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10 Easy Tips for Making the Perfect Burger

10 Easy Tips for Making the Perfect Burger

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Follow these simple steps and you’re guaranteed to get a juicy and delicious burger every time


The key to making a perfect burger is to keep it simple!

Close your eyes for a minute and think about your perfect cookout burger — smell the smoke from the barbecue grill, listen to the chatter of your friends and family as they rave about how delicious the food is, and then taste a bite of the season’s first burger. What does it taste like? While many delicious burgers are made with lots of add-ins and toppers, the odds are good that the flavor you remember is beef with little else added to it. That’s no surprise, because the perfect burger is all about simplicity.

Click here for the 10 Easy Tips for Making the Perfect Burger (Slideshow)

If you start with good-quality ingredients and apply proper cooking techniques, then you really don’t need to do much to turn ground beef into a juicy and delicious burger. Spring for high-quality ground meat (go for grass-fed beef if you can; it has more flavor) that has a decent fat content (which is needed to keep the burger moist and to enhance its flavor) and then handle and cook the burgers with care. Other types of ground meat, particularly lean meats like chicken or turkey, may need a few extra ingredients or a bit more attention to achieve the same results, but the principles that apply to beef will help.

In reality, the key to making a delicious burger is to keep things simple. Many failed burgers are the result of overthinking and overcomplicating the process. If you stick to good ingredients and the 10 easy tips that follow, you’re guaranteed to get a juicy and delicious burger every time — and the title of grillmaster!

Get the Right Ratio of Fat

Regardless of the type of meat you choose, shoot for about an 80 to 20 ratio of lean to fat. This gives you just the right amount of juiciness and flavor.

You don’t need to add much to good-quality ground meat for a flavorful burger. When you do add your flavorings, add them all at once and don’t overmix the ground meat — this will help keep the patty from becoming too dense.

Kristie Collado is The Daily Meal’s Cook Editor. Follow her on Twitter @KColladoCook.

Make the Perfect Burger Using Our Food Editors' Genius Tips

From forming an even patty to keeping it juicy and flavorful, your burgers will be better than ever.

Looking for ways to become a more confident cook at home? Our food editors are here to help. Each week, we&aposre shining a spotlight on the exciting things happening in the Martha Stewart test kitchen. Our editors will share their best cooking tips, favorite products, new ideas, and more in our weekly series, Out of the Kitchen.

There&aposs nothing like biting into a juicy burger topped with lettuce, gooey cheese, tangy pickles, and ripe tomatoes𠅊ll between a soft golden bun. The most important step to making a perfect burger is mastering the art of cooking a patty. Whether you&aposre preparing a beef, turkey, lamb, or veggie burger, there are several essential steps that will help you make an evenly cooked, flavorful patty every single time.

An 80-percent lean, 20-percent fat ratio is Flay’s choice for burger patties, because of the relatively high fat content — it guarantees a juicy burger. The blend is not exactly diet-friendly, but the chef said it’s the worth the occasional splurge: “To me, if you’re going to eat a burger, it might as well taste good.”

Using a thumb, make a deep depression in the center of each patty to keep the burger from puffing up and bulging in the center. Otherwise, “It plumps up like a football and people smash it down. That’s the last thing you want to do,” Flay said. This technique “fakes out the burger,” he said, and the patty ends up taking the exact shape you want.

7 of 10

Roasted Bell Pepper Sauce

Preheat broiler. Cut 1 orange bell pepper in half lengthwise discard seeds and membranes. Place 1 pepper half, skin side up, on a foil-lined baking sheet (reserve remaining half) flatten with hand. Broil 8 minutes or until blackened. Wrap bell pepper in foil let stand 5 minutes. Peel and finely chop. Add 2 tablespoons chopped bell pepper and 1 teaspoon minced chives to mayo stir until blended.

SERVES: 4 (serving size: 1 tablespoon)

CALORIES 27 FAT 2.3g (sat 0g) SODIUM 46mg

Grilling Tips

Veggie burgers are much lower in fat and don't have the same natural juices found in beef burgers. For this reason, it's essential that you oil your grill before lighting it to prevent veggie burgers from sticking. Start off by cleaning your grill to scrape off any bits and pieces left behind from your last cookout. Then, take a paper towel dipped in oil and rub it thoroughly across the grates. Alternatively, spray your grill with a non-stick cooking spray.

If you don't want the hassle of grilling, but enjoy the taste of grilled veggie burgers, add a dash or two of liquid smoke into the mix. You can also try using a small indoor kitchen grill.

Cheeseburger Steps

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 8-10 minutes

Get condiments out and ready: pickles, pesto, tomatoes, jalapeño, sautéed onions, arugula, mayonnaise, cheese, etc.
Pat out burgers, season with salt and pepper.
Preheat your oven to 350°F.
Lightly butter both sides of the bun.
Put buns in oven for 5 minutes.
Shut oven off after 5 minutes and leave buns in until you’re ready to plate your burger.
Heat cast-iron skillet to medium-high heat.
Add a teaspoon of bacon fat.
Put patties in the skillet.
Cook patties until lightly brown on one side (about 3 minutes).
Flip patties over and cook for an additional 2 minutes.

If adding cheese:

Turn off heat, add cheese, put lid on top of the skillet, and move it off the warm burner.
Let sit in the pan until cheese melts.

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7 Tips & Tricks for the Juiciest Grilled Burgers You’ll Ever Make

Labor Day weekend is finally here and grilling season is still in full swing, so (assuming you can find ground beef at the store), there are probably plenty of burgers in your immediate future. Feel free to play around with the usual formula, but whatever you do, don’t let it be an overdone, leaden disc of sadness. Ensuring tender, juicy burgers and not dry, dense hockey pucks has to do with both sourcing and technique. Chowhounds have shared a few simple tricks and tips over the years, starting with buying the right ground beef.

Some say you shouldn’t actually grill burgers (more on that below), but we say if you do, just do it right.

How to Grill Perfect Burgers

Tip #1: Avoid extra-lean grinds. The higher the fat content of your ground beef, the moister the patty. A burger with beef that’s 80 percent lean (i.e., 20 percent fat) is luxurious and juicy, Brandon Nelson explains on Chowhound.

Dry Aged Ground Beef, $9/pound from Porter Road

For even better burgers.

Tip #2: Minimal handling is just as important. Form the patties gently, compressing as little as possible (this applies even if you’re making a smashburger—more so, maybe, in that case). Just as overworking pastry and dough will make it tough, so will over-handling your meat. (While we’re on the subject of handling meat, proper food safety technique will also help prevent foodborne illness, the bane of any BBQ.)

Tip #3: Make an indentation in the middle of each patty. Just press your thumb (not too firmly) into the meat and the divot will prevent it from puffing up and will allow it to cook evenly, mike0989 says. This one is also endorsed by Jon Lemon, culinary director of Bareburger see more BBQ tips and tricks from chefs.

Tip #4: Don’t press the patties with a spatula as they cook—that just forces out the juice. Your spatula is strictly for flipping, and only once.

Tip #5: Keep in mind there’s carryover cooking time, so pull the burgers off the grill just shy of your target doneness. They’ll be just right when they hit the table, cstr says. Conversely, pull them off when they already look perfect, and by the time they hit your bun, they’ll be overdone.

Tip #6: If you just can’t resist buying lean ground beef, try adding a bit of water to it, valerie says. A little extra moisture helps even well-done burgers stay juicy and tender, even if they’re made from 90 percent lean ground beef. Mix in 1/4 to 1/2 cup water per pound of ground beef before forming your patties to reap the tenderizing benefit of H20. Some chefs tuck an ice cube into the middle of the patty for the same effect.

Tip #7: Try stuffing it with cheese and adding fat via toppings. The classic Juicy Lucy is a great option for anyone who wants a really luxurious burger, since it’s full of molten cheese:

Along those lines, adding fatty, moist condiments like aioli, bacon jam, ripe tomatoes, and sliced avocado will help boost your burger’s juicy factor (and flavor), but can’t totally save a bone-dry patty, so follow the tips above to ensure your burgers stay perfectly moist on the grill, and then go to town with the toppings.

Check out 15 Non-Traditional Burger Recipes for Summer BBQs for ideas. Or you can take a cue (pun fully intended) from Gordon Ramsey and just grate butter straight into your burgers.

Plot Twist: Should You Be Grilling Burgers at All?

There are those (chefs included) who advocate against cooking burgers right on your grill grates, as you can lose a lot of the flavorful juices and fat—which sometimes also causes flare-ups that char your meat to a crisp (in a bad way). Many suggest placing a cast iron griddle on your grill for cooking burgers to get a perfectly seared crust and juicy interior, and maybe still a lick or two of smoke.

It may sound crazy, but quality meat, salt, and pepper is all we add to our simple burger recipe.

We’ve tried adding extras — olive oil, cream, mustard, and grated onion to name a few. While we liked some, none were as good as simply seasoned burger patties cooked in a little butter. Just in case you’re wondering what the extras did, here’s a quick summary:

Olive oil didn’t really add much and the texture went a little funny, they became a little grainy. Cream made the meat tender. We both really liked it, but not enough to specifically buy a whole carton of cream for a tablespoon (that’s all you needed to add). We loved the flavor of the mustard — we used Dijon and the onion was too strong for us.

So, even though we did like a few of the additions, in the end we came full circle and simple won. Think about a great steak — it’s most likely only been seasoned with salt and pepper. For us, hamburgers are the same.

The Best Meat For Burgers

For ease, we stick to ground chuck. You can get creative and use a combination of ground chuck and sirloin, though. (Some even grind up a little bacon and add it — that can’t be bad, right?). In a perfect world, we’d grind our own meat. This way, you always know the quality and it’s fresh. If you have the time and equipment (KitchenAid has a grinder attachment) then go for it, you won’t be disappointed.

We usually go for the next best thing — we buy the highest quality ground meat we can.

Around us, that means a trip to the meat counter at Whole Foods, but if you have a butcher close by or another store you trust, go there. Choose meat with 15 to 20 percent fat. Any lower and you’ll loose some flavor and you risk the burgers becoming dry.

How to Form Perfect Hamburger Patties

We like 5 to 6 ounce burgers — they’re big, but not overwhelming. A kitchen scale can be useful for dividing the meat.

Here’s a trick — have you ever had a burger puff up in the middle while it was cooking? Before cooking, add a dimple to the middle of each burger. This stops it from puffing up in the middle and keeps things uniform.

One more thing, there’s no need to mix the salt and pepper into the meat. Just season the top and bottom (like a steak). The more you fuss hamburger meat, the tougher it will become when cooked. By the way, we season our burgers liberally.

The Best Way to Cook Hamburgers

Our favorite way to cook burgers is in a cast iron skillet or on a flat top grill. We heat it over medium heat, add some butter and cook the burgers 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Done.

If you’re partial to grilling, go for it. If you feel like it, we’ve taken our cast iron skillet to the grill with us — we just love the sear you get on the skillet compared to grates. No matter how you cook it, make sure you allow the patties to rest for a few minutes.

Just look at that — moist, juicy and not too packed. A perfect burger.

How to Tell When a Burger is Done

In the photo below, you’re looking at somewhere between medium-well and well. We really like to shoot for medium. A great way to do this is to use a meat thermometer. I’ve shared the temperature of burgers when they are rare, medium-rare, medium, medium-well, and well-done below.

  • Rare: Red in the center, 120 degrees F (50C) and below
  • Medium-Rare: Very Pink in the center, 130 degrees F (55C)
  • Medium: Pink in the center, 140 degrees F (60C)
  • Medium-Well: Grayish Pink in the center, 150 degrees F (65C)
  • Well Done: Gray, No Pink in the center, 160 degrees F (70C) and above

Note: The USDA suggests cooking ground beef to 160 degrees F, this is well-done. That’s just too done for us, which gives even more reason to buy the highest quality meat you can.

What to Serve With Burgers

  • Take your burgers up a notch with homemade mayonnaise — it’s delicious! We’ve also got an excellent homemade ketchup recipe
  • I love adding some pickled red onions to my burgers (they are so simple to make)
  • Sliced avocado or a spoonful of homemade guacamole
  • Sliced tomatoes or add a spoonful of this chopped tomato salad
  • Greens like crunchy iceburg, arugula or butter lettuce
  • Sliced or shredded cheese

More Burger Recipes

    using our tasty recipe. We spent days perfecting the perfect veggie burger.
  • Swap out the beef and make turkey burgers. We add a secret ingredient so that they are delicious and juicy.
  • Make this epic loaded burger with egg and ham!!
  • Try our queso blanco burger with a homemade creamy queso sauce.
  • Try our pan-seared (or grilled) salmon burgers with an agave glaze and chipotle mayo.

Recipe updated, originally posted June 2013. Since posting this in 2013, we have tweaked the recipe to be more clear and added a quick recipe video. – Adam and Joanne

Making The Burger Patties

Next, you shape your meat into patties. Divide the meat into the number of patties that you want. When I start with 2 pounds of ground beef, I make 6-8 patties. Before you start shaping patties, divide the meat up into the number of portions that you plan to have. Try to get the portions as even as you can. I sometimes even use a kitchen scale to make sure that they&rsquore all the same.

Using your hands, take one portion of meat and form it into a big meatball. You want a nice tight compacted sphere. Once you have that, use your palms to evenly flatten it into a circle. Or you could use a burger press to get them to the exact size and shape you want every time. I like them about 4 inches in diameter and 3/4 inches thick. Try to make them a little bit thinner in the middle, even if you use a burger press. Why? As the patties cook they tend to bulge at the middle and you get an uneven surface, a burger that bulges in the middle. Thinning them at the middle when forming the patties will help counter this.

When you flatten the patties, they sometimes crack a bit along the edges. Just run the palm of your hand around to push the edges in a bit and smooth any cracks.

Arrange the patties in a single layer on a plate. If they don&rsquot all fit in one layer, top the first ones with wax paper or parchment paper and then do another layer on top. Cook right away or refrigerate uncovered for up to two hours.

How Do You Make Gordon Ramsay’s Burgers

Step 1. Blend together the Sirloin chuck, brisket, and short rib ground beef, then mix in with some egg. I would suggest you prepare a day ahead before grilling. Patty into 8 oz patties and then refrigerator 24 hours before using, this will help the patties stay together and don’t come apart as you are grilling them.

Step 2. Make sure the grill is scorching hot before putting the patties on your grill. Now season the patties with salt and pepper and add a little oil. Make sure to roll the sides of the patties so they get fully seasoned with salt and pepper.

Step 3. Look for the hottest part on the grill, place the burger patties down on the grill. Usually about 2/3 of the top of the grill, The real secret is to move the patties as little as possible once you place the burgers patties on the grill. Make sure burgers are at room temperature 10 minutes before grilling.

Step 4. Beginning preparing or preset the burger buns as the burgers are cooking. Season buns with salt and pepper, and crisp them on both sides on the grill.

Step 5. Season the thick-sliced onions with some salt and pepper. add some oil and place onions on the grill as the buns and burgers are cooking.

Step 6. Now start basting your patties by brushing them on each side. Just about two minutes before they are taking off the grill to add some more flavor. Grill each burger patties for 3 1/2 to 4 minutes on both sides.

Step 7. Thirty seconds before patties come off the grill you need to season the patties again. Then add your jack cheese on the top of patties to melt while burgers still on the grill.

Step 8. Setup the Brioche buns with mustard mayo blend, lettuce, and tomatoes. before taking the burger patties off the grill. First, you start by placing a tablespoon full of mustard mayo blend on both sides of the top and bottom of the bun. Then gently fold the lettuce, so it to fit onto the bun and press down to on the lettuce, make sure it stays folded.

Step 9. After the mustard mayo blend and lettuce. Add a thick slice of tomato on top of the lettuce, then season tomato with salt and pepper, and a dab more of mayo on top.

Step 10. Add the burgers on each of the Pre-Set dressed Brioche buns. Place the onions that were grilled on top of each patty finish by placing the top bun.