Freezing Meat

Meat of all types can be frozen for later use, but there are some considerations to keep in mind. This is a guide about freezing meat.

A frozen piece of meat.
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Article: Freezing Meat

Freezing Meat

Selecting High-Quality Meats:

Select fresh, high quality meats from a reputable butcher, meat packer or grocery store. Cured meats such as ham and bacon can only be frozen for a short period of time (1 to 3 months) because the salt in them hastens rancidity. Organ meats, like liver, tongue, heart, etc., may lose some of their texture during freezing. freezing guide

Preparing for Freezing:

Package meat in convenient, meal-size portions and remove as many bones as possible to save freezer space. Place two layers of freezer paper or wrap between slices or patties of meat so they are easier to separate when frozen and speed thawing. Large game like deer and moose can be frozen the same way as other meats. Small game should be skinned and dressed appropriately before freezing.

Suitable Packaging:

Package the meat in freezer paper or wrap, using either the drugstore or butcher wrap. Freezer bags or containers can be used for ground beef, stew beef or other meats frozen in small portions. Store-bought meats need to be wrapped with additional protection. The clear packaging they normally come packaged in does not provide sufficient moisture-vapor resistant protection for freezing. Meats from a meat packer should come in heavy-duty wrapping, but double check to make sure. If it does, it will not require additional wrapping. Make sure the wrapping is sealed tightly and labeled.

Maximum Storage Time:

If possible, meat should be left in its original packaging when frozen and wrapped again in vapor resistant heavyweight plastic wrap, foil, freezer paper or freezer-grade plastic bags.

Meat TypeRefrigeratorFreezer (0ºF)
Bacon2 weeks1 month
Corned Beef5 to 7 days1 to 2 months
Canned Meat3 to 4 days*3 to 4 months
Chops, Pork & Lamb3 to 5 days4 to 8 months
Cooked Meat2 to 3 days2 to 3 months
Frankfurters3 to 5 days*1 to 2 months
Ground Meats & Stew Meat1 to 2 days3 to 4 months
Ham, Canned1 week*3 to 4 months
Ham, Fully Cooked2 weeks3 to 4 months
Lunch Meat3-5 days*1 month
Pickled Meats (vinegar)2 weeks*
Roasts, Beef, Bison & Pork3 to 5 days9 to 12 months
Sausage (fresh)1 to 2 days1 to 2 months
Sausage, Breakfast Patties/Links1 week2 months
Sausage, Smoked1 week1 to 2 months
Sausage, Summer2 to 3 weeks*6 months
Small Game (rabbits, squirrels, etc.)2 days9 to 12 months
Steaks, Beef & Bison3 to 5 days6 to 12 months
Tofu4 to 5 days6 to 8 weeks
Variety Meats1 to 2 days3 to 4 months
Veal1 to 2 days4 to 6 months
Venison (ground)1 to 2 days2 to 3 months
Venison (steaks, roasts)3 to 5 days9 to 12 months

* opened


All meats should be thawed in their packaging in the refrigerator. For microwave defrosting, remove packaging and refer to your manufacturers recommendations for settings. If meat is in a waterproof package and you need it quickly, run it under cold water or submerge it in a cold water bath for faster thawing.

Tips & Shortcuts:

Freezing tends to damage the texture of organ meats like live, heart, brains, tongue, and kidneys. If freezing these meats is necessary, trim all excess fat, wrap in an airtight package and freeze as rapidly as possible.

Refrigerating Meat:

Ideally, meat should be stored in its original package. Once it has been opened, it is necessary to rewrap tightly in plastic wrap or foil, or pack it in an airtight container.

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Tip: Flatten Packages For Quicker Defrosting

By Kathy 6 16

This is a tip for easy storing and thawing of ground beef, turkey, chicken, or bulk sausage. Divide into 1 lb. portions and place each lb. in a gallon zip lock bag. With the bag zipped closed, flatten by hand or roll meat flat with a rolling pin. The thinner the better! Now the bags can be stored in the freezer stacked flat. They take up much less room. When ready to use, the meat thaws in 15-20 minutes. This works well for dough too. With veggies, spread them out in the bag before freezing.

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Question: Freezing Deli Meats

By Pamela M. 6

Can you freeze deli meats like bologna, ham, roast beef and sliced cheese? Thanks.

By Pamela

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Most Recent Answer

By Elaine S. 39 243 Flag

July 1, 2011

Freezing cheese cuts down on the flavor slightly but I still do it.

ReplyWas this helpful? Yes

Tip: Freezing Marinated Meats

By christi 93 320

We like to marinate meats for the grill, but we usually forget to thaw and marinate it ahead of time. So now when I shop and buy steak tips or what ever type of meat I am going to marinate, I will buy three or four meals worth and then freeze the meats right in the zipper bag with marinade. All I have to do now is remember to thaw it. I only use this with my homemade marinades, I am not sure how this would work with pre-mixed store bought types.

By Gardencraft

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Tip: Freezing Meat Without Freezer Burn

When I purchase family packs of meat I individually wrap 1 meal servings in plastic wrap and then in TinFoil (shiny side out). I have never had freezer burned food.

Katz from Alberta

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Tip: Portion your Meats Before Freezing

By Donna 309 325

Super simple way I save time and money. I buy meats on sale; ground beef, chops and even poultry in larger packages, since it is usually cheaper in larger amounts. I don't have the time nor do I want to pay to rewrap everything in smaller or single serving sizes.

So I manipulate the meat right through the closed package to divide it into pounds or seperate it into single meal sizes, then lay them flat in the freezer and FREEZE them solid that way.

When the time comes to use a portion, I can usually crack the frozen solid package in half open on a counter corner (see photo) and gently take out just what I want to use, using the attached, remaining plastic wrap to cover up the remaining meat product!

Like I said, it's so simple, but it works for me and I save money on buying meat in bulk don't waste much time or extra money on plastic wraps or other wrapping products!

Portion your Meats Before Freezing


  1. Buy meats in bulk- ground meat, chops, steaks, chicken legs, etc
  2. While still sealed, manipulate the meat into single or meal serving sizes. There is usually enough room to divide the meats slightly from each other! I divide ground meat by the lb.
  3. Freeze the divided meat package flat in your freezer.
  4. When you want a serving take the meat out of the freezer and hold both ends of the package while cracking the package (between the servings) onto a counter.
  5. Gently take one serving out of the one side and use the attached remaing plastic to recover your remaining meat (I add a rubber band to the package too) and put the extra back into the freezer for future use!

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Tip: Freezing Meat and Poultry

By Diana 91 30

Wrap all meat products well before you freeze them. This prevents flavor changes and drying of the meat. Heavy duty foil and coated freezer paper are excellent barriers to both air and moisture. Regular weight aluminum foil becomes brittle at low temperatures and does not make a good freezer wrap. Multiple-layer freezer bags you can seal tightly are also effective wraps.

Remove the supermarket plastic overwrap when you freeze meats, unless you plan to store meat only for a week or two. The film overwrap lets in oxygen to keep the color bright in the meat case. While this is fine for refrigerated storage, it leads to freezer burn in frozen storage.

Freeze meats and poultry in meal-sized quantities. If you stock up during a sale, rewrap and freeze meat as soon as you get it home. Separate chops, steaks, ground meat patties or chicken parts with a sheet of plastic wrap before you stack them for the freezer. If you take the time to do this, you will be able to separate them for cooking, even when they are still solidly frozen.

If a freezer stays at 0 F or lower, meats will keep for several months. Store roasts and whole poultry for six to 12 months; steaks and chops for four to six months, and ground meats or stew meats for three or four months. Cured and processed meats lose quality more rapidly than fresh meats because of the presence of salts. Do not store luncheon meats, franks, ham or sausage longer than one or two months.

These are approximate storage times--if you keep meats solidly frozen and store them at 0 F, they will remain safe to eat well beyond the recommended time. However, they may show quality change like rancid off-flavors in the fats or dryness from freezer burn.

Thaw frozen meats in the refrigerator, in the microwave or cook them without thawing. Do not thaw meat at room temperature, because this will give surface bacteria a better chance to multiply

Source: Source: NDSU Extension Service Nutrition Specialists

By Diana from Prospect, KY

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Food and Recipes Freezing MeatJanuary 16, 2013
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