But it turns out there’s one thing the popular appliance is not good for: cooking frozen chicken. In fact, according to the USDA, it’s a mistake that could put your health at risk.
Here’s why: Even if you’ve triple-checked that your chicken is fully cooked (meaning it has reached an internal temperature of 165 degrees), bacteria tends to flourish at temperatures from 40 to 140 degrees, aka the “danger zone” to culinary pros. When you start with icy meat, it takes longer to reach 165 degrees. And those pesky bacteria (like salmonella and Staphylococcus aureus) will multiply within minutes.
Our first thought: Don’t the bacteria die once the meat is fully cooked? Sure, says the USDA, but the disease-causing toxins the bacteria release are heat-resistant. Hello, food-borne illness. Surprisingly, however, the Crock-Pot website says there’s no need to thaw frozen foods before cooking them.
Our advice? Better to be safe than sorry. We’ll be thawing those boneless skinless breasts first (safely, in the fridge), thank you very much.