I’ll admit, when I first heard about the Instant Pot, I scoffed at the idea.
I heard it pitched as a table-top pressure cooker, a rice cooker, and slow cooker – all in one.
Getting one more gadget just seemed excessive. So I thumbed my nose at the idea. Figured it was a waste of money.
And I couldn’t have been more wrong.
It’s been a pretty rocky year for me. I’ve wrestled my way through a long list of health problems, including depression (where I fought to put food on the table for my family), thyroid disease, exhaustion, and the discovery of celiac disease.
While meal planning was something that came pretty naturally to me, planning while sick was an incredible challenge. You can read more about my tips for cooking during depression. (Spoiler Alert: had I known how much of a life-line the Instant Pot would become, I would have ordered it earlier!)
But my nemesis – no matter how I’m feeling – has always been:
Remembering to THAW MY MEAT.
I cannot describe how many times I have waltzed (rushed?) into the kitchen at 4:00pm only to realize that my meat was rock solid and still in the freezer.
Since we have no microwave by choice, putting meat in the fridge to thaw the night before is a pretty big deal. And one I pretty much fail at.
So when a friend told me that you can cook FROZEN MEAT (and even freezer meals!) in the Instant Pot with NO NEED TO THAW, I definitely perked up all ears.
Taking The Plunge
So I ordered the Instant Pot… and promptly let it sit unopened in the box.
For a month.
Finally I sent out a cry for help. It’s not like this thing is that complicated. But my brain was on hyperdrive from just managing life.
So my friend Tricia (from our KS partner: Once A Month Meals) stopped by my house to help me unbox and learn how to use this beast. She actually recorded our escapades and I later wrote a picture tutorial (with video link) giving you a step-by-step directions.
But then Tricia blew my mind. She taught me how to cook frozen ground beef in my Instant Pot. And my life has never been the same.
FAQs About Cooking FROZEN Meat In The Instant Pot
1. I thought you shouldn’t cook meat from frozen?
Normally, that’s true. Cooking meat from frozen can create problems – the outer parts of meat slowly dry out from overcooking while the center remains frozen. Additionally, meat can hang out in the ‘danger zone’ (that raw limbo between frozen and cooked) for too long, allowing for bacterial growth. But pressure cooking changes that equation.
By coming to heat quickly, raw meat is only in transition for 10-20 minutes – which is not a problem at all. (source)
2. Isn’t it best to brown ground beef?
Again, traditional advice says yes. When you brown something, you are shifting the flavor components into high gear – a process called the Maillard Reaction. However, I was completely surprised how delicious the ground beef turned out in my Instant Pot. I couldn’t tell a taste difference between stove-top-browned ground beef and the IP-cooked ground beef. Which is saying something.
3. Doesn’t it taste weird?
Nope. And this was the part that amazed me.
I’ve tried boiling ground beef (BLECH!). I’ve tried cooking it in a slow cooker (mealy). Back in my microwave days, I even tried microwave-cooking (rubbery).
The only ground beef that tasted good was grilled or sautéed. I have pretty high taste standards. As I mentioned above, I couldn’t tell a taste difference between browned and IP-cooked ground beef.
It had the same feel, taste, texture, and consistency. It wasn’t dried out. It was delicious. AND the Instant Pot cooked it without any effort from me. No standing over the stove. No watching the meat.
How To Cook Ground Beef In The Instant Pot
- If you’re not familiar with an Instant Pot, you can learn more here.
- Nervous how to use yours? Check out this tutorial to get you started.
- I love making freezer meals for the Instant Pot. Get your FAQs answered.
- Ready to take your Instant Pot cooking to the next level? Check out my favorite accessories!
- Don’t forget to peruse the entire Instant Pot Archives and Recipes (you can find my personal recipes here.)
- Buy an Instant Pot HERE on Amazon – or watch for the really good “Deal of the Day” sales that come around a few times a year!
Your IP should have come with a trivet. It’s that little metal stand thingy. Can’t find yours? You have plenty of options on Amazon, or can even repurpose your steamer insert. You’re going to need it.
Place the trivet in the base of the Instant Pot insert. (And I know what you’re thinking — isn’t the meat going to fall through the trivet?! Nope. It stays together. It’s okay. I didn’t believe it until I saw it, either.)
If you don’t have a trivet, this method will still work – you’ll just have a slightly different texture of meat because it will be boiling in the water.
Load up your trivet with frozen ground beef. For the sake of this recipe, I am using 2 pounds. I’ve had friends cook upwards of 5 pounds of ground beef at a time.
Add 1 cup of water — or whatever is your pressure cooker’s minimum liquid requirement.
DO NOT MISS THIS STEP.
Lastly: put on the lid, move the valve to sealing, and select 25 minutes on manual mode.
When the timer is up, carefully release the pressure (called a Quick Release). Use a meat thermometer to take the interior temperature of your meat. You’re aiming for a minimum of 160F.
My ground beef is frozen in round cylinders, which means it can take a little longer to cook. If you find that your beef is still under temp, have no fear! Simply pressure cook another 5 minutes and take the temp again. It’s totally okay to run it for a few minutes longer. If you need to slice your ground beef in half at this point, that’s totally fine, too.
Remove the ground beef using tongs. You’ll notice that it stayed together as a log/block and didn’t disintegrate. Simply use a sturdy spoon to break into chunks.
And now you have fabulous ground beef!
From here, I like to use my cooked ground beef in homemade spaghetti sauce, homemade hamburger helper, chili, stuffed peppers, Asian stir fry, sprinkled on baked potatoes, and as a topping on salad. (We use cooked ground beef as a topping on sweet potatoes, which we also cook in the Instant Pot!)
- 2 pounds ground beef
- 1 cup water (or whatever is your pressure cooker's minimum liquid requirement)
- Place a trivet or steam inside the liner of your Instant Pot.
- Add frozen ground beef on top of the trivet, in one big block.
- Add water beneath the trivet.
- Lock the lid, close the sealing valve, and select 25 minutes of pressure cooking on high (manual button).
- Once the program is done, release the pressure immediately (called a 'quick release') by opening the valve. Place a towel over the valve to contain the steam and protect your cupboards if you like.
- Take the temperature of your meat, using a instant read meat thermometer. Aim for 160F.
- If the meat is undercooked, close the lid, seal, and cook for another 5 minutes -- checking again.
- Repeat if necessary.
- Remove ground beef with tongs. Use a sturdy spoon to crumble the ground beef.
- Use in your favorite recipe or freeze the meat in pre-portioned bags.