The whole point of owning a Crock-Pot is convenience. In a perfect world (and with the perfect recipe), you’ll throw all your ingredients in your pot, turn it on, and whip out an amazing meal a few hours later.
Of course, no one wants to chop, dice, or do any kind of prep work in advance—and that includes waiting for a damn frozen chicken to thaw. As such, the internet is filled with recipes that you can use for frozen chicken that largely consist of throwing it in a pot, adding some ingredients, and walking away.
Here’s the thing: You’re actually not supposed to cook frozen chicken in your Crock-Pot. I know. Ugh.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) spells this out on its website in a section called “Slow Cookers and Food Safety.” In it, the USDA says that slow cookers as a whole are safe (phew!). But then they drop this info: “Always thaw meat or poultry before putting it into a slow cooker.”
They also double down in a page on their website about chicken safety with this nugget: “Do not cook frozen chicken in a slow cooker or in the microwave; thaw it before cooking.”
It all boils down to bacteria, the USDA explains. Your slow cooker is slow to warm up (hence, the name) and it can take several hours to reach a temp that’s considered “bacteria-killing.” Chicken needs to reach an internal temp of 165 degrees before it’s considered safe to eat and, if it spends too much time thawing out, bacteria like salmonella and staphylococcus aureus can grow and thrive, the USDA says. While you probably won’t die, you might feel like death after all the vomiting and diarrhea.
Sure, it’s a total PIA, but the USDA recommends either thawing your frozen chicken in the fridge or putting it in an airtight bag and submerging it in cold water that you change out every 30 minutes (or you can just put the chicken in a bowl in the sink and run cold water over it). Then, you can put it in your Crock-Pot and go about your life.
(Note: Women’s Health reached out to Crock-Pot for comment, but did not receive a response.)
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