Simply Healthy Family may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page.
There’s a leftover hamburger in the fridge, and you’re wondering how to reheat it. Is it possible to have it hot and juicy as it was when it was first made?
The answer to that is that if reheated carefully, a leftover hamburger can still be delicious. It won’t be exactly as great as fresh off the grill, but it will be satisfying and good.
But first, let’s talk about food safety and your leftover burger.
Here’s what the US Department of Agriculture says about reheating ground beef foods:
If ground beef is refrigerated promptly after cooking (within 2 hours; 1 hour if the temperature is above 90 °F (32.2 °C), it can be safely refrigerated for about 3 or 4 days.
If frozen, it should keep its quality for about 4 months.
When reheating fully cooked patties or casseroles containing ground beef, be sure the internal temperature reaches 165 °F (73.8 °C) or it is hot and steaming.
There you have it. If cooked burgers sat around in a hot kitchen or a sunny yard for longer than an hour, you can assume they’re not safe to eat anymore.
It’s not worth the risk. Toss them.
But if you saw that there were going to be leftovers and wisely put the extras in the fridge as soon as they cooled down, you can keep them 3-4 days.
Some even plan on having leftover burgers to reheat next day, or to use in other recipes. We’ll talk more about that later.
Choosing the best ground meat for hamburgers
Whether you’re planning for leftovers or not, choose the best quality ground beef you can get. Ask how much fat it has: the higher the percentage of fat, the better the taste and the moister the patty.
The fat in ground beef is described in numbers. 90/10 means that it’s 90% meat and 10% fat. Other common proportions are 80/20 and 70/30.
You won’t wind up eating all the fat. It will render down while cooking and keeps the meat moist.
Tips for cooking great hamburgers
Season the ground beef as you like, but handle it lightly. Don’t knead or beat it; just mix the seasonings in with a spoon, then shape the patties.
Before grilling the patties, press lightly down the center of each one to make a dimple. This prevents shrinkage.
Never press down on the patties while they’re grilling. You’ll lose the fat and the juiciness.
Avoid overcooking your burgers. It’s hard to tell when they’re done to your satisfaction because it depends on their thickness, and on your grill’s temperature.
When they look and smell right, take one off the grill and open it with a fork to make sure it’s done. If it is, eat it and take the others off the grill.
Reheating a hamburger in the oven
Our preferred way to reheat hamburgers is to use the oven. The burgers will get hot, but won’t dry out or lose flavor.
Heat the oven to 400°F.
Put the patty directly on the rack. Place the loaded rack over a baking pan to catch any drips.
Heat the patty for about 3 minutes.
Place a bun on the rack.
Flip the patty to the other side.
Heat 2 minutes longer, until the bun is golden brown.
Remove patty and bun from the oven, and serve with your favorite toppings.
Reheating a hamburger on the stove
In a skillet: Lightly grease a heavy skillet, or spray the inside with cooking spray. Reheat the burger over medium heat, covered.
Steam the burger: Put a teaspoon or two of water into a skillet or pan. Put the burger in it.
Place the pan inside a larger skillet or pan. Cover the whole thing and reheat until the burger is hot.
Hamburger buns can be steamed the same way. They will be warm and moist.
Another, similar way to reheat a hamburger with steam is the following:
Take the hamburger out of its bun and remove any toppings or sauce.
Turn the heat to medium-high. Have a pan with 1 tablespoon of water in it ready.
Dribble a little Worcestershire or soy sauce into the water.
Set the lid on top of the pan. Steam for about 5 minutes.
Remove the patty. Place it on a paper towel to drain excess moisture.
It’s ready after 1 minute of resting.
Briefly heat the bun in a skillet or wrap it in foil and heat it in the oven.
Put the patty in the bun and add the toppings and sauces you like.
Freezing extras to reheat later
Cool cooked hamburger patties entirely, but don’t delay either refrigerating or freezing them.
Freeze the patties in individual baggies with a teaspoon of water. Thaw them out in the fridge. Reheat in a baking pan in the oven at 350°F.
To reheat a frozen patty in the microwave, place the patty in a dish with a teaspoon of water at the bottom. Cover it and rewarm in the microwave set on low until just steaming.
Reheating hamburgers in a toaster oven
You’ll get the same results reheating burgers in the toaster oven as you would from a conventional oven.
Heat the toaster oven to 350°F. Put the patty on the rack, with a baking sheet below to catch any drips.
Heat the patty for three minutes. Turn it over and heat for an additional two minutes.
Toast the bun in the hot toaster for a few minutes.
Reheating hamburgers on a grill
Heat the grill to medium-high heat. Reheat the patties for about one minute.
Figure on a little more time for thick patties, and less for thin ones. Don’t press down on the patties, which will release their juice and give you dry hamburgers.
Turn the patties over. Place the buns on the grill, open side down, to reheat.
Reheat the patties one minute longer.
For melted cheese on the hamburgers, place slices on them after you turn them over. Cover the burgers with a pot lid.
Covering the cheese prevents overcooking.
Place the hamburgers in the toasted buns and top with condiments and garnishes of choice.
One interesting and tasty way to reheat hamburgers on the grill is to wrap each one in a slice of bacon or pastrami and grill again until the bacon or pastrami slice starts to get crisp. The extra fat will protect and add great flavor to a tired hamburger.
Reheating a hamburger in the microwave
Heating a burger in the microwave is our last, and least preferred option. The microwave keeps cooking the meat, so if you’re not alert, you’re likely to get a dried-out, tasteless patty.
A quick heat-up on high power will certainly ruin a hamburger.
But if microwaving is necessary, turn the power to the reheat setting and heat the hamburger 30 seconds on each side.
Heated up on the reheat setting, the burger will get hot from the outside. There’s less risk of over-heating that way.
Test the bottom of the reheated burger with your finger. When the bottom of the hamburger feels hot, it’s done reheating.
If it’s not hot through, microwave another 30 seconds, then test it.
You can heat a bun in the microwave too. Put them in for 20 seconds, after you remove the patties. Any longer and it might become hard when they’re removed from the microwave.
The risks involved with reheating hamburgers in the microwave are getting rubbery meat and a soggy bun. To avoid this, put a glass of water in the microwave to provide moisture.
Keeping cooked hamburgers warm
Here’s a surprise: you can enlist your slow cooker to keep multiple burgers warm while you’re cooking other foods, or more burgers.
This is only good for about an hour because even at a low/warm setting, the hamburgers will continue to cook a little.
Keep the hamburgers moist by putting a small, oven-safe bowl containing a few tablespoons of water in the bottom of the slow cooker. The steam created will protect the burgers from drying out.
Place your cooked hamburgers in the slow cooker. Cover with the cooker’s glass lid.
Set the heat at warm; not the low setting. Don’t use this method if your cooker doesn’t have a warm setting; the low setting will soon dry them out.
Ways to use up leftover hamburgers
Why throw out perfectly good meat? Here are some ways you can enjoy those leftovers again, and no one will know that you’ve given them a second life.
With a fork, shred leftover hamburgers. Use the meat in a shepherd’s pie, to fill tacos, or to stuff vegetables like peppers, zucchini, and eggplants.
Freeze the shredded, cooked meat from leftover hamburgers.
Think hash. Shredded hamburger added to a hash makes it hearty and special.
Combine hamburger crumbles with flavorful moist seasonings like Worcestershire sauce, barbecue sauce, or any other prepared sauce you like.
Heat these seasoned crumbles in a skillet and use them to fill omelets. Or toss them with cooked rice, or cooked pasta.
You might like to plan ahead and deliberately cook extra hamburgers to shred and freeze.
Remember always that cooked hamburgers have a storage life of no longer than 4 days, so use them up. And you should get those shredded hamburger crumbles into the freezer as soon as the original hamburgers have cooled down.
Did your burgers turn out especially tasty? Consider eating the leftovers cold, with olives, lettuce and sliced tomato.
How to Reheat a Hamburger Bun
Heating buns in your oven takes minutes and will stay warm for some minutes afterward.
Heat the oven to 350°F.
Wrap both halves of the bun in tin foil, covering them entirely.
Place the wrapped buns in the oven. Heat about 5 minutes or until warm.
Remove the foil from the buns. To keep them warm a little longer, put the unwrapped buns back in the oven for a minute or two.
Watch to make sure the bun isn’t drying out.
Reheating commercial hamburgers
Let’s say you have one or two leftover hamburgers from McDonalds or White Castle in the fridge. First, let them come to room temperature.
Cold hamburgers will probably have cheese or paper sticking to them, which will rip the patties if you try to take them off cold.
Place the room-temperature hamburgers on greaseproof paper and take them apart.
Remove them from the buns. Carefully remove condiments like onions or pickles or toppings, and wipe off any sauce, mustard or ketchup.
Choose one of the reheating methods described above. If you wish to eat your burger with cheese, reheat it with the cheese on it.
Top the hot burger with fresh condiments, onions, etc. Put it inside a fresh or reheated bun.
Reheating White Castle Hamburgers
The White Castle website gives these specific instructions on how to reheat their popular burgers:
Heat the oven to 350°F
Barely cover the bottom of a broiler pan with steaming hot water.
Place the slotted portion of the broiler pan on top of the steaming water.
Remove the hamburgers from cartons or wrapper. Separate them.
Place the burgers on the slotted broiler pan.
Cover the sandwiches and the slotted portion of the broiler pan with foil and seal tightly.
Heat for 15 to 20 minutes if frozen, or 10 to 15 minutes if thawed.
After heating, let the pan sit for 2 minutes before removing the foil.
Reheating McDonald’s hamburgers
You can reheat cold McDonald’s cheeseburgers in the microwave, straight out of the fridge.
Simply place the entire cheeseburger, wrapped in its paper, in the microwave. Heat for 35 seconds, using the heat function.
To reheat hamburgers with no cheese, open the paper wrapping and remove the lettuce and tomatoes, pickles or other vegetables.
Rewrap the hamburger and bun. Place them in the microwave, using the heat function.
Heat for 15 seconds.
Remove the paper and open the bun. Replace the vegetables and enjoy.