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Can you cook frozen burgers on the stove?

Cooking frozen burgers on the stove is absolutely possible, but there are some important things to keep in mind to ensure food safety and the best possible results. With the right techniques and a bit of patience, you can make delicious burgers using frozen patties cooked on the stovetop.

Can You Cook Frozen Burgers on the Stove Top?

Yes, you can safely cook frozen burgers on a stovetop with some precautions. The key is to thaw the frozen burgers properly before cooking them over direct heat. Cooking frozen meat directly from the freezer can lead to uneven cooking, with the outsides burning while the inside stays cold and undercooked.

Here are some quick tips for cooking frozen burgers on a stove:

  • Always thaw frozen burgers in the refrigerator overnight before cooking.
  • Use a skillet or grill pan and cook over medium heat. Higher heat can burn the outside before the inside thaws.
  • Cook thawed burgers 6-8 minutes per side, pressing down gently with a spatula occasionally.
  • Check the internal temperature with a meat thermometer to ensure they reach 160°F.
  • Let burgers rest 5 minutes after cooking before serving.

As long as you properly thaw frozen patties in the fridge before cooking, it is perfectly safe to cook them on the stovetop. Just be sure to use moderate heat and cook them thoroughly.

Thawing Frozen Burgers

Thawing is a critical first step when cooking frozen burgers on the stove. Cooking frozen meat directly can lead to food safety issues.

Here are some guidelines for safely thawing frozen burgers:

  • Refrigerator Thawing: The best way to thaw burgers is slowly in the refrigerator. This keeps them out of the bacteria growth temperature danger zone of 40-140°F. Place frozen patties in a pan or plate and thaw overnight in the fridge before cooking.
  • Cold Water Thawing: You can submerge frozen burgers sealed in a plastic bag in cold water. Change the water every 30 minutes and cook burgers as soon as they are thawed.
  • Microwave Thawing: Microwaving is a fast thawing method, but it can start to cook the meat unevenly. If using the microwave, cook burgers immediately after thawing.
  • Avoid room temperature thawing: Never thaw burgers on the kitchen counter, as this puts them at risk for bacterial growth. Stick to the refrigerator, cold water, or microwave methods.

Choosing a Skillet or Pan

A heavy-bottomed skillet or grill pan are the best options for cooking burgers on the stove. Here are some pan tips:

  • Use a cast iron or stainless steel skillet for the best sear.
  • Nonstick skillets can work too but may not brown as well.
  • Opt for a pan with a thicker, flat bottom rather than thin pans which can scorch.
  • Choose a wide skillet or pan to allow air flow and avoid steaming burgers.
  • Grill pans with ridges can add nice sear marks to replicate grilling.

Stovetop Cooking Process

Follow this process for cooking thawed frozen burgers perfectly on the stove:

  1. Heat the pan: Heat a lightly oiled skillet or grill pan over medium heat. Cast iron or nonstick pans need less oil.
  2. Shape the patties: Gently shape thawed burger patties so they are evenly flat. Handle them as little as possible.
  3. Add to the pan: When pan is hot, place burgers in skillet. Listen for an immediate sizzle.
  4. Don’t move them: Let burgers cook undisturbed for 2-3 minutes to sear the bottom side.
  5. Flip and cook: Carefully flip burgers and cook another 2-3 minutes undisturbed on the second side.
  6. Lightly press: Use a spatula to gently press down on burgers, repeating on both sides during cooking.
  7. Check temperature: Cook until burgers reach an internal temp of 160°F on a meat thermometer.
  8. Remove and rest: Take burgers off heat and let rest 5 minutes before serving.

Following this process helps ensure burgers cook evenly without overcooking the outside. The gentle pressing helps the heat distribute inside so they cook through.

Tips for Stovetop Burgers

Here are some additional pointers to keep in mind for cooking great burgers on the stove:

  • Don’t overload the pan, leave space between burgers to allow steam to escape.
  • Avoid pressing down hard, which can squeeze out juices.
  • Add cheese on the last 1-2 minutes of cooking if you want melted cheeseburgers.
  • Add toasted buns to the pan to soak up the flavorful burger juices.
  • Make a tent of foil to help burgers rest after cooking.
  • Always check the internal temperature with a meat thermometer for safety.

Common Stovetop Burger Mistakes

It’s easy to make mistakes that result in poorly cooked burgers. Here are some common stovetop burger errors to avoid:

  • Not properly thawing frozen patties before cooking.
  • Using high heat that burns the outside while inside stays underdone.
  • Constant flipping and moving burgers while cooking.
  • Not letting patties rest, causing juices to spill out.
  • Overcrowding the pan which steams instead of sears.
  • Pressing burgers firmly, squeezing out moisture.
  • Serving burgers before they reach a safe internal temperature.

As long as you thaw burgers completely, use moderate heat, cook gently without too much movement, and check the temperature, you can avoid the most common mistakes when cooking frozen burgers on the stovetop.

Cooking Times for Frozen Burgers

Cooking times for frozen burgers depends on the thickness of the patties. Here are some general guidelines for stovetop cooking times based on burger thickness:

Burger Thickness Cooking Time Per Side
1/4 pound thin patties 2-3 minutes
1/3 pound average patties 3-4 minutes
1/2 pound thick patties 4-5 minutes

Keep in mind thinner patties require less overall cooking time. The most accurate way to tell if burgers are fully cooked is to insert a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature reaches 160°F.

Cooking Frozen Burgers on an Electric Stovetop

You can certainly cook frozen burgers using an electric stovetop as well as a gas stove. The main difference is that electric cooktops tend to heat up and cool down more slowly than gas.

Here are some tips for cooking frozen burgers on an electric stove:

  • Preheat the pan 5-10 minutes before adding burgers to properly heat the electric coil.
  • Use a flat pan that makes good contact with the electric element.
  • Cook burgers at medium heat, adjusting lower if the pan gets too hot.
  • Press thawed burgers gently to maximize contact with the pan surface.
  • Expect cooking times to be a few minutes longer than with gas.
  • Let the pan cool down before removing burgers.

With a little extra preheating and adjustment of heat levels, you can cook frozen burgers just as well using an electric stove cooktop.


Cooking frozen hamburgers on the stovetop takes a little more time and technique than grilling thawed patties. But with some key steps like properly thawing, using moderate heat, gently pressing, and avoiding common mistakes, you can make tasty burgers from frozen right on the stove any night of the week. Be sure to always check the internal temperature with a meat thermometer to guarantee safety and enjoy your quick weeknight meal.