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The Art of Grilling a Frozen Burger

The question of how long to cook frozen burgers on grill is a perplexing one. It is a quandary that grill masters everywhere have grappled with for a long time. The exact process of how to grill frozen hamburger patties is an even bigger question because of the challenge of dealing with a piece of meat that is essentially a brick of ice when you pull it out of the freezer.

These questions may be open to interpretation and debate. However, the question of can you grill frozen hamburger patties should be put to bed forever.

The answer from this cook is a resounding yes, grilling frozen hamburger patties can be done with a minimum amount of work if you follow a simple process that will be detailed below. You should not be intimidated by the process or the task in front of you when looking at a bag of frozen patties. It is actually an opportunity to make something delicious if it is done in the correct way. 

1. The first step is firing up the grill to a medium-low level.

We will use a gas grill as the example in this article for the sake of simplicity. However, this process will easily transfer to other styles of grill. The medium-low level of heat roughly equates to three hundred and seventy five degrees on a gas grill.

As the grill is warming up, it is recommended that you separate the frozen burgers from the packaging so that you are not scrambling to do this later. The goal of the entire grilling process as it is stipulated here is to gain efficiencies and make the most of your time. The key idea to remember is that the quicker you get the burgers on the grill, the faster you will be chowing down.

The obvious trick to getting to that end game of eating is that frozen burgers take more time to cook and the actual process of making the burgers must be done carefully to avoid the dreaded frozen burger taste that we have all experienced before.

You also want to avoid the ‘hockey puck’ effect where the hamburger is turned into a thin, tasteless piece of meat. A tip to avoid that fate will be described later.

2. After the grill has warmed sufficiently, which generally takes five to ten minutes, you should put the frozen burger patties on the grill.

A metal flipping utensil should ideally be used throughout these steps so that you get the proper amount of leverage and traction during the grilling process.

The next step is around the all important question of how long to cook frozen burgers on grill. The answer is generally between twenty and twenty five minutes on average.

3. There are a multitude of variables involved but the twenty minute time window is when the majority of frozen burgers start to reach their sweet spot from a cooking standpoint.

4. The key point to remember is that you must turn the burgers about every five minutes so that you get it cooked all the way through in a steady and consistent fashion.

With frozen burgers, it is easy to over cook one side and under cook the other because the view of the burger is much more opaque. With raw burgers you can see the color change in a way that you often cannot with frozen burgers. 

There is another trick to making sure that frozen burgers are cooked all the way through and that is to make sure that you are leaving the lid closed in the five minutes that is suggested to wait between flipping the burger.

It is undoubtedly very tempting to look at the status of your burgers but the reality is that maintaining a consistent level of heat is very important to the process. There is nothing that is more disruptive to the level of heat on a grill than opening it up during the process when you are not flipping the burgers.

One suggestion to avoid opening the lid to check on your food is to start getting buns cut, chips out and anything else that you may want as part of the meal ready early. This will take your mind off of the temptation to open the lid and put you further ahead of the back end getting the meal ready.

Regardless of how go about this, keeping your hands off the burgers while you are outside next to it will help immensely. 

If you trust the process of grilling frozen burgers and check at five minute intervals, the question of how long to cook frozen burgers on grill will be self evident at that twenty minute mark. There is also the nuance in the process of trying to make sure that you get the right moisture level in the burger at the end of the process.

In order to leave the ‘juices’ in the burger, try not to flatten the burgers out when you flip the meat. Pushing the meat down with excessive force will often times drain much of the delicious taste out of the burger. 

5. The last step in the process of cooking frozen burgers is to check the burger with a meat thermometer.

The reason to check the temperature is to make sure that the burger is cooked all the way through. It isn’t always evident on the outside how well cooked the burger is and you want to avoid making something that is under-cooked.

The best way to do measure temperature is to take the burger off of the grill and put it onto a clean plate. The thermometer should be placed directly into the center of the burger patty and make sure to keep it there for at least five to ten seconds in order to get a solid reading.

You don’t want to keep it on the grill because the heat of the grill can often influence the way that the thermometer measures. The key point to remember about burgers is that everyone wants a different degree cooked.

Finding that right balance between raw and well done is often times an art form. The truest test of whether cooking frozen burgers on a grill is a success is the taste and the reaction of the people that you are cooking for ultimately.

Procedure Summary

  1. Fire up the grill to a medium-low level.
  2. After the grill has warmed sufficiently for about five to ten minutes, put the frozen burger patties on the grill.
  3. Turn the burgers about every five minutes so that it is cooked all the way through in a steady and consistent fashion.
  4. Twenty minute time window is when the majority of frozen burgers start to reach their sweet spot from a cooking standpoint.
  5. Check the burger with a meat thermometer.

Chefs will often look down upon weekend warrior cooks who don’t have the time to get the burger meat thawed to the perfect quality and content. However, the retort to the culinary genius is that the proof is in the proverbial pudding. There is no reason why a frozen burger cannot be delicious if you are able to follow the steps outlined above. The only question left to be answered after that will be how many frozen patties to cook!

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