Yes, that's right! We're going to show you how to brown frozen ground beef using your Instant Pot. No more worrying about running to the store on the way home from work to pick up fresh meat for dinner.
With this easy cooking process, it is not only okay to cook a pound of ground beef from frozen, many people also consider it the best way to brown ground beef in a pinch.
In this article we will show you how to cook a pound of frozen ground beef in the Instant Pot using a method that is designed to ensure safe cooking temperatures while maximizing flavor and texture.
We used 80/20 lean ground beef for our tests, because it provides excellent flavor and texture when browned without too much fat. The cooking method works with any cut of ground beef, but you will have to adjust both cooking times and the amount of liquid used based on the fat content in your meat.
We will discuss two different cooking methods to brown frozen ground beef in the Instant Pot, all of which provide excellent results.
Each method has its pros and cons. You'll have to choose based on your personal preferences, but they are very similar results. We also include a few tips that pertain to all cooking options for ground beef.
How to Pressure Cook Frozen Ground Beef or Turkey
If you forget to thaw the meat for dinner, here's a fast and easy way to cook ground beef from frozen using your Instant Pot.
- Add 1 cup of water to the inner pot.
- Place 1-2 pounds of frozen ground beef or turkey flat on a trivet.
- Seal the Instant Pot (or Ninja Foodi or other pressure cooker) and set the time for 20 minutes for 1 pound of meat or 23 minutes for 2 pounds of meat.
- Allow for a 5 minute natural pressure release before releasing any remaining pressure.
- Remove the meat from the Instant Pot by lifting the trivet out of the pot. Then, crumble to ground beef on a plate. Once you've done that, go ahead and put in in an airtight container and store any that you won't be using right away in the refrigerator for up to a few days.
What is Browning in the Instant Pot
Instant Pot browning is a two-step process. In short, use the saute function on medium heat and brown meat. You could also use a large skillet for this method if you don't have a pressure cooker or if you prefer it.
1. Turn the Instant Pot on to 'Saute' mode. Saute mode varies by model, but it commonly comes on automatically when you press the 'Adjust' button on the front panel.
2. Add some cooking oil to the pot and allow it to get hot before adding your meat. This will help prevent sticking, which can cause seal issues or interfere with proper cooking temperatures.
3. Once the oil is hot, add your ground beef in an even layer so it can begin browning. Do not stir, and do not flip the beef until you have some color on it. You'll know it is ready to flip when it easily releases from the bottom of the pot.
4. Stir and break apart your meat as soon as possible after flipping to ensure even cooking throughout.
5. Continue cooking until the meat is browned to your liking. Ground beef will finish cooking during the natural release process, so you do not want it to be at exact doneness when you open the pot.
What Browning Does for Frozen Ground Beef
The main benefit of browning frozen ground beef in the Instant Pot is that it reduces cook time by up to 50%. That means you'll have dinner on the table much faster than if you were to cook frozen beef directly in the Instant Pot.
Browning ground beef may not completely thaw it out, but it also won't leave big chunks of ice like some other cooking methods can. You will end up with fully cooked meat that is easy to break apart with a wooden spoon, but it will have some residual frozenness inside.
How to Thaw Ground Beef, Ground Turkey, Chicken Breasts, and Other Meat Types
The best way to thaw meat is to take it out of the freezer a day or two ahead of time and place it into the refrigerator. Give it time to thaw slowly and make sure you pat any excess moisture off of the meat before cooking.
While there are other methods, they aren't safe for all types of food. We don't recommend thawing meat in a microwave oven or running cold water over ground beef because it can create unsafe conditions by causing temperature fluctuations.
If you forget to take it out ahead of time, cooking frozen been in the Instant Pot works perfectly fine.
What Is the Recommended Temperature of Cooked Ground Beef
The U.S. Department of Agriculture advises a recommended time for cooking to an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit (72.2 C) for ground beef.
This is the temperature we recommend for cooking ground beef in your Instant Pot. For best results, we recommend using a good digital meat thermometer to track the internal temperature of your meat while it cooks.
How Long Does It Take to Cook Ground Beef in the Instant Pot?
When cooking ground beef, in needs to be cooked to a safe temperature to ensure the meat is out of the danger zone and to get rid of any harmful bacteria.
We recommend cooking frozen ground beef on high pressure for 20 minutes for one pound or 23 minutes for 2 pounds.
Is the Cooking Time for Lean Ground Beef the Same as for High Fat Content Ground Beef?
The additional fat content in higher fat ground beef will reduce the cooking time, so it may come out done sooner than leaner ground beef. If you cook a lean ground beef, you might need to add additional cooking time.
Can You Meal Prep Ground Beef in the Instant Pot?
Yes! Using your Instant Pot pressure cooker is for meal prep can be a huge time saver for you.
We recommend using this method for meal prepping taco meat or spaghetti sauce. You could also use this process to make chili or other types of meat sauces.
Simply make the ground beef (or ground turkey or chicken) ahead of time, and then you have it ready to add to other recipes.
How Many Pounds of Ground Beef Can You Cook at One Time in An Instant Pot?
You can cook up to a maximum of six pounds of raw ground beef at a time in an Instant Pot. If you need to cook more hamburger than that, consider cooking the meat in batches.
However, if you are batch cooking frozen ground beef, I'd recommend cooking only 2 pounds of ground beef at a time.
If you are freezer cooking, making sure your ground beef is fully cooked before freezing will ensure safe storage and retain optimal flavor from the spices you add.
Is It Okay to Thaw Meat at Room Temperature?
It's NOT recommended that you thaw meat at room temperature. Room temperature is not a cold enough environment to safely thaw frozen meats before cooking them.
The best way to thaw meat is in the refrigerator, still sealed in its packaging. Place it on a dish or pan with a raised edge to catch any drips and place this dish in the refrigerator.
If you put frozen meat directly on a shelf, fridge could raise the temperature of your whole fridge and cause other food to spoil faster.
Is It Okay to Thaw Meat in a Sink of Water?
No! No, no, no! We don't recommend thawing meat in a sink because water attracts bacteria.
It's better to thaw the ground beef in the refrigerator than at room temperature, but unless you're cooking it immediately, we still don't recommend letting meat sit out on the counter.
Can You Freeze Cooked Ground Beef?
Yes. After cooking ground beef in your Instant Pot , it can be safely stored in the freezer for up to three months.
We recommend using a FoodSaver vacuum sealer if you are looking to maximize your freezer space, or if you know your Instant Pot is going to be used on an ongoing basis.
Oftentimes, there's no need for individual portions of ground beef to be frozen unless you're planning on separating it for meal prep.
If you are freezing cooked ground beef, make sure to thaw the meat before cooking again so that the Instant Pot knows how much pressure to apply when cooking!
How Long Does Cooked Ground Beef Last in the Fridge?
You can store cooked ground beef up to four days in the refrigerator. Anything more than that and it is best to toss the leftover meat and make a new batch. However, there are so many recipes available, you should have no problem finding plenty o ways to use up the ground beef.
Meal Prep Fresh Ground Beef or Frozen Beef to Save Time
A great way to start off the week is by spending an afternoon doing some meal prep. Use your pressure cooker to prepare ground beef for the week.
Whether you're starting with raw meat or frozen, browning ground beef in the Instant Pot on high pressure is an easy way to make a bunch of meat at one time and save so much time.
Store the cooked beef in an airtight container in the refrigerator with other perishable foods for up to a few days for future use.
Some ideas of recipes you can make with pre-cooked ground beef include just about every ground beef recipe you can think of. Most recipes are fine to toss ready-to-go meat into. You'll simply heat it up with the rest of the ingredients and save time that you would normally spend browning the meat.
- Sloppy Joes
- Spaghetti Sauce
- Slow Cooker Chili