It is always better to grill freshly made or fully thawed burgers, but in some circumstances, when unexpected guests arrive or you need to make a quick meal, you may end up with frozen burgers that need to be grilled.
Grilling frozen burgers is possible and safe when done in compliance with the safety guidance by the USDA and when prepped and cooked properly.
Here is everything you need to know about grilling frozen burgers.
Is grilling frozen burgers safe?
Yes, it is, as long as the patties have been stored at a safe temperature and are cooked to an internal temperature of a minimum of 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
The USDA recommends that frozen burgers are cooked for about twice the time that you would grill fully-thawed patties.
Are there advantages to cooking frozen burgers?
The biggest benefit of grilling patties that have already been prepared and are taken out of the freezer or store is that you will spend much less time processing the meat.
Additionally, you only need to defrost as many patties as you want to grill and eat, so you won’t have to worry about leftovers. By doing this, you’ll be able to save money and avoid wasting food.
Last but not least, grilling frozen hamburgers is a simple method to whip up a tasty lunch for your family or unannounced visitors.
What to look for when buying frozen burger patties?
It is advised to search for frozen hamburger patties that are at least 90% lean when purchasing them. With such ingredients, you can be sure that the burgers will be delicious and highly nutritious without any additional fat.
When buying frozen burgers, be careful to read the ingredient list and steer clear of any items that include gelling agents or other unusual components that you are unfamiliar with.
Preparing homemade frozen burger patties
While buying ready-made frozen burgers from the store is convenient and quick, you can make your own frozen patties at home if you want to make sure that they contain the exact ingredients you want and are made in accordance with your own taste.
Here is a quick recipe for preparing homemade hamburger patties:
- Ground beef, at least 85% lean – 3 pounds
- Lawry’s seasoning salt – 3 teaspoons
- Freshly ground black pepper – 3 teaspoons
Instructions for preparing homemade frozen burgers:
- Mix the ground beef and the spices all together well by lightly tossing the mixture in a bowl.
- Use your hands and spatula or a burger patty maker to form a dozen 4-ounce burgers on a cookie sheet. You can use a kitchen scale to make sure that they all weigh the same.
- Separate the patties using parchment paper squares, and store them in a Ziploc bag or freezer-safe container for future use.
How to thaw frozen burger patties safely?
If you have the time and the patience, it is always better to thaw the frozen burgers before grilling them. To safely thaw the patties, you can take them out of the freezer and let them thaw in the refrigerator for 24 hours. The fridge needs to be set to a temperature of up to 40 degrees Fahrenheit maximum.
If you are in a hurry, you can place the frozen patties in a Ziploc bag and thaw them faster by submerging the bag in a bowl or sink filled with cold water.
By using this method, the patties should be soft and ready to be seasoned in about 10 minutes.
You can also thaw frozen burgers in the microwave by cooking them in 2-minute cycles and checking them after each cycle until they are ready to be grilled.
If you use cold water or the microwave method for thawing burgers, you will need to cook them all because it is not safe to refrigerate them or freeze them again after that.
If you have a gas grill, you can thaw the frozen patties directly on the grill. This is done by turning half of the jets on to medium heat and leaving the others off. Once the grill has preheated, place the frozen burgers on the cool side of the grill and let them thaw for 8 to 10 minutes.
How do prevent flare-ups when grilling frozen burgers?
Flare-ups usually occur when the meat releases excess moisture, including fat, which drips on the hot coals or another heat source. As a result, the flames can sear the meat directly, causing a bitter-flavored burn.
Thawed burgers are more prone to flare-ups, so in order to prevent them, you should move the patties to the cooler zone of the grill if they look like they are releasing too much moisture.
Preventing frozen burgers from drying out during the grilling
While it does take almost twice the time to cook frozen patties as compared to freshly prepared ones, it is still possible to overcook them.
To avoid overcooking and drying out the frozen burgers, you should keep an eye on them throughout the grilling.
Look for the red substance released on the surface of the burgers when they are cooking. This is not blood but rater myoglobin from the muscle tissue mixed with water. When this appears, this means that the burger is cooking properly.
Flip the burgers and take them off the grill when they are cooked but are still releasing some moisture.
When you overcook them, this moisture will disappear completely, and their taste and texture will be quite unpleasant.
Some of the common mistakes when grilling frozen burgers
Here are some of the pitfalls which you should avoid when grilling frozen burgers:
- Grilling them over a very low temperature for a long time. The low and slow method may be great for brisket and other meat, but it will dry out the burgers. This will make them tough and unappetizing and can take away some of their delicious juicy beef flavors as well.
- Searing the burgers over high heat for a little while. This is a common rookie mistake, which can cause the burning of the exterior of the burgers while leaving the inside raw.
- Keeping them over a high heat throughout the cooking. This is another common mistake, which will leave the burgers charred and bitter on the outside.
How to properly grill frozen burgers?
Now that you know which common mistakes to avoid when grilling frozen burgers, it is time to find out the proper way to grill frozen burger patties.
- Check whether the patties are properly separated from each other after being frozen and whether they are uniformly shaped and sized. If they are still stuck together, use a butter knife to separate them. If they do not separate easily, you may need to thaw them for another 15-20 minutes in the refrigerator.
- Set up and preheat the grill. If you have a gas grill, set the burners to medium heat. If you are using a charcoal grill, let the coals burn and cook down until you can hold your hand over the grate for about 5 to 6 seconds. When using a pellet grill, you need to set the temperature to 325 degrees Fahrenheit before grilling frozen hamburger patties.
It is possible to thaw the frozen burgers directly on the gas grill. Just set half of the jets to medium heat, and leave the others cold. When they have heated up, thaw the frozen burgers in the cool zone of the grill. The thawing should be complete in about 10 minutes when using this method.
- Oil the grill grates lightly to prevent the patties from sticking on them once the meat starts thawing and cooking.
- If you haven’t done so already, season the burger patties as you prefer once they are thawed. Do not attempt to season them when they are frozen because none of the seasonings will stick to the meat.
Once you start cooking the burgers, you can press the seasoning in the meat with a spatula directly on the grill.
- When the grill has been preheated, you can place the burgers on the grates. Place the patties directly over the heat source.
- Let them cook for about three minutes, and use a spatula to rotate them on the grates. This doesn’t mean flipping them over. Simply turn them clockwise or counterclockwise to achieve those beautiful grill marks on the side.
- Flip the burgers when they start looking juicy and red.
- Continue cooking them for about five minutes. Rotate them to get the grill marks on the other side as well.
- Flip them over for the third time, and let them cook for five more minutes.
- You can add cheese to the burgers.
- Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the burger patties. Insert the probe to the center of each burger to be sure.
- The desired temperature (and recommended safe one) is at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Even when you remove the patties from the grill, they will continue releasing juices and cooking while they rest, so be careful not to overcook them.
- The entire grilling of the frozen burgers should last about 20 minutes, but this depends on the size and thickness of the patties.
- When you pull the burgers off the grill, let them rest for 2 to 3 minutes before serving them.
- You can toast your burger buns on the hot grill while the burgers are resting.
As you can see, it is completely safe and possible to grill frozen burgers, and the results will be mouthwatering when you thaw and grill them properly.
This means that you can buy ready-made burgers or make your own homemade patties and freeze them so that you have a quick and easy-to-prepare dish or snack for any occasion.
Just remember to pack and store them correctly and at a safe temperature, and you will be able to grill delicious burgers every time you want to.