How to Cook Ground Beef from Frozen – A Step-by-Step Guide

Cooking frozen ground beef is easy to do with a few helpful tips. Whether you are looking for a quick weeknight dinner or meal prepping for the week, cooking ground beef straight from the freezer can help you get dinner on the table fast.

Here is a complete guide on how to cook frozen ground beef on the stovetop, in the Instant Pot, in the oven, and on the grill.

Tips for Cooking Frozen Ground Beef

Follow these tips to ensure delicious results when cooking frozen ground beef:

  • Allow extra cooking time – Frozen ground beef takes longer to cook, about 1.5 times as long as fresh.

  • Cook at high heat – Use high enough heat to quickly bring the temperature out of the danger zone between 40°F and 140°F.

  • Break up the meat – As it cooks, break up the block of frozen meat into smaller crumbles using a spoon or spatula.

  • Season after cooking – Wait to add salt, pepper, spices, etc. until after the meat is cooked since seasonings won’t adhere as well when frozen.

  • Cook to 160°F – Use a food thermometer to confirm the meat reaches an internal temperature of 160°F when done.

How to Cook Frozen Ground Beef on the Stovetop

Stovetop is one of the fastest methods for cooking frozen ground beef. Follow these simple steps:

  • Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and add 1 Tbsp oil or butter.

  • Add 1 lb frozen ground beef and cook for 6-8 minutes, breaking up the block into smaller pieces as it cooks.

  • Flip and stir frequently, continuing to break up the meat until no longer frozen, about 10-12 minutes total.

  • Stir in any seasonings or sauces and cook 2-3 minutes more until heated through.

  • Use a thermometer to confirm the ground beef reaches 160°F internal temperature.

How to Cook Frozen Ground Beef in the Instant Pot

The Instant Pot steams frozen ground beef to perfection. Here’s how:

  • Pour 1 cup water into the Instant Pot and add a trivet.

  • Place 1 lb frozen ground beef on the trivet. Lock the lid.

  • Set to High Pressure for 20 minutes. Allow natural pressure release for 10 minutes.

  • Release remaining pressure. Drain water, season beef, and use as desired.

How to Cook Frozen Ground Beef in the Oven

Oven-cooking lets you prepare a large batch of frozen ground beef at once.

  • Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.

  • Arrange 2 lbs frozen ground beef in a single layer on the baking sheet.

  • Bake for 20-25 minutes, breaking up the meat and stirring every 8-10 minutes.

  • Cook until crumbled and browned, and internal temperature reaches 160°F.

  • Drain grease, season as desired, and use in recipes.

How to Grill Frozen Ground Beef

With a few easy steps, it’s possible to grill frozen ground beef:

  • Form 1 lb frozen ground beef into 4 patties, about 1/2 inch thick.

  • Grill over direct high heat, flipping once, until patties release easily from the grates, about 6-8 minutes per side.

  • Move patties to indirect heat and grill until internal temperature reaches 160°F, 5-7 minutes more.

  • Let rest 5 minutes before serving. Season and serve on buns.

Helpful Tips

  • For crumbles, aim for 1/2-inch pieces. For chili or pasta sauce, break up into smaller 1/4-inch crumbles.

  • Partially thaw in the refrigerator overnight for faster cooking if you have time.

  • Add a little oil to help facilitate browning. Butter provides great flavor.

  • Use a sturdy metal spatula to break up and stir meat as it cooks.

  • Drain grease after cooking or blot with paper towels to remove excess fat.

  • Cook any vegetables after ground beef. They usually only need 5-7 minutes.

5 Recipe Ideas for Frozen Ground Beef

Here are 5 recipes that work great with frozen ground beef:

1. Cheeseburger Skillet

Cook frozen ground beef on the stovetop. Add onions, tomato paste, mustard, and cheese. Serve over lettuce or pasta.

2. Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry

Prepare frozen ground beef in the Instant Pot. Toss with broccoli, soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, and ginger. Serve over rice.

3. Shepherd’s Pie

Brown frozen ground beef in the oven. Add to gravy with peas and carrots. Top with mashed potatoes and bake.

4. Beef Tacos

Grill frozen ground beef patties and crumble. Add taco seasoning and serve in tortillas with desired taco toppings.

5. Instant Pot Chili

Cook frozen ground beef in the Instant Pot. Add beans, tomatoes, onions, garlic, and spices. Serve with cornbread.


Can you brown frozen ground beef?

Yes, it is possible to brown frozen ground beef, but it may take more time. Use a hot pan and keep heat high to promote browning.

What’s the best way to thaw ground beef quickly?

To thaw quickly, place ground beef in cold water, changing water every 30 minutes until thawed. Or use the defrost setting on the microwave, stopping to break up meat.

Is it safe to cook frozen meat in the Instant Pot?

Yes, you can safely cook frozen meat like ground beef in the Instant Pot. The hot temperatures ensure the meat passes through the danger zone quickly.

Can you cook frozen hamburger patties on the grill?

Patties can be grilled directly from frozen. They may take a bit longer and not brown as evenly. Partially thawing first helps speed up cooking.

The Takeaway

Cooking ground beef straight from the frozen state is totally doable with a few simple tricks. Allow extra time, use high heat, break up the meat as it cooks, and season after. Frozen ground beef works great in skillet meals, the Instant Pot, baked casseroles, and more. With proper cooking methods, you’ll end up with safe, delicious results.

How to Cook Frozen Ground Beef


Can ground beef be cooked from frozen?

Raw or cooked meat, poultry or casseroles can be cooked or reheated from the frozen state. However, it will take approximately one and a half times as long to cook. For example, if fresh meat takes one hour to cook, the same meat cooked frozen would take 1 1/2 hours.

What happens if you don’t thaw ground beef?

Thawed ground beef cooks more evenly. Cooking ground beef while still partially frozen will result in the thawed portion cooking faster than the frozen portion. Additionally, as the frozen parts defrost, they will release water, which will make the already cooked meat soggy and tough.

How do you deal with frozen ground beef?

Defrost in the refrigerator. Place the zip-top bag with the frozen ground beef on a plate and move to the bottom shelf of the refrigerator. The meat will thaw in 1 to 2 hours. Cook or refreeze within 2 days.

How do you defrost ground beef quickly without cooking it?

You’re going to want to put your ground beef in a bowl. or in your sink and cover it with cold water. Water is a better conductor of heat, thus speeding up your thawing time. And remember, you should always use cold water. to avoid any bacteria growth. that may have been present before freezing.

Leave a Comment