We understand your inner meat snob might be feeling a little angry at this title, but don’t judge a book by its cover… or a burger by its storage method! If you’re a parent of young children or part of a large and chaotic family, then you probably already understand that frozen food can play a substantial role in a rich and varied diet. These days, even in the healthiest kitchen, the freezer plays a vital role in keeping mail-order and grocery-store foods fresher for longer. Frozen does not automatically mean unhealthy!
If you have a barbecue coming up and want to feed everybody some good-quality burgers but don’t have the refrigerator space or the timeframe for fresh meat, then the frozen varieties can be equally as delicious and much less complicated. If you’ve never ventured into cooking from frozen, here’s our guide to prepping, cooking, and enjoying the highest-quality frozen hamburgers.
Step One: Defrosting
It is widely known that the most important step in cooking up any frozen meat is defrosting. Whilst cooking directly from frozen is certainly possible, if you’re in a hurry, the best results will be achieved if you take the time to let them thaw. Defrosted patties will cook more evenly and result in a juicy, piping-hot burger every time, whilst you run the risk of a raw middle without taking the time to reach room temperature properly.
The safest way to achieve this without utilizing heat is to place your patties in a food-safe container and leave them in the refrigerator overnight. Using a sealed plastic storage tub will prevent contamination of other foods in your fridge by collecting any meat juices that gather to stop the spread of bacteria. Slow and steady wins the burger race!
If you have an impromptu get-together and have less time to dedicate to thawing, there is a quicker alternative. Place each individual patty into a sandwich bag or wrap in clingfilm and submerge them in a bowl of cold water for around an hour. This might sound counterproductive, but hot water quickly raises the food’s exterior temperature whilst leaving the interior frozen. This makes for an uneven defrosting process, and whilst the outside of the patty might be ready to go, the inside will likely still be frozen!
Most microwaves available today will offer a defrost setting, wherein you select the type of meat and its weight and heat for their recommended amount of time, usually around ten minutes. Unfortunately, every batch of meat is different – without careful observation, they can start to cook during this process, resulting in tough, dry, chewy burgers.
Once thoroughly defrosted, burgers should, of course, be stored in the fridge until you’re ready to go. Remember, you will need to cook and consume them within a day or two of thawing to avoid getting anybody sick!
Step Two: Cooking
First and foremost, wash your hands! Do this before and after touching your raw meat to ensure no bacteria is transferred between you and the food. Then you’re ready to go!
Preheat your chosen cooking vessel: be it grill, pan, or broiler, allow time for it to get piping hot, so when you place your first patty on, you get that classic burger sizzle—no need to add any oil, as the patties will cook just perfectly with their natural juices.
You might be tempted to press down on your burger right away to release some of those delicious … resist that urge! The best advice we can give you for the perfect at-home burger is to leave it be. Let the first side brown properly and allow for a nice, even sear, without touching! No, not even a cursory prod with the spatula. Once you can start to see a little juice appearing on the top side of your patty, then it’s ready to flip.
Allow the other side to cook for a few minutes, three to five, depending on your taste. Once piping hot all the way through, you’re ready to plate up, but you could always add some onions to the pan at this point to serve alongside.
If you’re into cheese with your burgers, now would be time to turn down the heat, top with a slice of your preference and add a teaspoon of water to the pan. Cover with a lid for a minute or two, and the steam produced will give you a perfectly melty cheeseburger. Add to a warm, toasted bun with any veggies and sauces you fancy, and there you go. A perfect burger from frozen!
If you’re worried you haven’t defrosted thoroughly enough or you’re just a meat cooking novice, we highly recommend picking up a meat thermometer. Your burger should measure at 160 degrees Fahrenheit minimum to meet safety standards and reach a medium cook. This is particularly useful if you only have time to cook from frozen, to avoid a burger that’s still solid in the middle.
Choosing the best frozen burger
Thinking of trying out a frozen patty, but not sure which are the best kind? No worries, here are a couple of factors to consider when taking the plunge:
What is the percentage of meat used?
Ideally, you want the burger to be a hundred percent beef. This will not always be the case, and lower-quality patties will be made from a combination of other ingredients. The Food Standards Agency rule that a hamburger can only be classed as such if it contains at least sixty two percent beef, where a visibly cheaper or ‘value’ burger only has to contain a shocking forty seven percent. For the best and tastiest experience, we recommend sticking to those with the highest meat content.
How were the cows fed?
The best quality burgers will come from cows that were grass-fed or given a natural diet. You can tell whether the meat is organic or not by checking the label. This guarantees there were no hormones used in the rearing of the cows.