how long to thaw a pork butt

How Long to Thaw a Pork Butt


Thawing a pork butt is an essential step in preparing a succulent and flavorful dish. Whether you’re planning to slow cook it, smoke it, or roast it, thawing the meat properly is crucial to ensure even cooking and food safety. In this article, we will discuss different methods for thawing a pork butt and the recommended timeframes for each method.

The Refrigerator Method

The refrigerator method is the safest and most recommended way to thaw a pork butt. It allows for a gradual thawing process, preserving the meat’s quality and reducing the risk of bacterial growth. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Place the frozen pork butt in a leak-proof plastic bag or airtight container to prevent any cross-contamination.
  2. Put the pork butt on a tray or plate to catch any juices that might leak during the thawing process.
  3. Store the pork butt in the refrigerator, making sure there is enough space for air circulation. The general rule of thumb is to allow approximately 24 hours of thawing time for every 5 pounds of pork butt.
  4. Ensure the refrigerator temperature is set at 40°F (4°C) or below to keep the meat at a safe temperature.

Using the refrigerator method, a typical 8-pound pork butt will take around 2 to 3 days to completely thaw.

The Cold Water Method

If you need to thaw your pork butt faster, the cold water method is a suitable option. Although it requires a bit more attention, it can significantly reduce thawing time. Here’s what to do:

  1. Ensure the pork butt is sealed in a leak-proof plastic bag.
  2. Fill a clean sink or a large container with cold water.
  3. Submerge the pork butt in the cold water, ensuring it remains fully sealed.
  4. Change the water every 30 minutes to maintain a consistent temperature.
  5. Allow 30 minutes of thawing time per pound of pork butt. So, an 8-pound pork butt should thaw in approximately 4 hours.

Note: Do not use warm or hot water as it can lead to uneven thawing or promote bacterial growth.

The Defrosting in the Microwave Method

If you’re short on time, you can use the microwave to defrost smaller portions of the pork butt. However, it’s essential to proceed with caution to avoid partially cooking the meat. Here are the steps:

  1. Remove any packaging or wrapping from the pork butt.
  2. Place the pork butt on a microwave-safe plate and set the appropriate defrosting time and power level according to your microwave’s instructions.
  3. Rotate and flip the pork butt periodically during the defrosting process to ensure even thawing.
  4. After defrosting, cook the pork butt immediately to avoid any potential bacteria growth.

Note: This method is not recommended for larger cuts of pork butt, as it can cause uneven thawing and possible cooking in some areas.


Properly thawing a pork butt before cooking is crucial for both taste and food safety. While the refrigerator method is the ideal choice for a gradual thaw, the cold water method and microwave defrosting can be used to speed up the process when necessary. Always follow safe food handling practices to avoid any potential risks, and enjoy your perfectly thawed and deliciously prepared pork butt!

Leave a Comment