Crock-pots are all about convenience. You throw in some ingredients, go about your business, and whip out a delicious, hot meal a few hours later. No one takes the time to prep ingredients a whole day before for a crock-pot. That’s why it was so disconcerting to learn that taking chicken directly from the freezer and plopping it in the popular countertop appliance is a big no-no.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) website, slow cookers, as a whole, are safe. But in a section called “Slow Cookers and Food Safety,” the department elaborates and says that you should, “Always thaw meat or poultry before putting it in a slow cooker.”

Unfortunately, microwaving it last minute isn’t even an option! Man, these guys are tough.

The reasons are based on bacteria. The USDA explains that because your slow cooker is, well, slow to reach any cooking temperature that’s considered “bacteria-killing,” your food spends too much time in the danger zone.  Chicken needs to reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees to be considered safe to eat, but if it spends too much time thawing instead of cooking, bacteria like salmonella and staphylococcus aureus can take over.

In a perfect world, you should thaw your chicken in the refrigerator overnight. If you forgot, you can put your chicken in bowl and run it under cold water in the sink until it thaws. Then you can pop it in the crock pot and get back to business.

So what do you think? Will you change your crock pot chicken-cooking ways?

Also see, Food safety for parents and their students.


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Meghan is a full-time writer exploring the fun facts behind food. She lives a healthy lifestyle but lives for breakfast, dessert and anything with marinara. She’s thrown away just as many meals as she’s proud of.