Grilling Frozen Burgers – Can You Do It? Our Guide

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Frilling frozen burgers isn’t the most ideal – it’s almost always better to use fresh, thawed beef.  But sometimes, the day gets away from you and you’ve forgotten to thaw your beef.  And those hungry stomachs aren’t going to feed themselves!

Fortunately, grilling frozen burgers really isn’t that difficult and it’s perfectly safe when done properly.  In this article, we’ll go over everything you need to know for how to grill frozen burgers and see great results doing it!

So if you’re in a pinch, you’ve come to the right place.  Read on to learn everything you need to know about grilling frozen burgers.

A Quick Note On Thawing/Defrosting

Later we’ll get into a step by step guide for how to grill frozen burgers.  But when possible, it’s ideal to defrost.  The USDA has guidelines on how to safely defrost beef, and they also approve the method of cooking without thawing.

Even if you don’t completely thaw your burger patties, a little bit of time spent to thaw them out can help speed up the amount of time you’ll have to be on the grill. 

If your burger patties aren’t already seasoned, then defrosting at least until the outside layer of beef is thawed can help the burgers be much more receptive to seasoning.  Salt and pepper will stick a lot easier to thawed beef.

There are 3 approved methods for defrosting beef:

Refrigerator Thawing Burger Patties

Refrigerator thawing is probably the easiest and creates the least mess, but it also requires planning ahead.  You more or less need to place frozen burgers in the fridge 24 hours before you plan to cook them if you want a full thaw.

Cold Water Thawing Burger Patties

Cold water thawing is much faster than refrigerator thawing but requires your attention to make sure it’s done right.  Place your frozen burger patties in a leak proof package or plastic bag.  You don’t want your beef to absorb water – that will lead to bad results.

Submerge the bag or package in cold tap water.  You can do this in your sink, or in a large enough bowl or container.  If you only have 1 or 2 burger patties the entire process might take less than an hour.  More burger patties mean more time for a complete thaw.  But, you can cold water thaw for about 10 minutes until the outer layer is softened and ready for seasoning.

You MUST cook cold water thawed food immediately.  If you need to refreeze a portion of the beef it should also be cooked before refreezing.  It’s unsafe to cold water thaw beef and refreeze or refrigerate before cooking it.

Microwave Thawing Burger Patties

Even though we would not recommend thawing burger patties in the microwave (because we think just throwing them frozen on the grill will lead to better results), it’s a safe method of defrosting your burger.  It’s also by far the fastest method if you’re pinched for time.  But with how inconsistent the microwave is at uniformly heating food, we would strongly advise against using a microwave to thaw a frozen burger patty.

Similar to cold water thawing, you MUST immediately cook microwave thawed burger patties immediately after thawing.

Grilling Frozen Burgers Without Thawing

The USDA also says that it’s 100% safe to grill beef from a frozen state.  As a rule of thumb, expect the cooking process to take about 50% longer than normal when grilling frozen burgers.  Here’s a step by step guide to grilling frozen burgers:

Prepare Your Burger Patties

Take your burger patties out of the freezer.  Depending on how they are packaged or pressed, you might need to separate the patties and remove paper separators.  You can easily do this with the same spatula you’ll use on the grill.

If you have trouble with some of the patties sticking together, let them sit out for a few minutes to thaw, then try separating them again carefully with a spatula.  To speed the process up, you can use the cold water or microwave thaw method for only a couple of minutes to help separate the patties.

After each patty is separated, season to your preference with salt and pepper.  We like to season one side of the patty only at first, and put that side face down on the grill

Then, as the burger cooks the top side will soften up a bit – that’s when we season the other side.  Doing it this way will make your seasoning stick much better (at least on one side)!

Heat Up The Grill

No matter which type of grill you’re using, you’ll want to get the heat up sooner vs later since grilling frozen burger patties takes longer.  Ideal temperature for burgers is around 375ºF.

Cook the Frozen Burgers

Now comes the fun part!  Honestly, the process itself for grilling frozen burgers is not all that different from grilling thawed burgers.  The big difference is the time to completion – plan on frozen burger patties taking about 50% longer than thawed ones.

Place your seasoned patties firmly on the grill.  Flip them after 5 minutes and continue to flip every 5 minutes until they are completely cooked.  You should see juice rise to the top of your patties – that’s a good thing!  If your burgers stop releasing juice, you might have cooked them too long.

I am a huge advocate for using a probe meat thermometer of some kind to measure internal food temperature – especially when your food starts out in a frozen state.  That’s the only way of truly knowing whether your food is cooked to a safe temperature or not.

Most beginners don’t realize that seasoned pit masters and professionals rely on probe thermometers quite a bit.  It’s the only way you can assure consistent results.  Also, when dealing with frozen food – undercooking the inside just isn’t something I want to mess around with.

The USDA recommends for burgers that you cook to an internal temperature of 160ºF.

Flare Ups

Unless you have an infrared grill that reduces flare ups, it’s quite possible that you’ll experience them while grilling frozen burgers.

When this happens, simply move your burgers to a different part of the grill and wait until the flare goes away.  Then, you can feel free to move the patties back.

The reason is, prolonged exposure to a grill flare up can lead to the outside of your burgers getting burnt to a crisp with an inside that’s not cooked completely.

Serve and Enjoy!

Now it’s time to enjoy your grilled creation!  Serve on a bun with your favorite toppings and condiments.

Grilling Frozen Burgers – FAQ

How Long to Grill Frozen Burgers?

We always recommend grilling until your food reaches a certain internal temperature.  For burgers, the USDA recommends an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit, but you can cook to your own preference.

Generally speaking though, frozen burgers typically spend anywhere from 20-28 minutes on the grill.  Of course, that can vary depending on how thick (or thin) your frozen burger patties are – and how hot your grill is.

How Hot Should My Grill Be?

The most common practice for grilling burgers of any kind is to set your temperature to 350-400 degrees Fahrenheit.  That’s a nice temperature where your burgers will cook relatively quickly, but it’s also hot enough where you’ll get some caramelization and crusty properties on the outside of the patty.

Grilling Frozen Burgers – Wrap Up

I hope this article has given you everything you need to confidently grill burgers at home!  The process isn’t all that different from a regular burger and it’s perfectly safe according to the USDA.

Just remember, it’s going to take a little more time and you need to make sure the inside of each patty reaches a safe internal temperature.  Don’t be in a rush when grilling frozen burgers, and you’ll see incredible results!

Be sure to check out our guide on how to keep your burger patties from falling apart next.  We’ve also made a guide to grilling frozen steaks if you want to check out how to grill other types of beef from a frozen state.