As with most meat, the safest way to thaw beef is in the refrigerator. Small cuts of beef can take up to 24 hours, while larger slabs can take a few days. If you’re in a pinch, frozen beef can be thawed in a bowl or container of lukewarm water. Place the bowl or container in the sink and leave under a running faucet. Never allow raw beef to thaw or sit on a counter or cutting board. Since it takes longer to thaw than most meats, it is more susceptible to bacteria growth.
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In order to effectively freeze beef, you’ll want to limit its exposure to air. This not only prevents the production of freezer burn, but also extends its shelf life to three months or longer. The best way to package beef is to wrap it tightly in freezer paper or plastic wrap. You should then wrap the meat in a layer of aluminum foil or place it in a plastic bag.
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For ground beef, keep refrigerated and use within one to two days. It can stay in its original container if the packaging hasn’t been opened. Steaks follow the same protocol, but can last a bit longer at three to five days. It’s actually best to allow a little airflow with stored meat, as tightly-adhered plastic like Saran wrap can make meat sweat and, as a result, less tender. Meat can be transferred to plastic containers, but should be covered loosely.
Never refrigerate raw meat if it’s been sitting out beyond two hours.
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Bacon is most commonly cooked on the stovetop or in the oven. If you’re opting for the former, start with a cold pan with the bacon strips touching, but not overlapping. Set the burner on low and allow the bacon to slowly release its fat. As it begins to cook, use tongs to flip the strips and fry them on their opposite sides. Continue to flip and turn until the bacon is browned evenly. Let the cooked bacon drain by carefully placing them on paper towels or a newspaper.
To cook bacon in the oven, simply line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil and arrange the bacon strips on its surface. If your baking sheet does not have grooved edges, be sure to fold the aluminum corners upwards to catch excess grease. Bake at 400°F for ten to 20 minutes (depending on your texture preference), remove, and place bacon strips on paper towels or a newspaper. The bacon will crisp as it cools.
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Pre-packaged bacon has an impressive shelf life, but not once it’s opened. While it’s best to freeze uncooked bacon, the slices can be tightly wrapped in aluminum foil and stored in a ziploc bag for up to a week. The same storage technique should also be applied to fresh bacon purchased directly from the butcher.
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Next: How to Freeze Bacon
Bacon actually holds up quite well in the freezer, though its peak flavor quality will only last one to two months. To freeze, you may keep the bacon in its original packaging, but wrap around it with another layer of aluminum foil, plastic wrap, or freezer paper. Just be sure to keep your freezer at a consistent zero degrees for optimal freezing results.
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This boeuf bourguignon recipe from Tyler Florence starts by browning chuck roast in bacon fat, then deglazing the pot with brandy. The beef is simmered with herbs, beef broth, and a bottle of red wine for an hour, then mushrooms and pearl onions are tossed in and the stew cooks for another hour. Serve this easy make-ahead meal over mashed potatoes, celery root purée, or buttered egg noodles to absorb all that rich, tasty sauce.
Special equipment: You’ll need cheesecloth and butcher’s twine for this recipe.
For more easy weeknight meals using beef, see our ground beef stroganoff recipe.