You’re embracing your slow cooker; however, you might be wondering is it safe to cook frozen meat in your slow cooker?
Let’s say you forgot to take that roast or poultry out of your freezer the day before and thaw it, but it can take a long time and you want to have dinner ready when you get home from work. Can you put frozen meat in the slow cooker? Is it safe to do this?
Slow cookers can help you save time, money and give a peace of mind knowing that your food is cooked safely. These magical pots use less electricity than traditional ovens while cooking meals at low temperatures between 170°F and 280°F to tenderize inexpensive cuts without shrinkage.
Enjoy delicious family dinners with convenience thanks to these wonderful appliances and their cooking process.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, their food safety guidelines recommend to always defrost meat or poultry before putting it in the slow cooker.
If you place frozen meat or poultry in a slow cooker, it can spend too much time thawing, allow bacteria to multiply, and make you sick. Using defrosted foods will also ensure your meal cooks evenly and all the way through.
Is It Safe to Cook Frozen Meat in Your Slow Cooker?
In short, No. since the slow cooker uses lower temperatures to cook the food, too much cook time is spent thawing the meat rather than cooking it. This allows the food-borne illness from bacteria to build up that could make you sick.
Therefore, it is always recommended that you thaw your meat beforehand. It will assure that your meat is cooked all the way through and is at a safe temperature to eat and out of the danger zone.
How to Thaw Meat Safely?
There are three safe ways to thaw food: in the refrigerator, in cold water, and in the microwave. The best way to thaw meat is in the refrigerator; however, it requires planning ahead.
Thawing Meat in the Refrigerator
When thawing in the refrigerator, plan 24 hours for every 5 pounds. Just remove and place in your refrigerator. Once the meat is thawed, it will remain safe for 3 to 5 days. Ground meat, seafood, and poultry are safe closer to the 3 days. Chicken breasts, roasts, chops, and steaks will be safe up to 5 days thawed in the refrigerator.
Thawing Meat in Cold Water
Many restaurants use the cold water method of thawing. Place the food in a leak-proof package or container. Then submerge in cold tap water, changing the water every 30 minutes as it continues to thaw.
For a smaller cut of meat such as chicken breasts, pork chops, pork tenderloin, beef tenderloin, seafood, or a steak often thaw within an hour or less. Whole chicken and roasts can take up to 3 hours to thaw using this method.
Microwave Method for Thawing Meat
To thaw meat in the microwave, there is often a specific setting where the microwave has a defrost setting and it will automatically adjust to a thawing temperature. If your microwave does not have this, it is recommended that you thaw at 30% to 50% wattage for 3 to 5 minute increments at a time until thawed.
However, it is important to cook meat that has been thawed in the microwave immediately for food safety. This is due to the food partially cooking as it is thawing. It is important to destroy the bacteria and get the food to safe temperatures.
Can you Cook Meat Without Thawing?
Yes, you can cook meat from the frozen state. However, plan on a longer cooking time to make sure that the meat is fully cooked through. It is important to check the internal temperature with a meat thermometer to make sure it is done.
Can you put a frozen pork roast in the crock pot?
While it is not recommended to cook a frozen pork roast in the slow cooker if you must then add your preferred seasonings, cover, and cook for six hours on a HIGH setting, or until the meat is tender. Plan for a longer period of time for cooking any meat from a frozen state. Do NOT cook on a low setting if starting out from a frozen state. Make sure the meat reaches 145 degrees Fahrenheit before serving. And if your recipe includes vegetables, add them one hour before the cooking stops.
How to Cook Frozen Meat in a Slow Cooker
Since the meat is in a frozen state, browning the meat in a skillet by searing the meat is not an option. Therefore, just place the meat, seasonings, and any liquid right in the crockpot.
Ensure that the crockpot is large enough to contain the frozen roast so the cooking can be efficient. Make sure that the meat only fills up ¾ of the slow cooker.
Cook on high so the meat is cooking as it is thawing.
If possible, add smaller pieces of meat versus a whole roast. It will ensure that the meat thaws quickly to allow the most time for cooking.
The meat should be fork tender when done. That means the meat can be easily shredded with a fork.
Let the roast rest for at least five minutes before you slice it.
Slow Cooker Recipes
Slow cookers are a wonderful way to impart lots of flavor and take budget tough cuts of meat to tender, juicy, and delicious morsels. Here are a few of our favorite slow cooker recipes.
Country Style Pork Ribs and Sauerkraut is an easy recipe that just takes a few minutes of prep.
Slow Cooker Marmalade Pork Roast makes a flavorful gravy and brings the whole meal together. Really an easy and delicious meal for the whole family.
Slow Cooker Coffee Roast Beef with Garlic is a new twist on pot roast. Amazingly great flavor and a family favorite.
Slow Cooker Brown Sugar Pineapple Ham. This is my favorite way to make a whole ham.