We all love our hamburgers! Whether you buy them fresh or frozen or make your own at home, they are always delicious.
Keeping your store-bought or homemade burgers in a freezer is the perfect way to preserve them for a later lunch, dinner, or BBQ.
But how long do they actually last in the freezer?
Store-bought frozen hamburgers can last six to eight months in the freezer, while homemade burgers made from fresh ground beef typically last four to six months without losing their quality or flavor.
Keeping reading this article and find out more about the shelf life of frozen hamburgers, how long they can last in the fridge, and how to know if they’ve gone bad
How Long Can You Keep Frozen Hamburgers in the Freezer?
While frozen ground beef can technically be kept frozen indefinitely, its quality will decrease over time. So if you want to get the most out of your burgers, you’ll have to consume them within a specific time frame.
Here, the amount of time your burgers can spend in the freezer depends on whether you bought them frozen or raw and fresh.
Already frozen hamburger patties will last somewhat longer in the freezer without losing any of their flavor or quality. You can easily keep them frozen for six to eight months.
If you went and bought raw ground beef, turned that into hamburger patties, and then froze those, their quality shelf life will be between four and six months.
The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service suggests consumption within four months, but I’ve found that the quality of my freshly frozen burgers does not decrease even after six months in the freezer.
What’s essential here is the packaging of your burgers! I’ve had the absolute best results with sealable freezer bags. (You can find my favorite bags on Amazon here)
These will ensure that your burgers stay fresh and protected from freezer burn.
I can’t stress enough how important this is! I’d avoid plastic wrap, aluminum foil, or freezer paper, as it’s too easy for air to get into the packaging.
The air, in turn, will dehydrate your burgers and cause freezer burn.
Properly sealed freezer bags won’t give you such headaches, and if there’s nothing wrong with your freezer, your frozen hamburgers will be just as juicy and yummy as fresh ones when you thaw them!
How Long Can Frozen Hamburgers Stay in the Fridge?
If you decide to take your burgers out of the freezer and let them thaw in your fridge, you can safely keep them refrigerated for up to two days.
It’s also okay if you take them out of the fridge for a shorter period and then put them back in. (e.g., if you didn’t use all of your burgers and wanted to keep the rest for later)
Once again, it is imperative that you store your burgers correctly! Some people just put them on a plate and place them in the fridge. Big mistake!
Not only will the meat turn brown or grey on the outside (a sign that the process of decay has started) and develop a dry or crusty surface, but it might also attract harmful germs and bacteria.
If you consume this contaminated meat, you might only get a stomach ache (if you’re lucky). If you’re not so fortunate, you might catch a lousy salmonella infection (which is often associated with contaminated ground beef).
To minimize the risk of getting seriously ill, store your burgers safely in the fridge (I leave them in the sealed freezer bag) and try to consume them within 1 to 2 days after thawing!
How Long Can Frozen Hamburgers Sit Out?
Thawing frozen hamburgers in a room temperature environment is often tricky, as many foods (and meat especially) become breeding grounds for harmful bacteria if they stay in temperatures between 40 and 140F.
This temperature range is commonly referred to as the “danger zone“.
Remember that bacteria can grow on burgers in the fridge? Well, they can have a regular party on meat that’s sitting out, especially in higher room temperatures.
In fact, bacteria can multiply in moderate room temperatures, doubling their numbers every 20 minutes or so.
That’s why the USDA recommends leaving meat out of refrigeration for a maximum of two hours.
The recommendation is a maximum of one hour in temperatures of 90F and above (e.g., in summer).
So, in other words, it’s always best to thaw your burgers nice and slow in the cool and bacteria-unfriendly environment of your fridge!
PRO TIP: If time is an issue and you have to defrost your hamburgers quickly, you can do so by putting them in the microwave (use the defrost setting) or in cold water.
For the water option, simply submerge the meat in a sealed plastic bag, and make sure to change the water every 30 or so minutes. The best practice is to cook your meat immediately after defrosting.
How Do You Know if Frozen Hamburgers Have Gone Bad?
There are several ways to know if your frozen burgers have gone bad.
If you have kept them in the freezer for a very long time and the packaging has in some ways been compromised, you’ll most likely notice freezer burn on your burgers.
If that’s the case, the surface of the meat will have a brown or grey color and look dry and tough.
Freezer burn doesn’t make food unsafe to eat, but it affects the quality and, very often, the flavor of the food, which is why you should dispose of it.
If you’ve defrosted your burgers in the fridge or left them out to thaw for too long, they might also be spoiled.
There are three sure ways of checking whether or not your meat has gone bad:
Smelling your thawed burgers is the fastest and easiest way to detect if they are spoiled.
Fresh ground beef basically doesn’t smell at all and is hence suitable for consumption!
If, on the other hand, your burgers smell sour or putrid, they can be very dangerous to eat, as it is full of spoilage bacteria and starts to rot.
Check the color of your burger meat. If it is grey, silvery, or dark brown, the meat hasn’t gotten enough oxygen and is starting to rot. Also, check for fuzzy blue, grey, or green spots, as these indicate mold.
Fresh ground beef should have a healthy dark red color. If your burgers look “sick” and spoiled, toss them!
A third way of checking if your burgers are still good is by checking their texture.
Fresh ground beef is firm and breaks apart easily.
On the contrary, if the surface of your ground beef feels sticky and slimy, bacteria are most likely present, and you should toss it right away!
I know it can be hard to throw away food. And especially meat, as it is often relatively expensive.
But if those burgers are spoiled, you shouldn’t eat them. No money or meat in the world is worth risking your health!
As always, common sense is your best friend when it comes to food safety. If your ground beef burgers, homemade or store-bought, feel off in any way, throw them away and cook up something else!
It’s safe to trust your gut instinct here, as your body will generally tell you if there’s something wrong with the food you’re about to it!