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Easy Instant Pot Jambalaya

By Rachel Tiemeyer

Our 3-step Instant Pot Jambalaya recipe is incredibly flavorful and so easy! Serve over brown rice for a healthy, gluten-free, dairy-free dinner. Freezing instructions included.

multi image with instant pot jambalaya in a bowl, in a freezer bag and in the Instant Pot

This Instant Pot jambalaya recipe was inspired by one of my favorite people in the world–my dad! He’s been making and honing this Cajun specialty dish for some time now. In fact, his slow cooker version called “Curt’s Slow Cooker Jambalaya” made it into our first cookbook, From Freezer to Table. Let me tell you, he really knocked it out of the park!

So with dad’s original recipe as my basis and my Instant Pot know-how (Did you know Polly and I published a whole cookbook full of Instant Pot recipes, too?), this Easy Instant Pot Jambalaya came to life.

Why I Love Jambalaya in the Instant Pot

In case you need some convincing, let me tell you why it’s totally worth throwing this dish together.

Jambalaya with chicken and andouille sausage over rice in a bowl
  1. It’s super easy! This “dump and go” meal only requires three steps, a handful of ingredients, and about 30 minutes from start to finish.
  2. Delicious! The combo of all the vegetables, the andouille sausage, and seasonings create a complex flavor explosion in your mouth without much work.
  3. It makes a LOT. This can feed a large group or you can freeze half a batch for another meal later.
  4. Speaking of freezing, this makes a great freezer meal. I’ll teach you the best method for freezing below.
  5. Really healthy! It’s naturally gluten-free and dairy-free, full of vegetables, lean protein, and is served over fiber-rich brown rice.

What is Jambalaya and What’s in this Recipe?

Jambalaya was born in Louisiana and is filled with a combo of sweet, spicy, and smoky flavors that make it stand out from other one-pot dishes. The Spruce Eats says, “Although the exact origin of jambalaya is unknown, it is most likely the result of multiple ethnicities mingling in the port city of New Orleans centuries ago.” There are two versions of the dish:

  • Cajun – Called “brown jambalaya” that doesn’t contain tomatoes.
  • Creole – Known as “red jambalaya” that does have tomatoes.
Jambalaya with chicken and andouille sausage in a freezer bag

My recipe falls under the Creole category because I used tomatoes. I tried to keep it pretty lean and healthy while also packing in big taste! Here are the simple ingredients you’ll find in it:

Onions, Green Bell Peppers, and Celery – This combo of veggies is known as the “holy trinity” in Cajun cooking. It’s also known to make your house smell amazing while they cook.

Andouille Sausage – A Cajun sausage that infuses the other ingredients in the pot with spice and smoke. I opted to slice up some all-natural, fully-cooked andouille as a short-cut for this recipe.

Boneless, skinless chicken breasts – This lean cut gets infused with flavor and doesn’t dry out thanks to the Instant Pot. But, you can use boneless, skinless thighs instead to add in a little more fat (read: more flavor).

Fire-roasted diced tomatoes – If you can find canned fire-roasted tomatoes in the store, they add complexity to this dish and are my favorite. But, if you can’t, look for petite diced tomatoes instead.

Chicken broth – You can either make your own or buy some at the store. I really like the Swanson brand. It tastes homemade and doesn’t have all the yucky additives.

Cajun seasoning – My dad swears by Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning but use whatever kind you like. This seasoning adds in salt, black and red pepper, chili powder, and garlic.

Dried herbs – A combo of dried oregano and thyme round out the seasoning. Make sure you have these in your pantry.

A lot of jambalaya recipes also call for shrimp. You can easily stir in some pre-cooked shrimp at the end of the cook time, if you want. Or, you can use uncooked shrimp and boil the jambalaya for a few minutes using the “Saute” function, until the shrimp is just cooked through. I decided to keep things simple and exclude it myself.

How to Make Jambalaya in the Instant Pot

Jambalaya with chicken and andouille sausage in the Instant Pot with a bowl of wild rice on the side
  1. Stir in the Ingredients: Add the chopped veggies, tomatoes, broth, chicken, sausage, Cajun seasoning, oregano, and thyme to the Instant Pot. Stir.
  2. Pressure Cook: Lock and seal the lid. Cook at high pressure for 7 minutes, then quick release the pressure. (Note: It will take about 10-15 minutes for the IP to come to pressure before starting the cook cycle.)
  3. Serve: Stir and serve warm over cooked rice. Top with hot sauce, if desired.

How do you Freeze Jambalaya?

One of THE best qualities of the Instant Pot, in my humble opinion, is that you can cook frozen meals directly in it. That’s not the case with the slow cooker, according to the USDA! Seriously, don’t put frozen food in your crockpot.

We recommend freezing this jambalaya dish before pressure cooking it, so it turns out tasting just like a fresh meal. Since this is a big batch meal that feeds at least 8 people, one idea is to freeze half the batch and cook the rest for dinner. The cook time will NOT change if you do this.

How to Freeze For Later:

Add the veggies, tomatoes, broth, chicken, sausage, and seasonings to one or two gallon-sized freezer bags or round containers. Seal and freeze. (Tip: If using a freezer bag, set it in a bowl or round container with a diameter similar to the Instant Pot so it will fit in the pot when frozen.)

How to Prepare From Frozen:

Set the Instant Pot to “Sauté.” Transfer the frozen meal to the pot and cook for 5 minutes to release some liquid. Press “Cancel.” Cook at high pressure for 17-22 minutes. (I usually start at the lower time recommendation. Check to make sure the chicken registers 165°F internally or is no longer pink inside. If it’s not done, cook at high pressure another 2 minutes and check again.) Serve warm over rice.

Want More Freezer Meals for the Instant Pot?

We’ve got you covered. Hop over to this post highlighting 20+ Best of the Best Freezer Meals for the Instant Pot. It includes freezer meal instructions for EVERY recipe plus tons of pro tips and tricks we’ve learned over the years.

How to Serve Instant Pot Jambalaya

Jambalaya with chicken and andouille sausage over rice in a bowl with a spoon

Serve over brown rice or quinoa and you will have a delicious, nutritious dinner. If you want to go completely grain-free, try serving it over cauliflower rice. Top with a little hot sauce, if you want to kick up the heat.

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Jambalaya with chicken and andouille sausage over rice in a bowl

Easy Instant Pot Jambalaya

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 10
  • Cook Time: 20
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 8 servings 1x
  • Method: Instant Pot
  • Cuisine: Cajun
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Description

Our 3 step Instant Pot Jambalaya recipe is incredibly flavorful and so easy! Serve over brown rice for a healthy, gluten-free, dairy-free dinner. Freezing instructions included.


Ingredients

  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 2 green bell peppers, seeded and diced
  • 1 cup thinly sliced celery
  • 2 (14.5 ounce) cans fire-roasted, diced tomatoes (Sub: petite diced tomatoes)
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 11.25 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1″ cubes (Sub: boneless, skinless chicken thighs)
  • 1214 ounces precooked, all-natural andouille sausage, thickly sliced (Sub: andouille chicken sausage)
  • 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning (Recommended: Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning)
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano, crushed in hand
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed in hand
  • 8 cups cooked brown rice (Sub: cooked long-grain white rice, quinoa, or cauliflower rice)
  • Hot sauce, optional for serving

Instructions

Make It Now:

  1. Into the Instant Pot, add the onion, bell peppers, celery, tomatoes, broth, diced chicken, sliced sausage, Cajun seasoning, oregano, and thyme. (Do not add the rice.) Stir to combine. 
  2. Lock and seal the lid. Cook at high pressure for 7 minutes, then quick release the pressure*. (Note: It will take about 10-15 minutes for the IP to come to pressure before starting the cook cycle.)
  3. Stir and serve the jambalaya mixture over rice. Top with hot sauce, if desired.

*This is a good time to make a quick-cooking rice on the stovetop, if you aren’t using the pre-cooked rice from the store.

Freeze For Later:

Add the veggies, tomatoes, broth, chicken, sausage, and seasonings to a gallon-sized freezer bag or round container. Seal and freeze. (Tip: If using a freezer bag, set it in a bowl or round container with a diameter similar to the Instant Pot so it will fit in the pot when frozen.)

Prepare From Frozen:

Note: You will need to have cooked rice on hand to complete this meal. Set the Instant Pot to “Sauté.” Transfer the frozen meal to the pot and cook for 5 minutes to release some liquid. Press “Cancel.” Follow step 3, but cook for 17-22 minutes. (Check to make sure the chicken registers 165°F internally or is no longer pink inside. If it’s not done, cook at high pressure another 2 minutes and check again.) Follow step 4.


Notes

Chopping Tip: Be sure to chop the veggies all about the same size and fairly small, since we aren’t sautéing them at the beginning. That way they cook at the same rate and get cooked through. 

Freezing Tip: Since this is a big batch meal, you may want to freeze half the batch for later and make the rest now. Note: If you divide the batch in half, you will NOT have to adjust the cook time. It will cook at the same rate.

Heat Level: I would say this dish is moderately spicy. If you’re sensitive to heat (or are making this for kids), I suggest only using half of the Cajun seasoning. You can always add more hot sauce to individual servings later, if needed.

Can I cook the rice in the Instant Pot with everything else? I did not test it this way because I like the texture of rice cooked on the stove for the exact amount of time better. However, you could throw some Instant Brown Rice (not the long cooking rice!) in with the other ingredients before pressure cooking, and it will work out okay…just not perfectly. And I like perfectly. 🙂 

How to Add in Shrimp: You can easily stir in some precooked shrimp at the end of the cook time, if you want. Or, you can use uncooked shrimp and boil the jambalaya after pressure cooking for a few minutes. To do this, turn on the “Saute” function, stir, and cook until the shrimp is just cooked through. It won’t take long. P.S. I recommend using peeled, deveined shrimp to make your life much easier!

Want to Stock Your Freezer with 6 Meals in 1 Hour?

Try our SUPER POPULAR 1 Hour Freezer Prep sessions. We give you everything you need to throw together 6 delicious, family-sized freezer meals in just 1 hour! Anyone can do it with our simple instructions, organized shopping list, and pre-filled out freezer labels.

Instant Pot Chicken Nachos

By Polly Conner

Our Instant Pot Chicken Nachos are a great starter meal for the Instant Pot.

We teach you how to make this easy Instant Pot meal from fresh or straight from frozen. The best part about the recipe is that you can customize it how you want and it is a great recipe for large groups.

Freezer friendly Instant Pot nachos on a baking sheet

“I have an Instant Pot. Now I just need things to make in it.”

I can’t tell you how many people I’ve encountered who have an Instant Pot but feel a little stuck. Either they are too intimidated by all of the functions or simply don’t know what recipe to start with.

As cookbook authors of, From Freezer to Cooker, we can assure you that we have tested loads of amazing Instant Pot recipes (which are also freezer friendly). We’ve learned the ins and outs of the Instant Pot and have even perfected how to prep freezer meals for the Instant Pot. This Instant Pot Chicken Nacho recipe works both from fresh and from frozen!

How Long do I Cook Chicken in the Instant Pot?

Boneless, skinless chicken breasts don’t need long in the Instant Pot. You’ll pressure cook the chicken breasts and sauce for just 7 minutes. Then, use a quick release of the pressure. That’s usually all you need, otherwise you’ll dry out your chicken. But, be sure to check to make sure the chicken is done using a meat thermometer. It should register 165°F internally. Or, another way to check for doneness is to make sure there is no more pink inside when you cut into it.

Shredded chicken on a cutting board

During our two years of research and testing, we learned EXACTLY how long to cook meals in the Instant Pot both from fresh OR from frozen. Be sure to download and print off our Cheat Sheet here. It’s so helpful to have inside your cabinet.

Close up of Instant Pot chicken nachos

Can I Make These in the Slow Cooker?

We know you love versatility! Yes, these can easily be made in the slow cooker as well. Just follow the recipe below and instead of cooking them in the Instant Pot, just cook them on low in the slow cooker for about 3. 5 hours. Just make sure you don’t overcook your chicken!

How to Serve Instant Pot Nachos

For dinner of course! Why not? It has protein, veggies, and each family member can customize their portion with a variety of Mexican toppings, like shredded lettuce, guacamole, diced tomatoes, sour cream, salsa, etc. 

Side dish ideas include cut up fruit, raw veggie sticks with our Creamy Southwest Ranch Sauce, or our Fiesta Chopped Salad

Close up of instant pot chicken nachos

How to Make it a Freezer Meal

Nachos? A freezer meal?

Yes! Well, kinda. To make Instant Pot Nachos a freezer meal, you’ll just prep and freeze the seasoned chicken before cooking it in the Instant Pot.

Freeze For Later: Place seasoned chicken, salsa, lime juice, and cilantro into a gallon-sized freezer bag or round container. (Make sure to not stack the chicken.) Seal and freeze alongside a bag of shredded cheese. Tip: Set the freezer bag in a bowl in the freezer for a few hours to help it freeze in the shape of the Instant Pot.

Prepare From Frozen: Note: You will need chips and your favorite suggested toppings to complete this meal. Turn on the Saute function. Saute the frozen meal for 5 minutes to release some liquid. Press Cancel. Cook for 15-20 minutes with a quick release.

Instant Pot Nachos Freezer Meal

Want More Freezer Meals for the Instant Pot?

We’ve got you covered. Hop over to this post highlighting 20+ Best of the Best Freezer Meals for the Instant Pot. It includes freezer meal instructions for EVERY recipe plus tons of pro tips and tricks we’ve learned over the years.

Mix It Up!

The chicken in this nacho recipe is really versatile! Try one of these alternate ways of serving the cooked chicken.

  • Create a Chicken Burrito Bowl by serving the chicken and your favorite Mexican toppings over rice or quinoa. 
  • Make quesadillas with the chicken and cheese on whole wheat, corn, or gluten-free tortillas. 
  • Top a salad with this chicken, corn, black beans, shredded cheddar cheese, and cherry tomatoes. Use our Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette as the dressing.
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Instant Pot Chicken Nachos

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 7 minutes
  • Total Time: 12 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: Mexican
  • Method: Instant Pot
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Instant Pot Chicken Nachos: A simple, lime-infused marinade for chicken breasts produces flavorful and moist shredded chicken with a hint of heat. Use it atop baked nachos, which come together in just minutes.


Ingredients

  • 1 ½ pounds medium boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 tablespoon taco seasoning (p. ?)
  • 2 cups of mild salsa (or medium, if you want a little more heat)
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed lime juice (about 2 small limes)
  • ⅓ cup of chopped cilantro
  • Half a bag of tortilla chips
  • 2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese
  • Optional Toppings: avocado, sour cream or plain Greek yogurt, shredded cheese, salsa, lime wedges, fresh chopped cilantro, chopped tomatoes

Instructions

  1. Season all sides of the chicken with taco seasoning. (Freezing instructions begin here.)
  2. Place chicken, salsa, lime juice, and cilantro in the pot and give it all a stir. Lock and seal the lid. Cook for 7 minutes at high pressure and then quick release the pressure. (Check to make sure the chicken is done, which means no more pink inside and/or registers 165°F internally.)
  3. Remove the chicken from the pot and either shred it, using two forks, or dice it. Place the chicken back into the juice. Stir it around so it picks up a lot of that flavor and stays moist.
  4. Preheat the broiler. Cover a sheet pan with parchment or foil for easy clean up. Spread out the tortilla chips on the pan. Top the chips evenly with the shredded chicken (use a slotted spoon to drain excess liquid) and the cheese.
  5. Broil for 2-3 minutes or until cheese has fully melted. 
  6. To serve, top with additional fresh toppings, as desired. Serve immediately.

Freeze For Later: Follow Step 1. Place seasoned chicken, salsa, lime juice, and cilantro into a gallon-sized freezer bag or round container. (Make sure to not stack the chicken.) Seal and freeze alongside a bag of shredded cheese. Tip: Set the freezer bag in a bowl in the freezer for a few hours to help it freeze in the shape of the Instant Pot.

Prepare From Frozen: Note: You will need chips and your favorite suggested toppings to complete this meal. Turn on the Saute function. Saute the frozen meal for 5 minutes to release some liquid. Press Cancel. Follow Steps 2-6, except cook for 15-20 minutes with a quick release.

Instant Pot Chicken Nachos with toppings

Want to Stock Your Freezer with 6 Meals in 1 Hour?

Try our SUPER POPULAR 1 Hour Freezer Prep sessions. We give you everything you need to throw together 6 delicious, family-sized freezer meals in just 1 hour! Anyone can do it with our simple instructions, organized shopping list, and pre-filled out freezer labels.

Instant Pot Cooking Times Cheat Sheet: Fresh Meals & Freezer Meals

By Polly Conner

After testing hundreds and hundreds of Instant Pot recipes for our cookbook, From Freezer to Cooker, 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 Instant Pot cooking times information with you.

There is so much misinformation on the internet about the Instant Pot. It makes us cringe when we see well-intentioned recipe creators misinform Instant Pot recipe hunters.

This is why we are sharing all of the Instant Pot cooking times you’ll need below. We also created a one page cheat sheet for Instant Pot Cooking times.

No more overcooked meals.

No more undercooked meals.

No more googling, “How long to cook ____ in the Instant Pot?”

We have all the information you’ll need in order to cook meals in the Instant Pot from both fresh AND frozen. Yep. You read it right. We have provided Instant Pot cooking times for freezer meals too!

seasoned chicken drumsticks in instant pot

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.

Instant Pot Cooking Times Chart Cheat Sheet


If you don’t want to download the Instant Pot Cooking Times Cheat Sheet, here is the information you’ll find on it.

Instant Pot Chicken Breast Cooking Time

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.)

From 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:


Instant Pot Chicken Thighs Cooking Time

 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.)

Try these recipes:


Instant Pot Chicken Thighs & Drumsticks Cooking Time

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.


Instant Pot Beef Roast Cooking Time

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.


Instant Pot Pork Shoulder Cooking Time

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.

Try these recipes:

Pork Carnitas recipe for the Instant Pot.

Instant Pot Pork Loin Cooking Time

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.


Instant Pot Whole Chicken Cooking Time

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. 


Instant Pot Soup Cooking Times

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:

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:

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. 

Try these recipes:


Instant Pot Steel Cut Oats Cooking Times

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:

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. 


Get Your One Page Instant Pot Cheat Sheet Before You Leave!

Sweet & Savory Oven Baked Boneless Pork Chops

By Polly Conner

A few simple ingredients (honey, soy sauce, and garlic) can bring a simple pork chop to life! These Sweet & Savory Oven Baked Boneless Pork Chops not only come together in a flash but can also be prepped as a make ahead freezer meal. Make sure to reduce the marinade into a delectable, sticky sauce to drizzle over the top just before eating. A great weeknight meal that everyone will love!

Oven baked boneless pork chop on a plate with green beans

After researching and testing various boneless pork chop recipes, I found that simple is better. In fact, the marinade for this tasty oven baked pork chop recipe only has 4 ingredients! On top of that, it can be cooked in the oven OR on the stovetop. Versatility in a recipe is always a win in my book.

Pro Tip: To make these pork chops a sweet & savory delight, be sure to reduce the marinade at the end and drizzle it over the top of those chops. You won’t regret it.

Here is a quick video demonstrating how easily these come together!

1 Minute Video: How to Make Sweet & Savory Boneless Pork Chops in the Oven

What’s in the marinade?

Here is what goes into the pork chop marinade. I bet you even have these in your pantry!

  • Soy Sauce (use coconut aminos for a gluten-free alternative)
  • Honey (local is best!)
  • Minced garlic
  • Red pepper flakes, which are optional but add a little heat

That’s it. Seriously.

Here’s a big tip though: let the pork chops marinate for at least 2 hours. You can marinate them up to about 24 hours in the fridge to help them soak up flavor, but don’t over do it. Marinating too long can cause the meat to breakdown and get mushy at a certain point.

Raw boneless pork chops with marinade ingredients

How long do I cook boneless pork chops in the oven for?

Many think baking pork chops will produce dry, tough and tasteless meat. The truth is that baked pork chops can be amazingly tender and juicy if you cook them at the right temperature and for the right time.

For 1 inch thick, boneless pork chops, cook them at 350°F for 15-20 minutes, or until a thermometer inserted in the center of the chop registers 140-145°F.

pork chops and green beans on a plate

More Pro Tips for Juicy Baked Boneless Pork Chops

  • Choose chops that are at least 1-inch thick. Thin chops tend to always dry up when baked. And yes, you can use bone-in or boneless pork chops for this recipe with great success.
  • Adjust cooking time if needed. All pork chops are not created equal. Some are thinner, thicker, have extra fat on the edges, etc. Think of our suggested cooking time as a guideline. To ensure a perfectly cooked chop, you need to check the internal temperature with an internal meat thermometer a few times during the last part of the baking.
  • Remove the pork chops from the oven when they reach an internal temperature of 140°F and allow them to rest for 5 minutes. While it’s resting, the temperature will rise to 145 degrees, which is the USDA’s safe temperature guideline for consuming pork chops.
Cooked boneless pork chop

Can I freeze pork chops?

You’ve come to the right place if you’re looking for make ahead freezer meals. Not only have we written two freezer meal cookbooks but we also have some amazing 1 Hour Freezer Prep Plans that walk you how to make 6 meals in one hour.

Like so many of our freezer meal recipes, these boneless pork chops work beautifully as a freezer meal.

TO FREEZE: Instead of placing the marinating pork chops in the fridge, freeze them in a gallon size freezer bag.

TO PREPARE: Let the pork chops and marinade thaw in the fridge for 24 hours. Prepare as directed.

Boneless pork chops with sweet & savory marinade in a freezer bag

What should I serve with boneless pork chops?

Sweet & Savory Pork Chops will play nice with all sorts of side dishes. Here are a few to get you started:

Oven Roasted Broccoli

Boiled Baby Potatoes

Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Strawberry Avocado Salad

Baked pork chops on a white plate with green beans
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Sweet & Savory Oven Baked Boneless Pork Chops

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 5 min
  • Cook Time: 30 min
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 6 1x
  • Method: Oven

Description

A few simple ingredients (honey, soy sauce, and garlic) can bring a simple pork chop to life in about 30 minutes! These Sweet & Savory Oven Baked Boneless Pork Chops not only come together in a flash but can also be prepped as a make ahead freezer meal. Make sure to reduce the marinade into a delectable, sticky sauce to drizzle over the top just before eating. A great weeknight meal that everyone will love!


Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • Optional: 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes (for a little heat)
  • 6 boneless pork chops (1″ thick)
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

Make It Now:

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, honey, garlic, and red pepper flakes (optional). Place the marinade and pork chops in a gallon-size freezer bag. (Freezing instructions begin here.)
  2. Allow the pork chops to marinate for at least 2 hours or overnight in the refrigerator.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a rimmed sheet pan with foil or parchment paper and coat with cooking spray. Remove the pork chops from the marinade and place on the pan. (Do not discard the marinade though!)
  4. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until they register to 140°F internally. Remove, tent with foil, and let rest for 5-10 minutes. (Temperature will rise another 5 degrees during this time.)
  5. Meanwhile, pour the remaining marinade in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 3 minutes. Drizzle the cooked marinade over the pork and serve. Top with freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Freeze For Later: Follow Step 1. Label and place the bag of pork chops and marinade in the freezer.

Prepare From Frozen: Let the pork chops thaw using one of these safe methods. Follow Steps 3-5.


Notes

Stovetop Cooking Method: In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1-2 tablespoons olive oil or avocado oil over medium-high heat. Remove the pork chops from the marinade but do not discard the marinade. Sear for 1 to 2 minutes per side, turning once. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, turning once, for 10-15 minutes, or until they register 140°F (temp will rise another 5° as it rests). Remove from the heat and let the chops rest 5-10 minutes.

To kick up the flavor a notch, add 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes.

Some of our readers have seared the pork chops in an oven-safe pan on the stovetop for 1-2 minutes per side and then finished baking them until done.

Want to Stock Your Freezer with 6 Meals in 1 Hour?

Try our SUPER POPULAR 1 Hour Freezer Prep sessions. We give you everything you need to throw together 6 delicious, family-sized freezer meals in just 1 hour! Anyone can do it with our simple instructions, organized shopping list, and pre-filled out freezer labels.

Make Ahead Lunch Wraps

By Rachel Tiemeyer

Can you freeze wraps? You bet!! Freezer-friendly lunch wraps are nutritious, hearty, and completely adaptable to whatever your family might like in them!

fruit and tortilla wraps on plates

Right now during this time of quarantine, I know many of you are right where I’m at–trying to keep up with work, homeschooling your kids, feeding your family three meals/day, and trying not to gain the ‘Rona 15.

Meals have to be simple and something your kids won’t groan about. A bonus is if it’s cheap and healthy, too.

Make Ahead Lunch Wraps to the rescue, my friends.

strawberries, grapes, vegetarian burrito wrap on a plate

These Lunch Wraps were a staple in my Freezer Club many years ago and make for a healthy and quick lunch or dinner when you’re hanging by a thread.

Video Tutorial: Make Ahead Lunch Wraps

I mean really, it couldn’t be simpler to make these. Watch this short tutorial to see how to make these freezable wraps…

Why Freeze Lunch Wraps?

Yes, this question deserves an entire section. Because you NEED to know how serious I am about you trying this recipe. It might just save your sanity this week.

  1. They’re cheap.
  2. Uses up leftover rice and beans of any kind.
  3. Fast to prepare. Easy to grab and go.
  4. Healthy and will keep you satiated. Just because they lack meat doesn’t mean they won’t fill you up!
  5. Freezable! (Our favorite way to save time!)

See why my Freezer Club friends and I have made Lunch Wraps for years? Now it’s time to join the “club”.

What Are in Make Ahead Lunch Wraps?

ingredients for make ahead lunch wraps on a cutting board

All you need are 6 simple ingredients:

  • Whole wheat tortillas – Flour tortillas are preferred because they hold up best. Note: corn tortillas will not work well.
  • Brown rice – Substitute ideas: white rice or quinoa.
  • Black beans – Kidney or pinto beans work well, too.
  • Shredded cheddar cheese – Or substitute your preferred shredded cheese. Here’s how to shred your own cheese.
  • Salsa – Use your favorite brand and preferred heat level.
  • Corn – Canned, frozen, or fresh will work.

Feel free to toss in anything else that floats your boat: baby spinach, sautéed bell peppers and onions, green chilis, taco meat, grilled chicken, etc.

Can You Freeze Wraps?

Absolutely! Just follow our simple freezer meal instructions…

vegetarian lunch wraps on a wooden cutting board with small bowls of corn, salsa, and rice

To Freeze Wraps for Later:

Assemble lunch wraps as recipe states. After tortillas are wrapped in foil and before baking (Step #2), place in a freezer bag and freeze for up to 3 months.

To Prepare Wraps From Frozen:

To heat from frozen, add about 10-15 minutes on to baking time (so total baking time is about 25-35 minutes). Or remove foil, wrap in a moist paper towel, and microwave in 30-60 second increments until heated through.

What to Serve with Lunch Wraps

Here are a few ideas to serve alongside this super simple recipe…

freezer-friendly lunch wraps on a wooden cutting board

Creamy Avocado Dip

creamy avocado dip

Salad with Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette

What to Do with Leftover Tortillas

If you have leftover tortillas, did you know you can freeze them? Here is the best way to freeze tortillas for later.

tortillas in a freezer bag

Make Ahead Lunch Wraps Recipe

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freezer-friendly lunch wraps on a wooden cutting board

Make Ahead Lunch Wraps

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 6 lunch wraps 1x
  • Category: Lunch
  • Method: Bake
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Lunch wraps are nutritious, hearty, and completely adaptable to whatever your family might like in them! Make a batch and freeze them for a delicious lunch!


Ingredients

  • 6 (8-inch) whole wheat or multigrain tortillas (corn tortillas are not recommended)
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • 1 cup black or kidney beans, cooked or canned (drained and rinsed)
  • 1 cup corn, frozen or canned (drained)
  • 1/2 cup salsa (your favorite kind)
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (how to shred your own cheese)

Instructions

Make It Now:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Lay out the tortillas on a cutting board or clean surface. Evenly distribute the rice, beans, corn, salsa, and cheese among each one. Roll up like a burrito, tucking in the bottom and top and rolling tightly. Wrap each burrito in foil. (Freezing instructions begin here.)
  3. Bake directly on an oven rack for about 15-20 minutes, until hot all the way through.

Freeze For Later: Follow Steps 1 and 2. Then, place the uncooked wraps in a freezer bag and freeze for up to 3 months.

Prepare From Frozen: To heat from frozen, you have two options:

Option 1 (Oven): Cook according to Step 3, adding about 10-15 minutes on to baking time. So, the total baking time will be about 25-35 minutes.

Option 2 (Microwave): Remove the foil, wrap in a moist paper towel, and microwave in 30-60 second increments until heated through.

Healthy Slow Cooker Turkey Chili (with Sweet Potato and Black Beans!)

By Rachel Tiemeyer

This lean turkey chili is not only hearty and absolutely delicious, but it’s also chock full of fiber, protein, and nutrients. It’s also gluten-free & dairy-free! This crockpot chili is delicious fresh but is also a great make ahead meal.

‘Tis the season for a good, healthy slow cooker recipe!

In the midst of heavy holiday meals and baked goods, this Slow Cooker Turkey Chili with Sweet Potatoes and Black Beans is…hmmm…refreshing.

Can chili be refreshing? Well, not like refreshing in as a cold drink on a hot day. But, it definitely qualifies as a welcomed break from the overindulgent foods of late. It was a winner and will be a regular in our winter menu planning for sure. The jalapeño lends just the right amount of heat without being overpowering. It’s perfect for a comforting weeknight dinner and then leftovers for lunch the next day.

What Makes this Turkey Chili Healthy?


This lean turkey chili is not only hearty and absolutely delicious, but it’s also chock full of fiber, protein, and nutrients.

Here are some of the powerhouse ingredients in this delicious, yet, oh-so-healthy chili:

Is it Gluten-Free & Dairy Free?

You bet! This is a great recipe for anyone trying to minimize gluten and diary in their diet. Just skip the sour cream topping at the end and you have yourself a super healthy bowl of chili!

How Long do I Cook Turkey Chili in the Slow Cooker?

To make sure those sweet potatoes get cooked, this chili will need to cook on low for at least 6-8 hours. The shorter the time it cooks, the more firm the sweet potatoes will be. The longer, the softer.

You can also cook it on high for 5-6 but I prefer to cook it on low.

Turkey chili in the slow cooker

After testing hundreds of recipes for our cookbook, From Freezer to Cooker, we have narrowed down the perfect cooking times for almost all types of slow cooker meals. Be sure to download our cheat sheet below!

Can I Freeze Turkey Chili?

You’ve come to the right place if you’re looking for an easy, healthy freezer meal. It holds up incredibly well in the freezer! It’s one of my favorite soups to make at the beginning of the week and freeze for lunches.

There are two ways to make this a freezer meal:

  1. Fully cook and cool the soup and freeze it in small containers. Use one of our safe thawing methods when you want to eat it!
  2. Prepare it so it will be ready to dump in the slow cooker later. Here’s how:

Follow step 1, but set the sweet potato aside to cool instead of transferring it to the slow cooker. Follow step 2 and let the meat mixture cool. Transfer the sweet potatoes and meat mixture to a gallon-size freezer bag or container and add the broth, tomatoes, tomato paste, black beans, chili powder, cumin, paprika, oregano, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 ⁄4 teaspoon pepper. Seal, toss gently to combine, and freeze.

To prepare from frozen, thawing and transfer the chili to the slow cooker. Follow steps 4 and 5.

Pro Tip: I love using Super Cubes (like in the photo above) for freezing soups.

How to Make Slow Cooker Turkey Chili

Alright, now that you are equipped with all of the turkey chili knowledge you will ever need, time to get cooking! Just follow the recipe below and let us know if you have any questions! Be sure to check out our round-up of 25+ Slow Cooker Recipes that feed a crowd!

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Slow Cooker Turkey Chili with Sweet Potato and Black Beans

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 8 hours
  • Total Time: 8 hours 15 minutes
  • Yield: 46 1x
  • Category: Chili
  • Method: Slow Cooker
  • Cuisine: American

Description

This lean chili is not only hearty and absolutely delicious, but it’s also chock full of fiber, protein, and nutrients. The jalapeño lends just the right amount of heat without being overpowering. It’s perfect for a comforting weeknight dinner and then leftovers for lunch the next day.


Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil or olive oil, divided
  • 3 cups peeled and diced sweet potatoes (about 2 medium potatoes)
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon jalapeño pepper, minced
  • 1 pound lean ground turkey
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 (15 ounce) can petite diced tomatoes, liquid and all
  • 2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1 can (15 ounce) cooked black beans, drained and rinsed
  • Topping for serving: hot sauce, diced avocado, sour cream or plain Greek yogurt, shredded cheddar, diced onions, salsa, thinly sliced green onion, etc.

Instructions

Make It Now:

  1. In a large pan over medium to medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and sauté diced sweet potatoes for about 5 minutes, until just softened. Season lightly with salt and pepper while sautéing. Add sweet potato mixture to slow cooker insert.
  2. Turn up heat to medium-high. In same pan, add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Sauté the onions, jalapeño pepper, garlic and ground turkey, stirring and breaking up the meat. Cook until meat is cooked through (no longer pink) and onions softened, about 4-5 minutes. Season lightly with salt and pepper while sautéing. Drain off any grease. (Freezing instructions begin here.)
  3. Add meat mixture and remaining ingredients (chili powder through black beans) to the slow cooker insert, stirring until well combined.
  4. Slow cook on LOW for 6-8 hours or on HIGH for 3-4 hours.
  5. Taste and adjust salt and pepper amounts. Add hot sauce to increase heat at the end, if desired. Serve topped with your favorite chili toppings (diced avocado, plain Greek yogurt or sour cream, shredded cheddar, diced onions, etc.).

Freezer For Later: Complete recipe through Step 2. Add the cooked and cooled meat and vegetables to a gallon-sized freezer bag or container. Then, add the remaining ingredients (chili powder through black beans) to the same bag. Seal, toss gently to mix, and freeze.

Prepare From Frozen: Thaw for 24-48 hours in the refrigerator. Cook according to instructions beginning with Step 4.


Notes

Instant Pot Instructions: Follow steps 1-2 in the recipe, sautéing the sweet potatoes, onion, jalapeño, garlic, and ground turkey directly in the Instant Pot (using the Sauté function). Press Cancel. Then, stir in the remaining ingredients (chili powder through black beans). Lock and seal the lid. Cook at high pressure for 7 minutes with a quick release of the pressure when done.

Healthy slow cooker turkey chili being scooped out of a white bowl

Spinach and Bacon Quiche

By Polly Conner

Filled with only 6 flavorful ingredients, this Spinach and Bacon Quiche comes together quickly but won’t stick around for long. Make ahead and freeze directions included.

baked quiche in a glass dish and a slice of spinach bacon quiche on a plate

Post contains affiliate links.

Why This is a Staple in Our Home

This freezer-friendly quiche recipe has been circulating in my home for quite a while now. You guys, it is SO good. I mean, it’s got cheese, bacon, and heavy whipping cream soooo, yeah, it’s a party in your mouth.

I wish I could say it was healthy, but I can assure you it wouldn’t be on the weight watchers website. However, with the exception of a store-bought pie crust, it is made with real ingredients, so that’s a win, right? #silverlining

Some other perks about this amazing, delicious recipe is that it only requires a few ingredients and is super easy to double and freeze one for later. In fact, I never make this without doubling it.

We enjoy it for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. The leftovers are just as good as the first day, in my opinion, too.

If you prefer a bite-sized version of this recipe, try our Mini Bacon, Spinach, and Egg Quiches recipe instead.

How to Make Spinach and Bacon Quiche

To get started, put your pie crust in a round baking dish.

round glass freezer container with lid

Here is the baking dish that I prefer to use for this recipe, because it is deep enough for a quiche AND has a storage lid so you can store leftovers or freeze the recipe easily. 

Back to the pie crust…either make your own or use a store-bought one. I cheat and use the store-bought ones. A busy mom can only do so much. I’ll make my own crusts in like 18 years.

pie crust in a glass dish

Now, add your cooked bacon to the pie crust. Hello, beautiful. (Btw, try our no fail trick for baking bacon. It’s the ONLY way I’ll make it now.)

bacon in a bowl

If you have little hands around that you need to keep busy, this is a good task for them. Just be warned that not all of the bacon will make it into the crust.

boy's hand putting bacon in a pie crust

Now add two cups of chopped spinach. Not only does this healthy ingredient balance out all that bacony-cheesy-creamy goodness, but it adds some beautiful color to the quiche.

spinach and bacon in a pie crust in a pie dish

This may seem like a lot of spinach, but when it cooks, it wilts down quite a bit. My husband, who turns his nose up at cooked spinach in recipes, doesn’t even bat an eye at this when it’s done.

Now sprinkle 1 1/2 cups of shredded Swiss cheese over the top.

cheese, spinach, and bacon in a pie crust

Lastly, whisk together 6 eggs and 1 1/2 cups of heavy cream in a bowl. Pour it over all of the ingredients. It will be VERY full.

(Sorry, no picture of this one. Had to deal with a sibling brawl in my kitchen. The smell of bacon brings out the animalistic qualities in all of us.)

If you doubled the recipe, this is the point that you will cover the uncooked quiche and freeze it. If not, continue on to baking it!

spinach and bacon quiche baking in an oven

To bake it, cover the quiche loosely with foil and put it in the oven. This keeps the top from burning. After one hour, remove the foil and cook about 15 more minutes or until the top starts to barely brown and the middle isn’t jiggly (must…refrain…from…immature…joke).

(Baking Tip: If you are using a shallow baking dish, place a baking sheet underneath the dish. You might have an overflow issue on your hands.)

Take it out and let her cool down a bit.

baked spinach and bacon quiche in a round glass dish

Slice it up and serve warm.

slice of baked quiche on a plate

How to Freeze Quiche

As authors of two popular freezer meal cookbooks, we have years and years of testing and research under our belts and have learned what it takes to turn out high-quality freezer meals.

The key to freezing quiche (really any egg-centric casserole) is to prep it, package it tightly, and freeze it BEFORE baking. You can wrap it in a layer of foil and a few layers of plastic wrap (or a tight-fitting lid). The most important factor in packaging any freezer meal is to reduce its exposure to air, which causes freezer burn and adversely affects taste and texture. Store in freezer up to 3 months.

If you want to freeze your quiche after it’s been baked, you can but it will have a soggy crust and the eggs may get overdone when rewarmed in the microwave or oven. This is not our preferred freezing method.

How to Prepare Frozen Quiche

When you’re ready to enjoy your uncooked, frozen quiche, thaw it in the refrigerator for 24-48 hours. This is hands-down the best way to defrost a dish like this (the microwave defrost setting could partially cook it, which is no good). After it’s fully thawed, bake it according to directions and it’ll taste just like a fresh meal!

baked quiche on a table with a pie server nearby

More Make Ahead Breakfast Ideas

I love having breakfast ready to go in the freezer. Here are a few fairly simple make ahead ideas for you.

Breakfast Casserole Muffins

Smoothie Freezer Packs

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Baked Oatmeal

We hope you enjoy this simple quiche for a special occasion or an easy weekday meal! Don’t forget to double the batch and freeze one for later.

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Spinach and Bacon Quiche

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 15 mins
  • Total Time: 1 hour 30 mins
  • Yield: 8 servings 1x
  • Category: Freezer Meal
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: French

Description

This comfort food quiche makes an easy, make ahead breakfast OR dinner. Simple ingredients and freezer friendly!


Ingredients

  • 1 uncooked pie crust
  • 1 pound of cooked bacon, chopped (try our No Fail Bacon method)
  • 2 cups of chopped spinach
  • 1 1/2 cups of shredded Swiss cheese
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream

Instructions

Make It Now:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  2. Place the pie crust into a round baking dish. Layer the bacon, spinach and cheese into the dish.
  3. Whisk together the eggs and heavy whipping cream in a mixing bowl. Pour the mixture over the top of all ingredients. (Freezing instructions begin here.)
  4. Cover loosely with foil and bake for 1 hour. Remove foil and bake another 15 minutes or until the middle is set (doesn’t jiggle when you shake it).
  5. Let cool for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Freeze For Later: Follow Steps 1-3. Cover the casserole dish tightly with foil and a few layers of plastic wrap (or a tight-fitting lid) and freeze. Store in freezer up to 3 months.

Prepare From Frozen: Let quiche thaw in fridge for 24-48 hours. Follow Steps 4-5.

Meatloaf Muffins

By Polly Conner

Here’s a twist on your average meatloaf recipe: Meatloaf Muffins! Prep ahead for healthy lunches, whip up for a quick dinner, and even make a double batch so you can freeze one for later. All ages love this meal!

meatloaf muffins on a white serving platter

Disclaimer: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. Here’s our full disclosure.

These Mini Meatloaf Muffins are a freezer meal that has made its way into the regular rotation of family meals in our house for years. Everyone loves them!

True story: I shared some with my neighbors’ family and the kids sent me this HILARIOUS “thank you” text (and even sang a song about them). Just listen to the raving review. Please, please listen through the end for a laugh.

meatloaf muffins served on a white plate with salad

Besides being kid-friendly, easy to throw together, and freezer-friendly, I love that this meatloaf version includes some sneaky nutrition in it thanks to added fresh herbs and veggies. The kids will never know. 🙂

Ingredients You’ll Need

This meatloaf mixture combines your favorite ground meat (we chose grass-fed beef), bread crumbs, veggies, fresh herbs, and lots of seasonings to add major flavor! Here’s what you’ll need:

ingredients on a wooden cutting board for mini meatloaf muffins

Ground beef – Or, you can sub ground turkey, if you want. Here’s where we get our grass-fed beef.

Whole wheat breadcrumbs – Soaks up the moisture and lightens the meatloaf. The whole wheat version adds a little nutrition, too.

Onion, carrot, and fresh parsley – Finely diced, for flavor and sneaky nutrition.

Garlic cloves – Mince these up finely. Lends a little pungent flavor (and that’s good).

Chicken stock – Adds moisture without using milk, making this dairy-free.

Egg – The binder that keeps everything together. Whisk with either a little milk or water (to make this dairy-free).

Tomato paste – Brings in some umami taste!

Worcestershire sauce – More umami to create depth of flavor.

Organic or all-natural ketchup – Simple topping for the muffins that gets caramelized in the oven.

Salt and pepper – Must have seasonings.

meatloaf mixture in a muffin tin

How to Make Meatloaf Muffins

Watch this 1 minute video to see how easy it is to make this recipe…

What Kind of Muffin Pan Should I Use?

You can use whatever kind you have on hand, whether metal or silicone. The metal pan will produce a little more of a crunchy texture around the sides and bottom, but either pan works great. Just be sure to spray the muffin tins with cooking spray to help them release easily.

If you need a muffin pan, we recommend either this non-stick metal muffin pan OR this silicone pan (with metal frame) that’s even dishwasher safe.

meatloaf mixture in a muffin tin

You also may want to get a large cookie dough scoop to help transfer the meatloaf mixture into the tins in even amounts. The scoop helps release the mixture easily. I use my cookie dough scoop for all kinds of things, including transferring muffin batter to muffin tins, scooping ice cream for the kids, and of course making cookies.

mini meatloaf in a muffin tin

What to Serve with Meatloaf Muffins

Wondering what to serve with these yummy mini meatloaves? Here are a few of our favorite side dishes:

Cream Cheesy Mashed Sweet Potatoes

These may be healthier than mashed potatoes, but these Cheesy Mashed Sweet Potatoes will have your family coming back for more! #realfood #freezermeal #delicious

Oven Roasted Broccoli

Salad with Honey Balsamic Dressing

How to Freeze and Reheat Meatloaf Muffins

As with all our freezer recipes, you can make a double batch and freeze one for later. This is such a wise use of your time!

To Freeze For Later:

Method #1 (Uncooked): Follow instructions through Step 5 but DO NOT bake. Wrap the muffin tin with plastic wrap and a layer of foil and freeze.

Method #2 (Fully Cooked): Fully cook and cool the muffins. Place in a flat gallon-sized freezer bag in a single layer. Squeeze out excess air, seal and freeze flat.

To Prepare From Frozen:

Method #1 (Uncooked): Thaw. Set muffin tin out on the counter for about 20 minutes before baking. Bake according to directions, but increase baking time if muffins are still partially frozen or really cold. They register 160° F internally when done or have no more pink inside.

Method #2 (Fully Cooked): Wrap one in a moist paper towel. Warm in the microwave using the defrost setting or by microwaving in 30 seconds increments, until warmed through.

Meatloaf Muffins on a plate with green salad

Whether you want a healthy, kid-friendly dinner or lunches prepped for the week, we think you’ll love the simplicity of these Meatloaf Muffins!

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meatloaf muffins

Mini Meatloaf Muffins

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 12 meatloaf muffins or 46 servings 1x
  • Category: Freezer Meal
  • Method: Bake
  • Cuisine: American

Description

These mini meatloaf muffins are a kid and parent favorite! Kids love the delicious taste. Parents love the healthy additions of sneaky nutrition.


Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive or avocado oil
  • 1/2 medium onion (about 1/3 cup), finely diced
  • 1 small carrot (about 1/3 cup), finely diced or grated
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock (sub: beef broth)
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (Gluten free: Look for a version that is labeled “gluten free”.)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 1/4 pounds 90% lean ground beef or ground turkey (Here’s where we get our  grass-fed beef.)
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley, plus more for garnish (Sub: 2 teaspoons dried parsley)
  • 1 large egg, beaten with a splash water
  • 1 cup whole wheat bread crumbs (Gluten Free Option: Sub almond meal or gluten-free breadcrumbs)
  • 1/2 cup all-natural ketchup, for topping

Instructions

Make It Now:

  1. Preheat oven to 450° F. Generously spray a 12-cup muffin tin with cooking spray.
  2. Heat oil in a medium sauce pan over medium-high heat. Saute the onion and carrot until vegetables are softened, about 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic for another 30-60 seconds. Remove from the heat. Stir in the salt, pepper, chicken stock, Worcestershire sauce, and tomato paste and allow the mixture to cool.
  3. In a large bowl, use your hands to combine the cooled veggie mixture, ground beef, parsley, egg, and bread crumbs. Do not over mix. 
  4. Use a spoon or ice cream scoop to fill each muffin tin hole to the top. Gently press to fit into muffin tin mold.
  5. Top each mini meat loaf with a spoonful of ketchup and spread it around with the back of the spoon. (Freezing instructions for Method #1 begin here.)
  6. Bake about 20-25 minutes. Cut open a muffin to test that the middle is cooked through (no more pink or registers 165°F internally). Sprinkle with a little chopped parsley at the end, as garnish. (Freezing instructions for Method #2 begin here.)

Freeze For Later:

Method #1 (Uncooked): Follow instructions through Step 5 but DO NOT bake. Wrap the muffin tin with plastic wrap and a layer of foil and freeze.

Method #2 (Fully Cooked): Fully cook and cool the muffins. Place in a flat gallon-sized freezer bag in a single layer. Squeeze out excess air, seal and freeze flat.

Prepare From Frozen:

Method #1 (Uncooked): Thaw in the refrigerator for 24-48 hours. Set muffin tin out on the counter for about 20 minutes before baking. Bake according to directions, but increase baking time if muffins are still partially frozen or really cold. They register 160° F internally when done or have no more pink inside.

Method #2 (Fully Cooked): Wrap in a moist paper towel. Warm in the microwave using the defrost setting or by microwaving in 30 seconds increments, until warmed through.

Looking for more ground beef recipes?

Check out our Top 10 Ground Beef Freezer Meals!

Ground Beef Freezer Meals

If you’re wanting to find more easy freezer meals, make sure to snag our Top 10 Easy Freezer Meals. You can download this, print it off, and have it for future reference when looking for great freezer meals.

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Slow Cooker Teriyaki Chicken

By Polly Conner

This Slow Cooker Teriyaki Chicken recipe is easy, tasty, freezer-friendly, and made in the crock pot. Shred up those tender chicken thighs and serve it over rice for a delicious, filling dinner. For a dump and go crock pot freezer meal, it doesn’t get much better!

Slow cooker teriyaki chicken on a plate with green onion

Oh man, was this Slow Cooker Chicken Teriyaki good. Yes, I do repeat. This is a GREAT SLOW COOKER RECIPE. I have tried one too many slow cooker recipes that have failed to impress me, but this one is a keeper.

What Ingredients Do I Need to Make Slow Cooker Teriyaki Chicken?

The ingredients are simple. I bet you have most of them at home already! Here is what you’ll need…

Ingredients in slow cooker teriyaki chicken
  • Olive or avocado oil to saute the onions
  • 1/2 onion, diced – We found that this needs to be sauteed in order to be done when the chicken is done. If not, you’ll have crunchy onions!
  • Garlic cloves, minced – Shortcut: 1-2 teaspoons pre-minced garlic
  • Soy sauce Gluten-Free Option: Use coconut aminos or gluten-free Tamari Soy Sauce
  • Honey
  • Brown sugar 
  • Rice wine vinegar 
  • Bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (This is where we get our favorite organic chicken*.) – You can also use boneless, skinless thighs!
  • Cornstarch – To thicken the sauce at the end.

*affiliate link

That’s it! In fact, watch this short video to see how easily Teriyaki Chicken comes together:

How Long Do I Cook Chicken Thighs in the Slow Cooker?

There is a lot of misinformation out there about how long to cook chicken in the slow cooker. After testing hundreds and hundreds of slow cooker recipes for our cookbooks, we have nailed down the perfect cooking times for all the most common cuts of meat. In fact, we created a free, printable slow cooker cooking times chart. You can download it and print it off to have on hand for the future.

When it comes to chicken thighs, we have found it’s always best to cook them on Low and only for 3-4 hours at the very most. While chicken thighs can cook a bit longer than chicken breast, they will definitely start to dry out after that amount of time cooking.

Teriyaki chicken thighs in a slow cooker

Can you freeze Slow Cooker Chicken Teriyaki?

Yes! This recipe makes for an awesome make ahead Crock Pot freezer meal. Here’s how:

To Freeze For Later: Place the raw chicken thighs and all of the marinade ingredients (except for the cornstarch) into a gallon-sized freezer bag. Seal and freeze.

To Prepare From Frozen: Thaw using one of these safe methods and then cook as directed.

Teriyaki Chicken thighs in a freezer bag with marinade

Can I add vegetables to this meal in the slow cooker?

While you can for sure add vegetables to the recipe in the slow cooker, I’d recommend giving them a quick saute on the stove instead and then stirring them in at the very end. That way they stay fresh and crisp. When cooked in the slow cooker, vegetables can get a little soggy.

I also love to serve it over a bed of brown rice.

Teriyaki chicken on a serving platter with vegetables

Can I use other cuts of chicken instead of thighs?

You bet! Just use our cooking times chart to navigate how long to cook the chicken for in the slow cooker.

Print

Slow Cooker Teriyaki Chicken {Freezer Meal}

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 hours
  • Total Time: 5 hours 10 minutes
  • Yield: 6 1x
  • Category: Freezer Meal
  • Method: Slow cooker
  • Cuisine: Japanese

Description

This fast, healthy chicken teriyaki dinner will thoroughly impress your family and friends. The best part – it’s made in the slow cooker, so you have very little work to do!


Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive or avocado oil
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced (Shortcut: 12 teaspoons pre-minced garlic)
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce (Gluten-Free Option: Use coconut aminos or gluten-free Tamari Soy Sauce)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar 
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar 
  • 2 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (This is where we get our favorite organic chicken*.)
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch

*affiliate link


Instructions

Make It Now:

  1. Heat the oil in a small saute pan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Saute the onions for 3-4 minutes, until softened. Add in the garlic and saute for another 30-60 seconds. (Shortcut: Place the onions and oil in a small microwaveable bowl and microwave for 3-4 minutes, until softened. Add in the garlic and microwave for another 30-60 seconds.) Add to the slow cooker.
  2. Add the soy sauce, vinegar, brown sugar and honey to the slow cooker and whisk until combined. Nestle the chicken into the bottom and make sure it’s coated in the sauce.
  3. Cover and cook on LOW for 3-4 hours, until internal temperature registers to 165°F.
  4. When chicken is done, remove it from the marinade to a serving platter*. Then, carefully pour the marinade into a medium sauce pan.
  5. In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together 3 tablespoons cold water and the cornstarch until the cornstarch is dissolved and no longer lumpy.
  6. Pour the cornstarch mixture into the teriyaki sauce mixture, and whisk to combine. Bring the sauce to a boil over medium-high heat, and let it cook for about 1-2 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat.
  7. Pour the sauce over the top of of the chicken until it is well coated. (This won’t take all of the marinade; you will have some remaining). Optional: Using two forks, shred the chicken and serve over rice.

Freeze For Later: Place the raw chicken thighs and all of the marinade ingredients (except for the cornstarch) into a gallon-sized freezer bag. Seal and freeze.

Prepare From Frozen: Thaw using one of these safe methods and then cook as directed in Step 3.

COOKING NOTES:

*If you want the skin on the chicken to be crispy, transfer it to a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet. Broil the chicken under the broiler for about 3-5 minutes, until crispy. Keep a close eye on it.

Want More Slow Cooker Freezer Meals?

We have an amazon collection of make ahead crock pot meals. Here is a great round up of 25+ Slow Cooker Recipes to get you started!

slow cooker and crock pot Recipes for groups of people

Grilled Balsamic Herb Chicken

By Rachel Tiemeyer

This grilled chicken recipe is moist, tender, and packed with flavor through and through. It can be turned into a freezer meal and is a great recipe for groups of people.

grilled chicken, rice, zucchini, and peaches on a gray plate with fork

Grilling season isn’t quite over yet in mid-Missouri thankfully. We’ve had 70 and 80 degree sunny days for what feels like months and our family is loving it! You’re going to love this grilled chicken recipe, especially the marinade.

Chicken on a grill

Ingredients in Grilled Balsamic Herb Chicken

Marinating chicken is THE key to infusing flavor into typically lean, bland poultry cuts. The simple Balsamic Herb marinade in this recipe requires only a few pantry staples to turn that lackluster cut into something super tasty!

ingredients for grilled balsamic herb chicken
  • Olive or avocado oil – To keep things moist.
  • Balsamic vinegar – Acid is a must in all marinades, yet this one brings a little sweetness along with it.
  • Honey – A bit more sweetness to balance out the acid.
  • Dijon mustard – Brings a complex tanginess.
  • Garlic cloves – Delicious pungent flavor.
  • Dried parsley, basil, and oregano – All the herbs add color and an herbaceous undertone.
  • Salt and Pepper – Basics that balance every marinade.
  • Boneless, skinless chicken breasts – Widely available and lean. Boneless, skinless chicken thighs will work, too.

1 Minute Video: How to Make Grilled Balsamic Herb Chicken

Check out just how quickly this marinade and recipe comes together using only pantry staples…

How to Make This Into a Freezer Meal

Freezer cooking is our jam! We’ve co-authored two popular freezer meal cookbooks and been blogging about it for 9 years now. It’s a way of life that makes getting dinner on the table SO much easier each night.

Here’s how to make this grilled chicken recipe into a freezer meal to have on hand when you need it…

1) First, you’ll pound out the chicken to about 3/4 inch thick (or cut it in half lengthwise) to help with fast and even grilling.

2) Then, to a large freezer bag, add the marinade ingredients. Seal and shake to combine.

chicken breasts in freezer bag with balsamic marinade

3) Add in the chicken, seal, and freeze. Be sure to label your bag with the recipe name, cooking instructions, and the date. You might find our Freezer Meal Labels helpful for that.

chicken breasts in freezer bag with balsamic marinade

4) When you’re ready to eat your freezer meal, defrost it using one of these safe thawing methods. Grill the chicken according to Step 3 in the recipe. Note: Be sure to cook the thawed chicken as soon as possible so it doesn’t get mushy or tough from over-marinating.

grilled balsamic herb chicken on the grill with zucchini and peaches

What to Serve with Grilled Balsamic Herb Chicken

This recipe can be served up a variety of ways. You could go simple, like I usually roll for our family dinners. I served my grilled chicken with some cooked quinoa, steamed green beans, and grapes for what ended in a filling, tasty, and quite healthy dinner.

Or, you could serve it alongside your favorite grilled produce, like:

grilled chicken, rice, zucchini, and peaches on a gray plate with fork

Another idea is to offer a colorful salad on the side like our Strawberry Avocado Salad with Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette, which mirrors the flavors in the marinade well.

Try All Our Chicken Marinades

I have to say, this is definitely one of my go-to marinades from our 7 Best Chicken Marinades. Oh, did I mention we have 7 delicious chicken marinades for you?? Try some of our other favorites to mix things up:

If you want to have all 7 of our simple marinade recipes on hand anytime, download our free cheat sheet. This handy one-page printable includes all the recipes and 4 options for cooking your marinated chicken breasts. Tape it up inside a cabinet or pantry door, so you can whip up these recipes anytime.

Print
grilled chicken, rice, zucchini, and peaches on a gray plate with fork

Grilled Balsamic Herb Chicken

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Category: Chicken
  • Method: Grilled
  • Cuisine: American

Description

This Grilled Balsamic Herb Chicken recipe is made with all pantry staples and turns out moist, tender, and packed with flavor through and through. 


Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/3 cup avocado oil or olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes, crushed in hand
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil, crushed in hand
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed in hand
  • 4 chicken breasts (about 1 1/22 lbs)

Instructions

Make It Now:

  1. Pound out the chicken to about 3/4 inch thick (or cut it in half lengthwise) to help with fast and even grilling.
  2. To a large zip-top bag, add the balsamic vinegar, oil, garlic, honey, Dijon mustard, salt, pepper, parsley, basil, and oregano. Seal and shake to combine. Add the chicken and seal. (Freezing instructions begin here.) Refrigerate for about 2 hours and up to 24 hours to allow chicken to marinate. 
  3. Preheat grill to medium-high heat and clean the grates well. Grill for about 4-5 minutes per side, maybe longer depending on the thickness, until done. Chicken is done when it registers 165°F internally or has no more pink inside.

Freeze For Later: Follow Steps 1-2. Seal the bag tightly and freeze. 

Prepare From Frozen: Defrost the freezer meal using one of these safe thawing methods. Cook the chicken according to Step 3. Note: Be sure to cook the thawed chicken as soon as possible so it doesn’t get mushy or tough from over-marinating.

More Grilled Chicken Recipes

Here are a few more grilled chicken recipes you might like. All of these can be turned into freezer meals, too!

Southwest Grilled Chicken Tenders

Gourmet Chicken Sandwiches

Create the ultimate chicken sandwiches for any weeknight by prepping and freezing all the components ahead of time. This well-seasoned, versatile grilled chicken also works to top pasta or salads.

Grilled Honey Garlic Chicken Kabobs

Spinach Lasagna Rolls

By Polly Conner

Spinach Lasagna Rolls are so EASY one of our favorite vegetarian freezer meal recipes. You can put cooked chicken in the spinach lasagna roll ups if you want to add in more protein. Either way, they make a nutritious and delicious family dinner.

Spinach Lasagna Roll Up on a white plate

My youngest child was and still is (at times) one of the pickiest human beings alive. You can imagine my elation years ago when he took one bite of his Spinach Lasagna Roll-Up and said, “Mommy, you said I was going to like these and you are right!”

They are basically individual vegetarian lasagnas filled with a mix of cheeses, marinara, and spinach. They are family-friendly, satisfying and perfect for portion control. It’s also a great way to get your kids to eat spinach (if they aren’t offended by green in their meal) and no one will miss the meat!

Lastly, they freeze and thaw beautifully making them a delicious vegetarian freezer meal.

Video Tutorial: How to Make Spinach Lasagna Roll Ups

Now check out how simple it is to throw these together…

Not only are these Spinach Lasagna Roll-Ups a kid fave, but it’s easy to divide the recipe in half or double it to make into a freezer meal for another dinner another time. We’ve included the freezing instructions in the recipe below. This recipe also makes great leftovers for lunch the next day.

Step-by-Step Instructions:

Step 1: Cook your whole wheat lasagna noodles until they are al dente, toss with a little olive oil to prevent sticking, and lay them out on a cooking sheet.

Cooked lasagna noodles on a baking sheet

Step 2: Spread the cheesy spinach mixture evenly over the noodles. 

Filling for spinach lasagna rolls on cooked noodles

Step 3: Now spread some of that saucy goodness over the cheesy goodness. A lot of goodness happening right now.

Spinach lasagna filling on cooked noodles

Step 4: Roll the noodles up, and place seam side down in a greased pan that has a little of the marinara sauce in the bottom of it.

Spinach lasagna rolls in a baking dish

Step 5: Top entire casserole with remaining sauce, remaining mozzarella, and remaining Parmesan cheese. Oh yes…this is gonna be GOOD.

Spinach lasagna rolls in a baking dish

Step 6: Bake at 350°F for 30 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.

Cooked spinach lasagna rolls

Finally, serve hot and enjoy!

Spinach Lasagna roll with a fork on a white plate

So to sum it up, here is a quick at-a-glance image on how to assemble Spinach Lasagna Rolls:

Step by step image of how to make spinach lasagna rolls

How to Freeze & Thaw Spinach Lasagna Rolls

As I mentioned before, Spinach Lasagna Roll-Ups freeze beautifully and can be a great meal to take to a new mom!  Just tell them to thaw them out and bake as directed below.

TO FREEZE: Assemble the lasagna rolls completely, but do not bake. Wrap the dish tightly in several layers of plastic wrap and 1 or 2 layers of foil, squeeze out excess air, and freeze.

TO PREPARE FROM FROZEN: Thaw in the refrigerator for 24 hours. Set out on the counter for 30 minutes to bring to room temperature and then bake as directed.

Spinach Lasagna Rolls in a freezer container covered with foil

What Freezer Containers Should I Use?

Note: Affiliate links are used below. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

We recommend freezing Spinach Lasagna Roll-Ups in a glass or ceramic freezer-safe, oven-safe dish. We’ve learned that using foil pans actually can create a reaction with the acid in the marinara sauce, leaving a strange taste behind, so we don’t recommend those.

It makes sense to stock up on some quality, safe freezer dishes that you can bake AND store in. After searching long and hard, we highly recommend and use these freezer containers below. We both have collected a huge stash of them over the years!

8 inch Square Glass Baking Dish with TrueFit Lid

Freezer meal container

3 Quart Glass Baking Dish with Lid

Freezer meal container

What Goes Well with Spinach Lasagna?

Here are some side dish ideas that would go well with this recipe:

Print
Spinach Lasagna Rolls are the perfect meal for large groups. With fresh and natural ingredients, it also makes a great freezer meal!

Spinach Lasagna Rolls

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: 8 servings (2 rolls per serving) 1x
  • Category: Pasta
  • Method: Bake
  • Cuisine: Italian

Description

A family favorite packed with spinach, marinara sauce, and yummy cheese! Kids and adults alike love this comfort meal. Freezer instructions included.


Ingredients

  • 1 (16 ounce) package uncooked whole wheat lasagna noodles (about 16 noodles)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups (8 ounce bag) shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 1 (15 ounce) container ricotta cheese
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons dried parsley flakes, or 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil, or 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil leaves
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained, and squeezed very dry
  • 2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • Cooking spray
  • 2 (25-28 ounces) jars marinara sauce, divided (or use 67 cups Homemade Marinara Sauce)

Instructions

Make It Now:

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook lasagna noodles until al dente (i.e. slightly undercooked), about 6 to 8 minutes. Drain in a colander. Coat them with a bit of olive oil, lay noodles out flat on a cookie sheet, and set aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 9×13 inch baking dish (or two 8×8 inch dishes) with cooking spray. Spread 1/2 cup of marinara sauce on the bottom of the 9×13 dish (or 1/4 cup in each 8×8 dish) in a thin layer.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, stir together 1 cup mozzarella cheese, ricotta cheese, egg, garlic, parsley, basil, pepper, salt, spinach, and 1 cup Parmesan cheese.
  4. On each noodle, spread a generous 1/4 cup of the cheese mixture and then 2.5-3 tablespoons of sauce. Note: You should have used up all the cheese mixture and one entire jar of sauce (3-3.5 cups) by this point, dividing them evenly among the noodles.
  5. Roll the noodles up, and place seam side down in the prepared pan(s). Squeeze them in however they fit best.
  6. Top entire casserole with the remaining jar of sauce (3-3.5 cups), remaining 1 cup mozzarella, and remaining 1 cup Parmesan cheese. (Freezing instructions begin here.)
  7. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until hot and bubbly. Cover with foil if it starts to get too brown on top. If desired, sprinkle the top with freshly chopped parsley and/or basil. Serve warm.

Freeze For Later: Follow steps 1-6. (Do not bake). Wrap the casserole tightly in a few layers of plastic wrap and foil, squeezing out any excess air. Freeze for 3-6 months.

Prepare From Frozen: Thaw the casserole using one of these safe methods. Cook as directed in step 7.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 2 roll-ups per person

Make Ahead Breakfast Sandwiches

By Rachel Tiemeyer

These simple Make Ahead Breakfast Sandwiches rival their fast food equivalent any day! They make a wholesome, delicious breakfast possible even on the busiest mornings.

make ahead breakfast sandwiches on a cutting board

This post was created in partnership with Burgers’ Smokehouse Bacon.

Kids and adults alike love these simple freezer-friendly Breakfast Sandwiches filled with just a few ingredients, including the BEST BACON ever. Make them in mass and freeze to have on hand for busy mornings as a grab-and-go option. What a nutritious, protein-rich, and delicious breakfast to start your day!

How to Make Freezer-Friendly Breakfast Sandwiches

With eggs, Cheddar cheese, and bacon on wheat English muffins, these breakfast sandwiches couldn’t be simpler or tastier! I mean, who doesn’t like THAT combo??

Look at just how simple they are to build in bulk…

process shots of building breakfast sandwiches

Easy, right?! Now, take a peek at this 1 minute video to see how quickly they come together…

What Kind of Bacon Should I Use?

Bacon is kinda a big deal…especially in these sandwiches. And, you and I both know that all bacon is NOT created equal.

We’ve tried a lot over the years and can say whole heartedly that Burgers’ Smokehouse Bacon is the best we’ve ever had. Whether you choose their Uncured Bacon (my personal fave), Applewood Smoked Bacon, Hickory Smoked, or any of their flavors…you WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED!

This family-owned mid-Missouri business uses their age-old family recipe to cure bacon with a mixture of salt, brown sugar and pepper, then slow-smoke it over natural wood chips…never adding any water. Because who wants to cook water with their bacon?

Learn more about their process here…

The Uncured Country Bacon–my favorite–is unique in that they use their traditional dry cured recipe without the added Sodium Nitrite. So, this bacon includes no MSG, gluten, preservatives, or added nitrate or nitrite.

FIND BURGERS’ SMOKEHOUSE BACON AT A STORE NEAR YOU OR ONLINE HERE.


How to Freeze and Reheat Breakfast Sandwiches

If you’re going to make one batch of these, you might as well make more and fill your freezer. They are so handy to pull out for a quick breakfast or lunch. Here’s how to freeze and reheat your breakfast sandwiches for the best results.

Freezer-Friendly Breakfast Sandwiches make a great, healthy freezer meal to have on hand for busy mornings. Easy to make and family friendly!

Freeze For Later

Build your sandwiches and wrap each one in foil, but do not warm them up. Place the individually-wrapped sandwiches in a gallon-sized freezer bag and freeze for up to 3 months.

Prepare From Frozen

There are three options for thawing and warming these sandwiches.

Option 1 (preferred method): Thaw in refrigerator for 24 hours. Remove foil and wrap in a moist paper towel. Microwave in 30 second intervals, until warmed through (about 1-2 minutes).

Option 2: From frozen, remove foil and wrap frozen sandwich in a moist paper towel. Microwave for 1 minute and then in 30 second intervals, until warmed through.

Option 3: From frozen, place foil-wrapped sandwiches in 350° F oven for about 30 minutes or until warmed through.

More Make Ahead Breakfast Recipes

If you love the idea of having healthy breakfast options on hand all the time, try some of our other make ahead recipes…

Freezer Breakfast Burritos

Freezer Smoothie Packs

7 Overnight Oats

7 Overnight Oats Recipes

Time to get cooking and stocking your freezer with a breakfast that will make your whole family happy!

Print
make ahead breakfast sandwiches on a cutting board

Make Ahead Breakfast Sandwiches

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 6 sandwiches 1x
  • Category: Breakfast
  • Method: Toasted
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Make these simple egg sandwiches ahead of time, wrap, and freeze for fast and satisfying breakfasts on the go.


Ingredients

  • 9 whole wheat English muffins
  • 45 tablespoons butter, softened (optional)
  • cooking spray
  • 8 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk (your choice of milk)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 9 slices Cheddar cheese (sub: Havarti, Colby-Jack, or Swiss cheese slices)
  • 1 pound fully cooked Burgers’ Smokehouse Bacon (try this no-fail method to bake bacon)

Instructions

Make It Now:

  1. Adjust the top oven rack to 6 inches below the broiler. Turn the broiler on high.
  2. Set the English muffins on a sheet pan and open them up with the insides facing up. Spread a little softened butter on the insides (optional). Toast under the broiler for 1-2 minutes, just until toasted. Keep a close eye on them.
  3. Turn off the broiler and preheat the oven to 400°F. Spray a 9×9 inch casserole dish with cooking spray.
  4. In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, salt, and pepper. Pour the mixture into the casserole dish.
  5. Place the casserole dish on the middle oven rack. Bake the eggs for 20 minutes, or until set in the middle. Let cool slightly and slice into 9 equal squares.
  6. To assemble the sandwiches, top each muffin bottom with one egg square, one cheese slice, and 1-2 slices of Burgers’ Smokehouse Bacon that have been broken in half. Place the muffin top on and wrap the sandwich tightly in foil. (Freezing instructions begin here.)
  7. If eating immediately, warm the foil-wrapped sandwiches in the oven for about 5 minutes, or microwave uncovered (no foil!) for 30 seconds, until cheese is melted.

Freeze For Later: Follow directions through Step 6. Place the individually-wrapped sandwiches in a gallon-sized freezer bag and freeze.

Prepare From Frozen: There are three options for thawing and warming these sandwiches.

Option 1 (preferred method): Thaw in refrigerator for 24 hours. Remove foil and wrap in a moist paper towel. Microwave in 30 second intervals, until warmed through (about 1-2 minutes).

Option 2: From frozen, remove foil and wrap frozen sandwich in a moist paper towel. Microwave for 1 minute and then in 30 second intervals, until warmed through.

Option 3: From frozen, place foil-wrapped sandwiches in 350° F oven for about 30 minutes or until warmed through.

Instant Pot BBQ Beef Sandwiches

By Rachel Tiemeyer

This well-seasoned, fall-apart shredded BBQ Beef takes under an hour in the Instant Pot or pressure cooker. Instructions for how to make ahead and freeze included!

Find our recipe for Slow Cooker BBQ Beef Sandwiches here.

bbq shredded beef sandwich on a plate with corn and grapes

Disclaimer: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. Here’s our full disclosure.

Whether you’re a beginner or veteran cook, you’ll appreciate how simple yet complex-tasting this shredded beef recipe is. Only a few ingredients are needed to make this pot of melt-in-your mouth sandwich filling.

Video Tutorial: Instant Pot BBQ Beef Sandwiches

What Ingredients You’ll Need

ingredients for bbq shredded beef on a cutting board

Stock your pantry with these seasonings and stock your freezer with roasts when they go on sale, so you can make shredded BBQ beef anytime.

  • onion powder
  • garlic powder
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 (3 lb) boneless beef chuck roast
  • 1 1/2 cups BBQ Sauce (homemade or store-bought)
  • 8-10 whole wheat hamburger buns

How to Make BBQ Beef in the Instant Pot

Here’s the quick and dirty overview for making shredded beef in the pressure cooker. See the recipe below for more details.

BBQ shredded beef in an Instant Pot with BBQ sauce.

Step 1: Make dry rub with your seasonings.

Step 2: Cut meat into 2×2 inch pieces. Pat dry and toss with the seasonings in the Instant Pot.

Step 3: Pour 1 cup BBQ sauce over the top.

Step 4: Cook at high pressure for 30 minutes with a natural release.

Step 5: Shred the meat and stir back into the sauce.

Step 6: Serve the meat onto of toasted buns with more BBQ sauce.

How Long Do I Cook a Chuck Roast in the Instant Pot?

While researching for our cookbook, From Freezer to Cooker, we quickly learned that there are a LOT of varying opinions on how long to cook a chuck roast in the Instant Pot.

Did you know we published an Instant Pot cookbook called From Freezer to Cooker? During our two years of research and testing, we learned EXACTLY how long to cook meals in the Instant Pot both from fresh OR from frozen. Be sure to download and print off our Cheat Sheet here. It’s so helpful to have inside your cabinet.

The fastest and most reliable way to yield fall-apart tender shredded beef in the Instant Pot:

Cut a beef chuck roast into evenly-sized smaller chunks, trimming the fat off as you go. We recommend 2 x 2 inch pieces. Cook at high pressure for 30 minutes and then use a natural release for at least 10 minutes. After that, you can quick release the rest of the pressure.

We found that this method works well every single time. However, cooking a whole chuck roast takes at least an hour if not more to tenderize somewhat in the Instant Pot. Even then, our roasts often weren’t very easy to shred. So we stand by the “cut your beef into small chunks first” method all day!

shredded beef on a cutting board

Tips for Making Perfect BBQ Beef in the Instant Pot

Like I mentioned, we tested this recipe A LOT for our cookbook called From Freezer to Cooker. Along the way, we learned several tips for the perfect BBQ shredded beef in the Instant Pot.

  • Be sure to cut your roast into evenly-sized smaller chunks. We recommend 2×2 inch pieces. This yields perfectly tender, shreddable meat at the end of 30 minutes.
  • Trim off as much excess fat as you can, or ask your butcher to do it for you.
  • You must include at least 1 cup of liquid in a 6 quart Instant Pot (and at least 1 1/2 cups of liquid to the 8 quart Instant Pot) to allow pressure to build. So, feel free to add more BBQ sauce if you have a larger pressure cooker than a 6 quart.
  • Serve the shredded meat on toasted buns (see our instructions in the recipe below). This prevents soggy buns…NO ONE LIKES SOGGY BUNS. Lol.
  • Make your own BBQ Sauce using our delicious recipe and you’ll be a hero. 🙂
BBQ shredded beef sandwich on plates with corn and grapes

What to Serve on the Side

Corn on the Cob

Try our 3-minute no boil method or grill your corn using our easy method.

Autumn Chopped Salad

The most popular salad on Thriving Home. It will add beautiful color to your plate and a tasty, tangy bite on the side.

Oven Baked Steak Fries

BBQ and fries are a heavenly match. Try these lighter yet still crispy, salty fries on the side.

steak fries dipped in ketchup

Recipe for Instant Pot BBQ Shredded Beef Sandwiches

Grab your Instant Pot and just a few pantry staples to transform a chuck roast into something tender and tasty with our recipe! Be sure to double the batch and freeze one for later using our easy freezer meal instructions.

Print
BBQ shredded beef sandwich on a plate with corn and grapes

Instant Pot BBQ Beef Sandwiches

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 10
  • Cook Time: 60
  • Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Yield: 810 servings 1x
  • Category: Beef
  • Method: Instant Pot
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Seasoned, tender shredded beef covered in a homemade BBQ sauce takes minutes in the Instant Pot or pressure cooker. Freezer meal instructions included.

Find our Slow Cooker BBQ Beef recipe here.


Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 (approx. 3 pound) boneless beef chuck roast, trimmed of excess fat
  • 1 1/2 cups BBQ Sauce
  • 810 whole wheat hamburger buns

Instructions

Make It Now:

  1. In the 6-quart Instant Pot, combine the onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
  2. Cut the meat into 2×2 inch pieces, trimming off excess fat as needed. Pat dry with a paper towel and add the meat to the Instant Pot with the seasoning mixture. Toss to combine.
  3. Pour 1 cup of BBQ sauce over the meat. Stir to combine.
  4. Lock and seal the lid. Cook at high pressure for 30 minutes. Allow the pressure to naturally release for 10 minutes, then quick release the remaining pressure.
  5. Transfer the roast to a cutting board and shred with two forks. Stir the meat back into the sauce.
  6. Position the top rack of the oven 6 inches below the broiler. Preheat the broiler.
  7. Place the buns on a baking sheet with the insides facing up. Broil the buns for 1-2 minutes, until golden (watch them closely!).
  8. Using a slotted spoon, top each bun with some of the meat. Spoon over some of the remaining 1/2 cup BBQ sauce and enjoy.

Freeze For Later: Follow steps 1 and 2. Place the seasoned meat and 1 cup of the BBQ sauce in a gallon-sized freezer bag or round container. Seal and freeze (if using a freezer bag, set it in a bowl or round container with a diameter similar to the Instant Pot so it will fit in the pot when frozen). Pour the remaining 1/2 cup of BBQ sauce into a small bag/container and seal. Freeze the sauce and buns alongside the meat.

Prepare From Frozen: Set the extra sauce and buns out on the counter to start thawing. Set the Instant pot to “Saute”. Transfer the frozen meat and sauce to the pot and cook for 5 minutes to release some liquid. Press “Cancel”. Follow steps 4-8 (the meat will cook at the same time length as when fresh!).

 

BBQ shredded beef sandwich on a plate with corn and grapes

Want More Freezer Meals for the Instant Pot?

We’ve got you covered. Hop over to this post highlighting 20+ Best of the Best Freezer Meals for the Instant Pot. It includes freezer meal instructions for EVERY recipe plus tons of pro tips and tricks we’ve learned over the years.


Want to Stock Your Freezer with 6 Meals in 1 Hour?

Try our SUPER POPULAR 1 Hour Freezer Prep sessions. We give you everything you need to throw together 6 delicious, family-sized freezer meals in just 1 hour! Anyone can do it with our simple instructions, organized shopping list, and pre-filled out freezer labels.

Salmon and Sweet Potato Cakes

By Rachel Tiemeyer

These salmon and sweet potato cakes are packed with nutrition and flavor! Enjoy them as a sandwich or a la carte. Freezing instructions included!

salmon cakes on a plate with lettuce and tartar sauce

I love cooking shows. And, there’s one Food Network star who will always have a special place in my heart. Can you guess who?

Rach, of course! I watched 30 Minute Meals pretty consistently for over 10 years. Honestly, a large majority of what I know in the kitchen, from tips to ingredients to technique, I learned directly from her.

I saw Rachael Ray make a similar version of these Salmon and Sweet Potato Cakes on her show and knew I had to try them. Over the years, I’ve made these few times and tweaked the recipe to make it a little more user-friendly.

Why I Love These Salmon Cakes

I love them because they are super nutritious, my kids will actually eat them(!), and they freeze nicely so I can make a big batch for later. Don’t worry, there’s no fishy-ness in these cakes. All the different flavors and textures make them absolutely great, in my opinion.

How to Make Salmon and Sweet Potato Cakes

Check out how easily this recipe comes together!

What Ingredients are in Salmon and Sweet Potato Cakes?

This delicious recipe uses two of the best super foods on the planet!

Wild Salmon Filets – The big gun ingredient is the Omega 3-rich wild salmon which the American diet is sorely lacking in. The salmon provides heart-healthy fat and lots of protein.

Note: Be sure to buy WILD salmon, NOT farm-raised salmon. That’s because many studies have shown there are 10 times as many PCBs in farmed fish. Dr. Sanjay Gupta in an article here says,

Basically, that’s a reflection of how much pesticides, antibiotics, other contaminants are used in raising these farmed fish. There’s higher pesticide levels in the farmed fish….They actually raise these farmed fish (with large numbers in pens) … You actually have to give them antibiotics. And a lot of the PCBs and toxins are all part of the farming process that are used to try and keep these fish free of disease….sometimes even inject fish like salmon with red dye or pink dye to make them look more pink, more like their wild counterparts.

– Dr. Sanjay Gupta

Wild Salmon is readily available and affordable in most grocery stores now, but the tastiest Wild salmon I’ve had is from ButcherBox. It’s where I get all of my meat, because they offer affordable, healthy (and delicious!) meat from small farmers that is delivered to my doorstep on my schedule. (Cancel any time.)

Sweet Potato Puree – One of the top super foods in the world, packed with plenty of minerals, fiber, vitamins, and phytonutrients that help both your body and mind.  The sweet potato helps as a binder (instead of mayo!) and lends a slightly sweet taste.

You can find sweet potato puree in a can or you can easily make your own. Simply poke some holes in a few sweet potatoes using a knife. Place them in the microwave and cook in 2 minute increments. Turn the potatoes between increments and cook until soft and tender all the way through. Use a knife to check. Mine usually take about 5 minutes.

Other Ingredients:

  • Seafood seasoning – Recommended: Old Bay Seasoning.
  • Whole wheat crackers – Panko breadcrumbs would work instead.
  • Egg – Helps to bind the mixture.
  • Fresh thyme leaves and fresh parsley – These fresh herbs add depth of flavor.
  • Scallions or green onions – Adds a little pungent flavor
  • Hot sauce – Optional, but lends a touch of heat.
  • Extra-virgin olive oil – Another heart-healthy oil that you’ll use to grease the pan.

How to Serve Salmon Cakes

First of all, I’d highly recommend making our Avocado Aioli sauce to top these cakes. The creaminess and beautiful color of the sauce contrasts well with the warm, crispy salmon patties. You can also use an all-natural Tartar Sauce for serving, if you want.

My kids liked them on mini buns with a slice of cheese on top, like a burger. I ate these Salmon and Sweet Potato Cakes a la carte with some of the Avocado Aioli sauce on top. Delicious!

With these salmon cakes as the center piece of your meal, all you need are a few simple, healthy sides. Here are a few ideas:

How to Freeze Salmon Cakes

It’s easy to freeze salmon cakes. They turn out tasting just like you made them fresh, if you freeze them this way:

Freeze For Later: Put the salmon cakes together, but do not cook them. Freeze in a freezer bag or container in a single layer. If stacking patties, divide single layers with parchment paper.

Prepare From Frozen: Thaw completely in the refrigerator for 24-48 hours. Then cook according to the directions.

More Salmon Recipes:

Here are few more salmon recipes from our collection you might enjoy…

Salmon and Sweet Potato Cakes Recipe

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Salmon and Sweet Potato Cakes

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 24 mins
  • Cook Time: 6 mins
  • Total Time: 26 mins
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Skillet
  • Cuisine: Seafood

Description

These salmon and sweet potato cakes are packed with nutrition and flavor! Enjoy them as a sandwich or a la carte. With a small amount of effort, you’ll make a meal your family is sure to love.


Ingredients

  • 1 large sweet potato, cooked and mashed* (about 1 cup)
  • 3 (6-ounce) skinless salmon fillets
  • 1 quart (4 cups) chicken broth (sub: water)
  • Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon seafood seasoning (recommended: Old Bay)
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat crackers, crushed into crumbs
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 2 scallions or green onions, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Instructions

Make It Now:

  1. Bring the broth to a boil in a large skillet or pot over high heat, then reduce to a simmer. 
  2. Season salmon fillets lightly on both sides with salt and pepper. Carefully lower them down into the liquid, making sure they are submerged. (Note: If the broth doesn’t cover the top of the filets, add just enough water to make sure they are covered.) Poach until the salmon is opaque, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  3. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the salmon to a mixing bowl and flake the fish with a fork. Add in the mashed sweet potatoes, seafood seasoning, half of the cracker crumbs, the egg, thyme, hot sauce, scallions, and parsley. Using your hands or a fork, combine until the mixture is firm enough to mold into cakes. (If it’s too wet, add a few more cracker crumbs.)
  4. Add the remaining cracker crumbs to a plate. Form the salmon mixture into four (4-inch) patties or eight (2-inch) patties and coat in the cracker crumbs on both sides. (Freezing instructions begin here.)
  5. Discard the liquid from the skillet and wipe it clean. In that same skillet, heat the oil over medium heat until shimmery.
  6. Cook the fish cakes until light golden, about 2 to 3 minutes on each side.
  7. Serving suggestion: Serve with tartar sauce for dipping or serve on buns with cheese on top, like a burger.

Freeze For Later: Follow Steps 1-4. Freeze in a freezer bag or container in a single layer. If stacking patties, divide single layers with parchment paper.

Prepare From Frozen: Thaw completely. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Follow Steps 5-7.


Notes

*To cook and mash the sweet potato: Wash and dry it. Poke several holes around it using a knife, so steam can release while it cooks. Microwave it for 2 minutes. Flip it over and microwave another 2-3 minutes, until soft all the way through. Test doneness by inserting a knife into the middle. It should give easily.

Vegetarian Tortilla Soup

By Rachel Tiemeyer

This pantry staple Vegetarian Tortilla Soup recipe is a meatless “one pot wonder” that I’ve been making and freezing for years for my family. Filled with beans, tomatoes, chilis, corn, and more, it only gets better the longer it sits in the fridge.

Vegetarian Tortilla Soup
Photo Credit: Hélène Dejardin: From Freezer to Cooker

Why Make Vegetarian Tortilla Soup?

Years ago I implemented a small goal of having at least one day a week be meatless for our family. This is for three reasons: it’s cheap, it’s often healthier, and it’s better for the environment (raising animals utilizes much more of our natural resources than raising crops).

The great thing about Vegetarian Tortilla Soup is that it’s hearty enough for any meat eater in your family and makes a big batch for a crowd or just to have on hand all week long.

Vegetarian Tortilla Soup in a large stock pot

Another benefit is the flexibility of this soup. You can prepare it on the stove, in the Instant pot, or in the slow cooker. Plus, we also include instructions for how to make it ahead and freeze a batch for later.

Not only that, but you can use up what you have on hand with this “kitchen sink”-type soup. Don’t have green chilis? Add a little more salsa. Don’t have rice? Try quinoa. Have fresh veggies on hand? I’ve thrown in chopped zucchini, spinach, and diced bell pepper before with great results (just cook until they are soft).

Ingredients for Vegetarian Tortilla Soup

While I typically stick to the ingredients below, feel free to use up what you have on hand with this “kitchen sink”-type soup. Don’t have green chilis? Add a little more salsa. Don’t have rice? Try quinoa. Have fresh veggies on hand? I’ve thrown in chopped zucchini, spinach, and diced bell pepper before with great results. They will all cook just fine. Here is where to start though:

  • Vegetable broth or chicken broth (make your own chicken broth here)
  • Vegetarian refried beans
  • Black beans
  • Corn
  • Petite diced tomatoes
  • Diced green chilis
  • Mild or medium salsa
  • Taco seasoning (Use our homemade taco seasoning here)
  • Cooked brown rice (or throw cauliflower rice in with all the ingredients and cook with all the other ingredients!)

Keep these pantry staple ingredients on hand all the time, and you’ll always have a delicious, healthy meal ready to go in minutes.

Can I Make this Soup in the Slow Cooker or Instant Pot?

Yep!

Slow Cooker Method: Combine broth, refried beans, black beans, corn, tomatoes, chiles, salsa, and taco seasoning in the crockpot. Stir and break up the refried beans as much as possible. Cover and cook on LOW for 6-8 hours. Stir in the cooked rice and serve warm with optional toppings.

Instant Pot Method: We have written a whole post on how to make Instant Pot Tortilla Soup here. Hop on over!

How to Make Vegetarian Tortilla Soup

It’s hard to mess up Vegetarian Tortilla Soup! Just follow this simple recipe using either the stovetop or slow cooker instructions. You can also freeze it! Freezer meal instructions are in the recipe.

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Vegetarian Tortilla Soup

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 8 1x
  • Category: Soup
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Mexican

Description

This one-pot wonder is packed with flavor but is also vegetarian! This winning combination of ingredients and flavors is sure to impress your family and friends.


Ingredients

  • 1 (32 ounce) box vegetable stock (Sub: chicken stock or broth)
  • 1 (15 ounce) can vegetarian refried beans* (Sub: drained pinto beans that have been smashed with a fork)
  • 1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed (Sub: kidney or pinto beans)
  • 1 (15 ounce) can corn, drained (Sub: 2 cups frozen corn)
  • 1 (15 ounce) can petite diced tomatoes (juice and all) (Tip: Fire-roasted diced tomatoes are delicious!)
  • 1 (4 ounce) can diced green chiles (Sub: 1/2 cup salsa)
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 2 tablespoons all-natural taco seasoning mix
  • 12 cups cooked brown rice (Sub: cooked quinoa)
  • Optional Toppings: shredded cheddar cheese, jalapeños, sour cream or plain Greek yogurt, crushed tortilla chips, lime wedges, diced avocado

Instructions

Make It Now:

Stovetop Method: In a large pot, combine broth, refried beans, black beans, corn, tomatoes, chiles, salsa, and taco seasoning. Stir and break up the refried beans as much as possible. Bring to a boil and quickly reduce to a simmer. Cook over medium-low heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally while it cooks. Stir in the cooked rice and serve warm with optional toppings.

Slow Cooker Method: Combine broth, refried beans, black beans, corn, tomatoes, chiles, salsa, and taco seasoning in the crockpot. Stir and break up the refried beans as much as possible. Cover and cook on LOW for 6-8 hours. Stir in the cooked rice and serve warm with optional toppings.

Instant Pot Method: Combine broth, refried beans, black beans, corn, tomatoes, chiles, salsa, and taco seasoning in the crockpot. Stir and break up the refried beans as much as possible. Lock and seal the lid. Cook at high pressure for 7 minutes, then quick release the pressure. Stir in the cooked rice and serve warm with optional toppings.

Freeze For Later:

Method 1 (Uncooked): Combine all ingredients in a pot/bowl, except rice and optional toppings. (Don’t worry if the refried beans aren’t completely integrated.) Carefully ladle the soup into gallon-sized freezer bags or containers and seal. Package the cooked rice in a small freezer bag and freeze alongside the soup.

Method 2 (Fully Cooked): Fully cook the soup according to instructions. Stir in the rice. Let cool. Freeze in freezer bags or containers, as individual servings or one full meal. Freeze until ready to use.

Prepare From Frozen: 

Method 1 (Uncooked): Fully thaw the soup. Cook according to instructions.

Method 2 (Fully Cooked):

Stove or Slow Cooker: Warm over low heat on the stove or in the slow cooker.

Instant Pot: Turn on Saute button and warm over low, stirring frequently.*


Notes

*If you want to cook the soup from frozen in the Instant Pot, you’ll need to freeze it in a round container that is smaller than the diameter of the pot. When ready to cook, turn on the “Saute” function and saute the frozen block of soup for 5-10 minutes to release some liquid. Press “Cancel”. Lock and seal the lid. Cook at high pressure for 12-17 minutes with a quick release.

Gluten-Free: If using a taco seasoning packet from the store, be sure to buy one that is gluten-free.

Dairy-Free: Omit using any cheese or sour cream on top.

Mini Chicken Burgers with Herbs

By Rachel Tiemeyer

This chicken burger recipe is a kid and adult fave! Make ahead and freeze a batch for later or make them tonight for a delicious and healthy dinner.

chicken burger on a bun with cheese on a plate

Why Are These the BEST?

I’ve been making these Mini Chicken Burgers with Herbs for well over a decade now. In fact, my Freezer Club deemed them a “home run” recipe and it became one that we made for our group several times per year!

Here’s the deal. These miniature patties of ground chicken goodness fit every value I have for a family meal:

Tasty? Check.
Kids like them? Check.
Easy to make? Check.
Healthy? Check.
Freezable? Check.

mini chicken burger recipe

They take just minutes to cook on the stovetop and the taste is out of this world, thanks to fresh garlic, lemon juice, parsley, and the seasoning. The bread crumb coating get toasted on the outside and forms a nice crust that seals in all the juices, too.

Bottom line: No complaints from my crew when I make these. #winnerdinner

How to Make Chicken Burgers

Watch this 1 minute video tutorial to see just how easy it is to make these Mini Chicken Burgers with Herbs…

How Do I Freeze Chicken Burgers?

A super smart use of time is to double (or triple) the batch and freeze chicken burgers for later. If you’re already getting your kitchen, bowls, and utensils dirty, why not spend just a few more minutes putting together an extra batch or two for a future dinner?

To freeze for later, place the burgers on a sheet pan and flash freeze them for an hour or so. Once they are hard, toss them in a gallon-sized freezer bag or container and seal well. Freeze for up to 3 months.

How Should I Serve Chicken Burgers?

white plate with chicken burger on bun, sweet potato fries, and grapes

We have two suggestions for how to serve chicken burgers.

  1. Serve them a la carte with Avocado Aioli on top or on the side. Dipping each bite of my mini chicken burger in the avocado aioli is my hands-down favorite way to eat them! The sauce is super easy to whip up.
  2. Serve them on a bun, topped with your favorite cheese if you want. I would suggest Provolone or Havarti cheese over the top, but pick whatever kind you love. Kids especially love the burgers served this way. You can also top them with lettuce (or arugula), tomato slices, and that amazing Avocado Aioli I mentioned.

As for side dish ideas, we enjoy sweet potato fries or Oven Fries and some fruit for a simple weeknight meal.

More Kid-Friendly Freezer Meals

Looking for more easy, kid-friendly freezer meals like this one? We have a whole round-up of 30+ Kid-Friendly Freezer Meals here or get started with a few of these favorites…

Chicken Parmesan Casserole

Baked Italian Meatballs

Baked Penne Pasta

Easy Ham and Cheese Sliders

Make or Print This Chicken Burger Recipe

You and your family are going to love this tasty yet light chicken burger recipe! Be sure to Pin it, share it, or print it now.

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chicken burger on a bun with cheese on a plate

Mini Chicken Burgers with Herbs

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 8 servings (2 mini burgers per person) 1x
  • Category: Appetizer
  • Method: Stove Top
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Mini Chicken Burgers with Herbs are kid-friendly, healthy and tasty! Freezer meal instructions included. This meal is a winner dinner again and again!


Ingredients

  • 2 pounds ground chicken (sub: ground turkey)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup dried bread crumbs (recommend: whole wheat Panko breadcrumbs) (*For Gluten-free option see note below.)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or avocado oil
  • Optional: cheese slices (i.e. provolone, cheddar, mozzarella)

Instructions

Make It Now:

  1. In a large bowl, use a fork or your hands to gently combine the ground chicken, garlic, parsley, oregano, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Form the mixture into 16 small patties.
  2. Place the bread crumbs in a shallow dish. Coat each patty in the crumbs on both sides; set aside. (Freezing instructions begin here.)
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat until shimmery. Add some of the patties (try not to overcrowd the pan) and cook for 4-5 minutes on each side, until browned and cooked through. They are cooked through when there is no longer any pink inside or they reach 165°F internally. (Note: If the patties brown before they’re cooked through, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover the pan, and continue to cook for a few minutes more.) Repeat this step with the remaining oil and patties.
  4. Serve the chicken burgers a la carte or on mini buns with a cheese slice on top, if desired.

Freeze For Later: Follow Steps 1-2. Place the patties on a parchment or wax paper lined baking sheet in a single layer and set in the freezer to flash freeze for about an hour. After they are frozen, transfer to a large resealable bag and store for up to 3 months.

Prepare From Frozen: Thaw the patties overnight in the refrigerator. Follow Steps 3-4.


Notes

*For a Gluten-Free Option: Coat the mini chicken burgers in almond flour or gluten-free breadcrumbs. If serving on buns, use gluten-free buns.

Slow Cooker French Dip Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

By Polly Conner

Everyone loves grilled cheese, so why not make it even more irresistible by turning it into a French Dip Grilled Cheese Sandwich?! The best part? It’s made in the slow cooker!

Slow cooker french dip grilled cheese sandwich on a white plate

French Dip Grilled Cheese: Cookbook Worthy!

Some of you may recognize this recipe. That’s because it’s from our cookbook, From Freezer to Cooker! It’s one of the few recipes from our cookbook that we had permission to share online. We know this is going to be a reader favorite so we wanted to get it to as many of you as possible. In From Freezer to Cooker, you’ll find many more recipes like this one.

Every recipe in From Freezer to Cooker has the following:

  • Slow cooker instructions
  • Instant Pot instructions
  • Freezing instructions for both methods
  • Clear, easy to follow instructions

There really is no other resource out there like it. If you like these Slow Cooker French Dip Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, you’ll love many others in the book as well!

From Freezer to Cooker

Let’s talk more about these scrumptious sandwiches, shall we? This upgraded grilled cheese is SO easy to throw together. Just toss a simple marinade and the roast in the cooker. You’ll end up with fall-apart beef and an au jus you may just want to drink. Then, with just a few minutes of work at the end, say hello to melty, ooey-gooey, meaty sandwiches to dip in that luxurious sauce.

FAQ about Slow Cooker French Dip Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

How long does the beef roast cook in the slow cooker?

These cook on Low in the slow cooker for 8 to 10 hours or on High for 5 to 6 hours.

Are these a dump-and-go meal?

Yes and no. The meat part is for dump and go. Put it in the slow cooker in the morning and come back to it at night ready and waiting for you. I also say no because you will have to shred the meat and assemble the sandwiches.

Can I make French Dip Grilled Cheese Sandwiches in the Instant Pot?

You bet! Cut the meat into 2×2-inch pieces. Pat dry with paper towels and season lightly with salt and black pepper on all sides. Place the beef in the 6-quart Instant Pot and pour in the sauce. Lock and seal the lid. Cook at high pressure for 30 minutes. Allow the pressure to release naturally for 10 minutes, then quick release the remaining pressure. Transfer the roast to a cutting board and shred with two forks. Return the meat to the cooker and stir it into the sauce. Follow steps 4-6!

What should I do with the leftover meat?

If you have meat that you didn’t use in the sandwiches, score! Here are some ideas on how to use it:

  • Freeze it and make the same recipe a few weeks down the road
  • Put it over nachoes. Similar to our Baked Nachos, just spread the shredded meat out over tortilla chips. Add cheese and desired toppings and bake.
  • Put the meat in wraps. Add sauteed bell peppers and onions. Yum!
Slow cooker french dip grilled cheese sandwich on a white plate

How to Make French Dip Grilled Cheese Sandwiches into a freezer meal

Like all of the freezer meals in our recipe index, all of our cookbook recipes provide freezer meal instructions as well! If you want to double this recipe and freeze one for later, here is how:

FREEZE FOR LATER: Follow step 1. Pour the sauce into a gallon-size freezer bag or container. Season the roast lightly with salt and black pepper and add to the bag/container with the sauce. Seal and freeze. Place the bread and cheese in separate freezer bags or containers. Seal and freeze alongside the roast.

PREPARE FROM FROZEN: Note: You will need to have butter on hand to complete this meal. Thaw. Place in the slow cooker. Follow steps 3 through 6.

Freezer meals stacked in a freezer

Ready to make some gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches? Let’s do this!

Print

Slow Cooker French Dip Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 10 min
  • Cook Time: 8 hours
  • Total Time: 8 hours 10 minutes
  • Yield: 8 Sandwiches 1x
  • Category: Slow Cooker
  • Method: Slow Cooker

Ingredients

  • 3 cups low-sodium beef broth
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon dried minced onion
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1.5 teaspoon salt, plus more as needed
  • 1.5 teaspoon ground black pepper, plus more as needed
  • 1.5 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 34 lbs boneless beef chuck roast (1 large roast or 2 smaller ones), trimmed of excess fat
  • 6 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 16 large slices of sourdough bread
  • 16 slices provolone, cheddar, or pepper Jack cheese

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the broth, soy sauce, minced onion, garlic powder, salt, black pepper, oregano, thyme, bay leaf, and red pepper flakes. (Freezing instructions begin here.)
  2. Place the roast in the cooker and season lightly with salt and black pepper on all sides. Pour the sauce over the top.
  3. Cover and cook on Low for 8 to 10 hours or on High for 5 to 6 hours, until the meat easily shreds. Transfer the roast to a cutting board and shred with two forks. Return the meat to the cooker and stir it into the sauce.
  4. Spread a thin layer of butter over one side of each slice of bread. Place a slice of cheese on the unbuttered side of half the slices of bread. Using a slotted spoon, add a layer of the shredded meat (be sure to drain the liquid first). Top with another slice of cheese and a second slice of bread, buttered-side up.
  5. Heat a large skillet or griddle over medium heat. Cook the sandwiches for a few minutes on each side, until the bread is golden brown and the cheese has melted.
  6. Serve the sandwiches warm, with the warmed juices from the cooker in small bowls alongside for dipping.

FREEZE FOR LATER: Follow step 1. Pour the sauce into a gallon-size freezer bag or container. Season the roast lightly with salt and black pepper and add to the bag/container with the sauce. Seal and freeze. Place the bread and cheese in separate freezer bags or containers. Seal and freeze alongside the roast.

PREPARE FROM FROZEN: Note: You will need to have butter on hand to complete this meal. Thaw. Place in the slow cooker. Follow steps 3 through 6.


Notes

Instant Pot Instructions: FREEZE FOR LATER: Follow steps 1 and 2. Place the sauce and the meat in a gallon-size freezer bag or round container. Seal and freeze (if using a freezer bag, set it in a bowl or round container with a diameter similar to the Instant Pot so it will fit in the pot when frozen). Place the bread and cheese in separate freezer bags or containers. Seal and freeze alongside the meat.

PREPARE FROM FROZEN: Note: You will need to have butter on hand to complete this meal. Thaw the bread and cheese. Set the Instant Pot to “Saute” Transfer the frozen meat to the pot and cook for 5 minutes to release some liquid. Press “Cancel.” Follow steps 4 through 6. (The frozen meat will cook in the same amount of time as fresh.)

What to Serve with French Dip Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Here are some ideas that would be tasty with this recipe!

This recipe would also be a great meal for idea for groups of people! We have lots of recipes that would work for large groups. Make sure to check them out!

20+ Meal ideas for groups of people

Baked Italian Meatballs

By Rachel Tiemeyer

Look no further for a delicious baked meatball recipe. Our Baked Italian Meatballs are a 30 minute meal staple in our house! The ingredients are simple but they are still packed with flavor. They make a great freezer meal because you can easily double the batch to freeze meatballs for later!

Baked meatballs on a white plate with marinara sauce

Easiest Baked Meatballs… EVER

Everybody loves a good meatball, right? Well, at least everyone in my crew does. And, as my mom friends out there know, it’s no small feat to prepare a meal that everyone eats and enjoys. These delicious, moist, Baked Italian Meatballs may get eaten before they ever make it atop whole wheat spaghetti with homemade marinara sauce or a Meatball Sandwich.

The ingredients in our baked meatballs are simple:

You likely have all of the ingredients for these easy baked meatballs in your pantry!

Baked italian meatball

Perhaps the best part: Skip the stove top mess and bake these away in the oven for only 20 minutes. They come out perfect every time. And, like so many of our recipes, you can make these meatballs ahead of time and freeze them for a quick, healthy meal later. Check out the freezer meal instructions in the recipe.

Here is a short video of how Baked Italian Meatballs come together

How to Freeze Baked Meatballs

One of the best parts about this meatball recipe is that it is freezer friendly. Meatballs work beautifully to assemble and then freeze before baking for a meal down the road. I’d suggest rolling them up and placing them on a parchment lined baking sheet to freeze.

How to freeze baked italian meatballs

After they are frozen enough to hold together, place them in an airtight container or freezer storage bag.

The beauty of freezing meatballs is that you can now pop out as many as you need for future meals. No need to bake them all at once. These can be a great freezer meal for 1-2 people.

Ways to Use Baked Meatballs

Baked meatballs are incredibly versatile. Here are some ideas on ways to use them!

  • Serve them over whole wheat spaghetti with marinara sauce
  • Bake them and then assemble them as Meatball Sandwiches
  • Eat them plain! They can be a great appetizer.
  • Lighten up but don’t miss out on flavor by serving them over zoodles.
Baked italian meatball on a fork

What to serve with Baked Italian Meatballs

Here are some ideas that baked meatballs would go well with:

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Baked Italian Meatballs {Freezer Meal}

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 46 servings (about 24 11/2 inch meatballs) 1x
  • Category: Appetizer
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: Italian

Description

Everybody loves a good meatball! These delicious, moist ones may get eaten before they ever make it atop spaghetti or a sub sandwich. You’ll want to make this baked version of meatballs again and again.


Ingredients

  • 1 ½ lbs lean ground beef (This is where we get our favorite grass-fed ground beef.*)
  • 1 cup whole wheat Panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning

*affiliate link


Instructions

Make It Now:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or foil.
  2. Using clean hands, gently combine all ingredients in a medium bowl.
  3. Use a medium dough scooper or a spoon to scoop and then roll about 1 1/2 inch meatballs. Line up meatballs on the sheet pan, leaving room between each.
  4. Bake for about 20 minutes or until no longer pink inside (160 degrees internal temperature).
  5. Optional: Serve with marinara sauce over pasta or on a sub sandwich.

Freeze For Later:

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or foil. Then, complete Steps 2 and 3. At this point, flash freeze uncooked meatballs by placing on the sheet pan (or in a baking dish) in the freezer for about an hour or so. Once frozen, dump meatballs in a gallon-sized freezer bag, seal, and place in freezer.

Prepare From Frozen:

Thaw meatballs using one of these safe thawing methods. Cook according to instructions, beginning with Step 4.

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Slow Cooker Balsamic Shredded Beef {Freezer Meal}

By Rachel Tiemeyer

Slow Cooker Balsamic Shredded Beef is an easy, healthy, dump-and-go, delicious dinner. This freezer friendly recipe is a win for my family and is a great recipe for large groups. So simple!

 

Slow Cooker Balsamic Shredded Beef

Slow Cooker Shredded Balsamic Beef might be the easiest and very best slow cooker meal I’ve ever made for my family. You simply can’t beat the aroma of slow cooked chuck roast. It’s one of the best dump-and-go meals you’ll find!

Seasoned chuck roast in a slow cooker

Everyone, from ages 4 to 42, devoured this tender, flavorful meat dish. I have served it with mashed potatoes (and of course veggies and fruit), which is perfect for all that extra sauce in the crock, or Boiled Baby Potatoes go well with it, too. Then, the next night we had this same Slow Cooker Shredded Balsamic Beef on mini wheat rolls as “french dip” sandwiches. Again, a huge win!

Video Tutorial: How to Make Slow Cooker Balsamic Shredded Beef

How to Freeze Slow Cooker Balsamic Shredded Beef

This recipe works great to prep ahead and freeze. You can make lots of batches at once if you plan ahead a bit.

Freezer Meal Instructions:

Method One:

To Freeze: Place all ingredients together in a freezer friendly plastic bag and freeze. To prepare, let bag thaw in refrigerator for 24 hours.

To Prepare: After thawed, cook as directed.

Method Two:

To Freeze: Fully cook the meal (through Step #4). Let it cool completely. (Safety Note: Do not let the meat sit on the counter more than 2 hours.) Store meat and sauce in a freezer container or freezer bag after it’s cooled completely.

To thaw: There are at least three safe ways to defrost and warm up this meal.

  1. Let meat thaw in the fridge for 24-48 hours and then warm gently on the stove top or in the microwave. (This is the preferred method.)
  2. From frozen on stove top: Place the frozen meat and sauce on the stove top in a pot over medium-low heat. Dump 1 cup of water or beef broth over the top. Put a lid on and stir periodically until warmed through.
  3. From frozen in microwave: Place frozen meat and sauce in a microwave-safe bowl. Use the DEFROST setting to thaw, stirring occasionally. Then heat in the microwave on the COOK setting in 30-60 second increments until warmed through.
Slow cooker balsamic shredded beef on a plate

Can You Make Slow Cooker Balsalmic Shredded Beef in the Instant Pot?

You bet! Just follow the instructions in the recipe below but make the following changes:

  • Cut the beef into 2×2 pieces.
  • Place the beef and the sauce in a 6-quart Instant Pot. Lock and seal the lid. Cook at high pressure for 30 minutes. Allow the pressure to release naturally for 10+ minutes.

If you want to know how to convert other recipes to the Instant Pot, be sure to download our Instant Pot Cooking Times Chart. We also have a cookbook that gives slow cooker AND Instant Pot instructions for EVERY recipe. You can check out From Freezer to Cooker here.

Need a side dish idea?

Serve this with our 3-Minute No-Boil Corn on the Cob or our Simple Baby Boiled Potatoes.

No-Boil Corn on the cob
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Slow Cooker Balsamic Shredded Beef

  • Author: Thriving Home
  • Prep Time: 10 minute
  • Cook Time: 8 hours
  • Total Time: 8 hours 10 minutes
  • Yield: 68 servings 1x