Freezer Cooking – Ground Beef in the Crock Pot

One thing I like to do to help cut down on meal prep time is have pre-cooked meats in the freezer. I will usually buy chicken, ground turkey, and ground beef in bulk. I often use my crock pot to cook my chicken, that I will shred and freeze for use in recipes/casseroles/soup. However, I have always cooked my ground beef and turkey on the stove top, usually only a pound or two at a time. It never occurred to me that I could use my slow cooker, until I saw it on Pinterest! (Pin source) One of the many reasons I am addicted to pinning :-)

This is not a recipe per se, just a shortcut for cooking in bulk.  The above picture is 3 lbs of 90/10 lean ground beef, with seasonings (salt, pepper, McCormick Grill Mates Hamburger Seasoning, and dried onion) and about half of a large chopped onion.  You could easily add taco seasoning, Italian seasonings, or leave it plain.  My crock pot could have held much more ground beef too, but this is what I had on hand.  I cooked this on high for 4 hours (this may vary depending on your cooker and the amount of beef used, and if it was fresh or frozen), giving it a stir once an hour.  You may not need to stir it that often, but it will need to be stirred on occasion and the clumps broken up.  After the meat was cooked, I drained the meat (which was pretty lean and didn’t produce a lot of grease) and allowed it too cool.  Then I divided it into 3 equal amounts (since I used 3 lbs.) and placed it in freezer bags.  SO much simpler than standing over a stove top!

I hope you find this little tip as helpful as I did.  {Looking for ideas to use all that ground beef?  Check out Eat at Home Ingredient Spotlight: Ground Beef!}

KimM is a contributing writer for Eat at Home. See more from her at her blog Makin’ it Mo’Betta, and follow along on Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter!

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Comments

  1. What a great idea! I never would have thought of this! Love Pinterest!

  2. Great tip! I can see how this would expedite lots of recipes in the future =)

  3. I have been doing this for some time. I usually just measure out the cooked ground beef by the cupful and put that into a sandwich bag and then all the filled sandwich bags into a larger zip lock. That way I don’t have freezer burn. I find a cup is just about right for most recipes for my husband and me. I also do the same thing with chicken breasts. I cook them in the crock pot and then freeze them individually in sandwich bags inside a larger ziplock. You get a good deal of chicken stock, too, which I freeze in freezer jars.

  4. Just found 2# of ground beef lurking in my freezer that I MUST use up this week. What a great idea…especially not having to wait for it to defrost!!!

  5. I’ve been doing this for years and usually do 5 pounds at a time. It is a huge time saver and eliminates some of the mess when preparing a fast meal. I usually do mine all plain because I never know what I might do with it. By the way I love your recipes and ideas. Good practical recipes that are easy to follow and find the ingredients.

  6. Love, love, love this. My crockpot is a lifesaver and batch cooking is even better!

  7. I did this for the first time yesterday! I did 2 lbs frozen; added salt, pepper and chopped onion. I did add some water as I wanted/needed beef broth! What a wonderful idea this is! I cooked it on high for about 2 hours; perfectly seasoned meat and perfectly seasoned broth too!

    I have often cooked bulk chicken in the crockpot and now I can do ground beef! I love the fact that it did not make the mess that frying it up makes….and my house smelled more aromatic too than frying meat!

  8. Do you think this method would work for cooking large batches of ground breakfast or hot Italian sausage, or would it be too greasy? Would the times differ?

    • One thing you might try for greasy meats, is to loosely ball up tinfoil and put in the bottom of your crockpot; that way, your meat won’t be sitting in the grease. The tinfoil keeps the meat up out of most of the grease. If you try it, let us know how the tinfoil worked. That is all I can think of for the moment. :)

    • I haven’t tried it, but I don’t see why you couldn’t do sausage the same way. If there is a lot of grease, just drain it (and rinse if desired) after it has finished cooking. Since the ground meat needs to be stirred to break up the clumps of meat, I don’t think the tin foil method Sharon mentioned would work…however it’s a great tip! As far as time goes, it will depend on how much you are cooking at once and if it is fresh or frozen, but I think the times should be basically the same.

      • I have used the tinfoil method for turkey breast, chicken and ground beef. So far, I have not had problems with using it to keep the food up and out of the grease.

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