Steak can turn out tender and juicy, or it can be tough and chewy. Some steaks, such as porterhouse, tenderloin and T-bone, are typically more tender than other steaks, such as sirloin and flank. Regardless of your steak choice, the way you defrost it influences how tender it will be. Microwaving steak, for example, is a safe and quick method to thaw it, but the steak usually becomes partially cooked and therefore tough when cooked again. The safest way to thaw a steak to keep it tender is in the refrigerator or in cold water.
Place the frozen steak still wrapped in its original packaging in a dish or plate with sides to catch any juice as it thaws, or place it in a sealed plastic bag. If you plan to thaw the steak in cold water, place it in a sealed plastic bag. If your steak is already sealed well so no juices can leak out, skip this step.
Set the frozen steak in the refrigerator. It will take one pound of steak approximately five to six hours to thaw. Allow more time, though, to ensure the steak thaws in time and to avoid a last minute defrost in the microwave. After steak thaws in the refrigerator, it will stay fresh there for three to five days, according to the U.S. Food and Safety and Inspection Service.
Thaw steak in cold water as a faster alternative to thawing it in the refrigerator. Set the sealed steak in a large bowl filled with cold water. Do not use ice water. A one-pound steak will take approximately 30 minutes to thaw. If it is not completely thawed at this time, replace the cold water and give it another 15 to 30 minutes. Cook steak thawed in this manner immediately.
Thawing steak at room temperature may yield a tender steak, but it is not a safe method for thawing. Bacteria will multiply on the outer edges of the steak, since those areas defrost first and become quite warm while the inside of the steak is still defrosting.