How Long Does it Take to Thaw Pork Shoulder?

Waiting for the pork shoulder to defrost can take much longer than anticipated, so it’s important to plan ahead of time when it comes to cooking frozen meat. Defrosting pork shoulder quickly is doable, but thawing it the wrong way can leave your meat susceptible to bacteria growth and make it potentially dangerous to eat. With so many stipulations to keep in mind, you may be wondering how long it takes to thaw a pork shoulder properly.

The time it takes to thaw pork shoulder is dependent on the thickness of the meat on the method you use to thaw it. When thawing pork shoulder in the refrigerator, it takes 24 hours for every five pounds of meat. If you’re thawing using the cold water method instead, it should take about 30 minutes for each pound.

What are the best methods for thawing pork shoulder?

When it comes to thawing frozen pork shoulder, there are only two methods for defrosting the meat safely. These are the refrigerator method, which takes longer but is more convenient, and the cold water method, which is more labor-intensive but much quicker.

The most important thing to note is that you should never defrost frozen pork shoulder on the counter. According to the U.S. Department of Food and Agriculture, any frozen meat left to thaw on the counter at room temperature is in danger of dropping into the “Danger Zone,” between 40- and 140-degrees Fahrenheit. Foods in this zone are at a greater risk of harboring bacteria that leads to foodborne illness, so it’s essential that you defrost your pork shoulder safely.

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Refrigerator Method

This is the safest method for thawing pork shoulder, but it can be time-consuming. Therefore, planning ahead is crucial for making sure you have adequate time to defrost prior to cooking.

To thaw in the refrigerator, simply place the frozen pork shoulder in a baking dish lined with paper towels or a wire rack atop a sheet pan. The goal is to provide proper air circulation while catching any juice that drips while the pork shoulder thaws. You can further protect other foods in your refrigerator from cross-contamination by placing the dish with the frozen pork shoulder on the bottom shelf.

Allow the pork shoulder to sit in the fridge until it is fully thawed. The entire process takes 24 hours for every five pounds of meat, meaning a 10-pound pork shoulder should take around two days to fully thaw using this method.

Once completely thawed, the pork shoulder should be cooked and consumed as soon as possible. However, you can safely keep it in the refrigerator for between three to five days prior to consumption if you have flexible cooking plans.

Cold Water Method

This method is great for anyone in a time crunch, though it does require you to keep watch throughout the process. To use this method, place the frozen pork in a leak-safe bag and submerge it in a large bowl filled with enough cold water to completely cover the meat.

After 30 minutes, drain the bowl and fill with fresh cold water, rotating the pork shoulder to ensure the meat defrosts evenly. It should thaw at a rate of 30 minutes for each pound of meat, so a 10-pound pork shoulder should take around five hours to defrost.

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When using this method, make sure to cook and consume the pork shoulder as soon as possible. While this method is safe, some portions of the meat may have warmed more quickly than the others, so it’s best to cook it right away to avoid any potential bacteria growth.

How do you thaw a pork shoulder quickly?

Many people may be tempted to thaw pork shoulder in a microwave since this is typically a quick, convenient method. While some meat, such as hamburgers and chicken breast, can be safely defrosted using a microwave, this isn’t the case for pork shoulder. This is because the cuts of the meat are too thick to allow for an even thaw, which can lead to some parts of the meat warming too quickly and harboring bacteria.

The quickest method for defrosting pork shoulder safely is by using the cold water method as detailed above.

Can you cook pork shoulder from frozen?

Yes, pork shoulder can be cooked from a frozen state. However, frozen meats take 50 percent longer to cook than if they’ve been thawed first, so make sure to account for the increased time. For example, if the grill is set to 225 degrees Fahrenheit, a frozen ten-pound pork shoulder will take around 30 hours to cook. By simply making sure to thaw ahead of time, you can drastically cut back on the time it takes to ensure the pork shoulder is properly cooked.

How long can thawed pork shoulder stay in the fridge?

According to the USDA, pork shoulder that has been safely defrosted can remain in the fridge for three to five days. If not consumed within this time frame, it can be refrozen without cooking first. However, your safest option is to cook and consume the thawed pork shoulder as quickly as possible to avoid potential foodborne illness.

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Pork shoulder is a delicious meal that is well worth the wait, but you should always plan ahead to make sure you have enough time to thaw it safely. Thaw a frozen pork shoulder by using the refrigerator method or the cold water method, and never attempt to defrost by allowing the pork shoulder to sit out at room temperature. By setting aside adequate time to ensure your pork shoulder thaws properly, you can sit back and let the grill do the work once it comes time to cook.