Some spots in my refrigerator are colder than others, and sometimes I accidentally put milk in a spot that is cold enough to freeze it.

Now I have a gallon or half-gallon of frozen milk, and want to unfreeze it. I can move it to a warmer part of the refrigerator and wait for it to heat up, but this is inefficient--it can take days to become drinkable again.

I can't just leave the milk out at room temperature or microwave it, because that would ruin the milk.

How can I unfreeze/thaw my milk so that it is drinkable again, without having to wait forever in the process?

  • 1
    Clarification: How does room temperature or microwaving ruin the milk? My "answer" suggests exactly that, but I may be misunderstanding your premise. Commented Aug 30, 2015 at 19:20
  • @RobertCartaino I have been told that milk goes bad really fast after it has been warmed up, but I have never tested this. If heating it and cooling it again doesn't make it go bad, then I'm all for trying it.
    – Gwen
    Commented Aug 31, 2015 at 1:02
  • It's all about micro-organisms lifecycle speed: cold slows development, freezing cold almost stops it, hot speeds it up, boiling kills those organisms. When you defrost something, the development is even faster, that's why you should re-freeze something : the next time you unfreeze it it might become bad really quick. So your solution might be to wait for it to slowly de-freeze in the fridge, either to boil it and let it cool back.
    – Laurent S.
    Commented Aug 31, 2015 at 12:54

1 Answer 1


One of the faster methods to unfreeze anything is to put it in a larger container containing water. The water don't need to be heated, as it is still warmer than the frozen stuff. This works do to the amazing capabilities of water related to heat absorption and heat transfer, and the more water the better. Moderately heated water will speed up the process, but if you use water close to boiling temperatures you might end up cooking part of the stuff you want unfreezed.

Do however remember to place the object you want to unfreeze in something which both is waterproof and doesn't hinder the transfer of heat from the frozen object into the water. A plastic bag will be sufficient in most cases. For a container used for milk, this should be no issue, so just stick it into the water, and watch it unfreeze.

An added benefit of using water as a thawing agent it is that the final temperature will be around the temperature of the water. With regards to food or milk this is usually a good temperature, as it doesn't ruin it and it is ready for other use.

  • If you're sink is of sufficient size, you can put the container in your sink and keep water constantly running into the container. Again, the water doesn't need to be warm, but the constantly circulating water will help to speed up the process just a bit faster
    – Coder-guy
    Commented Aug 31, 2015 at 20:59
  • Cold tap water running over the outside of the milk container, while standing in the sink, is the fastest safe way to thaw the milk. The entire container should be close to tap water temperature in an hour or so -- and most places, tap water isn't warm enough to seriously shorten the life of the milk. Meanwhile, the questioner might want to look into getting his refrigerator fixed.
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Commented May 20, 2016 at 19:20
  • I liked the water answer. I laid the frozen gallon of milk on its side in a large bowl of cold water and placed it back in the fridge. It's already almost completely thawed - that was 30 mins ago. Woot woot! Commented Feb 2, 2017 at 1:16
  • As above, water is the way to go, works for pretty much anything. I buy most of my meats etc in bulk, store them in airtight containers or vac seal them and then just grab them out and put them in water. It will usually take only a few minutes for the food to defrost.
    – Mick
    Commented Feb 2, 2017 at 3:22

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.