With the option for lightning-fast pressure cooking, slow cooking, sautéing, and making a killer batch of chicken broth, the Instant Pot is the do-it-all multi-cooker that has been winning hearts and stomachs everywhere. In addition to its seven functions, there's something even better and more convenient that it can do, and it might just be the thing that saves dinner when planning does not go as expected. Can you guess what it is?
Cook Meat Straight from the Freezer with an Instant Pot
If you've ever forgotten to defrost meat for dinner or are still working on mastering meal planning and prep, this is going to make you love your Instant Pot even more. When using the pressure cooker function, you can cook meat straight from the freezer.
This method doesn't work on the stovetop or in the oven or slow cooker because it puts frozen meat in the "danger zone" (temperatures between 40°F and 140°F, where bacteria are apt to grow). Pressure cooking, on the other hand, is a safe method because the high temperature quickly takes frozen meat past the danger zone.
You'll Need More Liquid and a Little More Time
When cooking frozen meat in the Instant Pot, the process will stay mostly the same, although you will have to account for two modifications: using extra cooking liquid, like water or broth, and cooking for a longer time.
- More cooking liquid: While at least a small amount of liquid is always required when using the pressure cooker function, you will need more when cooking meat straight from the freezer. Frozen meat should be fully covered by the cooking liquid. This ensures quick transfer of heat into the meat and, most importantly, even cooking.
- A longer cook time: Working with frozen meat requires some extra cook time, as well as a few extra minutes for the Instant Pot to reach pressure. As a rule of thumb, increase the cook time when pressure cooking frozen meat by at least 50 percent. For example, bone-in chicken pieces that typically require 10 minutes of pressure cooking will need about 15 minutes of pressure cooking when frozen.
If you're not sure if the meat is cooked through, test the temperature with an instant-read thermometer, which is your safest bet.
Stick with Small Cuts of Meat
Cooking meat from frozen in the Instant Pot works better with smaller pieces of meat. Chicken pieces (like thighs, drumsticks, and breasts), whether boneless or bone-in, work especially well with this method, as do tougher cuts of cubed beef for soups and stews and ground beef. It's best to skip cooking frozen roasts and other large cuts, like a pork shoulder, as they're likely to cook unevenly because of their thickness.