Instant Pot Cooking Times Chart: Fresh Meals & Freezer Meals


While our cookbook, From Freezer to Cooker, doesn’t come out until January 2020, we wanted to give you some tracks to run on with how to cook your own fresh recipes or freezer meal recipes in the Instant Pot. Here is a very basic cooking times chart for fresh meals and freezer meals to you can get started!

Instant Pot Freezer Meal Cooking Times

We have spent the past 1 1/2 years testing hundreds of recipes for the Instant Pot for our forthcoming cookbook called From Freezer to Cooker (Jan 2020). During that time, we have honed in on the best timing and methods for cooking different types of meals in the Instant Pot. We are excited to share this valuable information with you today!

A few important reminders about cooking freezer meals in the Instant Pot:

  • Make sure to read our post about how to prepare and cook freezer meals in the Instant Pot.
  • In order for the 6 quart Instant Pot to work, it needs a minimum of 1 cup of liquid. If you have an 8 quart Instant Pot, it needs at least 1.5 cups of liquid.
  • Do not stack meat when freezing meals for the Instant Pot. This is especially true when it comes to chicken.
  • Use a meat thermometer like the one we recommend here to determine doneness.
  • You’ll find that this is not an exhaustive list of cooking times. We have narrowed it down to types of recipes that we cook the most often and that will be used in our forthcoming cookbook.
Stainless Steel Measuring Cups

Instant Pot Cooking Times: Fresh and Frozen

1-2 pounds Medium Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts (seasoned or in sauce/marinade):

Fresh: Lock and seal the lid. Cook for 7 minutes at high pressure and then quick release the pressure, or until chicken is cooked through. (Chicken is done when it has no more pink inside and/or registers 165°F internally.)

Frozen: Turn on the Saute function. Saute the frozen meal for 5 minutes to release some liquid. Press Cancel. Pressure cook for 15-20 minutes with a quick release, until chicken is cooked through. (Chicken is done when no longer pink inside and/or registers 165°F internally.)

Try these recipes:

 1-2 pounds Boneless Chicken Thighs (seasoned or in sauce/marinade)

Fresh: Lock and seal the lid. Cook for 7 minutes at high pressure and then quick release of the pressure, or until chicken is cooked through. (Chicken is done when it has no more pink inside and/or registers 165°F internally.)

Frozen: Turn on the Saute function. Saute the frozen meal for 5 minutes to release some liquid. Press Cancel. Pressure cook for 15-20 minutes with a quick release, until chicken is cooked through. (Chicken is done when no longer pink inside and/or registers 165°F internally.)

2 ½ – 3 pounds Bone-In Chicken Thighs and Drumsticks:

Fresh: Lock and seal the lid. Cook for 12 minutes at high pressure and then quick release of the pressure, or until chicken is cooked through. (Chicken is done when it has no more pink inside and/or registers 165°F internally.)

Frozen: Turn on the Saute function. Saute the frozen meal for 5 minutes to release some liquid. Press Cancel. Pressure cook for 17-22 minutes with a quick release, until chicken is cooked through. (Chicken is done when no longer pink inside and/or registers 165°F internally.

1 (2-4 pound) Boneless Beef Roast (seasoned or in sauce/marinade)

Fresh:  Cut the meat into 2×2-inch chunks (trimming off fat). Lock and seal the lid. Cook at high pressure for 30 minutes, with a 10 minute natural release and then quick release of the pressure. Remove the meat and shred with two forks.

Frozen: Turn on the Saute function. Saute the frozen meal for 5 minutes to release some liquid. Press Cancel. The frozen meat will cook the same amount of time as from fresh.

1 (3-4 pound) Pork Shoulder (also known as Boston Butt), trimmed

Fresh: Cut into four equal pieces. Lock and seal the lid. Cook at high pressure for 45 minutes. Naturally release the pressure for 10 minutes (or more if you prefer) and then use quick release.

Frozen: Turn on the Saute function. Saute the frozen meal for 5 minutes to release some liquid. Press Cancel. The frozen meat will cook the same amount of time as from fresh.

2 ½ – 3 pounds Pork Loin (not to be confused with Pork Shoulder!)

Fresh: Cook whole. Lock and seal the lid. Cook at high pressure for 27 minutes with 10 a minute natural release.

Frozen: Cut the pork loin into 3 equal parts. Turn on the Saute Function. Saute frozen meal for 5 minutes to release some liquid. Press Cancel. The frozen meat will cook the same amount of time as from fresh.

Whole Chicken (4-5 lbs):

Fresh: Add 1 cup of water in the bottom of the pot. Place the trivet/steam rack in the bottom of the pot and set the chicken on it, breast side down. Lock and seal the lid. Cook at high pressure for 24-30* minutes with natural release, which will take about 20 minutes. Check to make sure the chicken is done throughout (registers at least 165°F in the thickest part of the thigh, avoiding the bone). 

Frozen: Add 1 cup of water in the bottom of the pot. Place the steam rack in the bottom of the pot and set the chicken on it, breast side down. Lock and seal the lid. Cook for 40-50 minutes* with natural release, which will take about 20 minutes. Check to make sure the chicken is done throughout (registers at least 165°F in the thickest part of the thigh, avoiding the bone).

*General rule of thumb for a whole chicken is 6 minutes per pound for fresh chicken and 10 minutes per pound for frozen chicken. 

Soup (with 1-2 lbs raw, boneless, skinless chicken breasts/thighs in it):

Fresh: Lock and seal the lid. Cook for 6 minutes at high pressure and then quick release of the pressure. (Chicken is done when it has no more pink inside and/or registers 165°F internally.)

Frozen: Turn on the Saute function. Saute the frozen meal for 5 minutes to release some liquid. Press Cancel. Pressure cook for 22-27 minutes with a quick release, until chicken is cooked through. (Chicken is done when no longer pink inside and/or registers 165°F internally.)

Soup (Vegetarian–Broth-Based, Potato-Based, or Tomato-Based Soup):

Fresh: Lock and seal the lid. Cook for 7-10 minutes (depends on recipe) at high pressure and then quick release of the pressure. 

Frozen:  Turn on the Saute function. Saute the frozen meal for 5 minutes to release some liquid. Press Cancel. Pressure cook for 12-17 minutes with a quick release. 

Try these recipes:

Soup (with Cooked Ground Beef/Sausage/Turkey or Bean-Based):

Fresh: Lock and seal the lid. Cook for 7-10 minutes (depends on recipe) at high pressure with a quick release.

Frozen:  Turn on the Saute function. Saute the frozen meal for 5 minutes to release some liquid. Press Cancel. Pressure cook for 12-17 minutes with a quick release. 

Steel Cut Oats:

Fresh: Add oats and liquid. Lock and seal the lid. Cook for 12 minutes at high pressure with a quick release.

Frozen:  n/a. Simply freeze fully cooked oats and rewarm to eat.

Try these recipes:

You can download a printable version of our Instant Pot Cooking Times Chart here  that will look like the image below if that is more helpful to you.

We hope this is super helpful to you and your Instant Pot cooking adventures. If you need some recipe ideas, make sure to swing by our recipe index and try some Instant Pot Recipes out. 


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