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Tips from the Experts

How to Freeze Steak (and Save Money)

Knowing how to properly freeze steak is the secret to always having high-quality meat in the house—and more money in your pocket.
By Published Nov. 30, 2022

You will never find me ordering a rib-eye steak at a restaurant. Although I love rib-eyes and I’m an unabashed carnivore, the cost is too great, given that I can prepare the same steak just as deliciously at home.

But now more than ever, buying (and eating) meat has become increasingly costly. 

To save money, I look for deals and buy my steaks in bulk from the grocery store or wholesale clubs such as Restaurant Depot or Costco. Then I freeze the steaks until I’m ready to cook them.

Though I worry that freezing could degrade the quality of the meat. Because what’s the point in saving money now if you end up with subpar steak a few months later?

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So, Can You Freeze Steak?

Yes, you can freeze steak. But it requires some know-how.

You might be tempted to freeze your steak in the butcher paper or other packaging it came in (like I have). Unfortunately, any moisture that remains on the surface of that steak will turn to ice crystals in the freezer. Ice crystals can damage the muscle fibers in meat, impacting their ability to hold onto moisture once thawed.

Vacuum sealing food before freezing it is one way to ensure freshness after thawing, but it requires a piece of equipment you might not have. (I know I havent made that investment yet.)

Fortunately, theres another sure-fire way to freeze steaks without compromising their quality. Thanks to my colleagues at Cooks Illustrated, I now know a better way to freeze steak.

Read on for the process our team came up with after running some test kitchen experiments.

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Meat Illustrated

Learn to cook steaks, roasts, and many more with confidence! Meat Illustrated empowers home cooks to expand their meat recipe repertoire with 350+ foolproof meat-centric meals tailored for over 70 cuts.
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The Best Way to Freeze Steak Without a Vacuum Sealer

Here’s our four-step process to ensure that the meat retains as much of its original quality as possible.

  1. Pat steaks with paper towels. Blotting away surface moisture will help minimize frost.
  2. Freeze steaks uncovered on a parchment-lined baking sheet. This step allows the meat to freeze as rapidly as possible, which minimizes the growth of ice crystals. (A faster freeze means lots of smaller, less damaging crystals; a slower freeze gives crystals time to grow.) It also helps to further dry out the meat’s surface while freezing the steaks flat. A flat steak will brown more evenly if you cook it frozen
  3. Wrap them in plastic wrap. Once the steaks are frozen solid, we wrap each tightly with clingy plastic wrap to help prevent air from drawing moisture (and flavor) from the meat.
  4. Seal in a zipper-lock freezer bag. The last step provides another barrier against air contacting the steaks. Make sure to press out air before sealing the bag. 

Cast Iron Steaks with Herb Butter

This pan’s unbeatable heat retention should create the deepest, richest sear on a steak. But you first need to know your cast iron.
Get the Recipe

But wait, theres more! If you freeze a lot of meat (or other foods), an investment in a separate, dedicated old-fashioned freezer with a manual defrost may also be a good idea.

More modern freezers automatically self-defrost to keep ice from forming along their sides, but because they continually raise and lower the temperature, they can accelerate ice crystal formation. 

When it comes time to thaw your steak, here’s how you can do it in just 10 minutes. 

Alternatively, watch Cooks Illustrateds Dan Souza demonstrate how to cook steaks straight from the freezer. 

 

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JC
JOHN C.
16 days

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too. I've done this using a rimmed sheet pan instead of a skillet and put veggies and potatoes around the chicken for a one-pan meal. Broccoli gets nicely browned and yummy!

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too.

MD
MILES D.
JOHN C.
9 days

Amazed this recipe works out as well as it does. Would not have thought that the amount of time under the broiler would have produced a very juicy and favorable chicken with a very crispy crust. Used my 12" Lodge Cast Iron skillet (which can withstand 1000 degree temps to respond to those who wondered if it would work) and it turned out great. A "make again" as my family rates things. This is a great recipe, and I will definitely make it again. My butcher gladly butterflied the chicken for me, therefore I found it to be a fast and easy prep. I used my cast iron skillet- marvellous!

CM
CHARLES M.
11 days

John, wasn't it just amazing chicken? So much better than your typical oven baked chicken and on par if not better than gas or even charcoal grilled. It gets that smokey charcoal tasted and overnight koshering definitely helps, something I do when time permits. First-time I've pierced a whole chicken minus the times I make jerk chicken on the grill. Yup, the cast iron was not an issue.