Can I Smoke Frozen Meat? [Frequent Questions]


If you’ve put everything off at the last minute, you may need to smoke your nice cut of meat straight out of the freezer. But should you? Here’s everything you need to know about smoking frozen meat.

Frozen meat selection on cutting board

Can you grill frozen meat directly?

Meat can never be smoked completely frozen, just as you can’t cook meat in the oven before thawing.

I understand is. Sometimes time is against us or we forgot to properly defrost meat before cooking. But the risk just isn’t worth it.

Reluctantly changing temperatures, not to mention the uneven cooking it WILL cause, is unsafe and likely WILL lead to safety issues.

If you cook chicken breasts or lamb chops in the oven, never cook them straight from the freezer.

For the same reasons, any kind of frozen meat should not be grilled.

large frozen whole chicken straight out of the fridge
Large cuts of meat should always be completely thawed before cooking them in your BBQ Smoker.

What happens to meat that has been thawed from frozen?

Smoking thawed frozen meat is a bit more nuanced.

While it’s possible to quickly defrost chicken before grilling or smoking , other meats like beef or pork aren’t as forgiving.

There’s a good reason culinary schools around the world are against it, and that’s why I tend to avoid it.

Smoking meat is all about allowing the aromas and flavors of the smoke to smother and permeate the meat to infuse it.

Frozen meat simply doesn’t allow for this in the same proportions as fresh meat. Smoking frozen meat wastes wood and charcoal. It’s counterproductive and the meat won’t turn out as good as fresh.

It also means YOU can smoke frozen meat, but you shouldn’t.

The hour of meat science

What causes freezing to change meat quality so much?

The answer lies mostly with your friends and mine: water.

Water makes up a portion of every cut of meat, and the meat we use for cooking is no different.

When water freezes, it expands. If you’ve also temporarily left a soda can or bottle in the freezer (don’t worry, we’ve all done this), you often find that frozen water has gone through and made a big mess. .

The same happens in meat. Although the cell walls of meat are more elastic, they can still break under pressure.

This degradation of cell structure can damage the meat and affect its taste.

We all know that moisture retention is key to a good roast . It also stands to reason that cell damage means that the meat cannot store moisture. Underneath you can expect the quality of your grilled food.

Ice crystals formed when frozen water breaks down protein fibers in meat.

This is also known as ” The Purge “.

If you’ve momentarily seen the amount of water or juice that begins to ooze out of meat as it thaws, then here ‘s rinsing in action.

The meat fibers are no longer in their complete form and therefore cannot hold the water content of the meat.

Dried meat that lacks flavor is the bane of every teacher’s life today.

And that is what distinguishes grilling and barbecue smoking.

Grilling relies on high temperatures, so the ill effects of frozen meat are much less of an impact.

Smoking meat is not that forgiving.

How to Freeze Meat to Preserve Flavors

Sometimes you may have no choice but to freeze your meat. Here are a few quick tips to help you get it right.

Instant freezing

One of the best ways to counteract the dehydration of the meat is to flash freeze it. Essentially, this method freezes meat so quickly that water crystals remain small, which helps reduce damage to meat cells.

You can do this simply by using an ice bath with added salt.

Seal the meat of your choice in a freezer bag and soak in ice water for 2 hours, or 3 if using a larger cut of meat.

You can then remove the meat from the bath and place it in the freezer.

Vacuum sealed

To maximize the effects of quick freezing, be sure to vacuum pack your meat. This will help reduce the presence of oxygen in the meat, which should help reduce the effects of rinsing.

If you don’t have a vacuum sealer, try hand-packaging the meat. Do this by placing the meat in a Ziploc bag or freezer bag and tying the bag with a straw that WILL BE inserted into the opening. Slowly push the air out of the bag through the straw. Finally, remove the straw before fully sealing the bag.

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