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

Using frozen meat in Crockpot recipes seems like a good shortcut—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 if it’s safe to use frozen meat in Crockpot recipes.

Can I Put Frozen Meat in a Crockpot?

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.


Cooking chicken with herbs in a slow cookRafael Ben-Ari/Getty Images

Lean meats like chicken or pork will cook faster than meats with more connective tissue and fat. That means frozen chicken will technically get to a safe temperature faster than other meats.

However, if you place frozen chicken in a slow cooker it can spend too much time thawing, allowing bacteria like salmonella to multiply. If you choose to cook frozen chicken in a Crockpot, cut it into tiny pieces so the thawing time will decrease.


Beef casserole - slow cookerclubfoto/Getty Images

Frozen roast, especially when it’s up to four pounds, 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. Tough meat in the slow cooker is a much easier issue to solve! After you do, make our top-rated Melt-in-Your-Mouth Pot Roast.

Ground Beef

We don’t recommend adding frozen or raw ground beef to a Crockpot. 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.

Can I Cook Frozen Meat in Any Other Cooking Appliance?

Yes, you can cook frozen meat in an Instant Pot, including frozen chicken. An Instant Pot has several functions to help frozen meat cook, like the natural release function to ease pressure. In order to help the meat reach its highest potential, make sure to use a liquid base, preferably broth, to cover the meat. And always be wary of the temperature after cooking. A meat thermometer comes in handy for this!

Frozen meat can be cooked in the Dutch oven too. Similar to an Instant Pot, it’s best to have a gravy, broth or liquid to help make the meat tender.

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

Try These Slow Cooker Freezer Meals
1 / 65

Erica Young
Erica is a cleaning and home décor expert. She knows exactly how to tidy a filthy kitchen and straighten out a mixed-up pantry! When she's not writing you'll find her organizing a closet, buying more bins she doesn't need or bingeing her latest TV show obsession.