Cooking Frozen Burgers on Charcoal Grill

Cooking frozen burgers on charcoal grill cookouts might seem hard, but it’s a simpler process than you think. And it gives great results whether you’re using frozen patties of beef or turkey. This guide walks you through all the steps including separating the patties, seasoning, grill temps, when to flip them. Details are shown how long to cook frozen burgers on charcoal grill, also. This post is listed in our Grilling on Charcoal article and also is a part of our Food Guides & Resources category.

Introduction to Cooking Frozen Burgers on Charcoal Grill

Cooking frozen burgers on charcoal grill is very convenient. Even a beginner can master the art of frozen patty grilling. Seasoning the burgers and monitoring the temp & time to flip are important steps. Focus to get an internal temp of 165°F.

To get a good starting overview, let’s look at some of the benefits, prep tips, and best methods of cooking frozen burgers on charcoal grill, whether turkey or beef.

Benefits of Cooking Frozen Burgers on Charcoal Grill

Grilling patties right from the freezer is a game-changer. Even if you made your own patties beforehand and froze them, you’re saving total prep time now. Also, you’re reducing stress on timing out the entire meal plan. Finally, you didn’t have to worry about buying fresh ground beef several days ahead and risking it spoiling. So, you’ve increased the benefit of having added food safety.

Equipment & Tools for Cooking Frozen Burgers on Charcoal Grill

To grill turkey burgers or other frozen patties properly, use a good charcoal grill, a sturdy grilling spatula, and optionally an instant temp meat thermometer. Season your frozen burgers the same as you do fresh patties, if desired, or while on the grill. Monitor the internal temp, if the thickness of the patty permits it, aiming for 165°F,  to ensure they’re cooked safely. Proper equipment and tools help prevent overcooking, especially for turkey burgers, because they can dry out if overdone.

Phase 1. Preparing To Separate Frozen Burgers

First, you’ll get your beef, turkey, or veggie burgers ready for the charcoal grill. However, it is more than just taking them out of the freezer. You can use frozen Bubba Burgers, Omaha Gourmet Burgers, Beyond burgers, other brands, or your own homemade frozen patties.

To prepare the frozen burgers, you need to ensure they’re separated. You can separate them in several ways.

  1. Manually by hand
  2. Using a non-sharp butter knife
  3. Slamming downward on the counter
  4. Using running water
  5. Microwave partial defrost cycle

After you separate your frozen patties, discard any “deli style” separation papers. Then, set the separated frozen patties aside.

Phase 2. Preparing Seasoning Options for Frozen Burgers

Next, get your seasonings ready in a small cup or set aside. It’s absolutely the best to season your frozen burgers on the uncooked side after they’re on the grill. If you don’t season them normally, then no need to change that. If you typically use salt & pepper, prepare for it. You can, however, get ready to spice them up with other seasoning options like Montreal steak seasoning or a homemade burger seasoning. Some might use a seasoned salt instead of regular salt.

Seasonings for Frozen Burgers on a Grill
Seasonings for Frozen Burgers on a Grill

So, here is a basic seasoning blend you can use for a little over a pound of burgers (about 4 patties). It offers just a hint of seasoning that works with most individuals. Just mix this up in a small cup and have it available at the grill. Maximum spices to add to one burger patty is about ¼ teaspoon.

  • ¼ tsp Garlic Powder
  • ¼ tsp Onion Powder
  • ¼-½ tsp Salt
  • ¼ tsp Ground Black Pepper

Phase 3. Get Your Charcoal Grill Ready

Get your charcoal grill ready and arrange the coals for your usual burger grilling scenario. Use a grill brush to clean off the grill grates. This will reduce the chance of burgers sticking more than usual. Set the grill vent(s) wide open, cover removed or opened, and follow your preferred lighting procedure.

Grill Prep Step 1. Preheat for Getting the Right Grill Temperature

To be ready to grill frozen burgers, preheat the grill to medium-high heat range between 325°-400°F. Yep, you don’t grill frozen foods at the usual high heat. Also, since they’re frozen, you’re not necessarily searing anything either. This modest grill temp allows for a proper thawing of the burgers while on the grill. It’s good for quick thawing. Also, it ensures you won’t be burning the burger edges before the middle gets fully cooked.

Get your seasonings, turning spatula, and empty platter. Have them all in the grilling area.

Grill Prep Step 2. How To Use Two-Zones for Cooking Frozen Burgers on Charcoal Grill

Ensure your grill is preheated and ready for two-zone grilling. Two-zone grilling is where you arrange your hot charcoal to cover only part of the bottom grate. You’ll be cooking your frozen burgers on both direct and indirect heat. This is why you can easily and evenly cook frozen foods. For more details, see our article on “How To Cook on a Charcoal Grill Indirect Heat“.

Phase 4. Start Cooking Frozen Burgers on Charcoal Grill

Grilling Step 1. Patties Placement to Start Cooking Frozen Burgers on Charcoal Grill

Now, with a preheated charcoal grill, put frozen hamburgers on the grill for direct heat cooking, i.e., directly over hot coals. It matters where you put them and how you manage cooking from this point forward. In some situations, you might even have some of the burgers starting to thaw out by now. Regardless, place them on direct heat so they get hot fast and begin to thaw out quick. Fortunately, your grill isn’t preheated for extremely high heat. However, if it is too hot, place the patties initially on the indirect heat area. All the burger patties will begin to thaw out fast as they cook on the initial side.

Grilling Step 2. Apply Seasonings, as Desired

Now, after the burgers are placed and cooking on its first side, sprinkle your seasonings mix across the tops of the uncooked side.

  • I’ve tested putting them on this side or on the cooked side after flipping them and putting seasonings on the uncooked side right away gives it the best overall melded flavor.

Grilling Step 3a. How to Know When to Flip the Frozen Burger

The grilling burgers appear to be mostly thawed out and cooked well on the bottom. If you get any flareups, manage it as usual (or cover grill using its lid). Also, you’ll see their juices on the surface and the burger edges beginning to turn brown and sometimes curl up a little (but not always). This initial cooking side is done reasonably longer than a regular, fresh (not frozen) burger patty. Optionally, you can cover the grill to speed up the thawing and cooking process.

Cooking One Side of Frozen Patties Almost Ready to Turn
Cooking One Side of Frozen Patties Almost Ready to Turn

Grilling Step 3b. How to Flip the Frozen Burger on Charcoal Grill

When they appear ready for turning, use your grill spatula to dig deep around about 1/2 of the outer edge of a burger first. Then, continue to dig deep underneath to force it gradually free from the grill surface, and turn it over onto its other side. You then, of course, repeat this with each burger as each appears ready to flip over. Specifically, here are more detailed steps to do it perfectly.

  1. Know that you are intending to scrape the grill using a “peeling” process, not a “lifting” manner of the burger.
  2. Use the spatula to dig around the outer portions of the patty to free up the border. You’ll dig inward and downward scraping the grill, as if you’re getting about 1/2 to 1-inch of the burger off it.
  3. Then, remove the spatula and move it around to do another edge of the same burger.
  4. After you have about half of one patty’s edging done, you can now dig much deeper and go in about 1/2 to 3/4 deep to “scrape” the burger from the grill.
  5. Then, remove and reinsert the spatula to fully scrape the burger from the grill and turn it over.

Grilling Step 4. How Long To Cook Frozen Burgers On Charcoal Grill

I get differing results, depending on burger size and grill & outdoor temp but typically this is how long to cook frozen burgers on charcoal grill scenarios. Frozen burger patties cooking time is about 7 to 17 minutes total on a charcoal grill. Also, it depends on how you go back and forth between direct and indirect heat. Here are the details but times could potentially be a little less if the previously frozen burger patties are becoming thawed before being placed on the hot grill.

  • Frozen burger patty size
    • 1/4-pound patties
    • 80/20 ground beef mix
    • about 3-1/2 inches in diameter
  • How long to cook frozen burgers on charcoal grill
    • 1st side: About 5-7 minutes on direct heat or 7 to 12 minutes on indirect heat.
    • 2nd side after flipping: About 2-3 minutes on direct heat or 3-5 minutes on indirect heat.
  • Total time to cook frozen burgers on charcoal grill
    • Direct heat: 7-10 minutes total time for how long to cook frozen burgers on charcoal grill directly
    • Indirect heat: 10-17 minutes total time for how long to cook frozen burgers on charcoal grill indirectly

After a patty has been flipped over, it won’t take as long to finish cooking on this second side. The previously frozen patty is now fully thawed out; however, it’s potentially still a bit colder than a fresh patty being turned over. And, depending on each burger’s thickness, you can determine doneness using a meat temperature probe or by cutting into one to inspect visually.

How To Speed Up How Long To Cook Frozen Burgers On Charcoal Grill

Here is a list of steps to help make frozen burgers on a charcoal grill’s cooking time faster. This list still relates to cooking on direct or indirect heat.

  • Whenever possible, cover the grill with its lid. It will contain heat better and expedite thawing and cooking the frozen patties.
  • Ensure the grill has been preheated thoroughly to the higher end of medium heat around 400 Fahrenheit.
  • Remove the frozen patties from the freezer right before starting to prepare the grill.
  • Separate frozen patties and remove any “patty papers” early in the entire process.
  • Keep the charcoal grill’s vents wide open during grilling.
  • Ensure you prepared plenty of hot coals. You don’t want it to be too low at the end of the cook time.
  • As soon as your frozen burgers are placed on the grill, sprinkle their seasonings on their tops immediately. Some seasonings, especially salt, will speed up the thawing process, even if it’s slightly..
  • For indirect heat method, frozen burgers placed closest to the hot coals will cook faster.

Can You Cook a Frozen Burger to Be Medium Rare?

You certainly can cook any meat to be medium rare but, is it safe? Considering this meat was handled and processed far more than meats like steak, medium rare is not recommended. There are many aspects to food safety that start at the butchering phase. A lot happens to meat before it shows up on display in a grocery store. Many individuals and equipment have handled the beef to ground beef set of processes. Also, at times, distribution handling is also part of it. So, the risk levels of food safety are at a higher concern because of this. It’s reasonably recommended to cook ground meat to be “Well Done”, or at least “Medium Done”, as an absolute minimum.

Phase 5. Add Burger Toppings and Combinations

After your frozen burgers have been fully grilled, pull the sandwich together with some added steps and good toppings. Here are some good, simple suggestions.

  • Toast the hamburger buns. Use a toaster or butter them in a skillet. Better yet, toast the buns on the grill since it’s already hot and available as a heat source.
  • Add a slice of cheese.  Choose American cheese, provolone, or pepper jack cheese for a twist.
  • Healthy additions are good like lettuce, onion, and tomato.
  • Try a fried egg for a different topping.
  • Sautéed mushrooms are also a good change.
  • Consider BBQ Sauce either while grilling, after, or both.

Expert Tips and Tricks of Cooking Frozen Burgers on Charcoal Grill

Here are some expert tips when cooking frozen burgers on charcoal grill scenarios. Some of these are reminders but they are significantly crucial for consistent results.

  • Make sure to clean the grates using a grill brush before preheating.
  • Ensure the grill has been preheated.
  • Be sure to cook at the suggested medium-high heat.
  • Don’t be tempted to flip the burger too early; you generally only flip once.
  • For burgers thick enough, use a meat thermometer to ensure doneness for food safety.
  • Cook a batch of burgers more than what you need. Then, store them in the fridge or freezer for a future quicker grilled sandwich.
  • While some people will make their own patties with seasonings already mixed in, it’s better to have plain patties when freezing them. This assures to allow you for variations for serving different kinds of people.

After Grilling: Storage and Leftovers

Properly storing leftover grilled burgers ensures they remain safe to eat and delicious for days. Here’s how to store them for convenient eating later.

Storing and Freezing Cooked Burgers

Once the excess burgers have cooled a bit, right away put them in a food storage bag or related container. Or, just wrap them in plastic wrap. Then, they can be in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. This keeps the burgers good and ready for a quick sandwich whenever you need it.

How Long Can You Keep Cooked Beef Patties in the Fridge or Freezer?

Once you’ve grilled your burgers and have leftovers, they can be stored in the refrigerator for 3-4 days or about 3 months in the freezer.

Frequently Asked Questions

Grilling frozen burgers raises some additional questions. Here are answers to help as guidance.

Q: Can I Grill Frozen Turkey Burgers or Veggie Burgers?

Yes, you can grill frozen turkey burgers or veggie burgers (like grilling Beyond burgers) almost similarly to cooking beef patties. Make doubly sure turkey burgers reach 165°F minimum to ensure they’re fully done without being overcooked.

Conclusion: Cooking Frozen Burgers on Charcoal Grill

Now you’ve read all about cooking frozen burgers on charcoal grill methods and tips. You’ve learned how to know when to turn them over. And that included seeing the pic of what they should look like before flipping them. Also, you’ve learned the tricks to use on how to turn them over without tearing them up. You’ve seen all the prepping steps to take, including methods of separating stuck frozen patties. And you’ve read about the temps at times on how long it takes to cook frozen burgers. So now, plan that cookout and get some frozen burger patties or make your own and test it out.

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