Who doesn’t love a good barbecue? Grilling up some sausages is a classic favorite that’s sure to please a crowd. But what happens when you forget to thaw your sausages before the big cookout? Can you toss them on the grill straight from the freezer?
In this article, we’ll explore the age-old question of whether or not it’s safe to grill frozen sausages.
You can grill frozen sausages but it is not the optimal way to do so and it’s always better to defrost them first to avoid problems with uneven cooking and burning.
Want to learn how to grill frozen sausages? Grab a cold one, pull up a lawn chair, and let’s get grilling!
Table of Contents
- Risks of Grilling Frozen Sausages
- Tips for Grilling Frozen Sausages
- How to Safely Defrost Sausages
Risks of Grilling Frozen Sausages
While grilling frozen sausages might seem like a quick and easy solution, there’s one ugly issue that you need to be aware of. You run the risk of burning the outside while the inside remains undercooked or even still frozen.
Thin sausages are usually not causing too much of a problem, but thicker sausages like jumbo hot dogs can be difficult to cook properly when frozen.
Frozen meat that’s cooked without being thawed also doesn’t taste as good as it would if it were prepared properly. There are almost always changes in the texture and flavor that come with cooking frozen meat of any kind.
Some people think that grilling frozen food may increase the chance of foodborne illness, but this is not necessarily true. As long as you cook the food properly and make sure that all parts of the food will reach about 160°F, you should be safe as the bacteria and other pathogens will be killed. It is of course necessary to use a safe defrosting method.
Tips for Grilling Frozen Sausages
Grilling frozen sausages doesn’t differ that much from grilling thawed sausages, but there are a few tips that should ensure the best possible results. It’s not necessary to follow all of them through, but at least some of these will give you a great starting point:
- Grilling at slightly lower temperatures than normal will help to keep the exterior from burning. Around 300°F is usually a safe bet.
- The exact cooking time required will vary a lot depending on the type of grill and the type of sausages. It’s impossible to give you an exact time but generally, frozen food takes about 50% more time to cook. So, if you normally grill sausages for 20 minutes, they will require about 30 minutes in the frozen state.
- Flip or rotate the sausages frequently to again avoid burning. This also helps to thaw them in the process.
- With thick sausages, you might want to let them partially thaw and then slice them into a butterfly cut to further help with the cooking. Yes, they may lose some juiciness, but at least they will be cooked properly and faster.
- If unsure about the doneness, use a meat thermometer. Stick it in the center of the thickest sausage to ensure that all parts are cooked through.
- Apply a small amount of oil on the grill grates to prevent the sausages from sticking to them. Bacon grease can be used as well.
How to Safely Defrost Sausages
As I’ve mentioned sausages and almost any meat taste better when grilled after they’ve been thawed. Thawing however is not an instant process, so here are some of the best ways that you can safely thaw your frozen sausages.
Thawing in the fridge
Thawing in the fridge is the safest and most frequently recommended method of defrosting food. The reason is simple. The temperature in the fridge is above the freezing point but still low enough to prevent any bacteria from growing.
If the frozen sausages are still wrapped in plastic, you can simply throw them in the fridge and wait, otherwise place them on a plate. Depending on the size of the package it may take 24 hours for them to completely thaw. Yes, that’s a long time but it’s simply the best way.
Thawing in the microwave
Most modern microwaves have a defrost setting that can be used to thaw the frozen sausages. Place the food in the microwave and follow the instructions on your specific model. I, however, my experience with microwave defrosting is pretty bad.
For some reason, I always get partly cooked and partly frozen results when defrosting meat. My advice is to use the microwave only if you’re in a rush and have no other options available.
But if you can get it to work properly, you will be ready to grill in less than 10 minutes.
Thawing in cold water
This approach requires you to fill a bowl with cold tap water and submerge the package in it. Because water transfers heat faster than air, this method will help to thaw the food much faster than if you were to leave it to thaw at room temperature (which is not recommended anyway).
To stay on the safe side, you need to replace the water couple of times to keep it cold enough so that bacteria don’t get the opportunity to grow. Depending on the size of the package, it shouldn’t take longer than an hour or two.
Well, ladies and gentlemen, let’s call it a wrap!
Grilling frozen sausages is certainly possible and can save you a bunch of time over having to thaw them first. However, the grilling takes a bit longer and requires you to keep an eye on them to make sure they aren’t burning on the outside.
Anyway, to ensure that your sausages are grilled to perfection, it’s always best to thaw them out first. Trust me, your taste buds will thank you!
Is it safe to cook sausages from frozen?
Yes, it is safe to cook sausages frozen. They will take longer to cook than fresh sausages.
How do I make sure my frozen sausages are cooked through?
The only surefire way is to check the inner temperature using a meat thermometer.
Can you cook sausages that aren't fully defrosted?
Yes, it is perfectly fine to cook sausages that are only partially defrosted. They will of course take a little bit longer to cook than fully thawed sausages but not as long as solid frozen ones.