Freezing is a cost-effective way to preserve food if you're unable to use it all before it goes bad. While freezing is relatively straightforward, thawing food properly can be tricky. This can alter the texture of food once it fully defrosts.
Some foods thaw out better than others. Soup, for example, freezes and unfreezes wonderfully. Bread, on the other hand, requires some extra care when defrosting to avoid a soggy, dry or stale loaf.
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Following a few key steps can help your thawed bread taste almost as fresh as when it was originally made or purchased.
You can thaw frozen bread by leaving it out on the counter or in the refrigerator. Other methods involve thawing it in the oven or toaster oven.
1. How to Thaw Bread on the Counter
Step 1: Keep Bread Wrapped
It's not usually recommended to let foods thaw at room temperature, but this is the best method for thawing frozen bread, according to the Seattle Public Utilities.
Keep the bread wrapped in whatever material you used to wrap the bread before freezing, such as freezer-safe plastic wrap. Keeping it wrapped prevents it from sweating or forming condensation, which could result in soggy bread, per Iowa State University.
Step 2: Place on Counter
Place the wrapped bread on the counter to allow it to thaw at room temperature.
Step 3: Let Sit at Room Temperature
One slice of bread will take about 10 minutes to thaw. Full loaves of bread will take much longer to thaw — around 3 to 5 hours depending on the size of the loaf.
2. How to Thaw Bread in the Oven
Things You'll Need
Step 1: Freeze Accordingly
Susy Massetti, an Italian chef and organic farmer, prefers this method for freezing and thawing frozen bread.
Prior to defrosting your frozen bread, she recommends freezing it in aluminum foil. This prevents freeze burn. For even more protection against frostbite, place them in a vacuum-sealed bag. When it's time to thaw the bread, she says to leave the bread wrapped in aluminum foil.
Step 2: Let Sit at Room Temperature
After removing the frozen bread from the freezer, leave it wrapped in tin foil and let it sit on the counter for 30 minutes. This gives the bread a chance to soften slightly as it's likely to be hard immediately upon removing.
Step 3: Spray With Water
After 30 minutes of thawing at room temperature, Massetti recommends giving the bread a quick spray with water. This reintroduces some moisture back into the bread, which could be dry when fully thawed out.
Step 4: Bake It
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the slices of bread onto a baking sheet and into the heated oven. Let them bake for 5 to 8 minutes. By the time the timer goes off, the bread will be fully thawed and ready to eat or prepare.
3. How to Thaw Bread in the Refrigerator
Step 1: Loosen Wrapping
Thawing bread in the refrigerator is another good option, per Michigan State University. Start by removing the bread from the freezer. If the bread is wrapped, loosen the wrapping.
Leave the bread covered throughout the defrosting process to prevent the bread from sweating.
Step 2: Place in Refrigerator
Place the bread in the refrigerator to allow the bread to thaw at temperatures lower than room temperature but higher than the freezer. This is the best method if you want to thaw bread without worrying about it sitting out for too long on the counter.
Step 3: Allow to Thaw for Several Hours
The time to defrost bread in the refrigerator depends on the size of the bread. Slices of bread may only take 2 to 3 hours while full loaves likely need to be thawed overnight.
4. How to Defrost Bread in the Toaster Oven
Step 1: Place Frozen Bread Directly Into a Toaster Oven
To defrost bread quickly, consider using a toaster oven. You can place the frozen bread directly into the toaster oven and onto the rack.
Step 2: Use the Defrost Setting on Your Toaster Oven
Most toaster ovens have a setting specifically for defrosting frozen foods. Use this setting to thaw frozen bread. This will take slightly longer than toasting fresh bread.
The Best Types of Bread to Freeze
What kind of bread holds up to freezing and defrosting the best? Opt for fresh, high-quality loaves from the bakery or homemade bread.
Low-quality breads, such as sliced white bread, aren't suitable for freezing and unfreezing as they were likely produced using methods that increase oxidation.
Thawing Slices vs. Loaves of Bread
Thawing any type of food goes much quicker when the food has been frozen in smaller portions than larger ones. This is true of bread, too.
To speed up the defrosting process, set yourself up for success by freezing bread in slices instead of full loaves. This also allows you to thaw out bread as needed instead of thawing and using a whole loaf.
All methods of thawing out frozen bread work on sliced bread and loaves of bread. The key difference, however, is the amount of time it takes. Thawing slices of bread requires a fraction of the time compared to thawing loaves. Save yourself time by freezing bread in slices instead of full loaves.
If you've frozen slices of bread, you can easily pop these into a toaster or toaster oven to thaw them within minutes. When thawing whole loaves of bread, baking in the oven is likely the fastest option. Thawing at room temperature is an option for both sliced bread and loaves.
Bread shouldn’t be frozen twice, so fresh bread will freeze and thaw better than bread that’s already been frozen and thawed. For best results, minimize the bread’s exposure to air before freezing.