I was in a rush and had to put some chicken which was soon to expire into the fridge. Now it's frozen, but it's 600 gram of chicken for just 2 persons split in 3 parts. They are all frozen together.

What is the easiest way to thaw outjust one or two pieces of meat without having to thaw the third.

What I used to do:

  • Microwave really quick so I can pull them apart (doesn't always work)
  • Defreeze everything and bake the remaining third piece and freeze that. (costs a lot of extra time).
  • 1
    See the frosen sausages or portion of pasta for similar questions and answers, which unfortunately points out the obvious: It's better to separate them before freezing, rather than splitting afterwards.
    – holroy
    Commented Jun 2, 2015 at 15:00
  • @holroy I know it is easier, I simply forgot it this time.
    – Kevin
    Commented Jun 2, 2015 at 15:03
  • Easy to forget, harder to fix in retrospect! :-(
    – holroy
    Commented Jun 2, 2015 at 15:04

6 Answers 6


Run them under cold water, not hot (you don't want to start cooking them). Just hold the frozen mass under the water such that one of them separates, then the other.

  • HOT water works better / faster. See here lifehacks.stackexchange.com/a/7323/2340 Commented Jun 11, 2015 at 8:27
  • 2
    @RobAu the bacterial growth in food is cumulative so freezing the meat doesnt change the fact that the chicken was already near expiration. In such a case you shouldn't defrost in hot water.
    – Jay
    Commented Jul 16, 2015 at 20:31

It's worth mentioning that a lot of meat processing companies actually do a lot of butchery work on frozen meat. They use power tools to cut through the meat when it is frozen solid.

What we can learn from this is that IF you have some method of cutting the meat into the portion sizes you need, you can do it whilst frozen and return the unwanted portion to the freezer unaffected. This means that you don't necessarily have to divide it into pieces of chicken so long as you are prepared to dice the chicken once defrosted to make into pie, stew etc.

So, how to chop it into portions whilst frozen? Assuming you don't have any CLEAN woodworking tools around, you can try either 1) an electric carving knife or 2) a large, heavy, meat cleaver. A good bread knife might be able to get somewhere.

I would VERY MUCH caution against trying to use a knife to lever the pieces apart. You usually end-up with a piece of meat standing on its edge and one of your hands trying to steady it, then you press the sharp point of a knife with almost as much force as you can muster into the meat. Inevitably, this results in the meat tipping over and the point of the knife slipping off and into your hand very hard.

  • 1
    Indeed, I have 5 or 6 stitches in one of my fingers as a result of trying to pry frozen steaks apart with a sharp knife -- do not dismiss the warning in the last paragraph! Commented Jun 28, 2018 at 14:59
  • @KateGregory Thanks for verifying my warning, hopefully this may save one or two people a painful experience. I can't pretend that it's actually happened to me - but that has definitely been down to luck rather than skill on my part. I came far too close far too many times before I decided it was a bad idea!
    – Lefty
    Commented Jun 28, 2018 at 21:31
  • I wondered how you got your screen name. Better than "Thumbs."
    – Stan
    Commented Jun 29, 2018 at 20:41
  • ...or "Stumpy".
    – Lefty
    Commented Jun 30, 2018 at 8:00

As commented on question, and from reviewing similar question, there are (seemingly) no life-hacks to easily separate the chicken parts once they are frozen besides the options you've already mentioned, and possibly to use a flat tool of some sort to wedge in between the chicken pieces to break them apart.

So my suggestions is to go an alternative route: Defreeze everything, and make the dinner you've planned, but at the same time cook some pasta and use the left over chicken to create a beautiful chicken pasta to eat in the next few days!

This will take a little amount of extra time today, but tomorrow you'll have an already prepared meal!

  • Hmm, did I get a downvote because it is not a hack, but only a sensible solution to help avoiding throwing food away? Oh well...
    – holroy
    Commented Jun 2, 2015 at 15:40
  • 4
    Possibly better described as "not answering the question asked". The other answers have demonstrated that there are ways to separate the chicken, so it's not a matter of it actually being impossible.
    – Brilliand
    Commented Jun 2, 2015 at 19:48

I had two ribeys frozen together but had some plastic type wrap around them and in between. I microwaved them on only 30 percent power for like 45 seconds that didn't do much . I then ran one side of the two under cool water. I think not wanting a disaster with a knife, used a about 4 inch long, 1/4 inch wide tip screwdriver to try to pry it apart. stuck in about 3 places didn't go in much and didn't push that hard. 4th place it went in. so pushed some more and they split right in half.


Wrap each portion in something water absorbant such as a sheet of kitchen roll before you freeze them. This way, when you need to defrost them the water should be quickly absorbed through the fibres and melt the ice crystals that would otherwise be freezing the portions of meat together


Just put it in HOT water (125-degree F tap water). Make sure you wrap the meat in plastic before. Put it all in a large pot, stirring occasionally.

Apparently, it goes twice as fast and is still safe. http://lifehacker.com/5897107/defrost-frozen-meat-in-about-half-the-time-with-a-hot-water-bath

  • How does this method work, given the OP's question: What is the easiest way to thaw out just one or two pieces of meat without having to thaw the third?
    – TIO Begs
    Commented Jun 12, 2015 at 18:05
  • Just put the pieces that need to be thawed in the water, keeping the bit that needs to remain frozen outside of the water. Commented Jun 12, 2015 at 20:01

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