Ultimate Hamburger Grill Guide

The Ultimate Hamburger Grilling Guide

Think you know everything there is to know about grilling a perfectly juicy hamburger? Or maybe you have no idea how to take your burger from a dry meat puck to Shake Shack delicious.

Burgers are a summertime staple and one of the first meals every griller should master before moving on to more complex meats like strip loins and ribs.

Think of this article as your complete guide to becoming a burger expert. We’ll explore best practices for grilling on both gas and charcoal, how to select the right ground beef for an optimal patty and a few of my favorite burger recipes to get you started.

Selecting the Meat

 While this may sound counter-intuitive, when it comes to burgers, fat is a good thing! There’s a reason why ground chuck is so popular for burger patties. The higher fat content helps infuse the burger with juiciness.

Ground sirloin will also work, but the lower fat content (10%) isn’t the best for a truly juicy burger.

So how much fat is ideal? The best fat content is about 15-20% to ensure the burger is perfectly moist, less than that and you risk an overly dry patty.

While chuck makes for excellent hamburgers, we’re always a fan of using lean, grass-fed ground beef and opting for organic when it’s available. While not everyone can taste the difference, the higher quality of the cow really does enhance the flavor.

It’s also a good idea to remember that burger patties stick together best naturally. You can skip adding a binding agent like you might use with meatballs or meatloaf. Patties are just fine on their own when made of good quality ground beef.

Key takeaway here? Look for 85% lean ground beef for your patties, and stay away from anything frozen!

Grilling

1) Pattie Prep

The first step to grilling a perfect burger is nailing the prep work. Your end product is only going to be as solid as the time you invest in the beginning to make sure it’s just right.

When prepping your patties, you don’t want to go right from the package to the grill. The best practice is to prepare your patties early by forming them into approximately 6 to 8 ounce rounds, approximately 1’’ in thickness.

Too big and your patty will be thin and dry, too fat and it will cook too much on the outside and not enough inside.

You’ll also want to chill your patties in the fridge once they’re formed so they stick together nicely and hold together on the grill. Handle them as little as possible to make sure they aren’t overly compacted.

This is also the time to add any tasty enhancements you might want to infuse in the meat, like diced peppers, onions, a little bacon, or even a cheese core.

2) Grill Conditions

The key starting point for nailing the grill conditions for optimal burger cooking is getting the temperature dialed in.

Ideally burgers should be cooked on medium-high heat, which is about 375-400 degrees on a gas grill. For charcoal grills, to make sure you’re hitting this sweet spot, we recommend buying an add-on thermometer to make sure you’re not too far over or under.

When cooking, the next consideration is lid on or lid off. For burgers, you can go either way depending on weather conditions and whether you are rotating a significant number of patties through for a large group or just cooking for a small family.

3) Cooking

When cooking your burger there are a few tips and tricks to keep in mind to ensure your burgers end up juicy and moist:

  • Lightly brush your patties with olive oil before putting them on the grill, this will help keep them from sticking and minimize flare-ups.
  • Do NOT press down on the burger with the spatula while cooking. You may have seen dad do this a thousand times, but news flash, this is one of the best ways to dry out your burger and end up with a dry meat puck. Resist!
  • Limit your flipping. That burger does not need to be turned over and over. Do it once and let it rest. Best practice is getting a 3 minute sear on the first side and then fully cook the rest of the burger on the second side.
  • Final internal temp should be about 160 degrees for a medium “doneness”. You can use a portable thermometer to check a patty or two and make sure they’re cooked to your liking or you can follow these times for a general rule of thumb: 4-5 minutes for Rare, 6-7 minutes for Medium-Rare, 8-9 minutes for Medium. Keep in mind, a burger will continue to cook for a few minutes once removed from the grill if allowed to rest.

Recipes to Try

While a classic all-beef patty seasoned with a little salt and pepper, then topped with a juicy slice of cheddar, is a forever favorite, I’m including a couple other combinations I love in case you want to spice up your grilling game with some new flavor profiles.

Jalapeno Popper Burgers

INGREDIENTS

4 oz. cream cheese, softened

1/2 c. shredded cheddar

1/2 c. shredded mozzarella

2 jalapeños, minced

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

6 slices bacon, cooked and chopped

1/2 tsp. chili powder

1 1/2 angus ground beef

4 burger buns

DIRECTIONS

  1. Make filling: In a medium bowl, mix together cream cheese, cheddar, mozzarella, and jalapeños. Season with salt and pepper, then fold in cooked bacon.
  2. Form ground beef into 8 large, thin rounds (about ¼”). Spoon about ¼ cup of filling mixture onto one patty, then place a second patty on top. Pinch edges to seal burger and re-shape into a disc if necessary. Repeat with remaining patties and filling mixture.
  3. Preheat grill to medium-high. Season burgers on both sides with chili powder, salt, and pepper. Place on grill and cook until cooked through to your liking, about 6 minutes per side for medium.
  4. Sandwich with burger buns and serve immediately.

From Delish.com | Source: https://www.delish.com/cooking/recipe-ideas/a20876317/best-jalapeno-popper-burgers-recipe/

Western Barbecue Burger

SAUCE INGREDIENTS:

1 cup ketchup

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/3 cup sugar

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup molasses

2 teaspoons prepared mustard

1-1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke

1/8 teaspoon pepper

BURGER INGREDIENTS:

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1/3 cup quick-cooking oats

1/4 teaspoon onion salt

1/4 teaspoon garlic salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/8 teaspoon salt

1-1/2 pounds ground beef

6 hamburger buns, split

Toppings of your choice

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a small saucepan, combine the first 10 ingredients. Bring to a boil. Remove from the heat. Set aside 1 cup barbecue sauce to serve with burgers.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the egg, oats, 1/4 cup of the remaining barbecue sauce, onion salt, garlic salt, pepper and salt. Crumble beef over mixture and mix well. Shape into six patties.
  3. Grill, covered, over medium heat for 6-8 minutes on each side or until a thermometer reads 160°, basting with 1/2 cup barbecue sauce during the last 5 minutes. Serve on buns with toppings of your choice and reserved barbecue sauce.

From tasteofhome.com | Source: https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/barbecued-burgers/

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About the Author Todd Crichton

I am a grill freak! It's hard to pick my favorite thing to grill, but if I had to choose... it is still a tie between pork ribs and a juicy beef burger. I am currently grilling on a Weber S210(I live in a small space) but my dream grill is definitely a summit. Those things are bad ass. Anyways I would love to hear from you, leave a comment or question below!

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