The one slow-cooker mistake you're probably making, according to the USDA

We love our Instant Pot for everything from dinner to dessert to wine (kidding, kind of). When it comes to lightning-fast meals, the Instant Pot is unmatched.

But it turns out, there's one thing the popular appliance is not good for: Cooking frozen chicken. In fact, according to the USDA, it's a mistake that could put your health at risk.

Here's why: Even if you've triple-checked that your chicken is cooked (it's reached an internal temperature of 165 degrees), bacteria tends to flourishat temperatures from 40 to 140 degrees, aka the "danger zone," to culinary pros. When you start with icy meat, it takes longer to reach 165 degrees. And those pesky bacteria (like salmonella and staphylococcus aureus) will multiply within minutes.

Our first thought: Don't the bacteria die once the meat is fully cooked, anyway? Sure, says the USDA...but the disease-causing toxins they release are heat-resistant. Hello, food-borne illness. Surprisingly, however, the Instant Pot website says there's no need to thaw frozen foods before cooking them.

Our advice? Better to be safe than sorry. We'll be thawing out those boneless, skinless breasts first (safely, in the fridge), thank you very much.

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