The 10 Things You Need To Know About Pressure Cooking Frozen Foods

Cooking Frozen Food In Your Instant Pot

One of the many things I love about my Instant Pot is that it makes dinnertime so much easier for me. I can have rice cooking in the Instant Pot while I cook chicken on the stovetop, or have potatoes steaming while I cook a roast in my oven. Pressure cooking is a busy lady’s best friend! :-)

But what about those nights when you’re even busier than normal? As in, you have zero time to get food on the table, plus a million things you need to do! In those situations, your Instant Pot can really be a lifesaver! Because as you’ll discover in today’s post, you can use your Instant Pot (or any pressure cooker) to cook frozen food straight from your freezer! (Seriously!)

The process for cooking frozen food is a little different from normal Instant Pot cooking. I’ve broken down the process into 10 simple “Do’s and Don’ts” for you below! As long as you follow these simple tips, you’ll be cooking frozen foods in your Instant Pot like a pro in no time!

Related: The One Cooking Guide You Need To Make Dinnertime Simple

10 Essential Tips For Cooking Frozen Food In Your Instant Pot

Cooking Frozen Food In Your Instant Pot

1. DO Cook It Longer

Cooking frozen food in your Instant Pot will make it take longer to come up to pressure. The extra time does start cooking your food though, so you only need to add a few extra minutes to your cook time.

For ground meat or chopped veggies, add 1-2 extra minutes to your cook time. For chicken breasts, add about 3 extra minutes. (Larger cuts of meat should be thawed before cooking to ensure they get cooked all the way through.)

Cooking Frozen Food In Your Instant Pot

2. DO Use More Liquid

When cooking frozen meat in your Instant Pot, you want to add enough liquid to cover the meat. This will help ensure that the meat gets cooked all the way through instead of staying frozen in the center.

I suggest seeking out recipes that cook in some sort of sauce. For instance, my White Chicken Chili and Dump Chicken recipes would both work well for cooking frozen chicken!

Cooking Frozen Food In Your Instant Pot

3. DO Cook To Temperature

When cooking frozen meats, you should use an instant-read thermometer to make sure your meat reaches the correct temperature. (Not sure what temperature you should be shooting for? Check out my printable Meat Temperatures Guide!)

Cooking Frozen Food In Your Instant Pot

4. DO Brown Your Meat

If you don’t have the time to brown your frozen meat before cooking, it’s not the end of the world. But if you do have a few extra minutes, I highly recommend doing it! Browning the meat before pressure cooking it will give your finished meal a deeper and more developed flavor.

Cooking Frozen Food In Your Instant Pot

5. DO Use Natural Release

It’s a good idea to allow at least 10 minutes of Natural Release after the cook time is up. If you use Quick Release right away, your meat will likely end up tough and chewy. After 10 minutes (or more) of Natural Release, use Quick Release to release any remaining pressure.

Cooking Frozen Food In Your Instant Pot

6. DO Try These Frozen Foods

A few of my favorite frozen foods to cook in my Instant Pot are chicken breasts, frozen meatballs, soups, and fish filets. Give them a try! Just follow the cooking instructions below.

  • Boneless Chicken Breasts/Thighs – Cook for 10 minutes on High, then Natural Release
  • Bone-In Chicken Breasts/Thighs – Cook for 15 minutes on High, then Natural Release
  • Meatballs – Cook for 10 minutes on High, then Natural Release
  • Soup/Stock – Cook for 5-10 minutes on High with 1/2 cup of water, then Quick Release
  • Fish Filets – Set filets on the trivet, add 1 cup of water, cook for 3 minutes on Low, then Quick Release

Cooking Frozen Food In Your Instant Pot

7. DON’T Fill Your Instant Pot

When cooking frozen foods, big portions are not your friend. The more food in the pot, the harder it’s going to be to cook it all evenly. Cook as much as you need, but it’s not a great time to cook extras for leftovers.

Cooking Frozen Food In Your Instant Pot

8. DON’T Cook Meat That Is Stuck Together

Cooking a brick of frozen meat is very likely to result in undercooked food. So if your chicken breasts have stuck to each other in the freezer, allow them to thaw at least until you can detach them. (To avoid things sticking together in the freezer, freeze them on a baking sheet first before putting them in a freezer bag.)

Cooking Frozen Food In Your Instant Pot

9. DON’T Cook Large Cuts

Cooking frozen chicken breasts is one thing, but trying to cook a whole frozen roast in your Instant Pot is not a good idea. The outside will cook while the inside is still trying to thaw. By the time the center gets cooked, the outside will be very overcooked, and no one wants that!

Cooking Frozen Food In Your Instant Pot

10. DON’T Use Water

You need a lot of liquid to cook frozen meats in your Instant Pot, but that doesn’t mean you should just cover it up with water. Foods cooked in water are likely to end up tasting pretty bland. So don’t be afraid to get creative!

Chicken or veggie stock is a great choice, or you could use salsa, pasta sauce, BBQ sauce, etc. If you’re making a curry, coconut milk is a great option! And be sure to add some herbs and spices to give your meal more flavor!

Have you cooked frozen foods in your Instant Pot before?

Read This Next

Jill Nystul Photo

Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee


Instant Pot Recipes & Tips

  • If making a chicken (breast – boneless, skinless) recipe with a lot of sauce, how much longer should you cook it if the chicken breasts are frozen?

  • Just got my instant pot for Christmas! I am so thankful that you post so much information about this item. Looking forward to successful meals, and a lot less apprehension about getting started. Thank you Jillee!!

  • So you can brown frozen meat? You’re talking about doing that awesome searing in a bit of oil in your pan before you put it in your Instant Pot? I did not know you could do that to frozen meat. Awesome tip.

  • >