Thick, durable aeronautical aluminum alloy does a good job of absorbing ambient heat to reduce defrosting time. Flat cuts of meat can thaw in as little as 30 min. Comes with convenient water tray to collect liquids and keep surfaces dry. Nonstick surface is easy to clean. Comes with a complimentary antimicrobial silicone sponge for scratch-free cleaning.
The water tray is made of thin plastic but gets the job done.
Aeronautical aluminum alloy coated with high-density silver ions delivers superior thermal conductivity for quicker defrosting. Thaws even cuts of meat weighing up to 500 g in under 30 min. Concave surface with a center groove effectively channels liquids, keeping messes to a minimum. Nonstick surface is easy to clean.
Not dishwasher safe. Thicker design requires a little extra storage space.
Made of antimicrobial food-grade aluminum with a thicker construction for faster thawing. Detachable silicone feet allow air to circulate and effectively protect counter tops from scratches and scrapes. Multiple grooves do a good job of catching liquids. Dishwasher safe.
Nonstick surface should be handled with care to prevent scrapes and scratches.
Thaws smaller cuts of meat in under an hour. Multiple grooves collect liquids to keep surfaces clean and dry. Non-slip feet prevent sliding, protect counter tops, and add elevation for air circulation. Flat, streamlined design doesn't require much space and features corner cutouts for hanging. Nonstick coating allows for easy cleaning and is dishwasher safe.
May be too small to defrost more than two cuts of meat at once.
Large size lets you defrost several cuts of meat at once. Aluminum construction effectively absorbs heat, slashing average thawing time in half. Nonstick surface rinses off easily enough, but it can also be put into the dishwasher. Silicone corners keep it in place. Features several surface channels to collect liquids.
Takes up considerable counter space.
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Nobody likes to get home from a long day of work and realize that you forgot to take the frozen steaks or chicken breasts out of the freezer to defrost for dinner. But with a defrosting tray, you won’t have to order takeout pizza the next time you make that mistake. Instead, you’ll be able to defrost any frozen food in about half the time it usually takes and get dinner on the table as quickly as possible.
But choosing the right defrosting tray is key. That means deciding on size, material, and other features that will work best for your food prep needs. But with so many options to consider, sorting through your choices can get frustrating pretty quickly.
Have no worries. BestReviews is here to help. If you’re looking for a defrosting tray, our shopping guide has all the tips you need to find the perfect one for your kitchen.
Defrosting trays are made of a material that offers high thermal conductivity, which means that it helps bring the temperature of the food (or other item) it comes in contact with closer to the material’s temperature. When you place a piece of frozen meat on a defrosting tray, heat from the tray is transferred to the food. The temperature of the food increases, while the temperature of the tray decreases. Because of the tray’s contact with the air, it stays relatively close to room temperature, so it’s able to continue bringing up the temperature of the food.
There are several benefits to having a defrosting tray in your kitchen:
Defrosts safely and quickly: In many cases, a defrosting tray can reduce the thawing time for frozen foods by half or more. At the same time, you don’t have to worry about bacteria developing because the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) lists defrosting trays as a safe way to thaw food.
Thaws food uniformly: You don’t have to worry about some parts of your steak, chicken, or pork chop remaining frozen while other areas fully defrost because the tray helps all parts of the food thaw at the same rate.
Defrosts without using the microwave: While you can defrost food quickly in a microwave, some people are uncomfortable with the hazards posed by microwave use. A defrosting tray allows you to quickly thaw your food without turning on the microwave.
Stores easily: A defrosting tray is a fairly slim, flat tool, so you can easily find a spot for it in your cabinet.
Spoiled meat can’t be made safe by cooking. If your food has been in the danger zone between 40°F to 140°F for two hours or more, discard it immediately.
Size: Most defrosting trays are roughly the same size, approximately 11 inches by 8 inches, which is generally large enough to defrost two or three steaks. It’s a good option if you usually cook for one or two people. The largest defrosting trays are 14 inches by 8 inches, which is big enough to defrost three to five steaks, making it a better option if you have a larger family.
Material: Many defrosting trays are made of aluminum because it’s an effective and efficient conductor of heat. Aluminum is able to pull heat from the air and transfer it to the food, so food thaws eight to ten times faster than it normally would. For the quickest, safest thawing, choose a defrosting tray that’s made with antimicrobial, food-grade aluminum or aluminium alloy.
Some higher-end defrosting trays are made of copper, which conducts heat even more effectively than aluminum. But copper scratches easily and is more difficult to clean, so it’s often coated with aluminum for easier maintenance.
Nonstick: When meat and other foods thaw, moisture (condensation) develops. Combined with the colder temperature of the food, it can cause the food to stick to the tray’s metal surface. This can make it difficult to remove the meat once it’s fully thawed. Many defrosting trays are treated with a nonstick coating to make it easier to remove your defrosted steak, chicken, or other food from the surface.
Water reservoir: As food thaws on a defrosting tray, it produces moisture that can quickly accumulate on the surface. The liquid can easily overflow off a flat tray and spread harmful bacteria across your kitchen counter, which must be carefully cleaned up. Some models feature a built-in water box to collect the water, so you can easily disposed of it once the food is fully thawed.
Maintenance: Some defrosting trays must be washed by hand, particularly those with a nonstick surface. That’s because the surface can be easily scratched in the dishwasher. But there are many models that are dishwasher safe. If you want a low-maintenance tray, make sure the tray you choose can go in the dishwasher.
If your defrosting tray doesn’t have a water reservoir, place it inside a baking pan to help keep the condensation off your countertop as the food thaws.
Turn your food over periodically while it’s on the defrosting tray to help shorten the thawing time.
Defrosting trays vary in price based on size and material. In general, you can expect to spend between $7 and $60.
Inexpensive: Small defrosting trays made of aluminum range from $7 to $15.
Mid-range: Midsize defrosting trays made of aluminum alloy or small defrosting trays made of copper range from $15 to $30.
Expensive: Large defrosting trays made of aluminum alloy or midsize to large trays made of copper range from $30 to $60.
Leave frozen food in a plastic bag to thaw. When you thaw food on a defrosting tray, you can leave it in a plastic bag if you prefer. Wetter foods can make a mess if you let them defrost uncovered. Food that comes on a foam tray should be removed from the packaging.
Use two trays for even faster defrosting. If you need to defrost your food more quickly, place a second defrosting tray on top of your meat with the defrosting surface touching the food.
Put paper towels under the tray. If your defrosting tray doesn’t have a water reservoir to catch moisture from the food as it thaws, place some paper towels beneath the tray to soak up the excess liquid.
Q. Is it safe to use a defrosting tray to thaw meat?
A. If used properly, the USDA does recommend a defrosting tray as a safe method for thawing frozen meat. However, it’s important to remember that it isn’t safe to let meat stay in the dangerous temperature zone of 40°F to 140°F for more than two hours. While a defrosting tray can usually defrost a standard size piece of meat in that time, it might take longer for larger pieces, such as a whole chicken or a particularly thick steak. To be safe, those items should be defrosted using another method.
Q. Why is using a defrosting tray better than thawing food in the refrigerator?
A. Defrosting food in the refrigerator is an effective method, but it can take a great deal of time to thaw a piece of meat that way. That’s because the refrigerator increases the temperature of frozen food very gradually, so it might take a full day to defrost even smaller cuts of meat. With a defrosting tray, you can usually thaw food in 40 minutes to an hour and a half, drastically reducing your defrosting time.
Q. Can a defrosting tray double as a cutting board?
A. All defrosting trays are made of either aluminum or copper, which are relatively soft metals. Using a knife to cut on the tray could scratch and damage the surface and affect its performance. Use a dedicated cutting board to cut your meat once it’s defrosted.
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