Slow Cooking FROZEN Meat – It’s NOT safe!!
In short… No!!
This is a very hotly debated topic that we see in our group Slow Cooker Recipes 4 Families on Facebook nearly every single day.
Some people choose to take this risk. In fact many people will tell you that they have done so for years and “it’s never hurt me!’.
However according to the experts this may be more due to pure luck than anything else.
It really is up to you to make an educated and informed risk assessment for yourself!
I’m hoping by providing this information more people will make the SMART choice 🙂
For food safety reasons you should bring your food to temperatures of 60 degrees C (140 degrees F) as quick as possible.
This is why it can be a good idea to start the cooking process on high (or auto) to assist the food to reach this safe temperature as quick as possible. However this isn’t mandatory to do! I usually do this for large roasts etc but not much else.
Cooking with frozen food significantly increases the amount of time it takes for your food to reach this safe temperature and thus significantly increases the chances of you and your family getting food poisoning 🙁
I for one WILL NOT take that risk with my loved ones.
But you are free to weigh up this risk for you and your family.
Cooking from frozen also increases the risk of your ceramic slow cooker bowl cracking due to the sudden temperature changes between frozen food and the heating bowl. If the bowl cracks your slow cooker is then unusable!
(On a similar note you should always remove your food from your slow cooker dish prior to refrigerating it. The nature of the thick ceramic bowl means it retains heat and thus takes a lot longer to cool down to safe refrigeration temperatures, once again leaving your food too long in the danger zone)
But don’t just take my word for it!
Here are the qualified experts telling you exactly the same thing >>
- “Always thaw meat or poultry before putting it into a slow cooker” (United States Department of Agriculture – Food Safety and Inspection Service)
- “Do not put frozen ingredients in the slow cooker; defrost meat and poultry thoroughly in the refrigerator before slow cooking” (Web MD)
- “It is safe to cook frozen meat or poultry in the oven, on the stove, or grill without defrosting it first; the cooking time may be about 50 percent longer. Do not cook frozen meat or poultry products in a slow cooker.” (Meat Safety.org)
- “Always thaw meat or poultry before putting it into a slow cooker. If frozen pieces are used, they will not reach 140° quick enough and could possibly result in a food borne illness” (University of Minnesota)
- “If frozen meat has to be used at short notice it should still be thawed before cooking” (CSIRO)
And that’s just a sample. Look around for yourself and you’ll find the same information out there 🙂
Reminder: Safest defrosting method is putting your frozen meat in a bowl in the fridge. Overnight will often not be long enough so ideally choose your meat for the following night the day before and defrost it in a bowl on a lower shelf of your fridge for 24hrs.
Hoping this helps and that you never have to be one of those to learn the hard way to never take risks with food safety x