Are your pork chops on ice? Here's how to bring them back to a prep-friendly temp.

Get this: Pork is the world's most-consumed animal protein, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Foreign Agriculture Service. And the average American eats 1 ¼ pounds of pork each week. That's a lot of tenderloin, ribs, and chops!

So if you've stocked up on enough pork chops to last you for a while, here's what you need to know about how to safely thaw them:

How to Thaw Frozen Pork Chops

First things first: No matter which method you choose for how to thaw frozen pork chops, do not do so at room temperature (aka simply leaving the pork chops on the counter until they de-ice). If you allow it to hang out at your usual thermostat temp, it's a big food safety risk since it puts your food in the "danger zone" of 40 degrees F to 140 degrees F for enough time to encourage the growth of bacteria, the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns.

The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) recommends the following three safe ways for how to thaw frozen pork chops — or any smaller or sliced cut of meat, such as beef steak, salmon fillets, or chicken breasts.

How to Thaw Frozen Pork Chops in the Refrigerator

If you're able to plan ahead, this is a safe and easy way to thaw frozen pork chops.

  • Place frozen pork chops in a container, such as a casserole or baking dish, to catch any potential drips.
  • Allow to chill at refrigerator temperature (35 degrees F to 40 degrees F) for 12 to 24 hours, depending on pork chop size and whether you froze the pork chops individually or together.
  • After thawing pork chops in the refrigerator, you can keep them in the refrigerator safely for three to five days before cooking.

How to Thaw Frozen Pork Chops in Cold Water

Quicker, yet a bit more fussy than refrigerator thawing, using cold water can be a safe way to thaw frozen pork chops — if you do it correctly.

  • Unwrap frozen pork chops and place in a leakproof zip-top plastic bag.
  • Submerge the bag of frozen pork chops in a big bowl or pot of cold tap water.
  • Replace the water every 30 minutes until thawed. A one-pound chop thaws in about an hour, while a four-pound stack may take about three hours.

Food safety tips: Don't use your sink, because if any leakage occurs, you might be introducing bacteria onto sink surfaces. And don't use warm or hot water, as it may increase the pork chops' temperature into the danger zone.

How to Thaw Frozen Pork Chops in a Microwave

Plan to cook your pork chops immediately after thawing in the microwave, as portions of the pork chops may defrost and land within that temperature danger zone.

  • Unwrap frozen pork chops and place on a microwave-safe plate to catch any potential drips.
  • Lightly cover plate with heat-safe plastic wrap to prevent any splatters from spraying around the microwave.
  • Cook at 50 percent power for two minutes, flip, and cook for two minutes more.
  • Repeat as needed, depending on the size of your pork chops.

What to Do When You Don't Have Time to Thaw Frozen Pork Chops

If you're in a huge rush and don't have time — or prefer not — to microwave, you should be able to cook most of your pork chop recipes starting with frozen pork chops. Estimate that you'll need to cook for about 50 percent more time than is listed in the recipe for thawed or fresh meat.

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