How to Defrost Pork Chops: All Thawed Out

September 11, 2023
Written by Kristy J. Norton

There are three main ways to defrost pork chops – the refrigerator method, the water bath method, and using the microwave.

As I was taught all about food safety in culinary school, I am well aware of the right and wrong ways to defrost food – including pork chops.

In this post, I will show you how to defrost pork chops safely and quickly. Let’s begin!

How to Defrost Pork Chops

A Food Safety Note About Defrosting Pork Chops

Believe it or not, thawing pork chops – or any frozen meat – can be a dangerous business. As you are defrosting the pork chops, you need to make sure that they stay out of the danger zone.

The danger zone is a temperature range between 40 F and 140 F. In between this range, bacterial growth is at an all-time high. As a result, there is a greater risk of food poisoning.

Therefore, as you thaw frozen pork chops, you must do so in conditions that ensure the meat will remain at a temperature below 40 F.

Big Pork Chops

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The Top Options for Thawing Pork Chops

If you want to defrost frozen pork chops, there are three methods that you can try:

1. The Refrigerator Method

This is the simplest method requiring a hands-off approach.

Place the pork chops on a tray or plate. As the meat thaws, so will blood and liquid. The container prevents a mess in your fridge.

Place this tray in the refrigerator overnight or for up to 24 hours. The exact time will depend on the thickness of each of the pork chops.

If the pork chops are frozen together, let the meat sit in the fridge for a few hours. Then, try to pry them apart.

When you can do this, lay them side by side in a single layer. This will help the meat defrost more quickly.

Always keep the pork chops in the coldest part of the fridge. And, while they are defrosting, try to limit how often you open and close the door.

Keeping the door open too long can cause the temperature inside the refrigerator to drop. This is why it is best to place the pork chops there in the night, before you go to sleep.

2. The Cold Water Bath

Before you try out this method, place the pork chops in a freezer bag and seal it tightly.

Place the bag in a large enough container and fill with cold water. Never use hot water as it can cause the pork chops to enter the danger zone.

You don’t have to use iced water – cold tap water will do – just make sure that the temperature is well below room temperature, though.

Let the frozen pork chops sit in the water bath for 30 minutes. Then, drain the water and refill it with cold water once more. Repeat this process every 30 minutes until each of the pork chops are thoroughly thawed.

If you do open the freezer bag at any point to check on the pork chops, make sure that it is sealed up again tightly.

3. The Microwave Method

I will say that I am not a fan of this method. In fact, I hate it and avoid it at all costs.

Yes, the microwave safe plate can thaw pork chops quickly but at what cost. When you use this method, it is difficult to control the level of heat that the pork chops are exposed to.

Due to this, you often end up with certain parts of the pork chops defrosted and other areas still frozen solid.

To make matters worse, if you keep the pork chops in for too long, you are at risk of cooking the meat.

However, since it is technically a method of defrosting pork chops, I will describe the process to you:

Place the pork chops on a microwave safe plate.

If they are frozen together, you are going to have to start the microwave and wait for enough of the meat to defrost before separating them. Once they are separated, you will need to thaw pork chops individually.

Always use the defrost setting – never go higher than this.

You may want to place a microwave safe cover over the frozen pork chops. As they thaw the chops will spit out quite a bit of liquid.

Then, let the microwave cook for one to two minutes before stopping the machine. Flip the pork chop over and defrost for another one to two minutes.

You will need to repeat this process until the pork chops are defrosted completely.

It is a good idea to use a meat thermometer to ensure that the meat is thawed properly and is the same temperature throughout.

Cooking Thawed Pork Chops Immediately

If you are using the microwave method, you will need to start cooking the pork chops the moment that they are thawed.

This defrosting method relies on heat. As such, it brings the pork chops into the range of the danger zone. In turn, this increases the risk of foodborne illness.

So, prep all the other ingredients before you start thawing pork chops. Make sure to preheat the oven as well, if you are using it.

The moment you thaw frozen pork chops, begin the cooking process.

Pork Chops Cutlet

Which Method is Best?

As you can tell, the microwave defrosting method isn’t even in the running here. However, of the other two methods is one better than the other?

Well, this does depend.

If you are looking to thaw pork chops quickly, then the cold water bath is your best option. In most cases, you may be get thawed pork chops in as little as two hours. With the refrigerator method, though, you will have to wait for between 12 to 24 hours.

That said, the refrigerator method can be more feasible if you are defrosting a lot of pork chops at once.

When using a water bath, you need to find a freezer bag and container that can hold all the frozen pork chops. You also have to keep monitoring the water temperature to ensure that it doesn’t get too warm.

You are also in charge of emptying out and refilling the container.

With the refrigerator method, however, you simply have to lay them out on a tray or plate and go about your day.

Of course, for this method, you will need to consider when you are planning on cooking the pork chops ahead of time. It isn’t something that you can do for a spur of the moment meal.

Can You Cook Frozen Pork Chops?

What if you are pressed for time – can you cook frozen pork chops as they are?

Technically you can, but there are a couple of concerns.

First, it is going to take you a lot longer to cook frozen meat. Once exposed to meat, it will begin to thaw first before it is going to start cooking.

The other issue is uneven cooking. The main reason to thaw frozen pork chops is so that the meat cooks at the same rate throughout.

When you cook frozen pork chops, though, certain parts will start cooking before others. This means that these sections will also be done before the other parts.

Thus, you will end up with certain sections that are burned while others will be just cooked through.

Can You Re-Freeze Defrosted Pork Chops?

This does depend on if you have managed to completely thaw frozen pork chops. If you have, it is best to cook the meat and then freeze it. Otherwise, there is a chance that the pork chops may make you sick.

If the pork chops are still largely frozen and if you guarantee that they have been kept out of the danger zone then you can refreeze the meat.

How to Defrost Cooked Pork Chops?

In this case, the best way to thaw frozen pork chops is to leave it in the refrigerator overnight. As with the raw meat, make sure to keep a plate or tray underneath.

Now, technically, you can use the cold water method. However, you do need to make sure that the Ziploc bag that you are using is completely sealed and watertight. You may want to wrap it up in another layer of plastic, just to make sure.

Then, place it in a container and fill up with cold tap water. Empty the water out after 30 minutes and then refill it again with cold water.

Repeat this until they are thawed. As with the fresh meat, this should take about two hours.

Once again, I do not recommend the microwave but it is an option for you.

In this case, it is important to use a thermometer to check the internal temperature, particularly if you aren’t going to be heating up the meat in a pan afterwards.

In this case, you should make sure that the pork chop registers 145 degrees F at various points throughout the pork chop.

Can You Reheat Cooked Pork Chops Without Thawing?

This isn’t a good idea. While you don’t have to defrost pork chops before reheating them, it is a good idea if you do.

Otherwise, you will run into the same problem as if you were trying to cook them.

For one thing, reheating the pork chops will take a lot longer. And, there is the risk of them thawing out and reheating unevenly.

Even if you are short on time, this isn’t a risk that you should take.

Raw pork chop flesh

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Frequently Asked Questions

1. How Do You Defrost Pork Chops Quickly?

While the microwave is the fastest way to defrost meat, it isn’t very reliable. Apart from this, using a cold water bath is your best bet.

2. How Long Do Pork Chops Take To Defrost?

This depends on the method that you are using. In the fridge, pork chops can take between 12 to 24 hours to defrost. Using the cold water method can take as little as 2 hours.

Wrapping It Up

Yes, there are right and wrong ways to defrost pork chops. Now that you know the ropes, you can thaw out pork chops properly each and every time. You will be surprised at how much this knowledge can help you cook pork chops better too!

By Kristy J. Norton
I'm Kristy – a chef and connoisseur of all things BBQ! You can find me either in my kitchen (or someone else's) or at a big outdoor barbecue surrounded by friends and family. In both my professional and personal life I’ve picked up more than a few tips and tricks for turning out delicious food. I consider it a privilege to share it with others!
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