Does Frozen Meat Weigh More? (3 Popular Proteins Discussed)

Freezing meat is a popular preservation technique. It allows us to buy meat in bulk and save some for later. Whether you’re buying beef, chicken, or pork, the packages include important information like the weight of the contents. This is super helpful when following recipes. Does frozen meat weigh more than unfrozen?

Yes, meat can weigh slightly more when frozen, but not always. Weight depends on a number of factors, like temperature and humidity. Meat contains moisture. This moisture forms ice crystals when frozen, and the liquid expands, increasing the product’s weight. Different types and cuts of meat contain different liquid volumes affecting their weight when frozen.

Read on to learn more about frozen meats and the science behind weight differences!

Does frozen meat weigh more than thawed meat?

You may feel a weight difference if you pick up a frozen package of ground beef in one hand and a thawed package in the other. Put each container on a kitchen scale, and you might even see a slight weight difference between the two. Ice actually weighs less than water in a liquid state, so how can this be?

Frozen meat can weigh more than thawed meat because of the water trapped in the meat. When water freezes, it expands and takes up more space. Thawing the frozen meat releases the extra weight gained as the ice formed becomes liquid. 

The act of freezing also makes the cells inside the meat burst and release water. Once thawed, this extra water drains out of the meat, further reducing the meat’s weight.

In some instances, frozen meat can weigh less than thawed meat. Temperature, humidity, and air velocity can cause weight reductions.

When frozen, water’s density decreases, but the volume increases up to 9%. Liquid molecules stay close together but, when frozen, spread out.

Does frozen meat weigh more?
Does frozen food weigh more? It depends.

Does frozen packaging affect weight when thawed?

Vacuum-sealed. Loose store packaging. Ziploc freezer bags. Does the way your frozen meat is packaged affect its weight when thawed?

Yes, how your frozen meat is packaged can affect its weight after it has thawed. The force of vacuum-sealing forces moisture out of the meat, so it will weigh less when thawed due to moisture loss. Freezing in a loose package like plastic wrap or a freezer bag allows room for evaporation and condensation during freezing.

When buying beef at the grocery store, you often see a “bloody-looking” substance that has soaked into the absorbent pad in the packaging. This isn’t blood it is myoglobin. Myoglobin is a distant cousin to hemoglobin. This protein is located in the muscles of animals and attaches to iron and oxygen, and is red in color.

How much more does meat weigh when frozen?

Whether you are freezing a beef roast, ground beef, or chicken breasts, the moisture content of each cut will determine the frozen weight.

The amount of weight meat gains when frozen is small but is ultimately determined by the moisture content. Leaner cuts of meat will have more water than fattier cuts. Cheaper cuts will contain more water than higher-end cuts of meat.

Protein is made up of a considerable amount of water, but fat is not. A lean protein like chicken will have less water content than a fattier steak. Cheap cuts of meat contain fillers and often have an added water-salt solution added for flavor. When thawed, much of this moisture escapes the meat reducing its weight.

Does meat weigh more raw or cooked?

As part of a science experiment, my son weighed raw ground chicken, beef, and pork patties before and after cooking. The cooked weight was always less than the raw weight, regardless of the cooking method.

Raw meat weighs more than cooked meat because the cooking process releases liquid and fat from the meat. The cooking method will affect the amount of weight lost, but animal proteins can lose up to 25% of their volume when cooked.

I’m sure you’ve seen this in action. You pound out a good size hamburger patty to fit your bun, but once it’s grilled, air-fried, or baked, it reduces in size, leaving you with a meatless border of bread around the bun.

Smart tip: Assuming a 25% water + fat loss, multiply the raw weight by .75 to calculate the cooked weight.

Meat Cuts Raw Water %Cooked Water %
Beef Eye Round Roast73%65%
85 % Lean Ground Beef64%60%
Chicken Breast w/skin69%61%
USDA Animal Protein Raw vs. Cooked Water Percentages

Can frozen meat go bad?

You clean out your freezer and find a package of New York strips in the far recesses, but you have no idea how long they’ve been there. Are they safe to eat?

Frozen meat can go bad if it hasn’t been kept at or below 0 degrees Fahrenheit. Otherwise, frozen meat can last indefinitely, but the quality may suffer.

Freezing meat for an extended period can cause freezer burn. Even though freezer burn will not cause the meat to be unsafe for consumption, it will change the texture and make the meat dry. If you only see small areas of ice crystals or discoloration from freezer burn, you can cut those portions off and salvage your meat.

Can frozen meat be thawed and refrozen?

It never fails. At the beginning of the week, I set out frozen meat to cook. The week gets away from me, and my menu plan is derailed. Sound familiar? Is it safe to refreeze when this happens?

Yes, frozen meat can be thawed and refrozen if it is thawed correctly. According to the United States Dept. of Agriculture (USDA), refreezing foods thawed slowly in the refrigerator is possible. However, keep in mind that frozen, thawed, and refrozen foods might lose quality due to the moisture lost during thawing. 

Proper thawing needs to take place inside the refrigerator. The fridge process might be slow, but it cuts down on health risks. 

Will frozen meat go bad if left out overnight?

Overnight thawing on the kitchen counter is asking for trouble.

Yes, frozen meat will go bad and become unsafe to consume if left out overnight. Only keep frozen meat at room temperature for 2 hours and nothing more. If it stays out longer, harmful bacteria can grow.

There are three ways to thaw meat safely – the refrigerator, cold water, and the microwave.

Thawing meat in a fridge is the simplest but most time-consuming. Depending on the size and weight, you may have to wait 24 hours or more for it to fully thaw. Plan to wait 24 hours for every 5 pounds of meat stored in the refrigerator. 

Submerging packaged meat in cold water is quicker to thaw frozen meat. Be sure to change the cold water every 30 minutes until completely thawed to prevent bacteria growth.

The quickest way to thaw frozen meat is by microwaving. Use the “defrost settings” to avoid cooking the meat.

Smart Tip:  If using the cold water and microwave method to thaw meat, cook immediately. Do not attempt to refreeze.

Does frozen meat lose nutrients when cooked?

All meats lose some nutrients through the cooking process.

Yes, both frozen and fresh meats lose nutrients when cooked. Nutrient loss is dependent on the cooking method and cooking time involved. Proteins retain their nutrients better than vegetables when cooked.

Vitamins B and C are water-soluble,so they tend to decrease more than fat-soluble vitamins like A and D, especially when the meat is boiled. Freezing doesn’t decrease the nutrients in food, but how it was processed prior to freezing can.

Cooking meat at a high temperature for an extended period will not only cause the meat to lose nutrients, but it can also increase certain harmful compounds.

Summary of “Does Frozen Meat Weigh More?”

Frozen meat often weighs more than thawed meat due to its moisture content. However, any weight changes are minimal. Freezing is an effective way to store meat for an extended period because it retains nutrients and allows you to stock up when prices go down.

Does freezing meat affect weight?

Freezing can slightly affect meat’s weight, either up or down, due to factors like the type of meat, water content, packaging, humidity, and temperature.

Does frozen meat weigh the same as fresh meat?

Pound per pound, frozen meat and fresh meat weigh the same.

Should I weigh my food frozen or thawed?

In most cases, it is easier to weigh food thawed as foods frozen solid can be awkward to place on a kitchen scale. The key is consistency. If you are following a recipe or baking, it is best for all ingredients to be in the same state.

Do frozen things weigh more?

Some frozen things weigh more, some do not. Ice weighs less than the equivalent amount of water. However, water expands when frozen, and the freezing process can release additional water from meat cells, reducing the overall weight when thawed.

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