No summer barbecue party is complete without hamburgers. Most barbecue enthusiasts love to prepare fresh meat patties and grill the delicious burgers on the go. However, it can be more convenient to prepare the burgers in advance and keep them frozen for your barbecues.
When you are having a party and have guests to attend to who has time to chop and prepare the burgers, right? Grilling burgers from frozen patties also works if you have a lot of guests coming over. You can simply take out the number of burgers to grill and keep the rest stored in the freezer.
Thawing the Frozen Patties
Experts agree that it is better to have the frozen barbecue food thawed at room temperature before you start grilling. This is the case whether you are planning to grill burgers, sausages or chicken.
When the meat is at the room temperature, it cooks evenly both inside and out during grilling. If you grill frozen patties, one of three things is likely to happen.
- You will cook the patties on a low flame for a long time to ensure that they are cooked all the way inside. This can cause the patties to lose all the moisture and dry them up. The patties get hard, difficult to chew and also lose much of their juicy flavors.
- You will grill the patties on a high flame for a short time to prevent the surface from getting burned. This won’t allow the heat to penetrate into the patty as the cold temperature will keep it from cooking. The result is that the burger will be uncooked, moldy and cold on the inside.
- You grill the burger on the high flame for too long. This will cook the patty on the inside but the surface area will become too charred, burned and bitter.
The frozen inner temperature makes it quite difficult to grill burgers and cook them evenly both inside and out without causing any issues.
Difficult but not impossible.
It is possible to grill even frozen patties without causing any of the problems mentioned above. Here’s how.
Choose the Right Patties
Whether you are buying frozen burgers at the mart or making them at home, the ingredients play a strong role in how they cook. All beef patties without any gelling ingredients are easier to cook. Make sure to read the list of ingredients carefully.
You get more control over the ingredients when you make the patties at home. Get your burger meat minced fine as that will make it easier to cook and taste better as well.
Here are the ingredients you need for making burger patties at home.
- Ground Beef – 2 Pounds for a Family of 4
- Seasoning – 1/4 tsp minced onions, 1/4 tsp minced garlic, 2 tsp Salt, 2 tsp Ground Pepper
- Mixing bowl
- Flat Cookie Sheet
- Parchment Paper
- Zipper-Lock Style Bags
- Meat Thermometer
Mix all seasoning and spices with the mince meat in the mixing bowl. You can also dice up some fatty pieces of a brisket point or uncooked bacon and add it to the meat.
Make small balls and lay them out on a clean cookie sheet. Flatten the balls out into patties. Keep them thin, roughly a quarter of an inch. Flatter patties are easier to cook directly from frozen. Once the patties are prepared, keep them frozen in a zipper patties bag.
Setting Up the Grill
It is quite safe for you to grill frozen hamburgers without thawing them to room temperature ahead of time. However, the grilling process will take about twice as much time to cook them to perfection.
One thing you have to remember every time you grill frozen food is to preheat the grill before you put food on the grate. Always make sure that your grill is preheated up enough.
In order to grill frozen hamburgers correctly, you will need to set up your grill with two different heat zones. One section will be a high heat zone while the other half of the grill will be off the heat with no hot coals or flame at all. This might cause a flare up and make the grill slightly more difficult to manage, but it makes great grilling photography.
Preheat the hot section of your grill to about 325 degrees. If you’re using a charcoal grill without temperature control, heat the grill until you can comfortably hold your hand several inches above the grate for about five or six seconds, and feel the heat.
Putting the Hamburger Patties On
Separate your burgers and place them across the cold section of the grill, avoiding contact with the heated zone. If your grill has a lid, cover it up and leave them on there for about 2 minutes.
After 2 minutes, open the lid and flip the burgers over. The hamburgers should not start cooking at this. You should be able to tell whether they are cooking or not based on whether they are beginning to look dry or if there is any smoke rising from them. Shut the lid again.
Open the lid after 2 more minutes and check the burgers with the spatula. The surface area should feel softer as the patties have started to melt. The spatula is handy at this stage and you can move the patties around slightly to the medium heat section if they feel soft enough.
From this point onwards, you will grill the burgers with the lid open. The center of the burgers will still be frozen so you need to give the heat some time to penetrate. Keep flipping the burgers over every minute to make sure that no single side gets too cooked.
The time it takes to defrost the center depends on the thickness of the burgers. Thicker patties take longer and we do not recommend grilling them from frozen. A burger patty that is less than half an inch in thickness should be ready for grilling in 7 – 8 minutes of low heating.
Grilling the Frozen Hamburgers
Once the patties appear to have defrosted, move them to the hot side of the grill and start cooking on the flame. Turn the heating down to medium-high to avoid flare-ups and keep the patties from burning.
After a minute or two of cooking, you should see juices begin to pour out of the patties from the center and the sides. This is a clear indication that the center has melted and the raw juices trapped inside are getting released.
Typically these juices have a slightly reddish hue. When the burger juices begin to run clear on each patty, move your burgers off the heat and put them back on the medium section. From this point on you will want to cook them on the medium flame.
One mistake that people make when grilling frozen hamburgers is that they keep cooking them on high flame to bring the juices out until they cannot see any more. The juices inside the burger are what gives it a nice flavor. If you overcook it, the burger will become completely dried out. Not only will it lose the wonderful flavor, but the burger will also become harder and difficult to chew.
It will take about 4 -5 minutes for the burger to get cooked on the medium flame after the juices first began to pour out. Once the patties look done, move them to the cold side again. For charcoal grills, cover the lid and allow the burgers to absorb some of the smoke. For other types of grills, you can take them off the grill and serve.
Serving the Hamburgers
Some grilling enthusiasts like to put the buns on the grates while the burgers are on the low heat side. It should take about a minute for the buns to become crispy. This will make your burgers taste even better.
You may want to check the temperature inside the burger with a burger thermometer. Remember that you will have to first take the patty off the grate and put on a plate to avoid damaging your thermometer. Place the thermometer at the center and the side of the burger, to check if it is cooked evenly.
While it is still recommended to get your hamburgers thawed before grilling, especially if you are new to grilling, you can make tasty burgers even when you cook them directly from frozen.