I'm wondering how to cook frozen bison burgers (also known as buffalo burgers). The package (Carmen Creek) says "cook slightly less than regular hamburgers" - but since I'm not a cook, and have no real idea how to cook hamburgers, that's not so useful :) It also says, "cook 3 minutes per side at 160 degrees".

I have a Tappan electric stove with dials that have settings of 2-6/hi/low/, and a Calphalon 12'' pan of some sort (the edges are angled).

So, how exactly do you determine which number is 160 degrees? :) I've tried various settings, and have yet to get burgers that look right, they're either too rare, or mushy and fall apart when I remove them from the pan. Or maybe that's how bison burgers just are? How can I tell when they are cooked correctly?

  • @hobodave, not that I'm complaining, but the package does call them buffalo - is there a difference? – Cyclops Aug 7 '10 at 1:35
  • The meat comes from the American bison which is not a buffalo. – hobodave Aug 7 '10 at 1:36
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    @hobodave You're being needlessly pedantic about the "buffalo" issue; common usage has the term synonymous with bison (that's even made clear at the top of the article to which you linked). – Iuls Aug 7 '10 at 1:44
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    @Cyclops When I make bison burgers, I add a bit of butter or oil to the pan to help get a flavorful sear on them because of the meat's low fat content. – Iuls Aug 7 '10 at 1:56
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    @hobodave, after thinking over the issue, I've added back the word buffalo :) My reasoning is based on general StackOverflow principles - whether the word is technically correct or not, people may search using the "wrong" word (buffalo), and if they don't find it, will put up a duplicate Question with just the one word changed. This way the Question can be found by anyone searching with either term. Also, it would be nice if someone could add a buffalo tag for that reason. Or not. – Cyclops Aug 10 '10 at 14:02

The temperature is 160 F (71 C) is not referring to the setting of your stove but to the internal temperature that the meat should reach. You measure this using an instant read thermometer. Just put your oven on medium to medium-high heat and shoot for 3 minutes per side and see what temperature it has reached at that time. It will depend on how thick the patties are.

It's also important to let the meat thaw before using. Don't try to cook any meat frozen. Your burgers should be first thawed in your refrigerator and then brought to room temperature for 30 minutes to an hour prior to cooking.

In case you aren't aware, bison is a much leaner meat than beef and thus benefits greatly from not being cooked well-done. If you trust the quality of your bison shoot for rare to medium-rare.

  • The packaging does say, "cook frozen burgers about three minutes per side" - is this maybe different from hamburger meat? Maybe the time it takes to thaw via cooking, also shortens the time or something? – Cyclops Aug 7 '10 at 1:48
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    @Cyclops The package's instructions are poorly worded; all meat should be thawed before it's cooked. – Iuls Aug 7 '10 at 1:51
  • Regardless of the package, you should get more even cooking and better browning with room temperature (or at least thawed) meat. – Ocaasi Aug 7 '10 at 1:53
  • Eh. I've always thawed frozen patties, but I also haven't cooked them in years. – hobodave Aug 7 '10 at 1:53

Buffalo meat is one of the healthiest meats out there. That's great, but its lower fat content means it's easier to overcook. You don't want overcooked meat of any kind, but especially not lean meat like Buffalo.

160 degrees is an 'internal temperature'; how hot the buffalo needs to get before it's considered cooked, or safe to eat. If you have a food thermometer, you can test it directly. If not, use a temperature slightly hotter than medium on your stove. Let the pan get hot for about 2-3 minutes first. Add the meat for 2-3 minutes each side. Try one and adjust accordingly: If the outside is getting black not brown, lower the heat slightly. If the outside is not browning at all, turn up the heat slightly. If the inside is still raw looking, cook a little longer. If the inside is cooked 100% through and bordering on dry or chewy, cook a little shorter.

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