There is not a lot that can beat the satisfaction of sinking your teeth into a good burger, especially one that made by your own hands. And it doesn’t take that much effort to make one. Here, we share the best tips we’ve got in making that perfect burger.
If you just wanted our recipe, you can skip everything and get to the bottom of the page. But, do give our tips a read. You might just learn something new!
Tips To Grill The Perfect Hamburger
Do not underestimate the burger. Simple as it looks. It took several attempts to make that one that really teases the palates.
1. Bun, Bun, Bun!
Severely under-rated by almost everybody. Most tend to place all the emphasis on the meat. Yes, meat is the star, but the bun is ultimate support. So, we made sure to bring this up to the top to get the attention it wholly deserves.
A good sesame bun should be soft and wide enough to cover the patty and not so much that you are only tasting the flour. And a small bun to a wide patty ratio is plain weird too.
2. Make Your Own Patty. Do Not Buy Pre-Made Frozen Patties
First step: Buy that pack of frozen pre-made patties.
Second Step: Throw it away in the nearest bin you can find.
Third Step: Get back to the store, get the ingredients and make your own patty.
No doubt. Pre-made are, indeed, convenient and possibly a lot cheaper. But, in exchange for that convenience and price, what you get is a lower-quality patty with the wrong meat-fat ratio. The ideal meat/fat ratio is between 80/20 to 85/15. We prefer 80/20. The higher amount of fat ensures that its outcome will be a juicier burger.
Note here that the higher the fat percentage, the more it will shrink when cooking.
The patty diameter should be around half an inch to one inch wider than the bun. This is to compensate for when it shrinks and pull towards the center when it sizzles on the grate.
3. Minimal, Not Maximum Effort On The Meat
Am I kidding? No. The theory, and rightly so, is to fiddle less with the meat. The lesser effort you exert, the better the taste. You will touch it once when you form the patty, and another when you flip it in the grill.
Did I mention not to squish the meat? When trying to form the patty, you might be tempted to flatten the meat several times to attain the perfect thickness. Try not to overdo it.
An extra tip is making an indent in the middle of your patty. During the cooking process, the middle of the patty tends to puff up and any extra garnishing place on top on it will simply roll off. Indent compensates for that flaw.
4. Marinade Your Meat
Meat has a natural sweetness in it. But it is remotely enough. It will only do good if you mix it with other enhancers like pepper, Worcestershire sauce, and onions. There is an entire planet worth of ingredients you can use. Use to your heart’s content.
5. Melting Cheese Is A Good Idea Only At The End
You do not want a mess at your grill. Lace a piece of cheese at the end of the grill so it doesn’t drip off your patty. Trust me, it is a mess. Lacing it at the end will give the perfect-looking coat encapsulating the meat. Looks professional and be sure to impress your friends.
6. Do Not Press The Patty With Your Spatula Or Whatever You Use During Grilling
Stop it. Pressing the patty squeezes out the juice that should be enjoyed by you, not the grill, not the fire. If you are not a fan of dry burger, restrain your urge to swat them.
7. Glaze At The End
The idea is like lacing the cheese. Glaze only near the end of the process. Glazing too early will burn the sauce, give the meat a charred taste. Apply a thin layer a minute before the meat is done to get the perfect taste.
8. Clean And Oil Your Grill
Always start with a well clean, oiled grill. Otherwise, you find your patties sticking to the grill. You might also find yourself getting extra ingredients too, say, that piece of onion from last summer. Maintenance of your grill extends the life of your tool and ensures many more delicious burgers.
9. Flip Once!
It is very tempting to flip the patty every minute, fearing that it will become charred. Fret not, good control of the temperature will not burn your burger. You grill one side for a while, flip and grill the other side. That’s all. Multiple flipping has the same effect as pressing the meat. Juices flow out of the patty and a dry burger is served.
Moreover, it takes more effort. Remember the less you do, the better the taste?
10. Pre-Heat The Grill
I cringe every time I see people throw meat on the grates immediately after firing it up. Preheating ensures that your grill will reach the optimal temperature when you cook it. This means that the meat has a shorter vacation on the grates. A longer cook time might cause the meat to be over-cooked. Not what we want here.
11. Spread a thin layer of butter on the buns
Not only does it enhance the overall taste of the burger. This little extra step will avoid soggy bun when juices from the patty flow out from it. A soggy bun is prone to splits and splattering meat juices all over your hands. You are enjoying a burger, not a meatloaf.
Bonus – Ice Cube Method
Graham Elliot said his secret to a great burger is to place an ice cube in the middle of the patty. This little cube will distribute moisture as you cook it – juiciness ensures. Try out this tip and tell me if it works for you?
How Long Does It Take To Cook The Patty?
The thicker the burger, the longer it takes – no brainer here. But the ideal thickness is about ¾ inches and no more than 1 inch thick. Too thick and you find yourself a burger hot on the outside and cold inside.
Depending on what meat are you using. The cooking time can vary slightly. The recipe we provided for free uses grounded beef and Beef will take about 5 – 6 minutes.
If you are using turkey meat, it will take slightly longer, at about 6 – 8 minutes.
Pork and chicken, on the other hand, would take about 4 – 6 minutes.
USDA recommends that ground beef should be cooked to a minimum of 160°F. For some, this might be too done. It’s up to your personal preference and diet. Here, I will provide a table of how long you should grill your patty to achieve the doneness you desire. Adjust as you desire.
- Medium rare: 130°F to 135°F, 2 to 3 minutes per side.
- Medium: 140°F to 145°F, 3 to 4 minutes per side
- Medium Well: 150°F to 160°F, 4 to 5 minutes per side
- Well Done: 160°F and above, 5 minutes and above for each side
Now that you are clear on the do’s and don’ts of grilling the burger. Give it a try with our recipe below. There is nothing fanciful about this recipe, only a good burger.
The Really Classic Burger Recipe
- Preparation Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 12 Minutes
- Total Time: 22 Minutes
- Difficulty Level: Easy
- 1-pound Ground Beef (80-20)
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped onion
- A pinch of butter
- Pre-heat your grill and oil your grate.
- In a bowl, mix Worcestershire sauce, black pepper, and chopped onions.
- Add in Ground Beef and mix lightly.
- Form 4 patties approximately 3/4 – 1 inch thick.
- Place patties on grills, add salt
- Cook it over heat, 6 mins each side. (depends on how done you want it to be)
- Butter the bottom bun, lightly toast both top and bottom buns.
- Serve and enjoy. (Beware hot!)
This is my usual recipe. Simple, classic and clean. Once you have given it a good try. Taste it and let us what you think.
You can download a PDF copy for free here.
With a burger in one hand and a beer in another, there is probably no better way to spend the summer. The classic burger is simple, yet it is simple things that people make the most mistakes. By sharing several attempts worth of grilling that perfect burger experience concisely written here. Many of you should be able to avoid the pitfalls I landed into. And that is all, folks.