How to Defrost Stew Beef in the Microwave

Beef stew in a blue bowl.
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Although defrosting meat in the refrigerator is the preferred and safest method, if your stew beef is frozen and you are in a hurry to use it, you can use the microwave to defrost your meat. Stew beef chunks have the advantage of being easier and faster to defrost than large, single pieces of meat and are less likely to develop overcooked areas. Once you defrost the stew beef, use it immediately to prepare your favorite stew.


Step 1

Remove the frozen stew beef from its wrapper. You may need to briefly dip the package in cold water to loosen the frozen mass from the wrapper.

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Step 2

Place the frozen stew beef in a microwave-safe dish and place it in the microwave. If your microwave has a special defrost shelf, insert the defrost shelf into the microwave before putting the dish on it.

Step 3

Press the "Defrost" button. Enter a weight amount, a defrost time or both. Each microwave is different, so consult your microwave instructions for the exact procedure. If your microwave offers a list of suggested defrost times, enter one minute less than the suggested time to make sure you do not cook the stew beef. A pound of beef may take five to seven minutes to defrost in an 1800 watt microwave oven.

Step 4

Pause the microwave halfway through the defrost cycle and separate the pieces of meat, turning them over and moving them around, so that each piece is evenly defrosted. Turn the dish 180 degrees if your microwave does not have a carousel. Continue defrosting until the pieces are soft but still cold. It is okay if some pieces still have a few ice crystals.

Step 5

Remove the stew beef from the microwave and let stand for about five minutes on the counter. Use the stew beef immediately.


Err on the side of having slightly frozen pieces rather than partially cooked pieces. Check the meat every minute and be prepared to pull your beef out before the cycle is complete.

Once cooked, you can freeze the stew, but do not refreeze defrosted raw meat.


Never defrost meat on the counter as this can lead to the growth of bacteria.

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