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!
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 (from our KS partner: Once A Month Meals) 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.Print
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.
- 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)
- 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.
- Add frozen ground beef on top of the trivet, in a 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.
- 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.
- 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 or potato masher to crumble the ground beef.
- Use in your favorite recipe or freeze the meat in pre-portioned bags.
- 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.
- 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
Make your Instant Pot work for you!
I won’t tell if your Instant Pot is still in its box, pinky swear. 😉
I left mine abandoned in the basement for almost a YEAR because I have a new-thing-instructions phobia, but now I have TWO Instant Pots and they’re both in constant use!
Turns out it’s so easy, a kid can do it — I’ll send you a quick video of my children unboxing and setting it up when you grab your FREE download mini eBook:
Get the Instant Pot Guidebook for FREE!
What’s in the Guidebook?
You’ll love the simplicity of your Instant Pot, and the free downloadable guidebook will help you:
- Adapt your own favorite recipes from the slow cooker
- Cook FROZEN ground beef
- Hard boil eggs perfectly
- Cook squash, steam veggies, and make applesauce in your IP
- Make dry beans in an hour and perfect rice without boiling over
- Steam veggies al dente and make Paleo cauli rice in minutes
- Cook a whole chicken and make FAST bone broth
Whether yours is still in the box or you’ve used it a little but want to know more about those techniques, or if you’re still pining for an IP on your wish list, I can’t wait to give you these simple baby steps to success!
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. (source)
(You can even take this one step further and make fully-assembled freezer meals that cook straight from frozen in the Instant Pot. Yeah, I know. It’s amazing! I use Once a Month Meals for fast, incredible freezer meal plans including gluten-free, Instant Pot. Paleo and more!)
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 Grassfed, Pastured, Organic Meat:
I love my raw milk farm, and they usually have beef for me too – but not all the cuts. And chicken is hard to come by. And pork is hit or miss.
I’m sure you’ve experienced the same sourcing frustrations!
That’s why I’m always grateful that there’s an online source of incredibly high quality meat that I can always count on. A box from Butcher Box is guaranteed to be grassfed/organic/pastured/free range = all the labels important to your family’s health!
If you live in an area (like my mom) where organic local farms are nowhere to be found or have trouble sourcing certain meats or cuts, Butcher Box has you covered.
(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.
4. Can I cook frozen ground beef without a trivet?
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
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!)
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 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.
We also use cooked ground beef as a topping on sweet potatoes, which we also cook in the Instant Pot! How about with this Instant Pot Cornbread? If you’re going to use the ground meat (remember, this works not just for beef but for ground chicken and turkey as well) for tacos, try this taco meat from frozen to done in the Instant Pot.