It’s a good idea to freeze raw pork if you’re not planning on eating it within three or four days. But what if you’ve forgotten to take it out of the freezer on the day you plan to cook it? In this guide, we’ll tell you how to cook frozen pork chops without defrosting the meat first.
How To Cook Frozen Pork Chops
When you’re cooking meat from its frozen state, it’s important to make sure that the meat heats thoroughly. To do this, start at a lower temperature and rotate the chops often to ensure even heating. It takes about 50 percent longer to cook meat that hasn’t been thawed in advance.
Is It Safe to Cook Frozen Pork Chops?
As a rule, it’s fine to cook meat that hasn’t had a chance to thaw. It’s not recommended for larger cuts like whole poultry or bone-in pork shoulder, because the cooking process is so long to begin with. However, if you’re just making a batch of pork chops, feel free to start cooking them as soon as you take them out of the freezer.
When you’re cooking frozen meat, remember to add about 50 percent to the overall cooking time. If it usually takes 15 minutes to prepare the pork chops according to your favorite recipe, it will probably take 22 to 25 minutes in this case.
A Word About Temperature
The key to success is to ensure that the pork chops are thoroughly cooked before they’re taken off the heat. If the meat is allowed to linger too long at temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit, it can invite food-borne bacteria that may cause serious illness.
Although the USDA claims that it’s safe to eat pork that’s been cooked to 145 degrees, it’s a good idea to cook it more thoroughly if it was still frozen to begin with. Wait until the internal temperature reaches 155 degrees before removing the pork chops from the heat.
Can You Use a Slow Cooker to Cook Frozen Pork Chops?
We would advise against using a slow cooker to prepare food that’s still in its frozen state. That’s because the slow cooker might leave the meat in the “danger zone” of 40 to 140 degrees for a long period of time. To be on the safe side, use the stovetop or oven method if you choose not to fire up the grill.
Remember that this rule applies if any portion of the pork is still frozen. Only use the slow cooker if you’re certain that the meat has had a chance to thaw properly.
How To Grill Frozen Pork Chops
If you haven’t had time to thaw your pork chops, don’t hesitate to fire up the grill. The sooner it’s hot enough to start cooking, the better. Gas grills take the least time to heat up, which makes them a convenient option when you’re in a hurry.
For gas grills, set the burners to medium. If you choose to build a charcoal fire, wait until the coals have died down a bit before adding the pork chops. You should be able to hold your hand just above the cooking grate for 5 seconds without flinching. If you’re using a pellet grill, set the temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Your next step is to season the pork chops. Use a blend of seasoning salt, freshly ground black pepper, cumin, and dried oregano. The spices will have a hard time adhering to the frozen meat, so use the heel of your hand to rub them in as best you can.
Once you’ve added the pork chops to the grill, the cooking times will vary depending on thickness. A boneless 3/4-inch chop should cook for 6 to 9 minutes per side, while a bone-in chop measuring 1-1/2-inch thick might require a grand total of 50 minutes on the grill before it’s safe to eat.
While the pork chops are cooking, rotate them every few minutes so that they’ll have a chance to heat through evenly. This will also allow grill marks to form on the exterior.
Use an instant-read thermometer to test the internal temperature of the chops. Once it’s reached 155 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s time to take the meat off the grill. You can also make a small cut in the surface of the thickest pork chop to make sure that the insides have turned white and the juices are running clear.
Let cooked pork chops rest for at least 5 minutes before serving.
How To Cook Frozen Pork Chops on the Stovetop
This process is similar to grilling, but it eliminates the extra step of waiting for the grill to heat up. It’s also a better choice if the weather isn’t cooperating.
Heat about a tablespoon of butter or olive oil in a large skillet. Place the skillet over medium heat, tilting to coat the entire bottom of the pan with a thin layer of fat.
While you’re waiting, season the pork chops with kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, garlic powder, and dried herbs. We like a combination of oregano and sage for this recipe, but you can experiment with whatever herbs you have on hand. Pat the frozen chops thoroughly with the heel of your hand to help the spices adhere.
Set the pork chops in the hot pan, making sure to place them in a single layer. Cook over medium heat for about 4-5 minutes per side, or until the pork has browned all over.
Lower the heat to medium-low and cover the pan. Let the pork cook for another 10 to 15 minutes, or until the insides register 155 degrees on an instant-read thermometer.
Alternatively, you can test the temperature by making a small nick in the center of the thickest chop. If the meat has turned white and opaque and no pink juices run out when you make the cut, then it should be safe to eat.
Let the cooked pork chops rest for 5 minutes, then serve hot.
How To Cook Frozen Pork Chops in the Oven
Oven roasting is a great alternative when you’re pressed for time. Because the method is largely hands-off, it allows you to prepare your side dishes while the pork is cooking.
To begin, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. If you’re following a recipe that calls for an oven temperature of 375 degrees instead, it’s fine to raise it a bit, but try not to go over the 375-degree mark. Otherwise, the chops might burn on the outside while the interiors are still frozen.
Prepare the pork according to your recipe instructions. If you’re making breaded pork chops, make sure to dip the frozen meat in milk or beaten egg before dredging it in the crumbs. This will help the breading adhere to the frozen surface.
Set the pork chops in a single layer in an oven-safe casserole or baking dish, along with any other ingredients. Bake according to the recipe instructions, adding 50 percent to the recommended cooking time.
At this point, check the chops for doneness. If they haven’t yet reached an internal temperature of 155 degrees, return them to the oven to finish cooking.
Allow cooked pork chops to rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.
Methods For Thawing Pork Chops
We’ve determined that it’s perfectly safe to cook pork chops that haven’t been defrosted as long as you take things slow. However, if time permits, it’s always preferable to thaw the meat in advance.
The recommended method is to remove the pork chops from the freezer the day before you plan to cook them, then leave them in the refrigerator overnight. Place the pork in a dish with sides high enough to catch any liquid runoff, and always set the dish on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator to avoid cross-contamination.
You can also place the pork chops in a cold water bath, as long as they’re sealed in a zip-top bag or other leak-proof containers. Use a metal bowl that’s large enough to hold all the pork chops at once and replenish the cold water every 30 minutes. This is a great method if you’re only making a few pork chops at once, as the meat can be thawed within an hour.
The microwave is fine as a last resort, especially if you can’t afford to add 50 percent to the overall cooking time. It usually takes just a few minutes, but check your microwave’s settings before you begin. Rotate the chops halfway through the defrosting cycle, and be sure to cook them immediately after thawing.
If you’ve just come home from work and realized that there’s no fresh meat in the refrigerator, don’t panic. By following the correct procedures for safe cooking, you can move those pork chops from the freezer to the dinner table in less time than you might think.
Best of luck, and happy grilling!