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!
10 Essential Tips For 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.)
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.
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!)
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.
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.
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
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.
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.)
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!
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?