKE,
BECAUSE:
BEEF CAUSES GREAT GRIEF.

TubeBoyTV says:

Defrosted in fridge overnight? More like let it slack in the fridge.

Stupid Man says:

never ever thaw.
makes meat tough as leather.

faiz rafii says:

i do not know why people compete to make a better steak, i do not know what make a steak is beter than the other, some say is the soft testure and the taste, then why dont you blend the steak

Joshua Day says:

no.

p9948 says:

We use a Food Saver to vacuum pack our meats as we buy in bulk at Costco. I opened a NY Strip Steak from the freezer today and followed the directions you provided. 90 seconds per side in 1/8 inches Peanut Oil. Then 20 minutes at 275 (we used 300 due to convection oven). Turned out great.

My steak was a nice thick steak not a thin one. Great job on this recipe! Thanks.

Louie Watson says:

yeah, how to cook a raw, still cold in the middle piece of meat. You fucking morons…

zhbroder says:

i would never recommend filling a pan up with 1/8″ of oil. it’s gonna be a splattering burn clinic from hell.

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