Here’s a question we’ve been getting a lot of lately: Can you grill frozen sausages? It’s a good question, however you look at it. And for everyone out there asking, we’ll try to answer it once and for all.
If you, like many others, buy your sausages in bulk, you have to keep them in the freezer so they don’t spoil before it’s time to cook them. Now, I love a juicy, perfectly grilled sausage as much as you do.
But thawing out the sausages can take time and effort.
Can you do without it?
Technically, yes, you can grill frozen sausages. But I have to be honest and say that grilling frozen sausages isn’t the best idea. They won’t cook evenly, nor will they turn out as juicy.
How much of a problem is this? Well, the exterior of the sausage will cook faster than the interior, leading to an unevenly cooked sausage with a burnt exterior and a raw, cold center. Not exactly what you want when you’re trying to enjoy a delicious brat or Italian sausage.
In other words, grilling frozen sausages is possible, but I wouldn’t recommend it. It’s much better to thaw out those sausages before grilling to ensure that they cook evenly and come out perfectly juicy and flavorful. Trust me when I tell you it’s worth every extra bit of time and effort.
How to Grill Frozen Sausages
Sometimes, frozen sausages are your only option if you want any sausages at all. Assuming you have no way of thawing the sausages, let’s go over the things that you can do to make sure they cook as evenly as they can.
First off, set up your grill for indirect heat. On a gas grill, you do this by preheating the grill with half of the burners set to medium-high and the other half off. On a charcoal kettle, you have to rake the coals to one side and leave the other side coal-free.
The side without lit burners or glowing coals is your indirect heat cooking zone. Cook the sausages on it, with the grill’s lid closed. By doing so, you mimic the convection currents in a regular oven, while infusing the sausages with flavorsome smoke.
When the sausages are right about done, open the lid, give them a quick sear on all sides over the direct, high-heat cooking zone, then rest them for at least 5 minutes before serving.
Don’t skip the resting time. It’s what allows the juices to redistribute inside the sausage. During the resting time, the meat will also finish cooking in its residual heat.
For you: If you don’t know about direct and indirect heat, we’ve written a whole post about this titled, “Direct vs. Indirect-Heat Grilling: Why It Matters.”
How to Defrost Sausages for Grilling
If you want the best sausages, and I know you do, always take the time to thaw them out before grilling.
There are three ways to thaw sausages, and two ways not to. The right ways to thaw sausages are in the fridge, in ice water, and in the microwave. The wrong ways are out on the counter and in hot water; we’ll talk about why very soon.
|Thawing Method||Thawing Time||Notes|
|In the fridge||24 hours||Cook up to 2 days after thawing.|
|In ice water||60 to 90 minutes||Cook immediately after thawing.|
|In the microwave||2 to 3 minutes||Cook immediately after thawing.|
How to defrost sausages in the fridge:
To thaw sausages in the fridge, transfer them from the freezer to the refrigerator the night before you plan on grilling them. Put them in a shallow bowl or rimmed baking sheet so they don’t drip raw meat juices all over the other food items in your fridge.
How to defrost sausages in ice water:
Seal the sausages in a ziplock bag to keep water from getting in. Fill a large bowl or your kitchen sink with ice water, then submerge the sausages and put something heavy on top of them to keep them in. Thaw for 60 to 90 minutes (jumbo sausages take the longest to thaw out), changing the water every 30 minutes.
How to defrost sausages in the microwave:
Put the sausages in a microwave-safe bowl and cover them with the splatter-proof lid. Thaw on the defrost setting for 2 minutes. If more thawing is needed, thaw in 30 second intervals until the sausages have defrosted completely.
How not to defrost sausages:
Don’t defrost sausages by leaving them out on the countertop, or by submerging them in warm or hot water. Doing so exposes them to the danger zone, the temperature range within which bacteria grow the fastest, and renders them potentially unsafe to eat.
You can grill sausages from frozen, but you’ll have a hard time cooking them evenly. Still, if frozen sausages are your only option, you should be fine if you grill them with indirect heat.
It’s worth every bit of time and effort to thaw the sausages before grilling. Refrigeration thawing is the best method, but if you’re short on time, then ice water or microwave thawing will also do.