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.

Don’t miss our guide for cooking frozen meat in an Instant Pot, too!

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.

You can cook frozen chicken in the Instant Pot as well.

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

No. Your 3 to 4 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. After you do, make our top-rated Melt-in-Your-Mouth Pot Roast!

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. These slow cooker ground beef dinners prove it. If you’re looking for a shortcut, try the best frozen meatballs on the market!

To stay safe in the kitchen, always exercise caution and use your best judgment. Brush up on these other slow cooker safety tips.

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Erica Young
Erica is a freelance lifestyle writer with a bachelor's degree in Journalism. Her favorite recipes are quick, easy and something her kids will actually eat. When she's not writing you'll find her organizing a closet, roaming the aisles at Target or nursing her third Diet Coke of the day.