When it comes to burgers, nothing beats the taste and smell of a burger that is smoked and cooked to perfection, layered with relish, cheese, and onions between two soft burger buns.
And the longer cooking time in the smoker just means that the juices inside your smoked patty start to infuse with the delicious smoky flavor, giving you a depth of taste that elevates your burgers from a regular hamburger to a complete gourmet experience for you and your guests.
Of course, this is assuming that you’re smoking a freshly prepared meat patty. But what if you’ve only got frozen burgers on hand? How do you smoke a frozen burger? Is it even possible? Well, I’m here to tell you that you don’t need to worry about that any longer.
Here’s how I smoke a frozen burger:
- Use liquid smoke on the burger patty
- Thaw the burger in the refrigerator overnight.
- Add wood pellets to your smoker and preheat it.
- Let the burgers cook for around 30 minutes.
- Raise the smoker’s temperature and sear the burgers.
- Let the burger rest and serve it to your liking.
How to use liquid smoke on frozen hamburgers
The easiest way to smoke frozen burgers is to use something called liquid smoke. Liquid smoke is basically what it sounds like – smoke that has been condensed and distilled into a liquid.
There’s nothing better than the taste of a well-smoked burger that’s cooked on a grill. But if you don’t have the luxury of grilling your burgers, you can simply add a dash or two of liquid smoke to your marinades or even onto the frozen burger patty itself as it cooks on the pan or skillet.
You don’t need much more than a couple of dashes on your patties, as liquid smoke is highly concentrated in flavor. This is thanks to how it locks in the aromatic qualities of real fires during the smoke’s capturing, condensation, and filtering process during manufacturing.
However, cheaper liquid smoke alternatives have appeared on the market that use chemicals, dyes, and flavorings to create unique flavors that aren’t as healthy as simply natural liquid smoke. It’s best to always look at the ingredient list to know which ones are natural smoke and which ones have other chemicals added to the product.
How to smoke a frozen burger
When smoking frozen burgers, the first thing that you want to ensure is that your burger is thawed. The best way is to thaw them overnight in the refrigerator section or at least for about 8 hours.
Next, put your wood pellets in the smoker and preheat your smoker to about 220ºF. Note that you can use any wood pellet you like for burgers, but Oak and Hickory seem to be two options that give the best results in terms of flavor, according to smoked burger connoisseurs.
Then place your thawed burger patties in your smoker and let them cook inside for about 30 minutes, or when their internal temperature reaches 125ºF. Use a quick-read meat thermometer for this. This is the perfect temperature for burger patties, and once it reaches 125º, you’ll know it’s cooked thoroughly.
A burger wouldn’t be complete without some searing and a beautiful crusty exterior. This can be achieved by putting your smoker onto the highest possible setting (500ºF) and using the heat inside the smoker to grill your burgers.
Wait until the inside of the smoker reaches the desired temperature, then place your burger back on the grill inside your smoker and watch your burger turn from just juicy and flavorful inside to crispy and smoky outside.
Take it out from the grill, let it rest for 2-3 minutes, and then serve up with some tasty relish, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, and in between some delicious buttery burger buns.
Best wood pellets to smoke frozen burgers
Using wood pellets in a smoker allows you to produce a higher temperature burn that lasts longer and produces less ash than if you were using wood chips instead. Let’s compare some of the most popular ones used to smoke burgers.
- Oak – Oak is the most well-balanced wood pellet when it comes to smokiness and flavor. It imparts hints of a nutty flavor without being too overpowering. However, some may find the subtle taste of Oak doesn’t really add much depth to the flavor of their smoked burgers.
- Maple – Maple is sweet, and just like maple syrup, it smokes your burgers with a sweet touch – making it suitable not just for burgers but for any food item you choose to smoke it with.
- Hickory – Burning Hickory pellets gives you a deep, strong, and smoky intensity that is a constant crowd-pleaser. This is why it is a staple in smoked burgers, briskets, ribs, and all other traditional BBQ meats worldwide.
- Mesquite – Though not as strong as hickory, Mesquite is robust and still imparts a hearty dose of smokiness into meats such as burgers and pork shoulders.
How long should I smoke my burgers?
At the temperature of 220ºF, you should smoke a regular 1.5″ thick patty no longer than 30 minutes. This is more than enough time for the smoker to cook the inside juices and impart the flavors of the wood into the patty.
As for the grilling and searing part to finish off the burger, you only need about 4 minutes on each side to give a perfect crust exterior that elevates the texture of the burger patty.
No matter what, the temperature inside your burger patty is recommended to hit 160ºF before you take it off the smoker or grill and serve it up. A temperature of 160ºF kills all and any bacteria present, avoiding a potentially harmful food poisoning situation!
As you can see, smoking frozen burgers is no different than smoking fresh handmade patties. Smoking is more of an art than a science, so it only makes sense that it will take slightly longer (a total of 45 minutes to an hour) to prepare smoked burgers.
Liquid smoke takes this to a whole new level by removing the need for grills and wood pellets – simply add a few dashes on your burger patty, and you’re good to go with a deliciously smoked burger that smells and tastes excellent.