How to cook frozen stew meat Instant Pot style so it turns out tender and juicy simmered in a thick flavorful gravy. Perfect protein packed meal.
Forgetful and don’t always remember to defrost meat for dinner? Me too!! Frozen stew meat Instant Pot instructions are simple and you’d never know it was rock hard to begin with. You’ve gotta’ try this in your pressure cooker tonight. One of the easy Instant Pot recipes we have on the blog this week. (affiliate links present)
How to Cook Frozen Stew Meat
THIS is seriously the only way you should do it. Using high pressure for about an hour you too can get the tenderest pieces of beef. This may be a really cheap Instant Pot recipe but nobody would guess it. We have made several Instant Pot stew meat recipes in the past but this turned out surprisingly well.
I have done this with all different types of protein. That is why I put together this list of how to cook frozen meat in Instant Pot post.
Let’s start with a few basic tips:
- Make sure to Bookmark our InstaPot recipes page. We add new ones each week!
- Then PRINT this —–> Instant Pot cooking times cheat sheet that will help you understand how long meat, vegetables and beans take to cook in your pressure cooker.
For reference, this is the pressure cooker I have and use for all recipe creations.
How to Cook Beef Stew Meat
We have used this cut in many ways. Why? It is SO cheap that it just tempts me at the store saying “make me!” every time I see it. I have learned a few things about it though.
Submerged in some sort of liquid, onion gravy is probably our favorite, this gets more tender the longer it cooks. Yes you could do the same thing on the stovetop or in a dutch oven in the oven but it would take WAY longer. This method does take one intervention in the middle to break it up but the other would take a lot more of your time.
I am all about easy one pot meal ideas so let’s just go with this one shall we? Even with the “stop in the middle to break it up” time cooking frozen meat this way is done in a little over an hour. Any other method will take 4x that long so to me it is really a no brainer as to which I would choose over and over again.
Whether you find this one sale and freeze it in a freezer bag, or buy meat in bulk like we do from local farmers and get it in paper the same directions apply. The pieces will be stuck together in a big clump either way. This means you will need to break it up after about 25 minutes so the inner pieces cook evenly and get soft too.
To make things easier I add a few gravy packets right into the broth when cooking, leaving one for later to thicken it up. You can use some, all or none of these. The biggest difference will be the amount of flavor your meat will have with or without it, and how thick the sauce will be. Here is what you’ll need to get going:
- Frozen stew meat – 1.5-2 pounds feeds the 5 of us served with sides
- 2-3 gravy packets – These aren’t necessary if you don’t want it thick and simply want to cook them to tender
- Beef broth – You could very well use water instead but seriously the meat will have ZERO flavor
- Seasonings are a must – If you leave them as is it won’t taste like much. I suppose if you were just making this for your dog you would leave as is with nothing but we’re talking dinner for humans here.
I use garlic salt and pepper with a pinch of salt and pepper when serving too. If you have a favorite steak seasoning then by all means use that. There are tons of seasoning options out there when it comes to beef.
My wrapped packages come in about 1 lb. increments so I throw in two of them at a time. You want to whisk the dry gravy mix in with the broth before pouring it in so it is well incorporated. If not the powder may stick to the bottom and trigger the burn notice.
You could easily slice an onion and throw that in too for texture and flavor. I didn’t at the time because I was just really focusing on how long it takes to cook frozen stew meat.
Like I said, you could just add the broth and seasonings and skip the thickener, gravy, all together if you preferred. That would of course have less calories but very little flavor so you do the math. We want tasty feel good meals at our house so this is a must. Even my picky husband gave this a resounding thumbs up made as stated below.
You can find packets in the grocery store alongside the canned beans typically. There are tons of varieties to make chili, pot roast, alfredo and this popular sauce during the holidays. I always have several of each on hand because it has “all the things” together and all I have to do is pour it right in. Means EASY dinners for us.
What to do with Stew Meat
Seriously you can make all sorts of things with this. Recipes using stew meat are broad and you can use any method you like really. I prefer my Crockpot and IP myself because it means the least prep and work for me. There is a printable recipe below with exact ingredients you will need but here is a quick rundown for you to get started.
Time needed: 1 hour.
Frozen Stew Meat Instant Pot
Unwrap frozen stew meat and set inside your pressure cooker. (you will not be able to brown beef as you normally would but that is ok) In a bowl whisk together your broth and 2 packets of dry gravy mix. Pour this on top of your meat.
Seal lid and steam valve and cook on high pressure for 25 minutes cook time with a 10 minute natural release. Quick release rest of pressure and break up meat so it is now submerged into the liquid below. Add garlic salt and pepper, stir.
If you want a thick gravy at the end, take out some of the hot liquid and whisk with the last gravy packet. Pour this in.
- Pressure cook again
Seal lid and steam valve again and set to high pressure again for 35 minutes. Allow for a 10 minute natural release, then release remaining pressure.
Remove the lid and serve tender beef over rice or mashed potatoes. This is what it looks like if you do not add the dry gravy mix. At the top you can see how much thicker it is with them added. I think not only does the sauce add flavor but makes it a bit more fork tender as well.
You can do part of it too. For a bit more flavor but not so much that it thickens you can add the 2 at the beginning and skip the third in the middle. A cornstarch slurry can thicken it up even further if desired at the end too using the saute mode.
Yes! I hope we answered this question here in this post, and the best way to do just that. You could add large chunks of carrots in the second pressure cooking step as well if you wanted.
Small whole potatoes and/or frozen peas would work as well at that time.
Unlike defrosting for an hour or more and risking your meat getting bacteria by doing so, cooking from frozen can actually be safer. Timing will vary slightly if your ball of meat is significantly thicker than mine but that would be rare. Ours is a large 1 pound hunk almost like a softball.
Looking to cook Instant Pot beef stew with meat that isn’t rock hard? You can totally do that too. 😉 In about 20 minutes you’ll get the perfect texture if it is fresh or defrosted meat…if you’ve remembered to take it out. lol This method is a bit easier to add vegetables into since it isn’t cooking quite as long.
How do you defrost stew meat?
If you do want to try to cook it without it being rock hard you can try these tricks. Keep meat in it’s air tight bag and submerge in cold water. Change it every 30 minutes as it will become very chilled and you want it cool but closer to room temperature to defrost it. This may take two rotations so an hour or so to work.
Can you thaw frozen meat in microwave?
You can but it isn’t as safe as cooking from frozen this way below or defrosting in cool water. If your machine does have a defrost button you can use that. Set on a microwave safe dish and input how much it weighs. It generally will calculate itself how long it will take and will set to 50% power or so.
- Just cook from frozen like this or making beef chuck roast slow cooker recipe. From rock hard to tender.
How long can you keep meat in the freezer?
Great question especially if you want to buy a bunch when you find it on sale and store for later. We do this with a deep freezer in the garage. Just separate into 1 lb. chunks and put into freezer bags. Or with frozen chuck roast Instant Pot style you can freeze as is.
- They will last a good 4-5 months which means you could make this and our Instant Pot beef stew casserole quite a few times.
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Frozen Beef in Instant Pot
Follow directions as stated for best results. Do not skip the step of breaking up the meat halfway thru or it will be tougher than you’d like it to be at the end. This I might admit is even better the next day too! Make sure to store in a sealed container with gravy and reheat in the microwave in 30 second increments, it’s a great next day lunch.
Frozen Stew Meat Instant Pot
- Unwrap frozen stew meat and set inside your pressure cooker. In a bowl whisk together your broth and 2 packets of dry gravy mix. Pour this on top of your meat.
- Seal lid and steam valve and cook on high pressure for 25 minutes with a 10 minute natural release. Release rest of pressure and break up meat so it is now submerged into the liquid below. Add garlic salt and pepper, stir.
- If you want a thick gravy at the end, take out some of the hot liquid and whisk with the last gravy packet. Pour this in.
- Seal lid and steam valve again and set to high pressure again for 35 minutes. Allow for a 10 minute natural release, then release rest of pressure.
- Lift lid and serve over rice or mashed potatoes.