Looking to make a restaurant quality burger at home? Check out our tips for making flavorful, juicy burgers every single time.
Pick any night of the week and my family is either eating burgers, talking about grilling burgers or planning to eat burgers. Needless to say - we love burgers!
The current culinary trend on the burger scene is smash burgers done on a flat top grill. I’m not going to lie - I think this is the best way to go. Thin patties, each with a piece of cheese, and stacked. Delicious!
Don’t get me wrong, I love a giant cheeseburger that’s bigger than my head. But, when you do them thin, you get this beautiful lacing around the edges that gets all crispy, adding more texture.
The following is how I would do a burger for myself. These are our tried and true tips for make the best burgers ever - flavorful and juicy every single time.
What Kind of Ground Beef Should You Use for Burgers
When choosing ground beef for burgers, you want a good fat to meat ratio. Try not to go below 80/20. If you’re brand new to this, that’s 80% beef to 20% fat.
Personally, I prefer a 90/10 blend. The more fat, the more burgers shrink. Don’t let it get you down. Fat equals flavor, but too much and it’ll ruin your sandwich.
Not enough and your burger will be bland and tasteless and will fall apart.
Another option is to add chorizo to ground beef to add a little spice to your life.
Most local butchers will make a special grind upon request. My personal favorite blend is 1/3 ground angus beef, 1/3 ground sirloin and 1/3 ground brisket.
How Do You Season Hamburgers?
Time to season this pile of beef. Make sure to keep it cold until you’re ready to do so. We’re not bringing this to room temp first like we do when making steak.
If your meat is too warm it will be impossible to form patties. If you’re making a bunch of burgers, make five or six patties at a time and keep the rest cold.
When it comes to seasonings, I keep it simple with sea salt, cracked pepper, and garlic powder. Ground beef just needs a little help bringing out its flavor.
Plan on using roughly one tablespoon total of seasoning per pound - you can experiment and decide which flavors you prefer best for your burgers.
I like to mix just the garlic powder into the meat, then season each patty individually with salt and pepper to preference.
How To Make the Best Burger Patties
When it comes to burgers, if you’re like my dad, you bust out your food scale and weigh each one precisely. If you’re like me, you measure with your heart.
For a half pound burger, roll your beef into a ball that’s the size of a baseball. If you’re going smash burger, shoot for two ounces - slightly larger than a golf ball.
After you’ve made your patties and seasoned them, put them in the fridge to ensure they stay cold until you are ready to throw them on your heat source.
What’s the Best Burger Bun?
When it comes to choosing the bun for your burger, I'd argue this is just as important as any other part of the burger, perhaps, the most important.
Without a stable base, you structure will certainly collapse. My go-to bun is the kaiser roll. It’s light and airy but holds up throughout the entire eating process.
I’m also a big fan of the onion roll. Those charred little onions make all the difference. The integrity of the bun is vital to a proper handling.
Potato rolls are too light and fall apart. Brioche buns are too dense, heavy, and chewy. Pretzel rolls…just no. (I mean. You do you...but no.)
Whatever bread choice you make, it’s imperative that you toast, griddle or grill the insides for the ultimate burger experience.
Doing this will create a barrier between the bread and the meat and toppings. Plus, it adds a little crunch. I do this before I grill the burgers.
Lightly butter or mayo the insides and grill them to your desired toastiness. Set them aside until you’re ready to build.
The Best Cheese for Burgers
There’s not a whole lot to talk about with this category because the only answer is yellow American cheese singles individually wrapped in plastic.
Come at me all you want, but nothing compliments a burger like that processed wannabe “cheese”. It melts perfectly and is always consistent.
If you’re really opposed to using cheese singles, then you should find a cheese with a high milk content. Sharp cheddar doesn’t melt as well as mild cheddar.
Cheeses like pepper jack, colby jack, havarti, and muenster all melt very nicely on a hot burger patty.
The Best Burger Toppings
The struggle is real when it comes to choosing burger toppings. I generally want to put all the toppings on my sammich, but that’s not structurally responsible.
There needs to be some order to this madness. My three favorite toppings for a standard burger, not including cheese or condiments, are bacon, pickles, and red onion. This trio bring the most diverse flavors and textures to your burger.
At this point, you just need to go with your heart and the flavors you love most. The beautiful thing about cheeseburgers is that the possibilities are endless.
I don’t think I’ve ever eaten the same burger twice. Simple is almost always better. Give me tons of toppings or give me bacon, cheese and a little mustard.
Toss on a fried egg along with bacon, greens and our spicy maple sriracha mayo like with our breakfast burger recipe. I promise you won't be mad at me later.
Want to really set your world on end? Our Hawaiian burger is topped with caramelized teriyaki onions and rings of grilled pineapple. The combo is insane.
How to Grill Burgers Like a Pro
Everything is ready to go. It’s time to prep your cooking surface. I use a gas grill for this job, but charcoal is a great option as well when it comes to burgers.
Make sure your grilling surface is screaming hot. Preheat your grill for a solid 10 minutes. If grilling isn’t an option, they can be cooked on a stovetop with ease.
Your best bet is to use a steel or cast-iron pan. You want to sear the ground beef and that’s hard to do in a non-stick pan.
How long you cook the burgers depends on size. Thin smash burgers cook in just a couple of minutes, but a half pounder will likely take ten minutes or more.
It’s best to cook your patties to your desired temp. The USDA mandates that burgers be cooked to 160˚F. That’s overkill for my taste. I like to stick to 140˚ to 145˚. That’s a medium burger with a pink center and a nice outer crust to it.
There are a couple rules that I break when it comes to grilling in general. I am not a fan of grill marks. I want the entire surface of my meat to have that char. Grill marks are for posting to your social media.
This brings me to the next rule I break - only flipping your meat once. This is so arbitrary. Flipping more than once does not negatively impact your food.
In fact, it’s far more beneficial for even cooking. Think of a rotisserie chicken. I would imagine that this “rule” came about because of people flipping too early.
You must have patience when searing food. It needs time to develop the crust. Once formed, you’ll be able to flip without fear of the food sticking.
A few degrees before the burgers are done, I top them with cheese, turn off the grill, close the lid, and let them rest for five minutes. Try not to peak.
You want the remaining heat inside the grill to melt the cheese. You could even leave one burner on if you want a little extra warmth.
How To Assemble the Perfect Burger
Starting with the bottom toasted bun, add your first condiment. I either go with a spicy mayo or a garlic aioli.
After you’ve added your preferred sauce, you’ll want to add toppings such as lettuce, tomato, and pickles.
Now it’s time for your perfectly grilled and melty cheeseburger patty. Take a moment to admire your work. It’s beautiful!
After positioning your burger, this is where you’ll want to add items such as onion, bacon, and avocad -basically, toppings that don't sit flat on the bottom.
I’m a two condiment minimum type guy. With the mayo on the bottom, I like something that will cut through the fat from the meat and cheese.
I usually reach for the hot sauce, mustard or better yet, hot mustard - other great options are steak sauce, Thousand Islands, guacamole or barbecue sauce.
And that's a wrap! You've now prepared, grilled, and assembled the perfect burger.Your friends and family stand in awe.Victory is yours.
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Ryan is a food and writer from Toledo, Ohio where he's had a love affair with food since 1984. When he's not cooking or writing, he's planning the next he wants to eat.Tags: Burgers, Hamburgers, Ground Beef, Beef, Grilled, Grilling