How to Salvage and Cook Freezer Burned Pork Chops

We’ve all been there – you open up your freezer and discover a package of pork chops with telltale signs of freezer burn Large dull grey or brown patches on the meat indicate it has been freezer burned. While visually unappealing, freezer burned pork is still safe to eat if handled properly With a few tricks, you can salvage those freezer burned chops and transform them into a tasty meal.

What is Freezer Burn?

Freezer burn occurs when food has been stored in the freezer for a long period of time. It is caused by moisture in the food evaporating due to the extreme cold and dry air in the freezer. This leaves the food dried out in spots and takes away moisture that keeps the meat tender and juicy.

While freezer burned meat may look unappetizing, it does not make the meat unsafe. It is simply a quality issue – the texture and taste will be inferior With the right techniques, you can minimize the off-putting qualities of freezer burned pork

Inspecting and Preparing the Chops

When you discover a package of freezer burned pork chops, start by inspecting each one. Look for hard, dry spots or areas that are grayish-brown. This is where the freezer burn has occurred.

Carefully trim away any severely affected areas with a sharp knife. Just shave off the discolored portions until you reach fresh looking meat underneath. You want to remove the Freezer Be frozen areas but preserve as much of the edible meat as possible.

Pat the chops dry with paper towels and allow to thaw completely if still frozen. Thawing releases moisture which helps rehydrate the meat.

Choose a Moist Cooking Method

The biggest challenge with cooking freezer burned meat is preventing it from drying out and becoming tough. That’s why choosing a moist cooking method is key. Braising, stewing, or cooking in sauce helps introduce additional moisture and keeps the pork chops tender. Consider the following techniques:

  • Braise or stew the chops – Brown the chops first to build flavor, then simmer slowly in broth or sauce until fork tender.

  • Cook with sauerkraut – The tangy cabbage helps moisten and provides tons of flavor.

  • Make chili or soup – Slow simmering in a flavorful liquid limits dryness.

  • Cook in a creamy sauce – Alfredo, mushroom gravy, etc helps combat dry meat.

  • Foil wrap and bake – Sealing chops in foil or parchment with sauce or butter bastes them as they cook.

Season Generously and Play Up Flavor

Freezer burn can make meat taste stale or oxidized. Amping up the flavors in your dish helps mask undesirable tastes. Be generous with seasoning the chops before cooking. Consider bold herbs, spices, aromatics, acids, and condiments. Here are some ideas:

  • Onion, garlic, shallots
  • Fresh or dried herbs like rosemary, thyme, sage
  • Spices – chili powder, cumin, paprika
  • Sauces – barbeque, teriyaki, salsa
  • Acids – lemon juice, vinegar, wine
  • Umami – soy sauce, Worcestershire

Browning the chops to develop that crusty, savory exterior before braising will also boost their overall flavor.

Maintain Proper Internal Temp

To eliminate food safety concerns, cook freezer burned pork to the recommended safe internal temperature of 145°F as measured by a food thermometer. This ensures any bacteria or microbes are destroyed.

Allowing the chops to rest 5 minutes before cutting lets juices redistribute for a moister interior. Then serve pork warm – a hot serving temperature helps disguise any textural flaws.

Give it a Try!

Here is a simple recipe putting these techniques into action:


  • 4 bone-in pork chops, patted dry
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 (15 oz) can sauerkraut, drained
  • 2 tsp thyme
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Season pork chops generously with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat oil in skillet over medium high heat. Brown chops on both sides, about 2-3 minutes per side. Transfer to plate.
  3. Add onion and garlic to skillet. Cook 1 minute until fragrant.
  4. Return chops to skillet and add broth, sauerkraut, and thyme. Bring to a simmer.
  5. Cover and cook over medium-low heat for 20-25 minutes until chops are fork tender and reach 145°F internally.
  6. Let rest 5 minutes then serve warm.

The Takeaway

The most important thing is not to let those freezer burned pork chops go to waste! With strategic cooking methods and some added flavor, you can absolutely transform them into a tasty meal. Salvaging freezer burned meat takes a little extra work, but it’s worth it to reduce food waste and save your grocery budget.

What To Do With Freezer Burned Pork Chops (Part 1)


How to salvage freezer-burned pork?

If more than just the surface seems to be damaged, then you’ll have to assess how bad it is and try two other methods: brining and heavy seasoning. Since freezer burn causes meat to dry out, you can counteract it with a brine.

How to make freezer burn meat taste better?

Cook the meat into a soup or stew. Cooking a soup or making a stew is the perfect way to mask that freezer burned taste. Throw in some chicken or beef broth, your veggies of choice, and lots of herbs and spices. The abundance of flavors will counteract that less-than-ideal freezer burned taste.

How to restore freezer burned meat?

Brining can also help resuscitate meat, especially on the surface. We also suggest you use a lot of spice to mask the plastic flavor the meat will have acquired. For heavily freezer-burnt meat, a stew might be your best bet. A low-and-slow approach will give the meat time to absorb moisture and flavor.

What does freezer-burnt pork taste like?

So even when you defrost and cook your freezer-burned food, the leathery texture, ugly discoloration, and musty flavor remain. Often times, your food will taste stale and unpleasant.

Can you freeze pork chops?

Thaw the damaged pork chops in a refrigerator overnight. Unwrap the chops and inspect the damage. If several were frozen in a stack, the middle chops may still be good except for a small area around the edges. If they were frozen flat, and the large sides of the chops are freezer burnt, they’ll be more difficult to save.

Can You thaw pork chops after a freezer burn?

Some items, such as thick-cut pork chops, can be salvaged even after they’re freezer burnt. You’ll need to cut away the affected areas, but then the chops can be cooked normally. Remove the chops from your freezer and leave them in the refrigerator overnight to thaw. Separate the chops and inspect them carefully for damaged areas.

Are freezer-burnt pork chops safe to eat?

Sometimes it might be a forgotten bag of expensive salad mix, turned to compost in the back of the crisper drawer; sometimes it might be a package of pork chops left in the freezer well past their prime. The rotted salad is wasted, but freezer-burnt pork chops can usually be salvaged. They are still safe to eat, but their quality will be reduced.

Can you cook chops in the freezer?

For thinner chops, it’s best to cut away the damage and slice them into strips for stir-frying. Grill thick chops, once the freezer burn has been cut away, and brush them with barbecue sauce or other strong-flavored condiment to mask any remaining “off” flavors from the freezer.

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