During lockdown and the good weather many people have been having BBQ’s and also just self catering. A question we have been asked many times is:
To make it easier for you to find the answer you want, we’ve made a list of the most asked questions. Just click on the highlighted text to jump straight to the answer you want or you can simply scroll down.
If the frozen food you want to know about is not there, then we have added a general section that hopefully will answer your query.
The most commonly asked questions about cooking food from frozen are:
Before we start answering the above questions you may want to know the frozen food you are going to cook has been stored correctly and at the correct temperature. We cover this in our article.
If you are looking to gain a qualification in food hygiene or food safety. Then further information on these can be found in our food hygiene and safety product data sheets.
A very important point is that there is a difference in advice between England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland about core temperatures. This article refers to and uses the recommended core temperature in E, W & N.I. of 70°C for at least 2 minutes. The advice in Scotland is 75°C for at least 2 minutes.
Most bacteria grow best in the ‘Danger Zone’ between 8°C and 60°C. Below 8°C, growth is stopped or significantly slowed down. Above 60°C the bacteria start to die. Time and temperature are related because higher heat levels need less time for the bacteria to be killed.
Standard advice in England, Wales and Northern Ireland is to cook food until it has reached 70°C and stayed at that temperature for 2 minutes.
Here are some other time and temperature combinations:
60°C for 45 minutes
65°C for 10 minutes
70°C for 2 minutes
75°C for 30 seconds
80°C for 6 seconds
So, let’s get started with the top most frequently asked question.
A: If they are bought as frozen sausages then they are designed to be cooked from frozen. Simply follow the instructions on the packet. As long as the middle of the sausage reaches 70°C for at least 2 minutes then they are safe to eat.
Sausages that you have frozen yourself will usually all be stuck together in a big lump. These will have to be thawed out to separate them, but not because you cannot cook from frozen, just make sure the core temperature reaches 70°C for at least 2 minutes.
Typically frozen sausages will take about 10-15 minutes to cook through in a frying pan, BBQ or grill but different thicknesses will vary the time. Whether you are BBQ, grilling or frying turn the sausages over half way through cooking to brown both sides of your sausages and ensure an even internal temperature.
A: Mince comes in many forms such as minced beef, pork, lamb, turkey, Quorn and other vegetarian mince products. All mince products can be cooked from frozen.
Remember that whole cuts of meat, such as steaks and joints, only ever have bacteria on the outside surface of the meat. But when meat is minced harmful bacteria from the surface of the meat can spread throughout the mince. So it is important that all the minced meat gets thoroughly cooked.
To cook frozen mince in a pan, set a low temperature and move it around until the mince has broken up. Then turn up the temperature and continue until it is all evenly cooked.
A: Although the most frequently asked question is about frozen salmon, in fact the question should just be.
Because the answer is yes, all fish can be cooked from frozen. Frozen Mackerel, Herring, Cod,Haddock or Hake, you name it they all can be cooked direct from frozen.
Just add a few minutes to the cook time in your recipe to account for the lack of thawing, then poach, steam, bake, broil or grill fish straight from the freezer!
Pre-cooked frozen fish will usually have directions on the packaging - but all that is required is that the centre of the fish is warmed to how you like it.
For information on cooking shellfish from frozen see the answer for: Can you cook prawns from frozen?
Shellfish such as prawns, shrimps, squid, and mussels can be bought singly or in mixed bags. Items in their shells, like mussels, may need cooking to open their shells.
When shellfish such as prawns, shrimps or squid has been pre-cooked and frozen. Then you can add direct to any recipe and just warm through or even eat cold, it’s entirely up to you.
If shellfish has not been pre-cooked then it should be cooked so that the centre of the meat reaches 70°C for at least 2 minutes. Since most shellfish is quite small it can be cooked directly from frozen with no need to thaw out so long as the 2 minute rule is observed.
A: Yes, bacon can be cooked from frozen. Fry, grill or BBQ the bacon on low heat until the rashers can be separated. Increase the heat and cook to how you like it..
Other types of frozen pork such as Gammon, pork chops, pork loin and small pork joints can also be cooked directly from frozen. Food Standards Agency advice is that all pork products should be thoroughly cooked and not served ‘rare’ or ‘pink’.
Just remember, as with other meats, the cooking time may take about 50% longer than thawed pork products or fresh. All pork products including pork sausages should reach a core temperature of 70°C for at least 2 minutes to be safe.
A: Yes. It is perfectly safe to cook beef from frozen. As well as frozen steak, other beef cuts and joints.
Whole cuts of meat, such as steaks and joints, only ever have bacteria on the outside surface of the meat. So, as long as the outside of the meat gets seared then the inside does not necessarily have to reach the recommended core temperature.
However a rolled joint, mince beef, burger or meatball may have bacteria throughout the product. So, it is important for these products not to be served pink and the relevant core temperature of 70°C or 75°C for at least 2 minutes to be achieved.
Cooking time will be approximately 50% longer than the recommended time for fully thawed or fresh meat.
A: This is not a straight yes or no answer.
Small pieces of chicken, diced or sliced, can be cooked straight from frozen. Providing, as always, that the meat reaches a core temperature of 70°C for at least 2 minutes to destroy any harmful bacteria.
Chicken breasts, larger pieces of frozen chicken and whole frozen birds may be cooked in the oven. Remember to allow a 50% longer cooking time than for thawed or fresh chicken.
Roasting or baking is the safest method to cook a chicken directly from frozen. Because it heats the chicken fast enough to prevent dangerous bacterial growth.
To cook a frozen chicken in the oven:
Stand at room temperature for 20-30 minutes.
Cook at 150°C to thaw and cook the chicken.
For a small whole bird you will need to cook at this temperature for at least 1 hour and 30 minutes. (BUT this will depend on the weight of your chicken so always read the packaging for further guidance).
Finally cook at 200°C for a further 15 minutes and preferably check that the safe core temperature of 70°C has been reached.
Remember that you will need to add 50% more cooking time to a chicken recipe when you cook your chicken from frozen instead of thawing it first.
It is not recommended to cook larger pieces of chicken or large whole birds from frozen. Because usually there is insufficient cooking time to ensure that the meat reaches a core temperature of 70°C. It is far more likely that the outside of the chicken will cook but the centre will only warm up allowing harmful bacteria to thrive but not be killed off.
Again it is not recommended to cook frozen chicken in a slow cooker. Due to the risk of harmful bacteria (germs) growing and not being killed by high heat.
A: Yes you can cook pork chops from frozen. You can also cook lamb chops from frozen and beef ribs.
You can grill, BBQ,fry, oven bake, roast or microwave your frozen chops. Cooking times will be 50% longer than if fresh or thawed out. Ensure that the middle reaches 70°C for at least 2 minutes to destroy any harmful bacteria.
Food Standards Agency advice is that all pork products should be thoroughly cooked and not served ‘rare’ or ‘pink’. This advice does not apply to lamb chops or beef ribs.
A: Yes, you can cook burgers from frozen, but burgers served rare or undercooked may contain harmful bacteria that could cause food poisoning. So, it is very important that they are cooked right through.
Before serving a burger whether cooked from fresh or frozen always check that:
they're steaming hot all the way through
when you cut into the centre, none of the meat is pink
any juices run clear
the middle reaches 70°C for at least 2 minutes (75°C if you are in Scotland)
This is often the case for large joints of pork, rolled beef joints and large poultry. There is then an increased risk of food poisoning.
Always check the food’s packaging for defrosting instructions. Thaw out as instructed before cooking any of these products.