thawing pork butt


Chris L.

TVWBB Member
I have a frozen 9 lb pork butt that I took out of the freezer yesterday and I want to put it on tomorrow night. When I got home from work today I kinda realized that there's no chance of this thing thawing by tomorrow...stupid me!

Can I leave it out on the counter to thaw or should I put it in cold water? It's just in a tied up plastic bag, would the cold water ruin it?


Art R

TVWBB Super Fan
Don't leave it out on the counter! Baaad things happen to meat left at room temp.

"Safe Defrosting

There are three safe ways to defrost pork: in the refrigerator, in cold water (in an airtight or leak-proof bag) and in the microwave. Never defrost on the counter or in other locations.

It's best to plan ahead for slow, safe thawing in the refrigerator. After defrosting raw pork by this method, it will be safe in the refrigerator 3 to 5 days before cooking. During this time, if you decide not to use the pork, you can safely refreeze it without cooking it first.

When microwave-defrosting pork, plan to cook it immediately after thawing because some areas of the food may become warm and begin to cook during microwaving. Holding partially cooked food is not recommended because any bacteria present wouldn't have been destroyed. Foods defrosted in the microwave or by the cold water method should be cooked before refreezing because they potentially may have been held at temperatures above 40 °F.

It is safe to cook frozen pork in the oven, on the stove or grill without defrosting it first; the cooking time may be about 50% longer. Use a meat thermometer to check for doneness. Do not cook frozen pork in a slow cooker."

Don C.

TVWBB Super Fan
Great post Art. I am in the same sitituation. But I have time on my side. How long would it take a 7lb'r to thaw out in the 'fridge'? 3 to 5 days? A week?

You post, and the link, only stat how long the butt will be viable in the 'fridge' after a slow thaw.

Rath *gettin' ready for the 4th*

Russell Y

TVWBB All-Star
The fastest way to thaw meat is running water. An alternative is to put it in tap water and change it often.

Here is a link describing the water technique.

Food Safety

Scroll down to #5.

Joe Preiser

TVWBB Super Fan
The fastest & safest way I know to thaw something is under a stream of cold running water. It provides convection and conductivity better than thawing on the counter, in the fridge, or even in boiling water.

The alternative, given enough time, is in the fridge or a cooler held at a temp below 40*F.

A cold water bath with regular water exchanges would be the third option.

[BTW, I learned this on one of Alton Brown's Good Eats programs featuring ice blocks in the shape of little duckies.

Chris L.

TVWBB Member
Thanks guys, I ended up putting it in the laundry tub full of cold water. This morning it was pretty much thawed. Doing my first overnighter tonight...can't wait!

Mike Rockwood

I've had two 8lb cryo'd butts thawing in my fridge since Tuesday.

Last night, I rubbed them and a 6lb brisket up good. Put them into a large, zip bag overnight/today.

I'll be putting the butts on the WSM tonight about 7pm EDT, and the flat on lower rack about midnight.

I'm smoking these up for a HS graduation party, Saturday afternoon.

I hope to have the brisket off the smoker around 10am, and the butts off by Noon.

I'll wrap all three in plastic wrap, then foil, then a towel and into a cooler until I'm ready to slice/pull and deliver across town.

I've yet to have an issue with the WSM and doing overnighters. Once setlled in, it just keeps going.. and going.. and going...

Good Q'ing to all this weekend!


TVWBB Member
I always thaw stuff out at room temperature. Never had a problem.

I also put raw eggs in my milkshakes, eat raw ground beef whenever I make hamburgers (a habit my old-school German grandmother instilled in me when I was a child), and I drank the water when I went to Mexico a couple of years ago. I've never gotten food poisoning. Hell, I think I've only gotten a cold maybe twice in the past ten years and never had the flu in my life.

I don't want to make light of food borne illnesses nor do I suggest that others do the things I do. However, I think people WAY overstate the risks of food poisoning. I also think that people who take extraordinary measures to shield themselves from germs never develop proper immune systems. My wife, who goes through a bottle of anti-bacterial hand lotion every week, gets a cold every couple of months.

That's my editorial for the day.


If it's just going to be you eating the food, I guess you can handle it how ever you want. For me, if I'm preparing food that others will eat I feel I have a responsibility to do all I can to adhere to safe food handling procedures - not everyone is blessed with the same immune system (or luck).

Art R

TVWBB Super Fan
Yeah, I knew some guy who didn't pay much mind to foodborne illnesses either. Funny thing was, he spent a lot of time in bathroom. Yikes.

Science people. Something not to be afraid of...

Since it was asked here is some more info on defrosting in the Frigidaire and in cool water.

Approximate Thawing Times

Small Roast
4 to 5 hours per pound

Large Roast
5 to 7 hours per pound

Single Chop or Steak
12 to 14 hours

4 Pack of Chops or Steaks
20 to 24 hours

Thawing pork in the refrigerator is the slowest but safest method you can use and will result in the least amount of moisture loss in comparison to the other methods. The temperature of the refrigerator should be maintained at 35°F to 40°F to discourage growth of harmful organisms as the meat thaws. Leave the meat wrapped and placed on a platter or a tray to catch the drippings as it thaws or unwrap and loosely cover with plastic or foil.

After thawing in the refrigerator the pork can be refrigerated safely for 3 to 5 days. If you decide to not cook the meat within this time, the meat can be refrozen. Just remember that each time the meat is frozen it loses some of its quality. The meat should not be refrozen when thawed using the cold water or microwave methods.

Cold Water
Approximate Thawing Times

Small Roast
2 to 3 hours

Large Roast
30 minutes per pound

Single Chop or Steak
1 hour or less

4 Pack of Chops or Steaks
1 ½ to 2 ½ hours

Thawing pork in cold water is a faster method than thawing in the refrigerator but the proper precautions must be taken. Fill the sink with enough cold tap water to cover the cut of meat, place the pork in a leak proof bag and put it into the cold water. Be sure that the meat is sealed tightly so that the meat is not exposed to the water. Meat exposed to the water will result in flavor and color loss, and will have a greater chance of bacteria growth. The water should be changed every 30 minutes. Do not use warm or hot water, even though it will thaw the pork faster because it will also encourage the growth of bacteria.

Do not use the sink for other purposes during the thawing period and be sure the water does not splash onto other preparation surfaces or food. Once the meat is thawed, remove it from the sink and sanitize all utensils and surfaces affected during the thawing period. The pork should be cooked immediately after thawing and should not be stored for any period of time. Do not refreeze the meat that has been thawed using this method, unless it has been cooked first.

OK. Now that about sums it up.


Jeff T Miller

TVWBB All-Star
My local sams decided that they won't sell single pork butt anymore. So I buy cryovac of 2 and seal 1 in my foodsaver and feeze. To thaw I put the butt in the sink and cover with cool water. I empty the sink after an hour or so and refill with water. I don't remember seems like it takes 3-4 hours.

Jane Cherry

TVWBB All-Star

I couldn't have said it better myself. What I do in my own home is so different than what I do for clients or guests. I am extra careful when other people are eating my food, and knowing food regulation standards also is something I have to pass on to clients for liability purposes.

I tell clients all the time, I don't care what you actually do when I'm not here with the food I have prepared for you, but you signing your safe food handling instructions and each of us having a copy makes me liability free if you don't follow the instructions.

Susan Z

Good thawing advice and food safety stuff.

Rich, are you a raw bacon fan, too? LOVE the stuff...! (Guilty pleasure)

Bryan S

TVWBB Olympian
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by Susan Z:
Rich, are you a raw bacon fan, too? LOVE the stuff...! (Guilty pleasure) </div></BLOCKQUOTE>
I'm not Rich but i Love raw bacon too.

Susan Z

Jeez it's great stuff! I'm always shocked when my friends order their bacon extra crispy at breakfast (and then mad when the dumb restaurant makes mine that way, too, grrrrr).