Can I Put Defrosted Meat Back in The Fridge – An Accurate Answer

Can I Put Defrosted Meat Back In The Fridge

Can I put defrosted meat back in the fridge? Is thawed meat stored in the fridge safe to eat? I will discuss if this practice is viable based on how you stored and defrosted meat.

Improperly thawing and storing meat can ruin its quality and increase the risk of food poisoning. Further guidelines will help if you properly store thawed meat in the fridge.

Can I Put Defrosted Meat Back in The Fridge?

Short answer: Yes. You can put defrosted meat back in the fridge if it’s properly covered, refrigerator-thawed, and cold to the touch.

If the meat has sat uncovered at room temperature for too long or defrosted in hot water, it’s no longer safe to refreeze.

Whether refreezing thawed meat is safe depends on how you defrosted meat and its current condition. I will discuss different scenarios to give you a detailed guideline.

It Depends on How You Defrosted Meat

Both partially defrosted or fully thawed meat are safe to refreeze in the fridge if covered in a freezer-safe bag. The closed container helps avoid the loss of moisture and prevents the growth of bacteria.

Meanwhile, don’t recommend refreezing cuts of meat once they have been left out for too long without a protection layer.

Check Defrosted Meat’s Conditions

According to the USDA, raw and cold meat should not exceed 40°F in temperature. Harmful bacteria can grow rapidly above this “danger zone” and deteriorate meat quality.

For this reason, it’s best to defrost meat in a cold and clean environment or use refrigerator thawing. If you leave meat out of refrigeration, use a meat thermometer to check its temperature before refreezing.

Pay attention to the defrosted meat’s external surface, color, and smell. Don’t refreeze or cook meat if it gives bad odors or shows signs of discoloration. These conditions can happen if you leave meat sitting at room temperature uncovered for too long.

Refreezing Meat Can Potentially Lead to Loss of Quality

The USDA points out that refreezing plain meats can lead to moisture loss and affect their nutrient content. The thawing process also speeds up the growth of foodborne bacteria.

Another research indicates that freezing meat can form ice crystals and damage its microstructure. For these reasons, avoid thawing and refreezing meat repeatedly to preserve its best flavors and texture.

Further reading: Is it Better to Freeze Chicken Raw or Cooked?

When Is It Safe to Eat Meat When Defrosted at Room Temperature?

Fresh meat defrosted at room temperature is edible if it’s cold to touch (below 40 °F).

Cuts of meat left out of the fridge for more than two hours (or one hour in temperatures exceeding 90 °F) are unsafe to eat or refreeze. The hazardous bacteria present before freezing will grow and multiply rapidly after this period.

Further reading:  How Long Will Food Stay Frozen in a Cooler Bag?
Don’t leave meat out of the fridge for long
Don’t leave meat out of the fridge for long

The Best Way to Refreeze Defrosted Meat

Meat bought from local butcher stores or online markets is already in a frozen state. It can get slightly thawed during transportation but remains freezer-safe.

If you haven’t taken meat from its original package, just put it in the coldest region of your fridge. Add one more extra layer for meat kept in a plastic bag to prevent issues with freezer burn.

Tips and Things to Avoid When Refreezing Defrosted Meat

Set the refrigerator temperature at 40°F or lower to store defrosted meat. Seal raw meat securely to prevent its juice from contaminating other ingredients.

Avoid putting meat too close to the other foods to avoid cross-contamination and other health risks. Don’t repeat the thawing and refreezing process often, as it can ruin meat quality.

It’s best not to refreeze meat, seafood, or chicken meat if you thaw them in a microwave oven or hot water.

Cover meat properly

Cover meat properly

How Long Can You Keep Meat After Defrosting?

Food and meat products kept in the refrigerator with an internal temperature below 40°F remain safe to eat.

After defrosting, you can keep chicken meat, seafood, and ground meat for one or two days. Other types of meat, like lamb, veal, organic beef, and pork, can last around three to five days.

May You Defrost Ground Beef in Cold Water Then Put It Back in Your Refrigerator?

Cold water thawing is a safe and convenient method as it can defrost a piece of meat faster than in the fridge.

Before defrosting it in cold water, you must cover the meat in a freezer bag or a leak-proof cover. This practice helps prevent water from reaching the food items’ surface, resulting in a watery texture.

Use cold water from the tap and change it every 30 minutes during thawing. It takes around one hour to thaw small portions (1 pound) of fresh poultry, meat, or seafood.

Cook meat immediately after thawing in cold water to achieve the best flavor and prevent food-poisoning bacteria growth. You can freeze cooked meat in the fridge for later use.

Be careful when using the cold water thawing method
Be careful when using the cold water thawing method


Is It Safe to Eat Frozen Meat with Ice Crystals?

Yes, frozen food or meat with ice crystals (or freezer burn) is safe to consume as long as you maintain its freezer temperature during storage.

Can I Defrost Meat on The Same Day?

Yes, you can transfer meat from the freezer to the cooling area in the fridge to thaw (at least 8 hours). I recommend using microwave thawing or cold water to speed up defrosting.

Is Frozen Meat Left Out Overnight Safe?

No. Frozen meat, organic beef, and perishable food should not sit at room temperature for over one or two hours. Therefore, a frozen roll of meat left out overnight is unsafe.

How To Tell If Meat Has Been in the Fridge Too Long?

Meat and fresh poultry stored in the fridge for many days can deteriorate in flavor but remain safe to consume. However, discard meat if its use-by-date has passed or the texture has gone spoiled.


Can I put defrosted meat back in the fridge? This practice is entirely safe if you thaw meat in the fridge with the original packaging or cover.

If you defrost meat at room temperature, ensure it’s cold to the touch (below 40°F). Consider discarding meat if you spot discolorations, a slimy meat texture, or bad smells.

Thank you for reading!


Jenny Brown
Hi, I’m Jenny. On my blog, you will find helpful advice about using and organizing the kitchen appliances. You will also receive the recommendations on choosing a compact refrigerator or freezer that best fits your demands. Besides, frozen meals from the freezer bring many incredible benefits because they ensure freshness, deliciousness, and full nutrients. Many helpful tips from experts on frozen meals will also be found.