Can you slow cook frozen food?

Forgot to thaw the chicken that you were planning on throwing in the slow cooker for dinner? Make another plan for tonight’s meal.

“Food should be completely thawed before you put it in a slow cooker,” says Maribel Alonso, a technical information specialist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. “If you put in a block of frozen food, it may take too long for the food to reach a safe temperature.”

In other words, the food may spend more than two hours in the “danger zone.”

“Bacteria can double in as little as 20 minutes at temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees,” Alonso explains.

And if your slow cooker has a “delayed start” feature, think twice before you use it. If the food sits in the cooker at room temperature for more than two hours, you’re smack in the danger zone.

Instead, get a slow cooker that automatically switches to “warm” after the food is cooked.

Bottom Line: Never let food spend more than two hours in the “danger zone.”

Photo: devrim_pinar/

The information in this post first appeared in the January/February 2020 issue of Nutrition Action Healthletter.

Find this article interesting and useful?
Nutrition Action Healthletter subscribers regularly get sound, timely information about staying healthy with diet and exercise, delicious recipes, and the inside scoop on healthy and unhealthy foods in supermarkets and restaurants. If you don’t already subscribe to the world’s most popular nutrition newsletter, click here to join hundreds of thousands of fellow health-conscious consumers.

Have a comment, question, or idea?
Send us an email at While we can’t respond to every email, we’ll be sure to read your message.