pressure cooker frozen meat
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how to pressure cook frozen pork, beef or chicken

We’ve all got a frozen block of meat tucked away for a rainy day dinner- and that happens at the last minute with no time for defrosting. Here’s how to use your pressure cooker’s high-heat prowess to get an edible meal out of a meat icicle.

Whether you can use frozen meat in a recipe really depends on the kind of recipe it is – some cooking methods, even in the pressure cooker, are not appropriate for cooking frozen meats.

Here’s what works, what doesn’t and how to do it.

Tips for Pressure Cooking Frozen Meat

  • DO brown what you can – Your frozen hunk of meat will likely be uneven and impossible to straighten-out. Just toss it in the cooker with some oil and brown whatever parts of the hunk come in contact with the base – even that little bit of browning will add tons of extra flavor to the dish.
  • Don’t steam or braise frozen meat – Save steaming or braising pressure cooker recipes for defrosted meat (overnight in the fridge ought to do it).  That’s because steaming frozen meat will give you a lovely cooked outer coating with a frozen solid inner core.  Braising, similarly, only cooks the part of the meat submerged in cooking liquid really well while the rest of the meat will be disappointingly under-done.
  • DO boil frozen meat– Boiling frozen meat under pressure allows the heat from the cooking liquid to penetrate the meat more evenly, quickly and deeply than other pressure cooking methods. Make sure to cover frozen meat completely with liquid.
  • Don’t worry if the cooker takes longer to reach pressure –  That hunk of frozen meat is a giant ice cube that will slow down the heat-up of the cooking liquid. So the liquid will  take longer to reach a boil, and eventually build pressure. Depending on how much meat you’ve stuffed in the pressure cooker, it could take up to twice as long to reach pressure (20-40 minutes – no kidding). Keep an eye on electric pressure cookers which may time-out during this longer heat-up phase and need to be restarted.
  • DO play around with the cooking liquids and spices to get different flavor profiles – Here are some ideas for cooking liquids: water, stock, wine, unsweetened fruit juices, left-over bean or steaming cooking liquid. Toss in a few aromatic veggies like garlic, onions, carrots, celery or leeks.  Flavor with decisive spices or herbs like: cumin, coriander or curry powder; soy, fish or tabasco sauces; rosemary, laurel or juniper berries.
  • Don’t forget to add salt!  If none of your cooking liquids are already salty toss in about 2 teaspoons of salt, too. You can always add more when the dish is finished pressure cooking- adjust to your flavor and health needs.
  • DO increase the cooking time according to thickness – Increase the cooking time 50% or more depending on the thickness of the block of meat.  For example, ground meat usually needs 5 minutes pressure cooking time but if it’s in a single solid block that is at least 1-inch (2.5cm) thick then you’ll want to double the cooking time to 10  minutes.  Frozen chicken legs, or pieces, which are in a single layer, only need 50% more of the recommended cooking time – so pressure cook them for 15 minutes instead of the recommended 10.  Don’t worry, we have some recommended cooking time for frozen cuts in the meat cooking time chart.
  • Don’t pressure cook frozen roasts or meatloafs – Roasts are pretty thick pieces of meat which will need a looong pressure cooking time.  This means that the outside will be fall-apart over-cooked while the center will be barely cooked – even if you boil it.  So when it comes out of the cooker it won’t even look like a roast, or loaf, anymore.
  • DO take the meat’s temperature after cooking – I recommend taking the temperature at the center of the meat – just to be safe – to ensure that the super-heated liquid was able to transmit heat into  meat all the way to the core (see target temperatures, below).

How to Pressure Cook Frozen Meat: The meat cooks faster in cooking liquid than steam. Do not steam, do not braise, OK to Boil

 

Basic Procedure for Pressure Cooking Frozen Meat

  1. Add block of frozen meat into the pressure cooker – chip it to fit if necessary.
  2. Cover meat with liquid (recommendations, above)
  3. Increase the recommended pressure cooking time and pressure for that cut of meat by 50% or more (depending on the thickness) or follow the recommended cooking times for frozen meat.
  4. Open the pressure cooker with Natural Pressure Release, unless otherwise indicated.
  5. Check the center of the meat with a meat thermometer to make sure it has reached the right temperature*:
    • Beef, Pork, Veal & Lamb: 145°F (62.8°C)
    • Ground Meats: 160°F (71.1°C)
    • Chicken & All Poultry: 165°F (73.9°C)

Frozen Meat Compatible Recipes


Frozen Meat Compatible Recipes List

Now, You!

Share your frozen meat pressure cooking adventures and any winning combinations in the comments below!

how to pressure cook frozen meat

Reference:

*United States Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service (2012) ‘USDA Safe Minimum Internal Temperature Chart‘: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/625d9435-4f14-46fe-b207-5d6688cb4db5/Safe_Miminum_Internal_Temperature_Chart.pdf?MOD=AJPERES [accessed 2 January, 2016].

103 Comments

  1. Im very new to pressure cooking…do you really boil ground beef too??

    1. A pressure cooker is a moist cooking environment. Everything cooked in a pressure cooker is either steamed, braised or boiled depending on how much liquid is in there with the food.

      If you want to add the colour you get from other cooking methods, add a frying/sauteing step at the beginning.

      1. .. or a broiling step at the end. : )

        Thanks, Greg!

        Ciao,

        L

        1. Yep but it is not as effective as the meat is wet then. :P

          PS I am still being moderated. Have been for weeks. Have I been a naughty boy?

          1. Greg, if you don’t put in an e-mail address when you comment – the system doesn’t recognize you. Unfortunately, the system is primitive. : )

            Ciao,

            L

            1. I am logged in. I get no opportunity to enter an email address. and yes there is one on my profile.

  2. Thanks for the info on cooking meat from frozen. I was unclear. About this, just received my

    Pressure cooker. Where do i get good easy recipes.

  3. Hi Laura,

    Love your site! I’ve had my Instant Pot about 6 weeks and am really enjoying it. About boneless chicken breasts–I’ve been using them quite successfully, but they are enormous, probably around 12 oz. each. I cooked one whole for my cats in a small stainless steel bowl (set on the rack with 2 cups of water down below) for 4 minutes because I wanted it somewhat raw in the middle. It came out just how I wanted, and didn’t dirty the Instant Pot! Plus, kitties loved it mixed into their canned food. I haven’t tried cooking from frozen as it just doesn’t take that long to thaw them out in cold water (I freeze them individually in Foodsaver bags). I also made a chicken enchilada recipe yesterday with both breast and dark meat that I had cut down somewhat and browned first, and it was wonderful.

    Linda

    1. I am pretty sure that cooking any kind of raw meat inside, in any fashion, does dirty the IP and I hope you washed it afterward.

      1. The big worry with chicken is salmonella and the IP surfaces get hot enough to kill that. I would probably still stick the liner in the dishwasher but I only rinse and wipe the lid and haven’t had any issues yet. Everything inside the instant pot except inside the meat is basically sterilized by steam. The pressure and temps are higher than a microwave steam sterilizer bag.

  4. New to Pressure Cooking…I have Instant Pot. .If i hit manual and + /- time, am I cooking on HIGH or Low? Can’t figure this out. Many recipes stipulate high or low and i don’t see how this is done on the pot?
    Thanks, and thank you for your recipes!

    1. If you have a LUX, you cannot choose the pressure – all programs will be at high pressure. If you have any other model, after you choose the cooking time, (using + or -), press “Adjust” and then + or – until you see the corresponding LED light-up on the panel – under the time the writing next to the light will either say “High Pressure” or “Low Pressure”.

      Ciao,

      L

  5. i should have said that on my model, there is not a high or low pressure choice

    1. If there is no choice, pressure will be high (I am aware of one exception to this, but it is not an InstantPot.)

  6. I have an Instant Pot – But I am not sure what you mean by boil? Is that just using manual pressure cooking function? There is no “boil”function

    Thanks so much

    1. Bee, it is really referring to the amount of fluid in the pot and the effect that liquid has on the item as opposed to braised or steamed. In a pressure cooker, it is just normal pressure cooking.

  7. I have a 1lb bag of pre cooked frozen beef tips from Kansas City Steak Co my mom gave us. How do I do these ifroozen in the IP?

  8. Last night we threw something together last minute, and experimented. Jasmine rice on the bottom (using your rice to water ration – perfect, btw – and a big frozen hunk of boneless, skinless chicken breast coated in a sauce and spices that sat on the steaming rack. I cringe now that I read you shouldn’t steam frozen meat. Cooked it for 7 min, 10.5psi, pulse steam release. Chicken was 162d which wasn’t ideal but ok since we wanted to sear it off in a pan. It was great. We’re still alive…but I think next time we might give it a minute or 2 low micro temp dethaw mode. Rice might have been happier with 6 minutes, but it too was great. We finished that off on the stove as well just in case some of the chicken juice needed a bump in temps. We’re learning!

  9. Hi,

    Would using very hot water/stock speed up the cooking times?

    1. Yes, BUT why would you want to? It would only ensure that the frozen meat is not cooked-through.

      Ciao,

      L

  10. Can I cook a whole frozen chicken? If so, how long do I cook it?

    1. You can try 10 minutes per pound +5 minutes. Body cavity needs to be empty. Might still need some extra time at the end, so be sure to check with a meat thermometer.

    2. I did a 5# frozen chicken in my instant pot last week. 10 minutes per pound. Perfect! We had chicken, chicken and dumplings, chicken and noodles – then I made chicken broth with the bones for chicken veggie soup. That chicken went a long way. Going to try a 6# frozen turkey breast today at 10 minutes per pound. We shall see…

  11. I’ve been researching the instant pots in wanting to purchase one. I came across this site as the frozen meat was one of my questions. Which has been answered from reading all the comments. I’d like to know which is the best instant pot to purchase? There are so many. If I’m not allowed to ask this here, I apologize.

    1. Welcome Michelle, I have one more article for you to read. : ) This will help you choose the right Instant Pot model according to your needs:
      https://www.hippressurecooking.com/which-instant-pot-model-is-right-for-you/

      Ciao,

      L

  12. Small pork roast in for 7 min low pressure, 12 oz water. Frozen hard as a rock.
    Bizarrely came to pressure in under 5 min. (3 lb 3″x2.5″x4″ approx)
    Cut in 1/2 lengthwise and it was warm in middle but raw as I expected.
    Cooked 5 min more. Was completely cooked through.
    Added potatoes, onions, carrots and mushrooms and cooked for 4 min more. Was going to QR but power went out and I forgot it for 1/2 hour :)

    Meat was as good as it gets for pressure cooked. Veg were cooked too much except for mushrooms.
    It really did not seem to take as long as the last pork roast I did not frozen which was 45 min. but slightly higher altitude.

  13. I cooked two, large, solidly-frozen, boneless, skinless chicken breasts, covered with water (with salt) for 9 minutes, per your chart. It took 20 minutes to come to pressure and 45 minutes after cooking for the pin to drop. The chicken seems tender and juicy still, but the temp was 199 (quite a bit over 165). Should I just change how long I let the pressure come down? People in the Instant Pot Community Facebook group suggest 10 minutes, and then release. Should I cook less time? What do you recommend?

    1. Evelyn, if the meat is covered with liquid, you can even do a Normal/Quick release! I explain how this is possible in the Meat lesson of the Pressure cooking School:
      https://www.hippressurecooking.com/marvelous-meats-pcs/
      (if you want to skip ahead, the info is the 4th secret to marvelous pressure cooked meats – the exception. ; )

      Thanks for asking my opinion.

      Ciao,

      L

  14. I would like to know if I can cook a small fully cooked smoked ham from frozen? Would I just put a small Amt of water in the insta pot or fully cover the ham with water?

  15. If I want to make a stew, can I just put everything in the pot and turn it on as long as the meat is thawed? This is all new to me. I have never used a pressure cooker/instant pot but amexcited to try!

    1. Judy, you can even pressure cook the stewing meat in frozen. Just brown the block as well as you can and continue with the recipe. Then, take a look at the meat cooking chart to see how many additional minutes you need to pressure cook it. If the meat is thawed, the cooking time would be the same as “fresh” meat.

      Click on “cook times” on the menu to find the meat pressure cooking times chart.

      Ciao,

      L

  16. Oh God, this is the first time I’m using my pressure cooker. To be honest I was scared all these time to use it because in my parents’ home my Mom didn’t let me even touch it! She was always warning me. Now I’m 31 years old and my husband bought me one because he says in this way you don’t make messes while cooking :)) Anyway, today I wanted to use it to make yellow lentil beans I thought ok there should be something to give it a flavor so I’ve added frozen beef neck bone, salt, black paper, Garlic powder. I thought ok this is frozen so lets triple the time. I even was not thinking about lentil!!! Ok, long story short…. After 2 hours I turned the stove off and opened the lid, wow all the lentil is gone :))))) Lentil became soft, so just meat and bone is showing in a thick soup! But oh god this food I’ve created is so delicious!!! Such an amazing combination you definitely should try. My husband also loved it. The most delicious food made of lentil so far. MY INVENTION :D Oh Sorry I forgot to mention I was reading your blog while my food was cooking because I was not sure how long a frozen meat should be cooking in pressure cooker :D Thanks

    1. Water too! I forgot this I have added filtered water, almost 2/3 of the pot

      1. Andisheh, how did it turn out? Next time, you can just-cover the meat in liquid, too – it will keep the flavor of the juice more concentrated. ; )

        Ciao,

        L

  17. HELP!! I have a frozen 6 lb tip roast. How in the world do I know how long to cook in my instant pot? And if I cover it with water, how does that come out? Seems like it would be a big wet roast? And would all that liquid be re usable? Yikes, I’d like to do this tomorrow, don’t guess you’ll get back to me that quick?? Thanks in advance, I’m glad there are people like you who know this stuff!
    Melanie

    1. Melanie, I don’t recommend pressure cooking roasts from frozen because the outside will cook before the center. So the outside will “flake” off as being overcooked by the time the center is fully cooked. De-frost as much as you can, and then pressure coook it.

      There are lots of good “boiling” recipes out there where the liquid is divine (and can be re-used). Here’s one:
      https://www.hippressurecooking.com/turn-tough-meat-into-jelly-italian-boiled-beef-with-rustic-green-sauce/

      Ciao,

      L

      1. hello!
        So does that mean we should pretty much scrap the idea of pressure cooking a frozen roast? If the meat is frozen but already cut in cubes, could we pressure cook that? Since it’s in small pieces? Thank you in advance!

        1. Yes, when a roast is cubed it’s “stewing” meat and that is fine to cook from frozen. There are actually three recommended recipes near the bottom of the article using beef and pork cubes.

          Ciao,

          L

  18. Please help! I have the Instant Pot Duo 80 (love it!). I am trying to find a bowl that I can set on top of the trivet (I have two sizes of trivet). I will only use the bowl for a side dish such as rice, or stuffing, etc. Can you please tell me where to purchase a bowl that can be used in the pressure cooker? I see many recipes for “one pot meals” but they only work if you have a bowl to put on top of the meat. I have looked and looked and can’t find a bowl. Someone mentioned using a Corelle bowl but that means buying a whole set of pans just for one size. Thank you

    1. Anne, here are my guidelines for heat-proof containers to be used in the pressure cooker – along with links to several examples…
      https://www.hippressurecooking.com/pressure-cooker-accessory-forms-and-molds/

      Ciao,

      L

  19. Do you have any special tips for cooking wild game such as venison or elk in the pressure cooker? Is it exactly the same as cooking beef or chicken?

    1. I have not personally pressure cooked Venison or Elk, but game is generally less fatty than a similar cut of say, beef. I would reduce the cooking time given for beef (start by reducing to 75% and then adjust according to the results when you peek in the cooker), and stick to primarily boiling-type recipes (stews).

      I know I have a few readers who only eat their personally hunted meat – I hope they will jump in to share their experience with you as well.

      Ciao,

      L

      1. Thank you very much for your response! Happy New Year!

  20. Wow! I should have read your IP cooking school charts before starting. Thank you for putting them together. 1st attempt after getting the IP was roasted potatoes from the IP recipe book. Not a win, but not a total loss. 2nd attempt. ham bone and white bean soup, great success. 3rd, dry pinto beans, great success. 4th, (today) frozen chicken breast w/ salsa. Fail! It was still raw. After reading your pointers I now understand so much more and can hopefully avoid more fails. Thanks again!

  21. Can I make chicken soup with a whole frozen chicken in the IP, by covering the whole thing with water and cooking until done; taking it out and while breaking it up, add veggies and pressure cook them?

    1. Magdelyn, that’s a great way to use-up a frozen chicken – jam it in the pressure cooker as low as possible so that you have to add less water to cover and the broth will be more concentrated. ; )

      Ciao,

      L

      1. Thank you!

  22. Thanks for your help regarding containers to use in my Instant Pot Duo 80. I have just one more question:

    I found a small heat proof bowl that I think is the right size for the two of us. If I put it on the shorter trivet it fits below the top ledge of the inner pot. If I put it on the slightly taller trivet (more stuff under neath) then the bowl itself actually sits above the seal in the dome of the pan. Is that ok to use?

    Thank you,

    1. Anne, you can use the taller trivet – the important part is that the food in the bowl is actually below the mark. ; )

      Ciao,

      L

  23. Do you have a comprehensive book that covers all of the different categories listed on your website? I received a Farberware 7 in 1 pressure cooker for Christmas and the manual and recipe book are HORRIBLE!!! Your website is great but I still refer to a piece of paper when cooking because my internet service in the country is horrible.

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