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Hamburgers are easy to make and perfect for backyard grilling. Learn how to make the juiciest grilled burgers ever with just a few simple tricks!
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About This Recipe
I am not usually one to order a hamburger when we dine out. But throw a burger on the backyard grill and I am all over that. Tender, so juicy, and charred to perfection and sitting next to a big helping of Dill Pickle Pasta Salad, Slow Cooker Baked Beans, or Bacon Ranch Red Potato Salad – now that’s my kind of barbecue!
Several years ago I attended a cookout demonstration given by Weber Grills where they taught us how to make the perfect burger. Since then I’ve perfected this recipe on my own backyard grill and I’m going to share all my my best tips and tricks. Things like how to perfectly season your burger, why you want that indent in the center, and how to cook hamburgers without a grill.
How To Make Hamburger Patties
The best hamburgers start with quality ground beef and just a little bit of salt and pepper. You can use ground chuck (80/20) but I prefer a little leaner so I use an 85/15 ratio. To make my burgers extra juicy, I add a little bit of olive oil!
- Hand-mix: Using clean hands, mix the ground beef, salt, pepper, and olive oil (if using) in a large bowl. Use your hands to mix because it helps keep you from over-mixing, resulting in a tough patty. Yes, this means touching raw meat, so wash your hands before and after mixing.
- Portion: Divide the meat into equal portions. I use a kitchen scale to get the patties nice and even and no one is complaining that their hamburger is smaller than their sister’s! Lay a piece of parchment paper before placing the meat on the scale to keep it clean.
- Shape the patties: Shape the portioned meat into flat, round patties. I keep my patties about 6 ounces each and then form a patty that’s about 5-inches in diameter and less than an inch thick. Press your thumb gently into the center of the patty about halfway down. This little trick helps the patty to hold its shape while cooking and prevents shrinking.
- Storage: You can cook your hamburgers right away or refrigerate or freeze for later. If refrigerating, be sure to cook hamburgers within 24 hours. To freeze, wrap the patties individually using plastic wrap or parchment paper then place in a freezer bag and freeze for up to 6 months.
How To Cook Hamburgers on the Grill
There are three different ways to cook your hamburger patties. Each method will result in a juicy burger, but I definitely recommend cooking on the grill if you can.
- Preheat an outdoor grill to medium-high heat (400-450 degrees F) and clean the grates using a grill brush.
- Place hamburger patties on the grill, indent side up, and close the lid. Resist the urge to press down your burger or move it too soon. Cook for about 4 minutes; when the meat easily releases from the grates, you’re ready to flip.
- Carefully and using a long handled grill spatula; flip the patties over and close the lid. Again resist the urge to press down on the patties to avoid losing valuable juices. Cook another 4 minutes.
- Test for doneness using a digital meat thermometer; 160 degrees F is medium. Add sliced cheese if using, and close the lid for 1 minute to melt. Transfer hamburgers to a clean plate and cover with foil to keep warm before serving.
The length of time for cooking burgers depends on the heat of your grill and the thickness of the patties. But it will take approximately 4-5 minutes per side. Let them rest at least 5 minutes before serving.
Hamburgers should be cooked to at least 160 degrees F. Use tongs to lift up the patty and insert an instant-read digital meat thermometer into the center of the burger.
Yes. A hamburger that’s a little pink in the middle can be safe to eat as long as it has reached 160 degrees F, the recommended internal temperature for hamburgers.
To make your burgers a little healthier you can use lean ground beef (90/10) and add a couple teaspoons of olive oil. Your burgers will have a third less fat and calories and are just as juicy.
There are a few possible reasons your meat won’t stay together, but the most common are too much liquid (which is why I only season with salt and pepper) or pressing the meat too tightly together.
It is recommended to preheat your grill to a medium-high heat, typically around 375°F to 450°F (190°C to 230°C). This temperature range allows for a good balance between achieving a nicely seared exterior and ensuring the interior of the burgers cooks through properly.
Cook the burgers, flip them, and cook on the other side until they’re almost done. At this point, you can add your cheese. Place a slice of your preferred cheese (such as cheddar, American, Swiss, or pepper jack) on top of each patty.
Close the grill lid and continue grilling for a couple more minutes until the cheese is melted and gooey.
Make sure to fully preheat the grill and clean it, oil the grates and make sure that the burger is fully seared before you flip it. Flipping them too frequently can cause them to break apart and stick to the grill.
Also, don’t press down on the burgers with your spatula while they are cooking. This can release the juices and cause the burgers to stick to the grill.
Burgers on the Stove Top
It’s super easy to cook your burgers on the stove if the grill isn’t an option.
- Use a heavy bottomed skillet, like cast iron over medium heat.
- Fry hamburgers for about 5-6 minutes per side.
- Test for doneness with a digital meat thermometer and transfer to a plate to rest.
For more on this method, check out my recipe for Stovetop Burgers.
How To Top Your Hamburger
- The basics: Lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, and cheese are typically offered.
- Condiments: Ketchup, mustard, and mayonnaise are the most common.
- Make it extra: Top your burger with just about anything you love! Avocado, BBQ sauce, pineapple, onion rings, guacamole, chili, fried egg, sautéed mushrooms. The possibilities are practically endless!
Like the meat, having a good quality bun is essential to the perfect hamburger, so splurge a little and get the good ones!
- Choose the right meat: Opt for ground beef with a higher fat content, such as 80/20 or 85/15, as it provides more flavor and juiciness to the burgers.
- Handle the meat gently: Avoid overworking the meat when forming the burger patties. Overhandling can lead to a denser texture. Gently shape the patties without compacting them too much.
- Create an indentation: Make a slight indentation in the center of each patty with your thumb or the back of a spoon. This helps the burgers retain shape during cooking as they tend to plump up in the center.
- Preheat the grill: Properly preheating the grill is essential for achieving a good sear and even cooking. Preheat the grill to medium-high heat before placing the burgers on the grates.
- Resist the urge to press down: Avoid pressing down on the burgers with a spatula while they’re cooking. This squeezes out the juices and can result in a drier burger.
- Let them rest: Allow the cooked burgers to rest for a few minutes before serving. This helps the juices redistribute throughout the meat and keeps them moist.
What To Serve with Hamburgers
- Grilled Sides: Grilled Potatoes, Grilled Zucchini, and Balsamic Veggie Kebabs all make great sidekicks and can cook alongside your hamburgers on the grill.
- Cold Salads: Some of our favorites include Macaroni Salad, Spaghetti Salad, Greek Pasta Salad, and Cucumber Salad.
- Dessert: Every cookout needs a great dessert! Try our Grilled Blueberry Dessert Pizza, S’Mores Dip, or Slutty Brownies.
- 1.5 pounds ground beef
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- Hamburger buns
- Optional Hamburger toppings: Lettuce, Sliced tomato, Sliced red onions, Sliced American or cheddar cheese, Pickles, Ketchup, mustard
- Preheat an outdoor grill to medium-high heat (about 450 degrees).
- Place the ground beef in a large bowl and sprinkle on the salt, pepper and olive oil. Mash the meat with clean hands several times until combined.
- Again using your hands, form 4 equal sized patties from the ground beef. They will shrink up quite a bit on the grill, so you want to make them fairly large, about 4” across and less than an inch thick. Use your thumb to make an indentation in the center of the patty.
- Place patties directly over the heat, indent side up. Close the lid and grill for about 4 minutes per side. The actual cooking time will vary depending on the size and thickness of your burgers, and the heat of the grill. The internal temperature of the meat should be at least 160 degrees F. Top burger with cheese during the last 1-2 minutes if desired.
- Transfer hamburgers to a clean plate and cover with foil (optional) to rest for at least 5 minutes before serving.
- I use a kitchen scale to make sure that I have patties of equal size and weight. Using the amounts in this recipes, you’ll have burger patties of 6 ounces in weight.
- Nutritional information is approximate and includes only the hamburger patties. No optional ingredients are included.
- You can use a higher fat ground beef if you like. I prefer to keep the meat lean and add olive oil as the fat to keep the calories and fat down.
- Make sure to read the accompanying post with lots of tips and recommendations.