Got an air fryer? You’re in luck! It’s actually very easy to make fresh and delicious hamburgers at home.
To help make it simple I’ve put together some easy to understand steps based on my cooking, measurements, and most of all, taste testing!
In this detailed guide, I’ll show you how to cook frozen hamburgers in an air fryer like a pro. You’re going to love how delicious your air fryer hamburgers taste!
Infographic – Air Fryer Hamburger Quick Tips
Basics first: Steps for cooking air fryer hamburgers
Cooking your own frozen hamburger patties in an air fryer isn’t hard – but there are some things you need to know along the way. I’ll explain more as we go to help save you frustration, wasted food, and time.
First things first: Here’s a layout of the basics steps to cook delicious hamburgers of your own.
How & why to preheat your air fryer
Top: Example of preheating an air fryer with digital controls that include a preheat mode button. Bottom: For standard control models, you can preheat it by setting it to the 400 degree temperature and set the cooking timer for 5 minutes.
Air fryer manufacturers recommend that – just like conventional ovens – you preheat them before cooking. Why you may ask?
Preheating an air fryer accomplishes several things:
- The heating element is brought to a ready (hot) state
- Interior surfaces which help cook food are heated and ready to work properly
- Preheating removes the warming delay that would happen otherwise when cooking
In other words, it gets your air fryer ready to begin cooking right away and not having the cooking process slowed by having to heat up while you’re cooking. It’s sort of like how we let a car warm up in the wintertime before driving it.
If you want properly cooked food you’ll need to give your fryer time to warm up. Food cooks more consistently this way.
Even though air fryers are small and don’t take a really long time to warm up like traditional ovens, they do still need a few minutes.
How to preheat your air fryer
I measured the preheat times to 400°F for both of my air fryers. Although they do reach their full cooking temperature in less than 5 minutes, as a rule it’s best to use that amount of time. The internal surfaces should be hot and ready to cook food on contact.
Preheating is actually super easy! However, it does depend on the type of air fryer you own.
Preheating is done two ways:
- Digital models: Most have a preheat button to take care of this. When used, the unit will heat itself for the time required then shutoff. You can also set the temperature and cooking time manually to do the same thing.
- Air fryers with dial controls can be set to the cooking temperature and for 5 mins of cooking time. When the timer is done you’re ready to add food and start the cooking process.
In either case, 5 minutes is a typical preheat time that works well. Use the cooking temperature for hamburgers in this case (400°F is recommended).
Placing patties in your fryer properly
Diagram showing how to place frozen patties in your air fryer for best results. It’s ok if the patties overlap a tiny bit. However, as little as possible is best. That’s because the patties need unblocked access to the hot air inside to cook properly. If a patty is covered too much it can’t brown properly, won’t taste as good, and won’t reach the right cooking temperature. For smaller air fryers, it may be possible to fit more than 1 inside in some cases.
What you need to know about frozen hamburger patties is that when it comes to air fryers you’re going to have to make compromises. Space is tight and that means you can’t cook as many frozen patties as you could on a grill or in an oven.
Because of that, you might be tempted to stack them on top of each other to fit more inside. Don’t!
Frozen patties should be placed inside your air fryer with as little overlap as possible to cook properly. That’s because when covered they won’t get enough exposure to the hot cooking air that’s circulating.
If you must try to squeeze several inside, try to keep them spread out as much as possible. For nice, well-done and browned hamburgers it’s a must!
By the way, browned patties simply taste better than those that aren’t.
Example of fitting 4 patties into a 3.7 qt. air fryer and a smaller 1.2 qt. model. For my larger Cosori model I was able to (barely) fit 4 patties with only a bit of trouble. I experimented with using 2 patties in the smaller Dash compact air fryer, but as you can see it can result in undercooked areas in the meat.
I’ve tested several ways of fitting patties in the smaller air fryer, but it’s hard to get results when trying to do that. My advice would be to cook 1 at a time in a smaller model.
However, if you’re willing to live with a small amount of hamburger that isn’t browned you could use 2.
If the rest of the patty is browned it’s a sign that the other area is fine to eat – it’s just not done as well.
Got seasoning? Don’t forget!
If you’d like to add garlic, pepper, or other seasonings to your hamburgers now’s the time. Add a generous amount before you start cooking
Don’t forget the seasoning! If you’d prefer tasty hamburgers with your own favorite additions like pepper or even Adobo seasoning sprinkle some on the patties before cooking.
Even better, place them on a plate to add seasoning before putting them into the air fryer.
How long should I cook frozen hamburger patties?
While test cooking I carefully watched the patties and measured cooking times for 2 typical air fryers: One for families (3.7 qt capacity, 1500 watts power) and a personal model (1.2 qt, 1000 watts power).
What I found was interesting. The proper time was about the same for both appliances.
I measured 14 minutes at 400 degrees to get well-done hamburgers that taste great.
The cooking process for frozen patties was basically like this:
- 5-6 minutes into cooking: Thawing, begin to cook
- 8 minutes pass: Lightly cooked, edible, but not really good tasting
- 10-12 minutes: Begin to brown and more thorough cook, the taste improves
- 14 minutes: Fully cooked, browned a bit on the outside, and delicious!
What can I say? I’m very careful and a bit “scientific” about how I cook foods the first time. I wanted to be 100% sure I didn’t burn them as well as compare how 2 different air fryers would perform.
Most of all, though, is that I wanted to be sure they taste great!
Tip: You can be confident how well food is cooked by using a digital temperature gauge with pointed probe to check. When the temperature inside reaches 165° or above the food should be safe to eat and nearly done. I use a nice little ThermoPro TP03A digital kitchen gauge that’s very affordable and works great.
After 14 minutes at 400 degrees for most air fryers you should be done and ready to enjoy your delicious, healthy hamburgers.
Because of that, it’s easy to burn food until you get the hang of it.
Be sure to check the owner’s manual as well for any recommendations and in case a different cooking time is listed.
Last touches and we’re done. Time to eat!
The interior surfaces are hot so be careful! I recommend using tongs to remove your patties when they’re done. Build your hamburgers, add condiments, and enjoy! The result is fantastic fresh hamburgers you’ll enjoy…and cooked with far less fat & grease.
When you’ve reached the cooking time or your air fryer has shut off (if you’ve used the timer or a digital preset, depending on the type you own) we’re ready!
While you can use a fork to remove the cooked patties from the fryer cook basket, I prefer tongs. They’re a lot less likely to slip & fall on the floor. They’re also easier to work with, too.
Put your patties on the buns, add condiments as you like, and most importantly, enjoy your fresh, tasty hamburgers!
You’ll notice they have much less fat and grease than those cooked on a traditional restaurant electric grill.
You can enjoy cheaper, healthier, and fresher hamburgers at home…with restaurant-style taste thanks to your air fryer.
Since the patties will cool off rather quickly I strongly recommend serving them as soon as possible for the best taste.
I found mine just weren’t the same after they cooled off and especially if they had to be reheated.
Clean up & last notes
It’s amazing how much fat and grease is left over after cooking hamburgers! Wow. Even though it looks terribly messy clean-up is easy. After letting the cooking basket cool down in only takes a moment or two to wash the parts in your kitchen sink.
You’ll have a fair amount of grease and fat left over after cooking frozen hamburger patties. I was surprised just how much, in fact.
Not to worry, though: clean up is easy. Give the cooking basket & parts some time to cool down. Drain the grease and fat out and dispose of it.
After that, just add warm water and some dishwashing detergent. Clean with a non-abrasive item like a soft sponge to avoid damaging the nonstick surface. It only takes a few moments and you’re done. Allow the parts to air dry or dry with a towel if you prefer.
(Note: Most air fryer baskets are dishwasher safe so you could do it that way as well)
More air fryer cooking guides
Want even more delicious food you can cook in minutes? Check out my other guides based on hands-on testing, measurements, and most of all….taste!