Last Updated on 20th July 2022 by Pauline Loughlin
Whether you made meatballs yourself or bought them from the store, freezing them is the best way to store them. They last for a very long time (months and even years) while stored in the freezer, and they are quick and easy to reheat.
Best of all, they still taste excellent when reheated, but of course you need to know how to cook frozen meatballs the right way.
Cooking them for too long can make them overly hard or soft, depending on your cooking method. If you don’t cook them long enough, they can still be hard and frozen inside, and no one wants to put a bite of spaghetti in their mouth and taste frozen meatball.
Frozen meatballs are usually precooked, so all you have to do is warm them up. However, you may want to heat them up using a specific cooking method, depending on what dish you are making and how you plan to use the meatballs. If you are cooking meatballs from raw then we have a guide on how long to bake meatballs at 425 and other oven temperatures.
Since the meatballs are already cooked for you ahead of time, there isn’t a lot you need to do. You may even be able to toss them into the pot, oven, or pan along with the other food you are making and let them all cook together, allowing them to share juices and flavours.
What to Use Frozen Meatballs for
I like to use frozen meatballs in my Swedish meatballs recipe, making the sauce from scratch and then helping speed the meal preparation along by using pre-made, frozen meatballs.
I use them in spaghetti too, of course, but they are a great addition to a lot of different pasta dishes. You can use meatballs instead of ground beef in lasagna, for example, and I like them on top of pizza for a filling, hearty meat topping.
You can add them to Mexican foods as well, like making a burrito filled with meatballs, rice, black beans, and cheese. Or you can use them as a substitute for any dish that calls for ground beef or chicken.
You may want to try meatballs in your stir fry as well, and I love the taste of slightly fried meatballs in my Chinese noodles and egg fried rice. There are so many dishes you can use this meat in, and I have a good time experimenting and trying new ways to incorporate meatballs of every kind.
How to Cook Frozen Meatballs in Crockpot
The slow cooker is one of the easiest ways to heat up frozen meatballs. There is almost no work involved, and you don’t have to worry about thawing out the meatballs either. You can just place them into the crockpot or slow cooker with your other ingredients and let the cooker do its thing.
You need some sort of sauce or liquid to cook the meatballs in the slow cooker with. You may want to use spaghetti sauce, stroganoff sauce, or barbecue sauce, depending on what you are making.
How long to cook frozen meatballs in crockpot? It’s going to take them about 2 ½ hours for them to cook fully from being frozen to fully cooked and ready to eat. That’s at a high setting. If you are okay with waiting longer, you can set the slow cooker or crockpot to low and cook them for about 4 hours.
Feel free to add in your onions, garlic, and whatever else you want to have with them into the crockpot. This is a simple way to make tasty meals packed full of flavour and to ensure that your meatballs come out of the pot really juicy and succulent.
You can keep the meatballs in the crockpot to stay warm for up to three hours, if you like. They will still be tender and tasty when you take them out.
If you were wondering how long to cook frozen meatballs in crockpot on high, just keep in mind that some of your other ingredients might not need the same cooking time. You might dry out other food in the crockpot if you cook it on high for too long, so check the crockpot directions for them and cooking times as well to ensure that you don’t overcook your other ingredients.
How to Cook Frozen Meatballs in Instant Pot
I love my Instant Pot and how easy it is to use for putting together complex meals with lots of ingredients with minimal fuss. If you don’t have one, I highly recommend that you get one. It will be your new best friend for simple and fast meals.
Like the crockpot, it is easy to use, but it cooks a lot faster. It’s designed to be easy to clean and simple to operate, so it’s good for people who want to make really tasty meals for their family in a fraction of the time and without a lot of hassle involved.
Using the Instant Pot for cooking meatballs is simple enough. You will need a sauce or liquid to moisten the meatballs and make them more flavourful. Once again, my go-to sauces are spaghetti or barbecue for most meatball dishes.
How long to cook frozen meatballs in Instant Pot for? If you set it to high pressure release, the meatballs will cook in five minutes. Check the cook times on anything else you want to throw in there with them, like onions, peppers and whatever else. Once the meatballs come out of the Instant Pot, they will not only be fully thawed, but they will also be juicy and ready to eat.
How to Cook Frozen Meatballs in Oven
I think the best way to bring out the rich flavour of seasoned meatballs is through oven roasting. You can toss your frozen meatballs directly onto a tray and place it in the oven to cook them up. Once again, there is no need to thaw them first, so this is just as easy a method as all the others I have discussed so far.
You might be thinking that oven preparation would take a long time, but it really doesn’t. It will probably take the oven as long to heat up as it will to cook the meatballs. How long to cook frozen meatballs in the oven?
It just takes 12 minutes when you preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Feel free to add sauce, garlic, onions, and other garnishes and flavourings to your meatballs before you put them into the oven.
How to Cook Frozen Meatballs in Microwave
My least favourite way to heat up meatballs is in the microwave. The flavour and texture just seem off, and while they come out juicy, they also tend to be a bit rubbery. Microwave heating is super fast, but it is subpar when it comes to actually eating the meatballs after using this method.
Still, it’s hard to beat a two or three minutes cook time, depending on how many meatballs you heat up at once. You can place them onto a microwave safe plate while still frozen.
Feel free to add seasonings, sauces, and garnishes, but don’t bother to cook your onions and garlic or other veggies this way. Those will need to be pan fried if you want them to get cooked, taste great, and still have them ready to eat nearly as soon as the meatballs come out of the microwave.
How to Cook Meatballs Faster
What if you want to speed things up and cook your meatballs in less time? The obvious answer is to let them thaw out first. You can do that by placing the meatballs into the fridge.
They can stay in their packaging or be placed into a resealable bag or airtight container. Leave them for a few hours to let them thaw out fully, and the more meatballs you are thawing the longer it will take.
Be sure to use any thawed meatballs within a few days. They won’t last for long in the fridge. That applies to meatballs you have cooked that were frozen. They need to be eaten in a few days to retain their freshness and reduce the risk of food poisoning.
So, if you find any of the above methods too slow for your meal prep, just let the meatballs thaw out ahead of time. You will need to plan ahead for this one, as it can take hours for the meatballs to fully thaw. Just put them in the fridge overnight and cook them in in a few minutes the next day.
Keep in mind that you have to reduce all of your cook times for various heating methods when working with thawed meatballs as opposed to frozen ones.
How to Cook Frozen Uncooked Meatballs
Now, what if you have frozen meatballs that haven’t been cooked already? Maybe you made them on your own or you bought raw ones from the grocery. Whatever the case, you will need to cook them for longer no matter what method you use.
You are not just heating them up at that point; you are also cooking them thoroughly. Uncooked meat is dangerous to eat, as there is a risk of food borne bacteria, so, ensure that you follow all cooking instructions carefully and check the meatballs cooking temperature before consuming, if there is any doubt.
The oven is my favourite method for how to cook frozen uncooked meatballs, and for that you need to preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, you can place the meatballs on a tray and sauce them or season them how you like.
Your cooking time is going to be a whole lot longer than it was for the oven method above for already cooked frozen meatballs. You will need to cook these for 35-40 minutes to ensure they are fully cooked.
How do you know when meatballs are done cooking? They will be slightly browned on all sides. Make sure they are thoroughly cooked, and you can check them with a cooking thermometer. The reading should be at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit for them to be safe to eat. Anything less than that and they will need to go back into the oven to cook some more.