Hamburger meat is a staple for many families because of its affordability and versatility. Beef can be used to make everything from burgers to meatballs to pasta dishes, and it can be bought and frozen ahead of time for meal planning. Hamburger meat tends to be a center-stage component of a meal, but also has necessary requirements for making sure that it’s safe to consume.
Whether you’re grilling hamburgers, mixing up a delicious pasta dish, or baking a meatloaf, it’s important to make sure that you cook the hamburger meat all the way through.
Before you ever get to cooking, though, you have to be sure that you’ve properly stored your meat so that it isn’t spoiled, but what if you thaw it and decide not to use it immediately?
Can you refreeze hamburger meat? Yes, as long as the meat has been cooked. If you have previously frozen hamburger meat and thawed it, do not freeze it again without cooking it. You risk bacteria growth by refreezing meat that has been thawed but not cooked.
Freezing and Refreezing Hamburger Meat
When you buy hamburger meat at the grocery store, it should be one of the last things that you pick up. Try to keep it separate from other foods and have it bagged separately to avoid any cross-contamination. Once you arrive home, you need to decide how you plan to use it. Will you cook it for dinner tonight or do you plan to use it for a dinner next week? If you won’t be using it within the next day or two, you should freeze it.
Hamburger meat only holds in the refrigerator for a day or two, but freezing it allows you to use it past the printed date. Proper freezing requires airtight packaging, and for even better protection, you should wrap the packaging in foil, heavy-duty plastic wrap, or freezer-safe plastic bags.
Here is a list of the proper steps to take to freeze and refreeze hamburger meat:
- If you aren’t using it right away, prepare it for freezing by separating (if necessary) and sealing the meat in an air-tight bag or package.
- Label, date, and freeze the hamburger meat.
If you have already thawed the meat:
- Cook the hamburger meat thoroughly.
- Drain the grease from the meat.
- Let the meat cool to room temperature, no more than two hours if it is under 90℉ or one hour if it is above.
- Place the beef in an air-tight container or bag, remove as much air as possible.
- Label and date the hamburger meat.
How to Reheat Hamburger Meat
Hamburger meat can be reheated in a couple of different ways, but the best recommendation is to reheat it in the same manner that you cooked it. How you choose to reheat your hamburger meat could make a world of difference when you’re super hungry but short on time.
Even if you use different forms of hamburger meat to cook with, you can pretty well always freeze any leftovers and use them to contribute to other meals later. Thawing hamburger meat should be done in a refrigerator for the safest results but can be done in the microwave or a cold water bath. Keep in mind that thawing in any way outside of the refrigerator has higher risks of contamination.
How to Reheat Hamburger Meat in the Microwave
Reheating hamburger meat in the microwave is pretty simple. Put your meat on a microwave-safe dish, cover it with a paper towel, place a small container of water inside, and heat it in short bursts to heat the meat more evenly. Make sure to heat it to the standard hot food-safe temperature of 165℉ or higher. Having the water in the microwave with the meat as it reheats keeps it moist, so you’re not biting into rubber bricks.
How to Reheat Hamburger Meat in the Oven
If you have the extra time, you can easily reheat hamburger meat in the oven as well. Reheating the meat in the oven should be done at 350℉ for just a few minutes because the oven gets hotter much faster than the microwave. Place the meat on a baking sheet, with or without a wire rack in between to capture grease, and keep an eye out so you don’t overcook the meat you only needed to reheat.
How to Reheat Hamburger Meat on the Grill
If you grilled the leftover burgers you’ve got in the fridge for lunch today, but really wanted to maintain the grilled flavor, you can fire the grill right back up and toss the hamburger back on! It won’t take very long to reheat it and it’ll be pretty close to tasting exactly how it did the first time you made it.
How to know if my Hamburger Meat is Spoiled?
When hamburger meat spoils, it tends to bloat in the packaging. This should be the first sign that your meat may not be any good. Another way to check is to open the packaging. Spoiled meat smells awful, like rotten eggs, and is absolutely the neon sign letting you know that your Hamburger meat has gone bad.
Raw hamburger meat will feel slimy to the touch if it’s gone bad, along with the unpleasant odor it puts off. Cooked hamburger meat doesn’t change as much in smell, but it does mold and starts to look dry. Cooked hamburger meat is only good in the refrigerator for 2-3 days after stored.
When using hamburger meat, the rule of thumb revolves around the timing of cooking it as to whether you should freeze it or not. Freezing hamburger meat extends its shelf life and refreezing it after it has been cooked helps it last even longer.
Following safety procedures when handling the meat is a must, and you need to always be aware of how long your hamburger meat has been outside of the controlled cold temperatures to avoid having it grow bacteria. Maintain food safety, and you can freeze your hamburger meat at least twice!