How to Grill Frozen Burgers | A Simple Guide

Never grilled a frozen burger before? Don’t worry, the process is almost the same as grilling a regular patty, but with some slight tweaks. This short guide will take you through all the steps and answer some common questions. Let’s get cooking!

On Defrosting (To Thaw, or Not to Thaw?)

Can you cook frozen burgers without defrosting them first? Yes, it’s perfectly fine to take patties from the freezer to the grill. Frozen burgers will require more time (and a couple different techniques we will see below), but essentially they will defrost as they cook without causing any issues.

The only time you should consider defrosting beforehand is if your patties are much thicker than average. If that’s the case, you run the risk of burning the exterior of your burger by the time the inside is cooked. Luckily, almost all frozen burgers from the grocery store are on the thinner side.

Preparing The Grill for Frozen Patties

If you’re used to grilling at ultra-high temperatures, take it down a notch for frozen burgers. For a propane grill with adjustable knobs, use a medium-high flame. If you have a charcoal grill, consider using fewer briquettes

Why the slightly lower temperature? Frozen burgers need extra time on the grill, and as mentioned in the previous section, you don’t want the outside to burn while the inside is still coming up to temperature.

Grilling the Frozen Burgers

Here’s how to grill your burgers from frozen, step by step:

  1. Take your patties out of the freezer and use a butter knife or spatula to separate them if they are stuck together.
  2. Place the patties on a medium-high grill that has fully pre-heated.
  3. Flip every three minutes, or more often if you’re struggling with flare-ups. Remember that there’s no need to press your burgers down against the grill with a spatula – that will only cause them to lose moisture.
  4. After the first flip, season your patties with salt and pepper. This is much easier than trying to make seasonings stick to a frozen patty. After the second flip, do the same with the other side. 
  5. Continue cooking and flipping the burgers for roughly 15 minutes.
  6. Use a meat thermometer to ensure that the burgers reach 160° Fahrenheit.
  7. Assemble burgers with whatever sauces and toppings you desire. See the next section for some tips!

Serving Your Burgers

How you choose to assemble your burgers is up to you, but here are a few tips:

  • Toast your buns. Not only does toasting add some great texture, but it also protects the bread from getting soggy and falling apart. Just spread some butter on your buns and throw them on the grill until golden brown.
  • Char some veggies. If you like onions or other vegetables on your burger, consider giving them some time on the grill as well.
  • Make a burger sauce. A typical burger or “special” sauce is made up of ketchup, mustard, mayo, and various other ingredients. For example, this one has onion powder, pickle juice, and a little bit of sugar. Try to develop your own sauce to give your burgers a signature taste.

Frequently Asked Questions

Let’s address some commonly asked questions about grilling frozen burgers:

Is It Okay to Serve Frozen Burgers Medium Rare?

According to the USDA, burgers should be cooked to 160° Fahrenheit. In other words, you should grill them until they are well done with no pink in the middle.

With that being said, a lot of folks cook their burgers medium rare without running into problems. Just be aware that you are taking on more risk if you don’t cook your burgers to 160° F.

How Long Does It Take to Grill Frozen Burgers?

Total grilling time depends on the thickness of the burgers and the exact temperature of your grill. You should expect frozen patties to take 3-5 minutes longer than fresh (non-frozen) ones, with the overall cooking time being in the 13-20 minutes range.

How Can I Tell When a Burger is Done Without a Thermometer?

First off, I really recommend getting an instant read thermometer. They are useful for all sorts of culinary projects, not just grilling. You can also look at the juices coming out of the burger. When the pinkish red liquid* stops coming out of a burger, that means it’s nearly done. From there you should make a small slice into the center of one of the burgers to check for doneness.

*This liquid is actually just myoglobin and water, not blood.

What Should I Use to Season My Burger?

Typically burgers are only seasoned with salt and pepper, but you can definitely add other spices. For example, garlic powder is great for adding some deep richness to all kinds of beef. And almost any grill seasoning mix, particularly one made for steak, would likely work nicely. Just be careful adding anything that could burn when exposed to high temperatures and brief flare-ups.

What Temperature Should I Use on a Traeger or Other Pellet Grill?

Since Traeger grills don’t expose meat to an open flame the same way that charcoal and gas grills do, you can use a higher temperature. I have cranked my pellet grill up to 450° F without problems.

How Do You Avoid Flare-Ups?

Flare-ups are the result of fat drippings falling over an open flame, so they are inevitable to some extent when grilling burgers. Repositioning the burgers on the grill can help, and you can even rotate the grates themselves if you have a round grill (see the video below). And if the flames are really getting out of control, just put the lid over your grill to smother the fire temporarily.

Summing Things Up

Grilling frozen burgers isn’t much different than grilling thawed ones. There’s no need to defrost, just give them a little extra time on a slightly less hot grill. Use a thermometer to make sure they are safe to eat, then serve them however you like. Let me know if you have any questions about the process in the comments below.

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