Browning Hamburger In The Crockpot – A Real Timesaver!

crockpot hamburger

Forgive me for the overused phrase I’m about to use…but if I had a nickel for every time I forgot to take a pound of frozen hamburger out of the freezer that I was planning to use for dinner….I’d be rich! :-) I forget WAY more than I remember!

Then I end up putting it in the microwave to defrost it and it usually ends up getting cooked on the corners and is still frozen in the middle! So I scrape the thawed part off and get it all over my hands (yuck!) and put it back in the microwave 3 or 4 more times until it’s FINALLY thawed all the way through. THEN I still have to COOK it!

I have done this for so long that it never occurred to me that there’s GOT to be a better way until I stumbled across a blog post by Myra at My Blessed Life about browning frozen hamburger in her crockpot! Brilliant….but…it would still require me to have the forethought to start this process in the morning and, well, let’s just say I don’t have a very good track record. :-)

So I took this idea one step further and decided to buy a 5 pound package of ground beef, cook it all up at once in the crockpot (a basic no-brainer), and then freeze it AFTER it’s cooked! NOW when I need a pound of hamburger for dinner, it is already COOKED! ****Cue the choir of angels***

I realize this probably won’t be a revelation to a lot of you…but to me it has been a game-changer! Now when I realize at 6 o’clock on a Tuesday night that it’s “Taco Tuesday”…I am set! I grab a bag out of the freezer, break it up a bit and throw it in the pan. It quickly thaws in the pan and I add whatever seasonings, etc. I need. Saves me SO much time (not to mention irritation!) and I never have to touch raw ground beef! yay!


How To Brown Hamburger In A Crockpot

(as if you needed me to explain this!)


crockpot hamburger

Place ground beef in crock pot and break it up a little with a fork (or if you’re NOT ME…with your hands!)


crockpot hamburger

Put the lid on and cook on High for 3 to 4 hours (depending on your crockpot).


crockpot hamburger

At the halfway point, I got my pastry cutter (couldn’t think of a better option at the time) and broke up the meat some more and stirred it, then put the cover back on.


crockpot hamburger

When it was sufficiently cooked, I stirred it again to break it up a bit more…..


crockpot hamburger

…..and then poured it all into a colander to drain and rinsed it with cold water. This serves two purposes. 1) It cools the meat down fast so you can put it in bags to freeze.  2) It cuts WAY down on the fat in the meat!


crockpot hamburger

Then just put it in equal portions in resealable plastic bags and put them in the freezer.


crockpot hamburger

See how nicely they stack in there? Right on top of some of my Dump Chicken.

Now if I just had a nickel for every time this idea has HELPED me….. :-)


What are your go-to recipes for ground beef?


crockpot hamburger




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  1. Cathy in MN says

    I do this often. Works so well. I also do it in the oven if I want it a little browner. Spread the hamburger out on a cake type pan. No greasy stove top mess.

  2. Birdie Bigby says

    Browned ground beef seasoned with salt, pepper and garlic powder,when browned add a pkg of frozen mixed veg, a can of tomatoe sauce and a can of water. If you like tomatoes add a can of diced tomatoes, bring to boil, cover turn heat down and cook just until vegs are done, serve over rice or mashed potatoes. A really go to fast supper that my kids and husband liked.

  3. sarah says

    We’ve been cooking our gr beef for years. Making chili? Throw it in the crockpot from frozen

  4. says

    Shepards pie is my go to recipe..i use the meatand cooked pasta shells, medium size. Mixed veggies frozen…or canned…or even fresh veggies fixed. Mix meat, shells and veggies together with shredded cheese and seasonings. I then put a thick later of cheesey mashed potatoes on top. Top with shredded cheese. I use Colby and monterey. Bake until cheese is browned and melted. I like it this way and my family also does. Thanks jillee for the crock pot tip! What a time saver!!

  5. Karyn Craw says

    Another tool to save you from touching raw meat is a potato masher. It gives you a nice handle to get leverage, and you can use it to stir the meat with out getting another tool or spoon dirty. :)

      • Debi says

        I love BOTH utensil ideas! I’ve been using my smallest food processor to get smaller pieces, but this will be soooo much easier! THANKS to you both!!

      • Mary says

        Pampered Chef makes a WIONDERFUL tool called the Mix and Chop (I am NOT a Pampered Chef consultant nor was I paid to say this!).

        I received one as a gift and don’t know what I ever did without it! I’m sure Pampered Chef is not the only brand; if you Google Mix and Chop it will give you an idea of what it looks like, then maybe you could check the local B3 or something…

        Also, as much time as pre-cooked ground beef saves, it is also just as easy to freeze the 1 lb. packages (press the meat out flat in a qt. sized ziplock) and then defrost in a sink of cold water. I do this regularly, with most of our meats and it only takes 10-15 minutes in the water to defrost most items. I am a full-time, work outside the home, wife and mother of 2. When I get home, I fill the sink 1/2 way with water, plop the frozen meat in, then go change out of my work clothes. By the time I’m ready to start dinner, everything is thawed and waiting.

      • Carol says

        I also have the Pampered Chef hand chopper. It is about as long as a flipping utensil. I get “upset” if I can’t find this. LOL. It is the best tool I EVER owned for stirring and/or chopping. The shape lets you scrape edges of bowls, pans, anything with a small or large depth. I especially like it because it made to use with stovetop/oven cooking. Thanks Mary for getting me a rant about my food chopper and how much I love it ;-) — I have no affiliation with Pampered Chef either.

      • Suzanne says

        I love my Pampered Chef Mix and Chop and I bought both of my adult children one. Being a non-scratch material, it doesn’t scratch up the non-stick cookware. It has a beveled type edge that is sharp enough to break up tomatoes or onions that you might have cute a little large also. Yes, I get really upset when I can’t find mine…it is one of my main go to tools in the kitchen. No, I don’t work for Pampered Chef either…lol

  6. Sharon says

    I just found you and I had never thought of this! At one time, when I worked outside the home full time I thought I was smart to buy a 5 lb bag of hamburger and divide it before freezing. Now that I am disabled, I really like this idea. My ability to stand in the kitchen and cook 45-60 minutes is no longer an option. If I can do partial cooking ahead of time, so much the better. I like the stacking in the freezer idea, too. Takes up less space. With warmer weather upon us, anything to cut time in the kitchen is great! Thaw, season and good to go for tacos, taco salad, spaghetti, chili, etc. Keep it simple is how I roll……. Thank you for sharing!

  7. mary says

    What about the food safety aspect of slow-cooking large quantities of ground beef? I have some reserves, although in scanning the web, I see that slow cooking is used even for frozen ground meats (most say cook on high for 2 hours, then to low for remaining 4 hours). I wonder about the low temperature from a food safety standpoint.

    • Becky says

      You know, that’s a good point. I’m curious abou that now. My concern with pre cooking and then freezing the meat is I read or heard somewhere that some of the nutrients get lost when you do that instead of just freezin it raw? But I’m not sure of that either :-/

    • Robin W says

      The low setting on any crock pot should be safe. Most are set at around 200 degrees. (Food should be kept above 140 degrees to be safe)

  8. Laura L. says

    Oh! What a lifesaver…I just wouldn’t run water over my amazingly yummy MT beef after it’s cooked. Can’t wait to try this tomorrow …going to try it with Italian sausage and ground beef together. Yummm. Thanks for the great tip! It is really one good thing!