pressure cooker frozen meat
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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 by 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 meatloaves – 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 the 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].

118 Comments

  1. I have a questions about frozen boneless pork chops and a pork tenderloin. How do I cook these frozen cuts?

    1. Honestly, I don’t recommend pressure cooking these cuts at all. But if you HAD to, I would cook them in a stew-type boiling-type recipe (where they are covered with liquid/sauce) to keep them from drying out.

      If you get a chance, please watch the Meat Lesson of the Pressure Cooking School to understand why these cuts of meat are not ideal:
      https://www.hippressurecooking.com/marvelous-meats-pcs/

      Ciao,

      L

      1. Love your Moroccan Lamb Tagine recipe, but today couldn’t get fresh shoulder so we had them cut frozen shoulder into chunks. Do you think this can work?

        1. Absolutely, increase the cooking time according to the “frozen” column from the Pressure Cooking Time Chart.

          Ciao,

          L

  2. I have precooked, leftover pork roast in my freezer. Normally I’d throw it in the crockpot on low all day with veggies and broth… and BAM! Beef stew :) But I’d like to try it quicker this evening in my new instant pot. How do you recommend I go about this?
    Again, it would be frozen (precooked) roast, potatoes, beef broth, and several different types of canned veggies. Thanks so much!

    1. Shelbie, I’m assuming the roast is already sliced? If so, just put it in the base of the pot, cover with enough liquid (broth) to bring the cooker to pressure (1 1/2 cups) and pour the veggies on top, with the potatoes on top of those. Then pressure cook for the potato’s recommended time (see cooking chart).

      Ciao,

      L

  3. Great Post! The only one of it’s kinds I could find. I want to make chicken shawarma with frozen boneless chicken thighs (4 lbs). I think I should increase the cooking time, but would i have to decrease the watery ingredients or increase the spices? Thanks!!

    1. Brenna, it depends how watery the frozen thighs are. If you got a package of thighs and froze it yourself then the water-content in the chicken thighs would remain the same. If you bought them already frozen – like in a bag – they do go through a special process where they’re additionally “coated” with ice to keep them from sticking to each other in the bag, so at that point, I would reduce the water amount.

      Ciao,

      L

  4. I use a chicken adobo recipe that’s made for the crockpot. Instead of 4-6 hours in the crockpot on low, it’s perfect in 30 min in my Japanese stovetop pressure cooker that was given to me!

    I start rice in the rice cooker, them add frozen chicken thighs with bones and skin to the pressure cooker (3lbs). Top with 2 Tbsp oil, (I use sesame oil), 1/2 cup white vinegar, 1/3 cup reduced sodium soy sauce, 1/3 cup water, 1 head of garlic broken into separate cloves, 2 tsp whole black peppercorns, 3 bay leaves.
    I close it up, then set it on the stove on high till I can smell it, then turn down until the rice is done. About 30 minutes (since the rice takes about 45 minutes.) It’s perfect EVERY TIME!!
    Serve with veggies of choice! Serves 6.

    1. Thank you for sharing your recipe and technique Cindy, it sounds really good. Wow, THREE bay leaves?!?!? I’m really curious to try!!

      Ciao,

      L

  5. Excellent post and video. I’m about to make African Lamb Tagine with a frozen piece of roast lamb that I set aside from a whole roast. I can use my cleaver to cut the frozen raw meat up but given the cooking time will be twice as long, would I still put all the vegetables in at the same time with the meat? I don’t know if it makes any difference but my P.C. is not electric, it’s smaller – basically a saucepan-with-a-handle.

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