Marinades made with herbs, spices, sauces, and seasonings can transform a piece of meat into a powerhouse of flavor that becomes hard to resist.
The longer you marinate the meat, the more flavorful it becomes. For this reason, it is often more convenient to marinate the meat beforehand and cook it when the time comes.
A common question regarding this practice is how to safely store the marinated meat and whether the freezer is an option.
So, can you freeze marinated meat? Yes, you can freeze both pre-packed marinated meat and meat that you marinated at home provided that the ingredients used in the marinade are all fresh and within their use-by dates.
Read on to find out more about freezing marinated meat, how to do so, if there are any concerns regarding it, if the taste and texture of the meat are affected by it, and more!
Can You Really Freeze Marinated Meat?
If you have more marinated meat than you can cook, freezing it is an option.
Whether you are planning to cook the marinated meat later in the day or sometime in the future, preparing and freezing the meat is a great option to store it for later use and makes future meal planning easier.
How well the meat freezes depends on how you marinated it and how careful you were when handling and freezing it. If done properly, it can last for up to 3 months in the freezer.
Using the correct method for freezing marinated meat will reduce the risk of foodborne illnesses and maintain the flavor and quality of the meat for much longer.
Does Freezing Marinated Meat Affect Its Quality?
While the thought of freezing marinated meat and simply cooking it without having to handle and prepare it again is surely a lucrative one, it isn’t always as foolproof as it seems.
If not done properly, the freezing process can affect the flavor of the meat by flattening it, particularly if the meat is kept in the freezer for longer than 3 months.
Another factor that you need to keep in mind is that freezing can have an impact on the texture of the meat as the freezing process expands the membranes and causes the liquids in the tissue to solidify.
The type of marinade you use and the freshness of the ingredients will also affect the taste and quality of the frozen marinated meat, which you will notice once it is defrosted.
Keeping that in mind, if you are not careful while freezing the marinated meat, you could end up with dry and mushy meat.
How To Freeze Marinated Meat
Marinades can make even the blandest cuts of meat more flavorful. From poultry to beef and pork, all the different types of meats can be marinated using a variety of ingredients.
There are several kinds of marinades that you can use to prepare wonderful meals that are full of flavor.
The only issue with marinating is that it requires time. The best-tasting meats are the ones that have had plenty of time to marinate, and that is where your freezer can help.
Frozen marinated meat can save you a lot of time in meal prep and is a great way to store all the leftover marinated meat that you do not plan on cooking right away.
Here are step-by-step instructions for freezing marinated meat:
- Start by marinating the meat for a couple of hours before you plan on freezing it. Cover and place the marinated meat in the fridge for a few hours to allow the delicious flavors to infuse into the meat.
- Next, place the marinated meat on a sheet of aluminum foil and wrap it tightly, making sure there are no rips or tears. If you want, you may slice the meat into smaller pieces before wrapping it up.
- Once properly wrapped, place the marinated meat into suitably-sized freezer-safe bags. Expel out as much air as possible before sealing them in order to avoid freezer burn.
- Label the bags with the contents, along with the current date and the use-by date, before placing them in the freezer.
The meat will retain its quality for up to 3 months, after which it will still be safe to eat, but may not be the best taste and texture-wise.
If done right, you can freeze your marinated meat without compromising its flavor, texture, and overall quality. Just make sure to thaw it properly before cooking!
Tips For Freezing Marinated Meat
When freezing marinated meat, there are a few tips you can follow for the best results:
- Go for leaner cuts of meat as they will be tender and juicier when defrosted.
- Cut the meat into smaller pieces as it will help absorb the flavors of the marinade better.
- Fork the meat before marinating so that the herbs, spices, seasonings, and sauces can be properly absorbed. This trick is especially useful for bigger cuts.
- Use marinades with high acidity levels as they perform better in the freezer.
- Avoid using metal containers for marinating the meat as the acids in the marinade will react with the metal in the container and affect the flavor of the meat.
- Avoid using too much marinade as it makes it difficult for the meat to defrost properly. Make sure to evenly and thinly coat the meat to avoid this issue.
- If you plan on grilling the meat later on, make sure to include cooking oil with a high smoke point in your marinade as it will help the fatty tissue absorb the flavors of the marinade.
- Avoid adding too much salt to the marinade as it tends to draw out moisture from the meat. You may add it later on when cooking it.
- Never reuse the marinade as it will be mixed with raw meat juice. If you wish to use some of the marinade as a sauce for your grilled meat, prepare some extra marinade to use as a topping for the meat.
- To avoid making a mess, use thick, good-quality bags. The last thing you would want is your marinade and meat juices leaking all over your freezer.
- Don’t forget to label the meat when freezing it. Label it clearly with the type of meat, the type of marinade, as well as the date of freezing. This helps when you are using different marinades and also gives you a better idea of the frozen meat’s best-by date.
- Avoid freezing the meat for too long as it will affect its quality and the taste and texture will start to decline.
How To Use Frozen Marinated Meat
Frozen marinated meat can be used in the same way that you would use fresh marinated meat. You may grill, bake, or broil it and enjoy a lovely lunch or dinner with minimal hassle.
Some quick and easy ways to use frozen marinated meat include serving it over rice or pasta, tossing it into a salad, making meat and vegetable skewers, making tacos or quesadillas, or using it as a pizza topping.
The options are endless and you can use it in any way you like. Just make sure that when you cook it, it is properly thawed!
How To Thaw Frozen Marinated Meat
There are a few easy ways to thaw frozen meat.
The best one is to place the meat in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight, so that there is no risk of bacterial contamination. The meat will gradually thaw and will be safe to cook the following day.
Another way is to place the frozen marinated meat in a sealable bag and submerge it in cool water.
If thawing via water bath, make sure to replace the water every half hour or so until the meat thaws completely. Depending on the size of the meat, this may take anywhere between 1–3 hours.
You can also use the defrost setting on a microwave, but this should be used with caution with larger cuts as the heat may cause irregular temperatures throughout the meat, with some parts cooking and some parts still being frozen.
We do not recommend leaving meat at room temperature to thaw as the risk of bacterial contamination increases the longer it is left out.
Now that you know all about freezing marinated meat and how to do so, here are a few additional questions we thought you might have.
How long does marinated meat last at room temperature?
Food should not be left out at room temperature for more than 2 hours as it gives way to bacterial contamination, making it unsafe to eat.
Although marinated meat may be able to last a bit longer than that if it uses an acidic marinade, it is best to not risk it and use it within the 2-hour timeframe.
How long does marinated meat last in the fridge?
According to the USDA, marinated meat can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Can you refreeze marinated meat?
No, it is not recommended to freeze marinated meat more than once.
If you have a big portion of meat, make sure to slice it up before freezing. This way, you will have smaller portions of the marinated meat and can defrost only as much as is required at a given time.