How to Defrost a Frozen Beef Roast in Water

by Molly Thompson

Ideally, you should move a roast to the refrigerator and let it thaw out gradually, over the course of a day or two. But if you don't have that much time, you can still enjoy your roast beef dinner without leaving the roast out at room temperature, which is dangerous and can lead to foodborne illness. The cold water defrosting method can safely get your roast ready to cook. It should take about two and one-half to three hours to defrost an average-sized roast that weighs 3 to 4 pounds.

Place the frozen roast into a resealable plastic bag that holds the entire piece of meat. You can leave the frozen meat in its original packaging or remove it. Press out the excess air and seal the bag tightly.

Fill a clean sink or a large pot with enough cold water to completely cover the bagged roast. Do not use hot water. Fully submerge the sealed bag with the frozen roast in the cold water.

Leave the roast in the cold water bath for 30 minutes. Remove the bagged roast and empty and refill the container with cold water. Re-submerge the frozen meat and leave it for another 30 minutes. Continue this process of continually refreshing the cold water until the roast is completely thawed.

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Items you will need

  • Large resealable plastic bag


  • Cook the roast beef as soon as it is completely thawed.


  • Do not refrigerate or refreeze thawed beef unless it has been fully cooked.

About the Author

As a national security analyst for the U.S. government, Molly Thompson wrote extensively for classified USG publications. Thompson established and runs a strategic analysis company, is a professional genealogist and participates in numerous community organizations.Thompson holds degrees from Wellesley and Georgetown in psychology, political science and international relations.

Photo Credits

  • Siri Stafford/Digital Vision/Getty Images