ground beef

It happens all too often: it’s 4pm and I don’t know what’s for dinner.

Now, having my pantry stocked correctly and my plan possibilities already lined out (in Simplified Dinners) does help tremendously in these situations. Actually, it enables me to have such situations, because I know I have meal-makings on hand that I can quickly pull together.

However, sometimes the meat is frozen, rock solid, at 4pm — or even later.

I found a solution to this dilemma, so I can be further enabled in my dinner-preparation-procrastination! And now you can be, as well. I found out that I can cook frozen ground beef quickly, without thawing in the microwave or using extra dishes.

Thaw Ground Beef Quickly Without the Microwave

Same dish, no extra mess, fast! The beef I am using is local, from the whole cow we purchased last summer. Our ground beef is packaged in 2-pound blocks.

  • Unwrap your ground beef and place in your skillet with a small amount of water (just enough to cover the bottom).
cook ground beef from frozen
  • Bring the water up to a light simmer with the skillet covered. The water prevents the meat from burning and sticking to the pan while the insides thaw. Covering the pan helps the steam quickly defrost your meat.


  • As the water comes to a simmer and the meat is brown on the outside, scrape the brown, thawed exterior off and into the water to reveal the red, still-frozen meat.


cook ground beef from frozen
  • Continue this process until you have a very small piece of frozen ground beef left. Keep the pan covered and a very small amount of water in the pan as you work. Check and scrape the meat about every 3-5 minutes.
cook ground beef from frozen
  • When your meat is more than half thawed, add whatever vegetables (onions, peppers, etc.) that you’re going to add to whatever dinner you’re going to make this into (mine is sloppy joe topping).
  • At this point, you can also let the water simmer down and out. The meat and vegetables will produce enough juices to keep it from burning, and you’re almost done with the thawing process!
cook ground beef from frozen
  • As soon as the remaining frozen ground beef is thin enough, break it apart with your spatula/scraper. Proceed to cook and brown until the meat is cooked through, as you would normally.

And now you have dinner extra fast, and no evidence that you went all day without a plan for whatever marvelous dinner you were now able to pull off. You can cook frozen ground beef, right in the pan.

Download the free menu planning templates – including a master pantry list – that will help you get every meal on the table with less fuss.


  1. Great tip! If I have the luxury of a little more time but still have a list of chores I must finish before hubby gets home and so I cannot “baby-sit” the meat, I often defrost ground meats in the oven. Just pop the meat into an oven-proof skillet or Dutch oven. Add a little water to keep the meat from sticking to the pan. Cover and slide it into a slow oven about 250 – 300 degrees. Check it at 20 minutes or so and scrape off the thawed parts, etc.

  2. Nice idea! I put my frozen meat in a ziplock bag, excess air removed and let it soak in a hot water bath for about 30-40 minutes. It helps to freeze your meat as flat as possible, not in a ball, so as to cover as much surface area at once. But I have to say that thawing in the microwave seems more convenient and far less messy. I don’t have 20 minutes to babysit a skillet and then have to make the meal on top of that. I do have time to check the defrosting on my microwave every 5 minutes while I prep my other ingredients :).

  3. This is how we do it, ever since our microwave broke 3 years ago. I found a really handy tool that helps with the chopping. It’s Pampered Chef’s Mix and Chop, which runs around $10 (or it did 3 years ago anyway.) It’s a simple thing, but it makes crumbling anything SO EASY.

  4. Thank you. That was awesome advice. I was not sure if cooking Frozen ground beef was going to be healthy or not, but if you did so can I. Thank you so much for your advice.

  5. Prepare this recipe for eating right away, using one batch of frozen crumbled meat made with chopped onion (need not be thawed). OR make the sauce right after preparing a fresh batch of the crumbled meat; then freeze the pasta meat sauce mixture. See freezer tips following the recipe for freezing prepared meat sauce for pasta. 1 batch make-ahead crumbled beef made from 1-pound lean ground beef and 1 medium chopped onion (need not be thawed)

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