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Tips for Cooking & Preparing Beef at Home

At a time when people are making more meals at home, it’s important to keep in mind a few tips and tricks when preparing delicious beef.

For any questions related to the safety of our food supply due to coronavirus (COVID-19), please review this information from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. There is currently no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with transmission of COVID-19.

Defrosting Guidelines:

For best quality, defrost beef in the refrigerator, never at room temperature. Place the frozen package on a plate or tray to catch any juices and place in the refrigerator.
  • Steaks, ground beef*, stew meat, kabobs or strips – 12 to 24 hours
  • Small roasts or thin pot roasts – 3 to 5 hours per pound
  • Large roasts or thick pot roasts – 4 to 7 hours per pound

*According to USDA, ground beef can be defrosted in the microwave but must be cooked within the same day.

Handle It Right:

  • Use a gentle touch with ground beef. Over-mixing will result in burgers, meatballs or meatloaves with a firm, compact texture.
  • Before cooking, pat steaks and roasts dry with paper towels for better browning.
  • When stir-frying, partially freeze steaks for about 30 minutes for easier slicing.
  • When roasting or broiling, place steaks or roasts on a rack in a roasting or broiler pan to allow fat to drip away during cooking.
  • For kabobs, cut steak into uniform pieces to ensure even cooking. Pieces do not need to be absolutely square – some may have rounded or uneven edges.
    • Thread steak pieces onto skewers leaving small spaces between them. Loose or tight spacing can cause beef to cook unevenly.

Helpful Tips:

  • High heat can overcook or char the outside of beef cuts while the interior remains underdone.
  • There is no need to bring beef to room temperature before cooking—straight from the refrigerator works effectively.
  • Turn steaks and roasts with tongs. Avoid using a fork, which will pierce the beef and result in the loss of flavorful juices.
  • Turn ground beef patties with a spatula. Do not press down on the patty, or flavorful juices will be lost, resulting in a dry burger.
  • Salt beef after cooking or browning. Salting beef before cooking draws out moisture and restricts the flavor that browning imparts.

Source: Confident Cooking With Beef – The Beef Checkoff

Additional Resources:

Cold Food Storage Chart – Follow these guidelines for storing food in the refrigerator and freezer.

Meat & Poultry Food Safety – Learn about safe cooking temperatures based on your type of protein.

NCBA Beef Food Safety – Check out the basics for enjoying beef at home.

Chuck Knows Beef – Chuck can answer all your questions related to beef, including recipe suggestions, cuts, cooking, nutrition and more.