Ever get home from work and realize you forgot to thaw hamburger meat for dinner? There's good news. Even if your hamburger meat is half frozen, you can cook it right away.
If you've forgotten to thaw your meat completely, you can safely cook it from a partially thawed state. However, cooking time will be affected.
Read more: How to Cook a Hamburger on a Griddle
Consider the Quality
Be aware that the quality of your finished product could suffer if your meat hasn't thawed completely before cooking. Areas that are still frozen will cook more slowly than the thawed parts of your hamburger.
According to the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA), cooking meat from a frozen state takes about 50 percent longer to cook. As a result, the already-thawed parts of your meat could end up overcooked.
The opposite could also occur. If you monitor the doneness of the thawed part of your meat, you could end up with the frozen part being undercooked.
This could lead to foodborne illness. The minimum safe internal temperature for hamburgers is 160 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the USDA.
Follow Safe Thawing Methods
You might be tempted to run your half-frozen hamburger under hot water to finish thawing it. But risk of foodborne illness also increases if you use improper methods to thaw hamburger meat.
According to the USDA, there are three safe methods for thawing food — in the refrigerator, under cold water or in the microwave.
Refrigerator thawing takes the most time, but also the least amount of effort on your part. Place your hamburger in the fridge a full day before you plan to cook it. For food safety, your refrigerator should be kept at a constant temperature of 40 F or slightly lower.
If you end up not cooking your thawed meat right away, you'll be glad to know that thawed hamburgers can safely remain in the fridge for another one to two days.
Thaw hamburger meat under cold water by first sealing it in a leakproof bag. Submerge the bag in cold tap water, changing the water every 30 minutes. One pound of hamburger meat will likely thaw in an hour or less, according to the USDA.
If you thaw frozen hamburger meat in the microwave, use the defrost or 50 percent power setting. Be aware that your meat might partially cook during the thawing process. Fully cook your meat immediately after thawing if using this method.
Read more: How to Cook a Good Burger on the Stove
Follow Other Safety Tips
Hamburgers that have been thawed in the refrigerator can be safety refrozen, according to the USDA. However, moisture content can decrease during the thawing process, which can affect the quality of your meat.
Leftovers can make for a tasty second meal. To avoid the growth of harmful bacteria, be sure to discard any food that has been at room temperature for more than two hours. Eat your leftover hamburgers within three to four days.
To keep your leftovers longer, freeze them from the refrigerator within three to four days. Your meat can be kept in the freezer for up to three to four months. Leftovers must be reheated to 165 F for safety, according to the USDA.
- USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service: "Freezing and Food Safety"
- USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service: "Ground Beef and Food Safety"
- USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service: "The Big Thaw — Safe Defrosting Methods for Consumers"
- USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service: "Leftovers and Food Safety"