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I've been revisiting frozen food due to COVID, including one of my old favorites, hot/lean pockets.

Years ago, I used to always make these in the toaster oven; they are much, much better that way than microwaved. I also tried to avoid lean pockets — couldn't exactly say why, maybe a notion that they are less flavorful or have more artificial ingredients¹ — but any more only it's hard to find vegetables (other than tomato); if you want green, you have to go lean pockets.

However, the cooking instructions are "not recommended for regular oven or toaster oven", and no (oven) directions are given. This makes me very sad!

Does anyone know why this is, and can I cook them in my toaster oven anyway? (If necessary, I'm willing to invest in a probe thermometer so that I can cook to temperature rather than having to guess at cooking time.)

p.s. I can't figure out what tags would be useful; help from folks that know the tags better would be appreciated!

(¹ Yes, I realize the likely idiocy of this. Please don't judge me 😉.)

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First and foremost, this.

Second, according to the company their test kitchen tests all products in the microwave and oven and they have instructions for what they find works best. If the oven doesn't cook to a certain standard they only list microwave instructions. Note that all their products are pre-cooked so you don't have to worry about not fully cooking from a food safety standpoint.

I suspect that some hot pockets have a higher thermal mass and cooking in an oven would easily lead to overcooked shell and undercooked interior. I looked at their web site and some lean pockets have microwave instructions and some do not. I would suggest cooking in the toaster oven at a lower temperature for longer and they should turn out fine. But let us know how it goes. Obviously don't use the sleeve.

You may also want to turn up the temperature at the end of the cook to brown better after the inside is properly heated.

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  • Huh, don't recall having issues with them; amusing video, though 🙂. "No sleeve", obviously. I guess I could give it a go at 325°F, sounds like it would be best to have a thermometer though. (Not too worried about browning, though, they don't brown worth mentioning in the microwave, so it can't go much worse.) – Matthew Apr 9 at 21:26
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Well... I guess I can "answer" this now.

I attempted to bake a chicken, broccoli, cheddar (with pretzel bread). I figured I'd start with what seems to be the more-or-less common denominator of 30 minutes at 350°F. Since myklbykl mentioned overcooking, I took out some insurance by wrapping it in foil, although this only survived about halfway through as I was fiddling with thermometers.

For comparison, I did one in the microwave first. As expected, it was ridiculously chewy and not very satisfying.

After 30 minutes, it was unclear if it was cooked. My analog thermometer said "yes" (to the tune of 200°F), but it was also partly lying on the baking pan and I'm not sure what it was really picking up. My probe thermometer had been acting up and was telling me closer to 140°F, so I gave it another five minutes, which seemed to get the filling to where it needed to be (as measured in 2-3 spots). It was slightly less chewy than the one I microwaved, though not nearly as crispy as expected (compared, for example to a breakfast hot pocket with a "traditional", rather than pretzel, shell). However, I noticed that the inside of the shell was under-cooked and still rather doughy, which probably contributed to it still being chewy.

I may try this again, but first I'm going to ask a follow-up question if anyone has any specific advice for how to cook this... I suspect the answer will be either lower and slower, or possibly allowing it to thaw completely beforehand or maybe par-cooking it in the microwave and then finishing in the toaster oven. I may also try to temp it at the boundary between the shell and the filling rather than the center of the filling.

Given how atrocious the one I microwaved was, however, I'm still convinced that there is a better way to cook these suckers...

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  • What about a blast in the microwave, then crisp up in the oven? – bob1 Apr 21 at 20:47
  • @bob1, yeah, that's what I plan on trying next time... – Matthew Apr 22 at 13:15

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