You Should Reconsider Using The Defrost Button On The Microwave. Here's Why

Seemingly convenient and practical, the defrost button on our favorite kitchen gadget may appeal in a pinch, but in reality, it should be avoided at all costs when cooking. A tool used by households worldwide, the microwave's defrost button promises to thaw frozen meat, meals, and even produce to save time and energy in meal prep. However, what you may not know is that using the defrost button can ruin the taste and preparation of our meals and unknowingly make us sick.

Not all microwaves are considered equal, and when defrosting food in your machine, there's a high probability your meal isn't cooking through properly. According to Michigan State University, a significant cooking concern with defrosting food in the microwave is uneven thawing. While the edges of your food may begin to defrost, warm, or even cook through, the inside could still be frozen. After moving your recently defrosted item to the oven or stove, you'll likely have difficulty achieving a consistent temperature — no matter how great a chef you are or how high-quality food you've purchased. This is why many professional chefs refuse to use it!

And that's not the worst part. One of the most common ways to use the defrost button is for thawing frozen meats. If you're in a bind and forgot to move your piece of meat to the refrigerator the night before, using this button might seem like the only option to avoid ordering takeout. Before you pop the meat into the microwave, though, you should know about the danger zone.

Welcome to the 'danger zone'

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the danger zone is a range in the temperature of meat between 40 degrees and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Meat that is left in this zone for even a short period can manage to host and grow bacteria like Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella Enteritidis, and E. coli. Leaving unevenly defrosted meat out and not cooking it right away, especially within the first 20 minutes, could cost you an unwanted trip to the emergency room.

Thankfully, if you've forgotten to properly defrost your item in the refrigerator the night before (or that morning), there are a few healthy ways to thaw your food without using the microwave. Thawing in cold water is quicker than using the refrigerator, but according to the USDA, you'll have to be vigilant and change the water every 30 minutes for up to three hours.

If you're looking to defrost meat even more quickly, set a pot of water to 140 degrees. The Journal of Food Science recommends placing your cut of meat into a resealable bag and letting it sit in the hot bath for three to nine minutes, depending on the size and type of meat (via The New York Times). But this method should probably be used as a last resort: Leave it in warm or hot water for too long and your food could begin to cook or enter the danger zone.

Whichever method you choose, though, it's certainly best to think twice before using the defrost button on your beloved microwave. Leave this gadget to warm our beloved breakfast burritos instead.