Fresh vs Frozen Meat: Why It Doesn’t Matter

Reading Time: 9 minutes

Fresh Meat Vs Frozen Meat

fresh vs frozen meat

Different cultures over the world have different cuisines, each vastly different from the last.

However, some foods remain a staple no matter where you go.

Meat is an incredibly popular part of people’s diets all across the globe. There’s nothing as fulfilling, satisfying, or delicious as a juicy cut of meat.

Meat isn’t just satisfying to eat, though. It is incredibly healthy, filling, and an easily accessible option.

While beef may seem like the most popular option, there are various options you pick from. Fish, chicken, seafood, and mutton are also delicious options, and you’ll find that the popularity varies based on global location.

Eating fresh meat is the more popular option, but buying frozen cuts has become increasingly popular in recent years. However, it’s essential to know how it fares best – frozen or fresh when buying any meat.

A high-quality cut of meat can make any dish shine, but a stale piece can ruin any dish you cook. This rule applies to all types of meat, not just beef or mutton.

So, if you’re interested in learning how you can preserve fresh & frozen meat best, which cuts of meat are best frozen vs fresh, then  keep reading below.

What's the difference between fresh and frozen meat?

fresh meat

The difference in fresh vs frozen meat isn’t much.

The meat you buy from the butcher shop is fresh, which means never frozen. You purchase the meat from a butcher’s shop and cook the meat without freezing it.

Butchers typically prepare fresh meat each day using meat cleavers, and people buy it within a few short hours of it being prepared.

If the meat has been stored for a while in a frozen state, it isn’t fresh. It stays in temperatures between 0 to 26 degrees. When the temperature drops below zero, you can consider your meat frozen.

A proper freezing technique can ensure that frozen meat tastes just as delicious as fresh meat, but you can still expect some slight differences. However, if you don’t freeze the meat properly, you can expect the taste, colour, texture, and smell to change, no matter which meat type you’re cooking.

What's the best: Fresh VS Frozen Meat?

Fresh meat is almost always better because it has the highest nutrient count, but it can lose minerals and vitamins as time passes. However, if you blast freeze the meat and thaw it properly, there isn’t any difference in flavour and quality.

If it’s frozen quickly and effectively, the meat can retain its nutritional value, colour, and taste and retain its nutrients. Frozen meat is much easier to use because you can store it in your fridge for a long time.

Conversely, you need to get fresh meat whenever you want to cook it, and you need to cook it fast because it won’t keep well over time. So, what’s best depends on how you intend to use your meat.

How can you tell if it's fresh meat?

Always check the colour of meat, whatever type of meat it is. If it’s beef or lamb meat, it should be bright red, and if you touch the meat with fingers, it should be firm, and your fingers need to be dry.

If it’s vacuum-packed meat, it may appear slightly brown, but that doesn’t mean that it’s rotten or of bad quality. Furthermore, meat has a peculiar smell of its own.

Don’t be put off by the mild, meaty smell, but make sure there isn’t any strong, pungent odour. Fresh meat can quickly develop a stronger smell if you keep it in a hot or humid environment, so be sure to scrutinize it.

If you’re buying poultry, the meat should be white or light pink. Check carefully it does not have bruises, a green tinge, and blood clots anywhere because that may mean the meat isn’t fresh.

frozen steaks

What happens to meat when frozen?

Many people often wonder that is frozen meat as good as fresh.

When you put meat in the freezer, ice crystals can form on your meat, damaging the cell membrane. The air gives the room to form ice crystals.

Hence, if you use vacuum sealing to remove air and blast freeze the meat, it will prevent the formation of ice crystals, and your meat will retain its nutrient value.

Unfortunately, not everyone has the facility of blast freezing. So, if you want to prevent the formation of ice crystals, you should double wrap the meat to prevent freezer burn.

If you don’t carry out this step, your defrosted meat can be dehydrated and tough. However, if you’re freezing dry-aged beef, you don’t need to worry about ice crystals because the meat has reduced water content.


Best way to thaw meat

There are usually three ways to thaw meat. If you properly freeze your meat, it should be easy for you to take it out and thaw it with less time and effort.

Refrigerator thawing

It is best to thaw meat slowly. If you need to thaw meat and you have time, then put your meat in the fridge and let it be there overnight before cooking.

When you thaw your meat in the fridge, always put your meat or poultry in a sealed container; it keeps moisture away from other foods in your fridge.

Coldwater thawing

Another way to thaw meat is to put your meat pack in cold water. It’s essential to ensure that the food package is in a leak-proof bag.

Leave it for few hours until it softens, and keep changing the water after every 30 minutes. A small package of meat may thaw in less time, like an hour.

Microwave thawing

As mentioned earlier, it’s best to thaw meat slowly. However, if you need it urgently and can’t spend time thawing it in the fridge, you can defrost it instead.

If you are defrosting your meat in the microwave, remember to cook it straight away. If you don’t want to cook the meat right away, put it in your fridge to make sure it doesn’t get too hot.

You can defrost the meat on the regular settings in your microwave, but be sure to keep checking to prevent the meat from beginning to cook.

Best cuts that are better frozen, best cuts that are better fresh

Some cuts fare better when frozen, while others taste best fresh. Here, we’ve outlined how you should use your meat.

butchers shop

Cuts better frozen

Cuts that are better to eat frozen include duck bone and legs with skin on. Beef and veal mince, short ribs, shoulder blade, brisket, shanks cheeks, pork, and lamb also freeze well.

You can cook frozen steak perfectly if you freeze it in a vacuum packing bag. Poultry cooks even better after freezing, like a roast and other cuts.

Cuts better fresh

Steaks are also perfect for cooking fresh if you want to retain their colour, tenderness, and juiciness. Beef or mutton mince cooks better when it’s fresh, like fresh burger patties.

Offal is best to eat fresh, and it includes the brain, kidneys, liver, and tongue, to name a few cuts.


How long can I keep meat in the freezer?

You can store any uncooked cuts in the freezer for six months, and up to a year. If you keep them at a constant temperature, there’s no need to worry about sacrificing taste or texture.

However, you shouldn’t keep any ground meat in the freezer for more than four months. Furthermore, although can store steaks for up to six months, it’s preferable to use them earlier to not compromise on quality.

Is there a difference between fresh and frozen meat?

Yes, there is a difference between fresh and frozen meat. When you freeze the meat, some changes do happen, but you can avoid the impact if you carefully carry out the freezing process.

If you keep your meat consistently frozen, you can maintain freshness to a large degree. The quality of frozen vs fresh meat thus depends largely on your handling of the meat.

Is Frozen Meat considered fresh?

If it’s frozen, it’s not fresh, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it has lost its quality or nutrients. When the label mentions that the meat is fresh frozen, it means they freeze the product as quickly as possible.

Frozen meat is considered as good as fresh meat, and it has all the nutrients.

Is frozen steak as good as fresh?

Fresh cut steak always tastes the best, but a frozen one can be equally tasty if your steak cut is proper and you freeze it accordingly. However, you should not store steaks for more than four months.

The meat holds water in it, and once you freeze and defrost, it can affect the quality of your steak. So freeze your steak cut correctly and once you defrost it, cook your cut immediately.

How do you make frozen meat taste fresh?

You want your frozen meat to taste as fresh as it should, especially if you want to freeze it for more extended periods, up to a few months.

The ideal way is to put your meat or poultry in the freezer as soon as you reached home from shopping.

The best way to pack your meat is in a vacuum seal. It would help if you wrapped it in a freezer-safe bag, foil, or any airtight container.

Proper storage can protect your meat’s quality and flavour. You want to minimize any contact with air if you want to maximize the freshness of your meat.

Exposure to air and oxygen can cause your meat to lose its taste, colour, and texture. It can also develop a sour smell. If you freeze your meat correctly, it won’t lose the quality and flavour, and you won’t notice any significant change.

How long do grocery stores keep meat?

Many grocery stores can keep the meat in their stores for 10 to 14 days. Some grocery stores have butchers on hand, and they keep their eyes on the meat to check the freshness.

If it changes any colour or scent, they dispose of the meat immediately.

Grocery stores strictly take measures to avoid contamination of meat. They monitor the freezer temperature carefully throughout the day. Freezers on 0 degrees or lower will have meat that is safe to eat indefinitely.

This is the temperature that keeps the meat safe and prevents the growth of bacteria. They also limit human touch with the meat to avoid the risk of cross-contamination and only allow custom cuts for their customers.

Typically, the meat you get from grocery stores is incredibly fresh, and it’s perfect for cooking straight away or freezing for a more extended period in your freezer.

Why does frozen meat taste bad?

After some time, the quality of meat will degrade due to few things like freezer burn.

Freezer burning occurs on meat when it’s unpacked, or you let the air circulate in your meat packages, as they are not vacuum packed or not doubled wrap.

The quality of meat suffers every time you defrost it and refreeze it. If you do this, the meat will lose its moisture again and again, and it will be dry.

The meat will lose its natural flavours when you thaw it once, and over time it can grow increasingly tougher, darker, and less tasty.

When you don’t store meat well, cells rupture, and meat loses its flavours. However, if you keep your meat frozen consistently, you won’t notice any change in the taste and flavour, and you can have fresh meat in your freezers for several months.

Conclusion - Fresh VS Frozen Meat

Meat plays a vital role in our cooking, and we have different types of meat in our freezers according to our taste. The process of purchasing meat, freezing, and then cooking takes a lot of effort.

If you know the pros and cons of various storage methods, you can store your meat ideally. Fresh and frozen are both excellent quality meat, and both have a high nutritional value.

You need to understand how you treat the frozen and fresh meat to keep the flavours intact.

Freezing, thawing, and cooking are vital processes. If you haven’t correctly frozen the meat, you don’t get the taste.

So, you need to know how to treat your meat right if you want to blow everyone away with a spectacular, juicy taste.

Andy Canter


Ever since I started cooking I’ve been fascinated by how different people’s techniques are and how they best utilise the ingredients around them. Even the person living next door will have their own unique way of frying an egg or cooking a salmon fillet.

This fascination led me on a journey across the globe to discover the countless practices and traditions the world of cooking has to offer. I thought you’d enjoy and find value in sharing that journey with me so I created Cooked Best!