Your Best Burger Ever: Tips & Tricks

Everyone likes their burger done and dressed up differently. I prefer mine good and blackened, piled high with cheese, onion, tomato, lettuce and avocado, with a few pickles on the side. What about you?

However you like it, there are a few basic rules to abide by for your best burger ever…

Pick the Right Meat
The key to a juicy burger is fat. Ground chuck has the perfect meat-to-fat ratio: 80% lean meat to 20% fat. Ground sirloin is tasty, but it has 15% fat, so it’s good if you like your burgers firmer and less juicy. Use coarsely ground meat as opposed to fine ground to help keep it moist. And don’t fret, most of the excess fat drains off during cooking anyway.

Keep ‘Em Cold
Before forming the meat into burgers, chill it in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes for easier handling. After you’ve formed your patties, put them back in the fridge to cool down again for 30 to 45 minutes.

Handle With Care
Do not over-mix your meat, and form your patty loosely. The less you touch the meat, the lighter and juicier it will be. Right before grilling, dimple the top of your patty with your thumb so that when the center rises during cooking, the burger will come out flat and even. Also, form the meat about ½ an inch wider than the buns you plan to use; the burger will shrink slightly during cooking.

Add Spice Just Before Grilling
The more “stuff” like breadcrumbs, eggs, onions and seasonings you add to the meat, the more you’ll end up over-handling and losing the flavor of the meat. Add the spices, such as salt, pepper and chili powder, just before the burgers go on the grill, and don’t be sparing. Do not add salt before you form the burgers, because salt will melt the fat and dry the meat out.

Flip Just Once and Don’t Flatten
On a clean grill, turn up the temperature to medium and wait until the surface is hot before putting the burgers on. This will ensure a good crust on the meat that will seal the juices in. Cook each side for 4 minutes for a medium-cooked burger, and only flip once. Whatever you do, don’t flatten your burger by pressing it down with a spatula. The more you compress the burger, the tougher the meat will be.

Let ‘Em Rest
After you take them off the heat, let the burgers rest and redistribute their juices for two to three minutes, just like you would any steak. This way, it won’t immediately lose its juices at the first bite.

Use Hearty, Buttery Buns
Of course, don’t forget good buns. Try buttering and lightly toasting your buns – the top and edges get slightly crispy, leaving the inside soft and fluffy. The bun should be hearty enough to support your meat and toppings.

Good luck, and happy grilling!



14 Responses to “Your Best Burger Ever: Tips & Tricks”

  1. #
    Lauren — January 10, 2011 @ 9:11 pm

    This is such a gorgeous picture, Georgia!

  2. #
    Monet — January 10, 2011 @ 9:11 pm

    One of the best things I’ve done in my burger making routine is change my bread. I no longer buy buns from the store…I make my own and they taste oh-so-good! Speaking of good, your photograph of that burger is inspiring. Great shot love!

  3. #
    Jenn's Food Journey — January 10, 2011 @ 9:11 pm

    Fantastic tips!

  4. #
    Debbie — January 10, 2011 @ 9:11 pm

    I never knew the trick about dimpling the burger before cooking it, I am always asking my husband for the flattest, thinnest burger possible so this will help! Thanks

  5. #
    Magic of Spice — January 10, 2011 @ 10:06 pm

    Great photo and tips :)

  6. #
    Stephanie — January 10, 2011 @ 10:06 pm

    There was an article on yahoo news featuring how to cook the perfect burger. They mentioned techniques that were tested in a test kitchen. Apparently flipping the burger once vs. flipping it multiple times doesn’t make much of a difference except the burger flipped multiple times cooked much faster. Texture-wise, no difference.

  7. #
    Dionne Baldwin — January 10, 2011 @ 10:06 pm

    I like my burgers both plain and by themself or loaded with the works! If the burger itself (just the meat) has good flavor I like a thin slice of cheese on the meat and all wrapped in iceburg lettuce. Sounds a bit odd perhaps, but I just LOVE some burgers that way.

    I am also a fan of the toasted, buttery buns with cheese, tomato, onion, mushrooms…the works. Sauces? Bring it on!

    Thanks for the tips on the burgers. I don’t make them often. I didn’t know about the minimal handling of the meat, that one is a good tip for sure.

  8. #
    Debbi Does Dinner Healthy — January 10, 2011 @ 10:06 pm

    Great tips!! The burger looks awesome, I might just have some tonight! Thanks!

  9. #
    Georgia — January 10, 2011 @ 10:06 pm

    Hi Stephen,

    I find grinding your own beef for burgers to be a matter of personal preference, instead of essential, as not everyone has access to a grinding machine (myself included). Also, I’ve never tasted a significant difference between hand-ground and storebought beef. As for how to cook it, I’ll keep doing it well done, as that’s the way I’ve always liked it. My steaks, however, are always on the rarer side.


  10. #
    Laq1013 — January 10, 2011 @ 10:06 pm

    AH – that burger looks fantastic! We have a lot of great burger places here in DC so it’s hard to justify making them at home, but these are great tips! Didn’t know that salting the meat before forming the patties dries them out. Good to know.

  11. #
    StephenC — January 10, 2011 @ 10:06 pm

    I have to weigh in here. I would never buy ground meat from the supermarket – too much health risk. But whole pieces of meat, blanch 30 seconds in boiling water, grind it yourself, and then cook it as rare as you wish. E-coli can only exist on the external surface of a piece of beef. Blanching kills anything harmful that might be there. Cook it well done if you must, or do something else – less sacrilegious!

  12. #
    Leigh Anne @Your HomebasedMom — January 10, 2011 @ 10:06 pm

    Just discovered your blog from another blog. I have marked so many recipes of yours that I want to try – yum! So glad I found you.

  13. #
    Cristina — January 10, 2011 @ 10:06 pm

    I do luv a good burger more often than not. These a great tips, Georgia (and luv the DOF on that image!). The challenge for me is only flipping that patty once.

  14. #
    Marla — June 21, 2011 @ 3:27 pm

    Hey Georgia….great burger tips!

    Cookin’ Canuck and I would love if you linked up this recipe & any 2 other side dishes in this weeks Get Grillin’ event posted on both of our blogs. We have a fabulous Ile De France Cheese giveaway. You just need to link up on one site :)

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