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How to Cook Frozen Burgers (Grill, Oven, Stove, & More)

How to cook frozen burgers

We don’t always have time to pick up some fresh beef, mix our ideal blend, season it, form it into patties, and fire up the grill. Sometimes it’s nice to just pull some patties from the freezer and have burgers in less than 30 minutes instead of two hours.

There’s no shame in that, and if you don’t rush the process, you can have really tasty burgers in just a few minutes.

The frozen burger game is slightly different, though.

What you need to know about cooking frozen burgers

You need to cook it to 160 degrees

Unlike fresh patties, frozen burgers are thawed during processing and are recommended by the FDA to cook to 160 degrees or higher. It’s not safe to eat burgers medium rare or rare, so if that’s your ticket, you should make them fresh.

The slower you go, the better they will taste

Frozen patties are made for preservation and convenience, and it’s up to you how convenient you want them to be. You can just throw them on a grill or a stovetop right away, but you can also let them thaw in the refrigerator and season them beforehand.

The cooking times will vary based on the thickness

This may be obvious, but if you’re making a smash burger with a ¼ patty, it’s going to cook a heck of a lot faster than a ½ pound burger. Keep that in mind with the cooking times listed below, and make sure to check the internal temperature before eating.

Do what you can to get a good crust

Nailing the sear on the stovetop or throwing your oven burgers in the broiler for a few minutes to develop a good crust on your burger can really elevate them. If you’re not worried about time, give it a shot.

You don’t have to defrost them

Defrosting can help with the taste and texture of the burger, but you don’t have to do it. If you don’t have time to defrost, you can cook them immediately with any of the methods explained below!

Using a good bun and good condiments is worth it

The pattie is just part of the puzzle. To make a frozen burger go from good to great, surround it with a great bun, good cheese, and other good toppings.

5 ways to cook frozen burgers

Here’s how to cook frozen burgers any way you’d like. We’ve added rough difficulty, speed, and taste scores so you can pick the best option for you!

1. Grilling frozen burgers

  • Difficulty: 3/5
  • Speed: 2/5
  • Taste: 5/5

Grilling is the most work but is also the tastiest choice since you get that delicious smoky flavor. We like this option best for big parties!

  • Take out of the package and separate with a metal spatula.
  • Remove the paper.
  • Season with salt, pepper, and whatever else you like. I love using cajun seasoning.
  • Heat the grill up to high.
  • Throw them straight on the grill for 3-5 minutes depending on the size and thickness of the patties.
  • If your burgers were frozen solid, you could add seasoning at this point since it should adhere better.
  • Keep flipping for 15-20 minutes or until 160 degrees / desired doneness.

Helpful Recipe: How to Grill Frozen Burgers When Pressed for Time

2. Cooking frozen burgers in the oven

  • Difficulty: 2/5
  • Speed: 3/5
  • Taste: 4/5

If you only have small pans or are cooking a lot of burgers at once, the oven can be a great way to make sure they all come out at the same time. Try using the broiler at the end to get a good char, too!

  • Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
  • Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  • Place a wire baking rack on top and spray down with oil.
  • Place burgers on the sheet.
  • Either season now or after the first flip depending on how frozen your patties are.
  • Cook for 6 minutes, flip, and then drop the temperature to 325.
  • Continue to cook until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees. Time varies depending on the size of the patties.
  • Bonus Step: Throw them under the broiler at the end with cheese to get more of that “grill” flavor.

Helpful Recipe: Frozen Hamburgers in the Oven

3. Cooking frozen burgers on the stovetop

  • Difficulty: 2/5
  • Speed: 4/5
  • Taste: 4/5

For 1-2 people, the stovetop is our favorite way. You can get a good char on a burger with a cast iron and easily add additional flavors like rosemary and butter (similar to a steak).

  • Take out of the package and separate with a metal spatula.
  • Remove the paper.
  • Season with salt, pepper, and whatever else you like. I love using cajun seasoning.
  • Add a little oil like vegetable or oil to a cast iron and get it hot enough for water to instantly sizzle (medium-high heat).
  • Flip every 3-5 minutes until desired doneness (usually around 15 minutes).
  • After the first flip, add more seasoning if needed.

Helpful Recipe: How to Cook Frozen Burger Patties on Stovetop

4. Cooking frozen burgers with an air fryer

  • Difficulty: 2/5
  • Speed: 4/5
  • Taste: 3/5

Air fryer burgers are good too! If your oven and stove are occupied, you can use this recipe to make sure your burgers come out perfectly.

  • Set your air fryer to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Season the patties.
  • Place patties inside but don’t crowd them
  • Cook for 15-20 minutes until the internal temperature reads 160 degrees Fahrenheit.

Helpful Recipe: Frozen Burgers in the Air Fryer

5. Cooking frozen burgers in the microwave

  • Difficulty: 1/5
  • Speed: 5/5
  • Taste: 2/5

We’re not big fans of the microwave method from a taste perspective, but there is no shame in making a microwaved burger if you’re short on options or really need to make it quickly.

  • Put on a plate or microwave-safe dish.
  • Cover the meat slightly to retain more moisture.
  • Cook on medium to high for 5-8 minutes in 40-second intervals.
  • After an interval or two, go ahead and season the patties.
  • If you cooking a lot of patties, rearrange them to ensure equal cooking
  • Let meat rest for 2-3 minutes.
  • Check the internal temperature to make sure it’s 160 degrees.

Helpful Recipe: Can You Microwave Frozen Burgers

How to defrost frozen burgers

To defrost or not to defrost? Well, your choice will depend on how much you care about texture and time.

Letting a frozen burger defrost entirely will make the seasoning and salt distribute better and allow you to get a better char on the grill. This is because the moisture trapped in the burger will release and prevent browning. If you’re going for optimal taste, then a full fridge defrost is the move.

If you’re doing a smash burger where you bury the burger or are short on time, then cooking it immediately or defrosting in the microwave is also fine — just make sure you know your choices!

Speaking of which, you’ve got options when it comes to defrosting:

  • Put them in the fridge: If you have a day or two and are in no rush, just throw your patties or beef in the fridge until they’re ready.
  • Put them in cold water: For something that will be ready in a couple of hours, just put the package in a bowl of cold water.
  • Put them in the microwave: Just throw it on a microwave-safe plate, use the defrost button, and check it every few minutes until it’s thawed.
  • Skip the defrosting: You don’t have to defrost. It will help with the browning and seasoning, but you can also throw them straight in the oven or on the grill and just manage your heat. It will take a little longer but is perfectly fine!

Other common questions about frozen burgers

How long can you keep frozen burgers in the freezer?

According to the FDA, between 3 and 4 months. These are estimates, so remember to follow your nose.

How do you know if your frozen patties are bad?

You’ll smell them. The texture will also be weird, too. They can be sticky, slimy, and even turn green eventually.

5 awesome burger recipes for inspiration

Cooking the patty is just part of the process. What about the rest!? Here are a few recipes we love to get your burger gears turning.

1. Grilled bacon chili burger

If a recipe has bacon and chili in it, then you know it’s going to be delicious. Try subbing avocado for the lettuce to make this with a little more Mexican flair.

2. Elk cheeseburgers with the works

Burgers don’t have to be beef! If you’ve never tried elk meat, you’re in for a treat. But even without elk, this burger recipe with crispy onions, BBQ, and provolone is sure to be a crowd-pleaser.

3. Dominican chimi bison burger

It’s the same deal with this Bison burger. You don’t have to make it with bison, but goodness is it good if you do! If you’re looking to impress a date or party with a more exotic burger, then this is the perfect recipe.

4. Asian pork burgers with broccoli slaw

If you’re a fan of ginger, then don’t sleep on this amazing pork burger recipe! Plus, we’d make this recipe for the broccoli slaw alone. The tahini, sesame oil, and rice wine vinegar really make it!

5. Hatched green chile burger

This burger is pretty close to a classic burger but adds a spicy twist. Try fire-roasting the tomatoes and pickling the onions for some extra flavor!

The bottom line on cooking frozen burgers

There’s no right or wrong answer for how you want to cook frozen burgers! It all depends on how much time you have and how much effort you want to put in.

Our personal favorite is the defrost + grill method, but the oven + broil is a great backup.

You can also make your own frozen burger patties, too! Just pick up some delicious grass-fed and grass-finished beef for the best taste nutrition, and then form and package them up yourself!

Happy burgering!

Try ground beef made from cows that freely graze on the healthiest grass this planet has to offer.


Nathan PhelpsNathan Phelps

Nathan Phelps is a writer, ethical foodie, and outdoors-aficionado hailing from Nashville, TN. He splits his time between helping sustainable businesses find new customers and managing his ever-increasing list of hobbies, which include playing guitar, baking bread, and creating board games.