The best defrosting tray
Did it slip your mind to grab meat from the freezer to defrost? No problem. With the right defrosting tray, you won't ever have to toss your carefully curated meal plan again. This kitchen accessory speeds up the tedious thawing process to help you get dinner on the table in no time. Choose from a variety of tray sizes and materials to thaw anything that's been tucked away in your freezer, from chicken breasts to big juicy steaks.
To learn more, read our buying guide. Our top pick is the MysThaw Defrosting Tray With Water Box, which comes with a no-mess design for quick and easy cleanup.
Considerations when choosing defrosting trays
Advantages of a defrosting tray
Invest in a defrosting tray for your kitchen to save time and do away with the headache of waiting for foods to thaw while your family's stomachs grumble hungrily.
Safe defrosting: Defrosting trays are listed by the USDA as a safe thawing method.
Quick thawing: Thawing food on a tray of this type is a lot faster than letting food thaw in the fridge.
Even defrosting: Food thawed on a defrosting tray does so uniformly, so you won't have to contend with a cut of meat that's partially frozen when it comes time to cook dinner.
Easy storage: With approximately the same dimensions as a cutting board, it's easy to store a defrosting tray.
Defrosting trays vary in size, and it's important to choose a tray that fits your needs. If you intend to defrost multiple servings of food at once, each portion should fit on the tray without overlap or overhang. Defrost enough meat for two to three people with a tray that's 11 x 8 inches. To thaw enough meat for three to five people, opt for a tray that's 14 x 8 inches.
Defrosting trays are typically made of aluminum, which is a thermally conductive material that draws heat from the air and allows it to transfer to food, resulting in rapid thawing. Copper is another thermally conductive material, but it's not as low maintenance as aluminum. Often, copper trays are coated in aluminum, making them easier to clean and harder to nick or scratch. Find a dishwasher-safe defrosting tray to minimize any cleanup hassle.
When food thaws, it inevitably creates condensation and moisture on the surface of a defrosting tray. To prevent a mess and stop bacteria from contaminating your counters, pick a defrosting tray with a water reservoir to catch all the excess moisture seeping from your frozen foods.
For easy cleanup, choose a tray with a nonstick coating to prevent food from sticking to the surface as it thaws.
Defrosting tray prices
Defrosting trays cost between $7 to $60. Budget products include trays designed to hold single portions of frozen meat, while more expensive trays are typically bigger and made of higher-end materials like copper.
Q. How long does it take to defrost items on a defrosting tray?
A. It takes between 40 minutes to two hours to thaw food on a defrosting tray. The time depends on the amount of food, the thickness of the meat, and the type of food involved. Compared to thawing in the fridge, it's much faster.
Q. It looks so much like a cutting board. Can I use it to slice and dice food?
A. No. A defrosting tray is not designed to be used as a cutting board. Use a knife on the surface and you can leave scratches and cuts on your tray, which may cause it to lose its effectiveness.
Defrosting trays we recommend
Best of the best: MysThaw Defrosting Tray With Water Box
Our take: A high-quality defrosting tray with a convenient mess-free design. Perfect for the cook with no time to waste on cleanup.
What we like: The included water box traps all juices and liquids to prevent a mess on your countertop. Also features an aluminum construction, which does an excellent job at speeding up thawing times.
What we dislike: Water box is a little flimsier than we'd like.
Best bang for your buck: Scali Innovations Defrosting Tray
Our take: A no-frills defrosting tray at an affordable price point for the minimalist home cook.
What we like: The slim defroster is easy to store and features a grooved aluminum surface to help keep liquid off your countertops. It's also dishwasher-safe.
What we dislike: Surface is easily scratched.
Choice 3: MN Majestic Large Defrosting Tray
Our take: A roomier tray for serving up multiple portions of meat.
What we like: The big surface is large enough for several portions and is dishwasher-safe. Silicone feet keep the unit from slipping, and grooves prevent liquids from making a mess.
What we dislike: Takes up precious countertop real estate.
Steph Coelho is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds
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