Instant Pot Taco Meat from Frozen Ground Beef

Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 10 servings

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This Instant Pot Taco Meat from Frozen Ground Beef is the easiest way to do weeknight dinner! No thawing the meat, no extra pots — just throw it in the Instant Pot or pressure cooker, cook and season! This taco filling is perfect for tacos, burritos, quesadillas, or taco salad and great for prepping ahead!


Happy Thursday friends! I’m jumping in here for yet another Instant Pot recipe, and we’re still sticking with the basics: how to make Instant Pot taco meat from frozen ground beef!

frozen chunks of ground beef in instant pot on trivet

I’ll admit, when I first heard about people cooking frozen ground beef in their Instant Pots, I wasn’t convinced. I mean, how can that even work? Wouldn’t it cook into a big solid block??

But after my success with cooking frozen chicken breasts in the Instant Pot, I was pretty determined to give it a try!

(Looking for more easy Instant Pot recipes? Check out these Instant Pot Baked Potatoes or this Creamy Instant Pot Chicken Noodle Soup!)

cooked ground beef in instant pot with seasoning on top

Friends, I have a 3 month old, a 3 year old, and a 5 year old. I’ve got a lot on my mind, and I’ll be honest, spending a lot of time running around like crazy not really getting anywhere. If I actually remember to take some meat out to thaw in the morning, it’s some kind of miracle.

If the 3 month old makes it into real clothes for the day, it’s also some kind of miracle.

So learning to cook meat from frozen is one of the first things I knew I had to do with my Instant Pot! It’s a game changer you guys.

You can absolutely just use this recipe and not add the taco seasoning. You can make sloppy joes, or spaghetti sauce, or just about anything where you need cooked ground beef and weren’t exactly prepared for dinner that night 😉

instant pot taco meat being scooped out of pressure cooker with a metal spoon

Tips and Tricks for Making this Instant Pot Taco Meat from frozen ground beef:

  • I usually cook two pounds at once, and they are frozen into square blocks. They are pretty thick, so even if your meat is in a slightly different shape it shouldn’t take any longer. If you have more than one pound frozen together, you will want to add 5 minutes or just cook longer on saute at the end.
  • Because I am going to saute it with the seasoning in the end anyway, I’m not that concerned about it being completely cooked through after pressure cooking. I would rather have it a little easier to crumble and a little pink yet in the inside, then totally dried out and tough.
  • It’s going to take a little time and muscle to scramble the meat — use a hard metal or wooden spoon and just go to town. Had a bad day? This is a great way to get some of that anger out! 😉
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Instant Pot Taco Meat from Frozen Ground Beef

4.85 from 13 votes
This Instant Pot Taco Meat from Frozen Ground Beef is the easiest way to do weeknight dinner! No thawing the meat, no extra pots — just throw it in the Instant Pot or pressure cooker, cook and season! This taco filling is perfect for tacos, burritos, quesadillas, or taco salad and great for prepping ahead!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Cuisine American, Mexican
Course Main Course, Salad
Servings 10 servings
Calories 130cal


  • 1 1/2 cups + ½ cup water
  • 2 lbs frozen ground beef frozen in 1 lb blocks
  • 3 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper


  • Pour the water into your Instant Pot (mine is a 6 quart) and add the trivet or a cooking rack.
  • Add the ground beef, side by side, on top of the trivet.
  • Set the Instant Pot to Manual, high pressure, for 18-20 minutes (18 if your blocks are thinner, 20 for thicker blocks in the middle).
  • At the end of the cook time, turn the Instant Pot off. Do a quick release and drain the water from the Instant Pot (I like to use my trivet to hold the meat in the pot as I dump out the water).
  • Using a strong metal or wooden spoon, crumble the ground beef. This will take a few minutes! It’s okay if your beef isn’t cooked right through as we’re going to be cooking further.
  • Turn the Instant Pot to saute and add the ½ cup water, cumin, garlic, paprika, salt, onion powder, black pepper and cayenne and stir until thoroughly combined, adding an additional ¼ cup water if necessary.
  • Serve immediately, refrigerate for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 3 months.


This recipe will work just as well with fresh ground beef! Set the Instant Pot to Manual, high pressure, for 15 minutes and then crumble on saute as per the recipe.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 130cal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 19g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 56mg | Sodium: 296mg | Potassium: 340mg | Vitamin A: 215IU | Calcium: 15mg | Iron: 2.7mg

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Meet Ashley

My name is Ashley Fehr and I love creating easy meals my family loves. I also like to do things my way, which means improvising and breaking the rules when necessary. Here you will find creative twists on old favorites and some of my favorite family recipes, passed down from generations!

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Reader Interactions


  1. Janet says

    So I use your method for cooking the ground beef for my lasagna. Perfect! Here’s a tip – I put my raw chopped onions (from my lasagna recipe) in the instant pot water under the trivet. After cooking, I strain them as I pour the water into my gravy/fat separator. Then I have my cooked onions and good beef broth to use in the recipe instead of water – extra flavor without the fat! Just started following you and am loving your insight on recipes!

  2. Lindy says

    Yes I did use it to cook frozen hamburger meat but after first step turn the hamburger into chili using a preboxed chili mix. Turned out great thanks for the recipe for cooking frozen hamburger.

    • The Recipe Rebel says

      Hi! It’s something I prefer. The water in the bottom will include fat so I like to remove it and add clean water. Hope this helps!

    • Ashley Fehr says

      Time is not as important as doneness. First, you will crumble the beef. It will take however long it takes 🙂 Then you will add in the spices and cook and stir until it is combined.

  3. Patricia says

    Hi I have a question do I use the same amount of time for one pound of meat? I’m looking forward to trying this!! Your frozen chicken breast recipe was life changing and I’ve been recommending to everyone!!! Thank you

  4. Carol says

    Made it today it worked well only change I made was to add beef bullion and no salt. It was quick easy with less clean up than normal.

      • April Crawford says

        I’m new to the instapot and was actually given one second hand. It doesn’t have the trivet. Will this method work without it? I take care of anywhere from 4-8 grandkids on any given day and I struggle to have dinner ready for grandpa when he gets home.

      • Ashley Fehr says

        I would see if you can find a trivet on Amazon or somewhere secondhand. They really do come in handy! I think it would probably work without but I’ve never tried. You may be able to just prop it up with something else that is pressure cooker safe.

      • Ashley Fehr says

        No problem! You can definitely do it with one pound! To drain the water I usually put the trivet over top of the meat to hold it in the bottom, then dump to drain

  5. Tod Sackella says

    Great recipe! Used tonight when I forgot to thaw out the ground beef and it turned out terrific! Thanks so much for posting.

  6. Karen says

    I put 2 pounds of frozen meat in the pot for 20 minutes. It was mostly cooked, but I could still break it up easily. It didn’t take long at all to break up and it had finished cooking by then. I drained the water, added the spices and fresh water. It was so easy! Thank you! I will definately do this again.

  7. Andrew Mayer says

    I tried this last night.

    I love the concept, but I think you’re overcooking the meat a bit, especially since it’s going to need to be sauteed with the spices. I also like to add some onions, fresh garlic, and bell pepper.

    I’m going to try it with 10 minutes and see what happens.

  8. T Sieracki says

    Thank you for this post! My instant pot just arrived so I was eager to try it out. Tacos were on the menu so I decided to give this recipe a try. Worked like a charm. I was nervous at first because my ground turkey blocks were too big to lie side by side so I had to stack them. After the 20 minutes of cooking, I opened the pot and where they were touching was still pretty pink. But like you mentioned, I switched to sauté and it finished cooking while breaking the turkey into crumbles. I ended up pulling some out before adding the seasoning for a future meal. So happy with the results!

  9. Danielle says

    Another great way to use my Instant Pot! And I NEVER remember to take ground beef out to thaw. It’s like some kind of mental block, I had no idea you could use an Instant Pot (never considered it). Love that I came across this!

4.85 from 13 votes (4 ratings without comment)

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