My roommate decided to store a sizable purchase of ground beef in the freezer. For reasons I don't entirely understand, he would thaw it as needed at cook temperature in the microwave, then refreeze.

Quite a bit of this beef remains, and it's been in the refrigerator since I discovered his shenanigans, but unfortunately it's difficult to make patties out of the meat because it's partially cooked. I don't want it to go to waste, so what might I use to hold it together while making burgers that still taste like burgers?

3 Answers 3


For my part, I suggest you explore the wonders of Spaghetti, and that most American of dishes, the "Sloppy Joe."

You can try adding binders like egg and/or peanut butter (or bananas if you're vegan, har har) in order to firm up your beef for pan frying (forget the grill, it ain't happenin), but, while that will help, it'll definitely change the flavor...possibly for the better. I've been known to add those things to regular ground beef (Also, applesauce, which will not help your problem here, but is quite tasty).

  • Of course I can make other things, but if I feel like burgers, at least I can get some suggestions on what to glue 'em with. Thought of egg already, so maybe I'll experiment with that; peanut butter seems like it would just liquefy and be generally unhelpful. And of course I don't expect to do anything other than pan-frying at this point.
    – Jon Purdy
    May 18, 2011 at 1:38
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    In addition, tofu and applesauce make decent (vegan!) binding agents. In particular, if you have powdered lecithin, it could be beneficial but since I'm not sure what the moisture level is its effectiveness would vary.
    – mfg
    May 18, 2011 at 14:30
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    FWIW, I don't approve of the "bacteria nazis" comment as refreezing partially-cooked ground meat is very dangerous - but on the flip side, we've never actually established how long it was in the danger zone, so we can't state with authority that it is unsafe either. I wouldn't chance it, myself, but given that the OP referred to it as "shenanigans", it would seem that he's already aware of the risks.
    – Aaronut
    May 20, 2011 at 14:16
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    Satanicpuppy: Please refrain from both direct and indirect personal attacks against users of this site. Use your answer to answer the question, and not allude that we have "nazis" of any type here.
    – hobodave
    May 20, 2011 at 17:04
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    @hobodave good edit +1, flame wars are the death of any group. Anyway the usual rule of a debate is the first one to use the word 'Hitler' or 'Nazi' loses anyway
    – TFD
    May 20, 2011 at 20:46

Ground beef is a perfect setting for bacterial growth anyway, Ground beef that has been partially cooked and refrozen multiple times is guaranteed to have a huge amount of bacterial contamination.

  • First, you're a bit late. Second, an absolute and unqualified statement can't be entirely accurate in most any context. Third, my policy is "kill it with fire" anyway.
    – Jon Purdy
    May 20, 2011 at 2:23
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    @Jon- ok then- change Daniel's 'guaranteed' to 'overwhelmingly likely'. Is that not absolute enough for you? How much does the ground beef you would be wasting cost? A couple bucks? How much is a wasted couple of days and possibly a hospital copay worth to you? May 20, 2011 at 2:49
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    I might be persuaded to be cavalier about a cured ham but hamburger is likely to be contaminated from the start. Giving it several sessions at thawed temperatures to compound isn't going to help. Bacterial toxins aren't "killed with fire". May 20, 2011 at 2:51
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Instead of, or in addition to egg, try a panade of bread soaked in milk. I believe Cook's Illustrated uses this technique in one of their burger recipes to enhance flavor or texture. It will act as a binder as well.

  • Is there any chance you can expound on this or provide a link of some sort? Would this work for "regular hamburgers" as well? I'm curious now. :D
    – jcolebrand
    Oct 25, 2011 at 22:46
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    It absolutely would work for regular burgers. The technique is more common in meatloaf or meatballs, but Cook's Illustrated uses the technique to keep well-done burgers moist. They call for one slice of white bread, crusts removed, with 2T of milk for 1.5 pounds of beef. Recipe is behind a pay wall here: cooksillustrated.com/recipes/detail.asp?docid=8016
    – mjobrien
    Oct 28, 2011 at 1:55

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