Is It Safe to Cook Frozen Meat in a Slow Cooker?

Using frozen meat in Crock-Pot recipes is fairly common—but is it safe?

What if you forgot to take the chicken out of the freezer to thaw? It happens to all of us, that’s for sure. But you need a way to get dinner on the table. The guide below explains when and how to use frozen meat in Crock-Pot recipes.

Can I put frozen meat in a Crock-Pot?

It depends. The advice on whether or not to put frozen meat in a slow cooker is mixed. The USDA recommends thawing your meat in the refrigerator before starting a slow cooker recipe. Otherwise, the frozen meat might take too long to cook to a safe temperature (above 165°F); allowing bacteria to grow. However, according to Crock-Pot.com, you can cook frozen meat in a Crock-Pot, but you might need to increase the cooking time.

Here are more details about cooking specific types of frozen meat in your slow cooker:

Can I put frozen chicken in the Crock-Pot?

Yes. Lean meats like chicken will cook faster than meats with more connective tissue and fat. That means frozen chicken will get to a safe temperature faster than other meats. To speed up cook time even more, consider cutting your frozen chicken into small pieces before adding it to the Crock-Pot. Learn some other things you didn’t know you could cook in your slow cooker.

Can I put frozen pot roast in the Crock-Pot?

No. Your three to four-pound frozen roast will take a long time to cook in the slow cooker, and may spend too long in the “danger zone” temperature where bacteria can grow. Your best bet is to thaw that first. Here are some other foods you should never put in your slow cooker.

Can I put frozen hamburger in the Crock-Pot?

No. We don’t recommend adding frozen or raw ground beef to a Crock-Pot. It’s important to be especially careful when it comes to ground beef because eating it undercooked has been linked to illnesses caused by E. coli. And safety aside, ground beef that’s browned in a skillet first will have a lot more flavor.

To stay safe in the kitchen, always exercise caution and use your best judgment. Now, find out the best slow cooker recipes from each state.

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Originally Published on Taste of Home

Erica Young
Erica Young is a freelance writer and content creator, specializing in home and lifestyle pieces. She loves writing about home decor, organization, relationships, and pop culture. She holds a bachelor's degree in Journalism and Mass Communication.