Pressure cookers will be your go-to device if you’re looking for a fast and efficient way to cook dinner, last minute. These appliances are able to cook food up to six times faster, compared to preparing food in the oven. But can your pressure cook frozen meat? It can. However, there will be a longer cook time and preheat time if you’re preparing frozen meat. This will depend on the amount of food you’re preparing. There are many tips and tricks you can follow that will allow you to cook your dinner faster in your new pressure cooker, even if it’s frozen solid.
Pressure Cooker Hacks
Think ahead. I can guarantee that there will be a time when you forget to pull food out of the freezer, so you’ll be left with a large hunk of frozen meat. If you plan ahead when you’re preparing to store meat, cut up thicker, larger cuts of meat such as pork tenderloin, sirloin, chicken breasts, and roasts before you freeze them. This means chopping them up while they’re fresh, before you portion them up in freezer bags or Tupperware. These smaller pieces will be much faster and easier to cook in your pressure cooker.
If you have a modern pressure cooker, such as the Instant Pop IPLux60, then cooking frozen meat will be faster, safer, and totally hands off compared to vintage pressure cookers or cooking with your oven.
Straight from the Freezer
The ability to go straight from the freezer to the pot is just another reason to buy a pressure cooker. This allows you to stock up on your favorite larger cuts of meat. Most people have a large cut of meat in their freezer that they’ve tucked away for colder weather. But if you’re cooking it in the oven, you’ll have to take it out several hours ahead of time in order to allow the meat to defrost, prior to placing it in the oven. But unlike cooking frozen food in the oven, which will taste terrible, even preparing frozen meat in your pressure cooker will turn out loaded with flavor and fall off the bone tender.
Whether or not you’re able to use frozen meat will depend on the type of recipe it is, since some recipes will require you to brown the meat before you place it in the pressure cooker.
Preparing Frozen Meat for the Pressure Cooker
If the recipe you want to make does require you to brown the meat, do what you can. Since the meat is frozen, straightening it out will be impossible. So, if you have to brown the meat, toss it right in the cooker and add a little oil to brown the parts that you can, the ones that will come into direct contact with the base. Even just a little browning can help to add plenty of flavor to the meat.
Avoid brazing or steaming frozen meat, instead save this for meat that has been properly defrosted. Steaming frozen meat will give the meat a nice outer coating, but the core of the meat will remain frozen. Similarly, brazing frozen meat will only cook the exterior, while the rest of the meat will remain frozen.
You can boil frozen meat under pressure, which will allow the heat from the liquid to easily penetrate the meat deeply, evenly, and quickly, compared to other pressure cooking techniques. Be sure that the meat is fully submerged in liquid before you cook.
When you cook frozen meat, it’s going to take longer for the appliance to reach pressure since the frozen piece of meat is basically a large cube of ice that will cause the liquid in the cooker to heat up slowly. Since it will take the liquid longer to boil, you can expect a longer processing time. But the appliance will eventually be able to build pressure. Yet, it may take almost twice the time it normally would to cook if you’re working with frozen meat. Because of this, you’ll need to keep a closer eye on the cooker.
When you’re cooking frozen meat you can experiment with different spices and liquids, including unsweetened fruit juices, wine, stock, and water. Toss in some veggies such celery, carrots, potatoes, onions and a little garlic for added flavor.
Adding some salt will also be important at this time, especially if the cooking liquid you’ve added is not salty. In that case, I’d recommend adding two to three teaspoons of salt or more once the dish is finished cooking.
As I mentioned, you’ll need to increase the cooking time based on the thickness of the meat. You’ll need to increase the cooking time by fifty percent or more, depending on how thick the meat is. As an example, one pound of ground meat can take five minutes to cook when defrosted, but if it’s around one inch thick then you’ll want to increase the cooking time to ten minutes. Cooking chicken in a pressure cooker will also be the same, you’ll simply double the length of the cooking time. If you’re using a newer model, the food may not need to be cooked twice as long, but this can vary from model to model. To learn more about pressure cookers and modern features, click here to read my buyer’s guide.
Avoid pressure cooking frozen meatloaf or large roasts since roasts are very thick and will require a significantly longer pressure cooking time. During this time the meat on the outside can fall apart while the center may be barely cooked, even if you try boiling it.
Since you’ll be dealing with frozen meat, I also recommend taking the meat’s temperature before serving. Slide a meat thermometer into the center of the meat to ensure that the liquid was able to penetrate the meat and cook it from the inside out.
The Right Way to Cook Frozen Meat
Remember, frozen meat will cook thoroughly and much faster if you cook it in liquid and avoid brazing or steaming it. Place the meat in the pressure cooker and cover it completely with liquid. Cook the meat twice as long as you normally would. Once the timer dings, allow the pressure cooker to release steam naturally. Once the steam has been released, take a meat thermometer and check the center of the meat with the thermometer to ensure it’s reached the correct temperature:
- Pork and Beef-One hundred and forty-five degrees
- Ground meat-One hundred and sixty degrees
- Chicken-One hundred and sixty-five degrees
So, can you pressure cook frozen meat? Yes, but you’ll need to cook the food twice as long as you normally would if you are preparing defrosted meat. By following these tips, you can quickly and safely prepare frozen meat using your new pressure cooker, and get the type of fall off the bone tender results that pressure cookers are famous for.