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How To Cook FROZEN Ground Beef in the Instant Pot {VIDEO}

Did you know you can cook frozen ground beef in the Instant Pot even without a trivet?! No thawing. No waiting. It’s a lifesaver on busy days. Great for our family favorite quick dinner, homemade hamburger helper or any ground beef recipe!

Frozen ground beef in the Instant Pot

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.

But 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.

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.

(Did you know you can reheat leftovers in the Instant Pot too, and avoid using your microwave again?!)

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 stopped by my house and totally blew my mind. She taught me how to cook frozen ground beef in my Instant Pot. And my life has never been the same.

Can’t load the video? Watch here on YouTube.

Is your Instant Pot still in the box? Katie’s kids show you how EASY it is to get started in this Instant Pot set-up video tutorial! If you feel like you need a full lesson in how to use your Instant Pot, check out Traditional Cooking School’s Pressure Cooking eCourse.

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How To Cook Frozen Ground Beef in the Instant Pot

  • Author: Bethany Wright
  • Prep Time: 1 min
  • Cook Time: 25 mins
  • Total Time: 36 mins
  • Yield: 2 lbs 1x
  • Category: Basics
  • Method: Pressure Cook
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Forgot to thaw your frozen ground beef before dinner? Have no fear. Let the Instant Pot do the work of thawing and cooking delicious ground beef for you.


Ingredients

UnitsScale
  • 2 pounds ground beef (we recommend grassfed of course, and ButcherBox will deliver!)
  • 1 cup water (or whatever is your pressure cooker’s minimum liquid requirement)


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Instructions

  1. Place a trivet or steam basket inside the liner of your Instant Pot. These don’t have to be the ones that come with your IP; it just has to fit.
  2. Add frozen ground beef on top of the trivet, in a big block.
  3. Add water beneath the trivet.
  4. Lock the lid, close the sealing valve, and select 25 minutes of pressure cooking on high (manual button).
  5. Once the program is done, release the pressure immediately (called a ‘quick release’) by opening the valve.
  6. Take the temperature of your meat, using a instant read meat thermometer. Aim for 160F or above. That thermometer is nice and long and FAST. 
  7. If the meat is undercooked, close the lid, seal, and cook for another 5 minutes — checking again.
  8. Repeat if necessary.
  9. Remove ground beef with tongs. Use a sturdy spoon or potato masher to crumble the ground beef.
  10. Use in your favorite recipe or freeze the meat in pre-portioned bags.

Notes

  • If you need to cook frozen ground beef without a trivet, the Instant Pot can still do it with this method!
  • Remember that the full cook time is really going to be about 40-50 minutes for your dinner planning purposes, because the IP will need at least 10 minutes to get up to pressure.
  • Need more Instant Pot recipes? Grab our totally free Instant Pot guidebook with recipes PLUS basic techniques that make life easier with the IP!
  • Check out all our ground beef recipes!
  • Keep reading below for some FAQs and a photo tutorial.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1/4 lb
  • Calories: 211
  • Sugar: 0
  • Sodium: 75mg
  • Fat: 7.1g
  • Saturated Fat: 2.7g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 0
  • Trans Fat: 0
  • Carbohydrates: 0
  • Fiber: 0
  • Protein: 34.4g
  • Cholesterol: 101mg

Keywords: frozen ground beef, Instant Pot, without trivet

You’re Just *7 Days* Away From Easier Meals with Your Instant Pot

Whether you have a few fav meals in your Instant Pot or still aren’t using it regularly yet, I can show you the secrets to SAVE time (and money) with my favorite appliance!

May I send you my best hacks to maximize my fav appliance so you can spend more time with your family AND nourish them well?

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FAQs About Cooking FROZEN Meat In The Instant Pot Pressure Cooker

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.

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.

Where to Find High Quality Meat

Having trouble finding good quality meat locally? Would you like to fill your freezer with local and pastured options?

If you’re in Canada, check out TruLocal.ca

If you’re in the US Midwest, Chicago to Milwaukee to Detroit to New York, and select cities across the country, check out TruLocalUsa.

If you’re west of the Mississippi, check out Wild Pastures

If you live in any of the 48 contiguous states, I recommend US Wellness Meats and Butcher Box! 

I’m grateful that there’s an online source of incredibly high quality meat that I can always count on. A subscription from Butcher Box includes grass fed, organic, pastured, and free range = all the labels important to your family’s health! And I’ve got a special deal for you!

They almost always have great deals for new customers. Claim your free gifts, and see what bonus they have going on right now. Don’t miss out!

(free shipping too!)

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.

Hallelujah.

4. Can I cook frozen ground beef without a trivet?

Yes!

It will be a slight different texture because it boils in the water, but it stills works. Hit the Saute button for a few minutes after draining the water to add a little browning to the meat and that will help add a lot of flavor.

5. Why is the actual cook time longer than 25 minutes? How Long Does it Really Take to Cook Frozen Ground Beef in the Instant Pot?

This, just like a few other recipes on the web with instructions for cooking ground beef straight from in the Instant Pot, calls for a 25 minute cook time. But you should know that it will take significantly longer than 25 minutes from start to finish.

The Instant Pot needs some time to get up to pressure, at which point the actual timer gets started. Usually, a cup of water will take about 10 minutes in a 6-quart IP and maybe more in an 8-quart unit.

For some recipes, albeit not for this one, In addition to that extra time on the front end to come to pressure, you also need to allow time after it beeps for the pressure to release naturally, which usually takes an additional 10-15 minutes. For this recipe, however, you can use a QPR (quick pressure release) which only takes a minute or so for all that steam to be let out.

If you’re planning on serving ground beef with dinner, you should plan on starting your Instant Pot about 35-45 minutes before you want it to be done.

6. Can I cook frozen ground turkey and ground chicken in the Instant Pot?

Yes! The process and timing are exactly the same.

How To Cook Ground Beef In The Instant Pot – Easy Photo Tutorial (even without a trivet!)

Step by step photo tutorial for How to Cook FROZEN Ground Beef in an electric pressure cooker

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 in order to get the best texture out of your ground meat.

Step 1: Place the trivet in the base of the Instant Pot insert.

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.

Step 2: Load up your trivet with frozen ground beef and add 1 cup of water – or whatever is your pressure cooker’s minimum liquid requirement.

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!

DO NOT MISS THIS STEP.

The water is NOT optional – it’s needed to build up enough steam to come to pressure.

Step 3: Put on the lid, move the valve to sealing, and select 25 minutes on manual mode at high pressure.

When the timer is up, carefully release the pressure (called a Quick Release).

Step by step photo tutorial for How To Cook Frozen Ground Beef In The Instant Pot

Step 4: Use a meat thermometer to take the interior temperature of your meat. You’re aiming for a minimum of 160° F.

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.

Step 5: Remove the ground beef into a bowl using tongs. You’ll notice that it stayed together as a log/block and didn’t disintegrate.

Step 6: Simply use a sturdy spoon or potato masher to break into chunks.

And now you have fabulous ground beef!

If you really like the taste of browned ground beef you might just want to thaw it in the Instant Pot and then and finish the cooking by sautéing it.

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.

Are you an Instant Pot convert as well? Have you experimented with frozen meat yet? What’s your favorite way to use cooked ground beef? Tell us in the comments below!

30 thoughts on “How To Cook FROZEN Ground Beef in the Instant Pot {VIDEO}”

  1. Hannah J Parrish

    You can cook frozen meat in a crockpot as long as your crockpot gets up to temperature and stays there for at least 4 hours. There are recipes out there!

  2. Laura Snell @ Kitchen Stewardship

    I use this method all the time with great success. It’s a dinner-saver when I forget to thaw meat ahead of time!

  3. This worked very well for a 2 lb. frozen meatloaf. I shape it in a plastic bundt pan before freezing so it will cook evenly. I had to cook for 40 minutes at pressure because I live in a high altitude area (6,000 feet), but would not have had a clue how long to cook without the help of this recipe.

  4. Thanks for the tip. I like this, but I used it on a 1-1/2 pound chunk of frozen ground turkey breast. Since I intended to cook the meat further in a batch of chili, I opted for Manual, 15 minutes, rather than 25 minutes as noted in your directions. Glad I didn’t go longer! The meat was over 190°F!

  5. I toss in frozen chicken breasts and my favorite sauce (spaghetti sauce or salsa or cream of sonething soup) and cook on high 25 mins. Perfect! I also make chicken noodle soup this way (broth, veggies, chicken…the noodles I cook separately. This feeds an army since you fill the IP and then make noodles as needed)

    1. Bethany Wright (Contributing Writer)

      Yes! This is how I make spaghetti sauce, as well! (Except, we use beef)

  6. Does this time include time for it to heat? Love mine! Made my potatoes and eggs in at the same time this week for potato salad. Made baked potatoes in it on Thanksgiving for another casserole;-)

      1. Bethany Wright (Contributing Writer)

        The entire process for me (putting in ground beef, warming up, at pressure, coming down) takes me about 35 minutes. If you need to really speed things up, you can hit saute for 5 minutes to bring the water up to boil. Then cancel saute and proceed with the directions.

  7. This is marvelous news! Thanks for writing so much on the instant pot. There isn’t a whole lot of info on it yet and your posts have been a life saver in navigating how I can get the most out of my IP. Thanks!

    1. Bethany Wright (Contributing Writer)

      I found that this method does indeed work great with frozen ground meat (turkey, beef, lamb, chicken, etc). Just make sure you test the internal temperature!

    1. Bethany Wright (Contributing Writer)

      Absolutely! Start with 10 minutes and then take the internal temperature. Depending on the shape/lump of your meat, you may need a different cooking time. 🙂

  8. I always liked to sauté some chopped onion along with browning ground mesat…but that wouldn’t go so well in the IP, would it? I don’t have one yet, can someone try it for me please? 🙂

    1. Bethany Wright (Contributing Writer)

      Susan – great news! The Instant Pot does have a sauté setting, so you could do up some chopped onions after the meat has cooked (for additional browning).

  9. hahahaha, I had to laugh about your crockpots — I have 12!!
    They vary in size, but get used all the time! Every couple of months, I use them all on the same day when doing Batch cooking (beans, meats, marinara, enchilada sauce, ketchup, BBQ sauce…) A friend got an IP a couple of months ago and I was tempted to as well, but wondered at its usefulness. I’m glad to hear your story with it — I just might have to get one, too!

    1. Bethany Wright (Contributing Writer)

      Hi Five to a fellow crock pot addict! 😀 Seriously, check out the Instant Pot. You’ll be sooooooo glad you did.

  10. I’ve used my IP to thaw the ground beef then brown directly in the pot. I won’t be doing that anymore!
    I get a great deal on roasts at Costco. I chop it up when I get home, and freeze in family portions. I toss the frozen hunk of meat into my IP with seasonings, broth, and whole mushrooms to make stroganoff. I stir in homemade IP yogurt. Great meal everyone loves!
    I got my IP for Christmas almost 3 years ago. I use it almost daily.

    1. Bethany Wright (Contributing Writer)

      Glad this post was useful to you, Sam! I’m now kicking myself for waiting so long to unbox it!!! It’s definitely earned the right to come with me when I travel. 🙂

  11. Thank you for this post. I excitedly bought an Instant Pot in July on Amazon Prime day. And … it’s still sitting in the box. Thank you for the motivation to unpack it. 🙂

  12. I’m glad you mentioned about not using a microwave. I don’t either, nor a toaster for the same reasons. I’ve always wondered if Instant Pots are ‘safe’?

    1. We also haven’t use a microwave in about 9 years. But I haven’t read anything about why a toaster would be unsafe. Wouldn’t it be like using an oven. We have a toaster oven that we use most days at least once, instead of heating up a plate of something in the big oven.

    2. Hi Heidi,
      I’m with Nancy – I love love love our toaster oven, and it works just like a tiny electric oven, so I don’t think there are any safety worries. Some are coated with nonstick so that’s the only thing to watch for (and even nonstick is safe under 500F and you won’t get above that).

      The Instant Pot is stainless steel, so far fewer safety concerns than many other appliances that are nonstick or ceramic (ceramic may have lead concerns but rarely). As a slow cooker, it’s totally “normal” cooking. As a pressure cooker, there used to be some questions about pressure cooking and if it denatured foods, but I like Kristin’s research on that here: http://www.foodrenegade.com/pressure-cooking-healthy/ and Katie’s here: http://wellnessmama.com/77757/pressure-cooker-nutrients/

      Hope that helps!!
      🙂 Katie

      1. I have a not stick instant pot my husband got for me and I have been hesitant to use it. Do you think it is safe?

        1. Is it an Instant Pot brand? They only have the Stainless Steel pot, and the new ceramic pot (I’m guessing it’s ceramic coated, rather than completely ceramic, but I could be wrong). If it’s a different brand, it should be the equivalent of Teflon. Should be safe, but I’ve seen reviews about such linings starting to peel, and then I’d wonder what might be getting into the food.

    3. Oh, I loved our toaster OVEN!!! It’s absolutely wonderful for heating up leftovers, making toast, etc, its the plain down toaster that’s not so safe, and what I was refering to in my comment.

      Thanks for replying about the saftey of the instant pot!

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