Ramblings
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Reader Survey: Pressure Cooking Frozen Chicken Drumsticks?

Chicken drumsticks in an electric pressure cooker

Instant Pot ‘O Drumsticks

The most common question on my pressure cooker chicken legs and chicken drumsticks recipes:

“My drumsticks are frozen. How much time should I add?”

My answer is: I don’t know? Five extra minutes, maybe?

That answer feels right, but I want to check it. I never cook my drumsticks from frozen. I’m cooking them either fresh or thawed. (I buy family packs of drumsticks. Straight out of the freezer I have a slab of chicken that won’t fit in the cooker. I have to thaw them enough to break them apart…and by that point I might as well leave them in the refrigerator overnight to thaw completely.)

I go to the store to stock up on frozen drumsticks for testing. And…neither of my local grocery stores carries them. (They have individually frozen wings, and boneless skinless breasts, but no drumsticks and no legs.)

I’m standing in the meat department, staring blankly at bags of frozen chicken wings. “What if I freeze them myself? No – no one would freeze individual drumsticks. They’re not asking about an ice block of frozen chicken pieces. Do they have a supply of frozen chicken parts I don’t? Am I frozen chicken deprived?”

Then the light bulb went on. “Why am I trying to guess what my readers are thinking when I can just ask them?.”

So, it is Survey time for my loyal readers!1

Frozen Drumstick Survey

  1. Are individually frozen drumsticks (or legs) available in your area? If so, what grocery store, big box retailer, or warehouse club near you sells them?
  2. Do you buy them, and do you try to cook them from frozen?
  3. Have you cooked them from frozen in your pressure cooker? Did you add extra time to make them work?

Leave an answer in the comments section on my blog. Thank you!

  1. Drumroll please! Get it? Drumstickroll? Chicken drumsticks…it sounded funnier in my head.

20 Comments

  1. April Kirby says

    Check the bagged, frozen chicken. Like the Tyson chicken bags. Individually quick frozen legs. That’s probably what people are talking about.

  2. Janet Wells says

    I buy them fresh in packages when they are on sale and then freeze. It is easier (and they freeze better) to repackage from the long package they come in and put them in freezer ziploc bags. Then I bunch them up to make them a short, squaty bag rather than the long package from the grocery store. I add about 5 minutes extra from fresh.

  3. Doesn’t Costco sell fresh drumsticks in attached packs of 6 or 8 pouches containing 5 drumsticks each? When I buy bone-in thighs (4 thighs per pouch; 6 pouches per Pack), I simply cut the pouches apart and freeze them. I rarely plan ahead far enough to thaw them overnight (which never accomplishes the thawing anyway), so I thaw them, at least partially, in the microwave.

    The question could also apply to a frozen whole chicken. I have read that the actual cooking time doesn’t change but the pot will take longer to get up to full pressure. Some sources say that this would also apply to frozen meats such as roasts for pot roast as well.

    • Kevin Hillman says

      I do find I need to add a few minutes but not much. Frozen chicken breasts seem to need 13 minutes instead of 12. I split the huge ones in half fresh or frozen.

    • I did a test with whole chickens….
      Both chickens weighed 5 lbs, 1 was frozen and 1 was thawed.
      I put a cup of broth in each pot with the trivet & placed the
      chickens on the trivet. I cooked on Manual for 32 mins, 10 min NPR.
      (I used the “6mins per lb plus 2 additional mins” formula)
      The pot with the frozen chicken took 6 minutes longer to pressurize
      but the frozen chicken wasn’t done when the time was up.
      I ended up cooking the frozen chicken for another 10 minutes…which
      would be a total of 8 mins per lb.
      Bottom line….for a frozen whole chicken the additional time it took to
      pressurize wasn’t enough and I still had to add more cook time.

  4. Dalayna Mullins says

    My drumsticks come from Walmart. They are TYSON brand. MAYbe people think they are frozen because when you take them out of the package they are ice-y ? They feel pretty solid too! I made your teriyaki drumsticks last night and the kids LOVED THEM! I followed the recipe. My drumsticks felt solid but they were not in a freezer just in an open meat cooler thingy.

  5. George R [HOOP] Hooper Jr says

    Being retired USAF we do most of our shopping at the nearby Offutt AFB Commissary. I guess they get the chicken in frozen as sometimes the pieces seem a bit icy – but they’re not SOLD frozen from the meat case.
    Never even thought to cook them frozen – agree completely w/your logic Re: thawing overnight in fridge.

  6. Kevin Hillman says

    I buy drumsticks and thighs in the family pack when they are on sale. I repackage and freeze. Usually about 5 total pieces or when my gallon bag is about full. When I pull them from the freezer, I soak them for a few minutes in hot water or put in the microwave for a few minutes. Just enough to pull from the bag. The clump of frozen goodness goes in the pressure cooker for 12 minutes. Sometimes they are not quite done all the way through. I always broil them with some BBQ sauce or grill them. This seems to work pretty good. I’ve been doing this for a few years now.

  7. Caryn Hart says

    Here’s what I have been doing lately. Trader Joe’s sells packages of 2 split breast’s with 4 drumsticks, and when I buy them, I don’t have an exact plan as to when and how I will cook them. So I wrap each chicken part in plastic wrap separately, and then put all six wrapped pieces in a ziplock or vacuum bag and put the bag in the freezer. This way I can take out how many and which parts out to cook when I am ready to cook.

    I have not cooked yet from frozen, but a quick google brought up someone who did and in only 25 minutes of pressure time: http://www.melaniecooks.com/instant-pot-frozen-chicken-legs/14009/

  8. I would like to know the answers to those questions as well. I only cook for myself, so I freeze a lot of food. I never know what to do with meat. I have purchased raw chicken legs and put them in freezer. I would like to know if they can be cooked in pressure cooker from frozen. Keep us posted on answers. Thanks!

  9. I get frozen drumsticks at Walmart in Macedonia Oh and I cook high pressure 16 minutes quick release

  10. Aileen says

    Albertsons/Vons, sometimes Smart and Final. For the big trays. Kinda frozen. I wouldn’t cook them frozen because I like to “sear” them a little on the sauté setting, first.

  11. Rachel C. says

    I go back and forth between buying trays of fresh chicken drumsticks at WinCo and then wrapping them in foil (two per foil packet) and freezing them, and I also buy whole chickens on sale from New Seasons (which is basically a west coast-local version of Whole Foods) and break them down myself and individually wrap and freeze the breasts/pack of two thighs/pack of two drumsticks/pack of two wings.

  12. Nicole says

    I bought some organic drumsticks, they care in a bag of four, so I have a block on frozen drumsticks and don’t know how long to cook it.

  13. Cristi P says

    I buy drumsticks from Costco. There are about 4 per pack and it comes in a pack of 3. I stick them straight in the freezer so it is a chunk when it comes out. I thawed it long enough for it to come out of the bag and then just put two “chunks” into the pressure cooker for 10 minutes. I’m hoping to they are thawed and maybe partially cooked when they come out so that I can then broil them with some BBQ sauce to brown them. I’ll let you know.

  14. I buy them in bulk at Costco. They are portioned into packs of 4-5 per pack which is perfect for a single meal. I stick the whole thing in the freezer and use them when needed. I definitely would appreciate knowing how to cook them from frozen.

  15. VegasDude says

    Henderson / Las Vegas, Nevada

    Our local Walmarts have 4lb bags of Great Value Drumsticks in the Meat Dept coffin freezers..

    WINCO, if you have one – Ours ALWAYS have 5-6lb family packs of fresh drumsticks @99¢/lb
    I portion, vacuum seal, and freeze them.. WINCO ALWAYS has amazingly low prices on meat..

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