How to Grill a Perfect Burger
While I'll use the grill just about anytime the temperature gets about 45 degrees, once Summer hits I'm full bore on outdoor cooking. And one of my family's (and my) favorites are grilled burgers. Yes, it's a very simple meal...but typically the most simple foods are the ones you really have to make sure to cook right. Small mistakes tend to ruin the whole burger. So, here I'm going to show you 3 simple techniques you can use to make sure your burgers grill up perfectly every time.
Now, before going any further, I'm going to acknowledge, I'm skipping the debate over Gas vs Charcoal. The reality is, I bet you already have one or the other. You've got what you've got....and you're really un-likely to go switch if I'd tell you one is "better" than the other. So, the techniques below are universal. Follow them and you'll be eating a better burger.
Keys to Grilling the Perfect Burger
There are three critical steps to getting your burgers grilled right...just about everything else...can be modified/changed. But not these "big three":
- When you form your beef patty (particularly thick ones), make sure to make them a little bit larger than the size your bun. Then to minimize shrinkage while cooking, make a small dimple/depression in the center.
- All the burgers to come up to room temperature before cooking, and season both sides liberally with salt and pepper. Most people under season...and then wonder why the burger tastes "flat"
- Cook the burger over high heat. Flip once. And treat it gently. Make sure you grill at at, or near max temperature, when you start to cook the burger. That will give them a good sear on the outside, while letting you keep the center juicy.
How to Grill the Perfect Burger
The steps above are table stakes/must do's to get the best grilled burgers around...but there are a few more things you can do, to make sure they come out great.
- Use 80/20 or 85/15 ground beef. The higher the fat content, the more flavor, the more tender, and the juicier your burger is going to be
- Don't over work the ground beef when making the patty. The more you smush the meat around the tougher it will become.
- Keep the size and thickness of the patty in proportion to the bun. You may like a bigger or smaller patty, just keep in mind, that there needs to be harmony between burger and bun. Get it the right size.
- Make that dimple in the burger to prevent it from shinking
- Pre-heat your grill while making the burgers...and get that grill as hot as it goes
- Season both sides of the burger with salt and pepper. That's a must. You can always add some more spices if you'd like, but don't skimp on salt and pepper - they bring out the flavor in the meat.
- Sear the burger for 2 - 4 minutes on one side on a very hot grill with the cover closed. That allows the meat to brown and get a flavorful crust on it.
- Flip the burger and cook the second side for ~75% of the time you cooked the first side. Don't move the burger around the grill. Don't press on it. You don't need to do anything.
- Take the last minute and top it with cheese...if that's your thing; remember, the cheese has to be melted
- Pull the cooked burgers off the grill and let them rest for 2 - 3 minutes before serving.
- Dress them up with your topping and condiments of choice!
It's not hard to grill a fantastic burger. But so many mess it up. Keep it simple. Use the right techniques, and yours will be perfect every time.