Grilling burgers on your grill is fun and easy. Preparing the burgers before they hit the grill can actually be more fun than cooking them if you enjoy “playing” with them. There really isn’t a right or wrong way of grilling them as long as they are not undercooked or overcooked. A great tasting burger is a special delight. No wonder they’re so popular. One thing about burgers, all the tips and tricks you can find out there are completely unpredictable, even surprising. Why? Because, ultimately, it simply comes down to taste buds. Just like opinions, everybody’s got em.
One way to prepare them is to yank out a big slab of hamburger, grab them with your fists, (wash your hands first.) pound them into patties and flip em on your grill. This will pretty much result in a very plain burger that you will need to add a bunch of condiments just to give them some sort of taste. However, they will serve a basic human need of nourishment.
Or, if you want to grill some really tasty burgers that you don’t need a gallon of A1 or 57 sauce (or our grilling sauce recipes) in order to choke it down, then try these tips.
NUMBER ONE TIP: START WITH FRESH QUALITY INGREDIENTS!
But, before we get into the actual recipe, one note as to cooking the basic good tasting burger. If possible, get fresh ground meat at the butcher. If you don’t have a butcher, a quality supermarket will do. Look for 75 – 80 percent lean meat for the juiciest and tastiest burgers. You need a little fat in the meat to add juiciness and flavor. If you go for a leaner meat (85%+), it will end up being drier and will tend to fall apart on the grill. (Bison is naturally leaner (88-95% or so) so you may want to add some sauces or marinade to the meat before grilling. The best meat for grilling has a bright pink/red color. Any shade of graying will drastically affect the taste for a burger. If it shows gray, stick it in your meatloaf instead of on your grill.
Preparing burgers is really an opportunity. Many chefs are judged on this one point alone. As I said in the first paragraph, there really isn’t a right or wrong way. Many chefs like to simply cook the burger without any additional seasoning or ingredients and let their guest “prepare” their burgers however they like. For example: Set the ingredients and condiments on a table, buffet style, flip and stack the burgers and let your guests do the rest. If you or your guests don’t like onions or pickles, then they don’t have to put them on their burgers.
Many other chefs like to build the perfect burger from the inside out. Some like to marinate the meat for different periods of time, add additional seasonings, mix different ingredients in with the raw burger before making the patty, stuff the meat with additional ingredients, and the list goes on. All I can say is that it is a lot of fun to experiment.
One thing to remember though, you can actually overcook a burger and still not burn it. The result will be a dry, tasteless piece of shoe leather that will help build up your chewing muscles because you will have to do a lot of “reps” just to choke the burger down. (So I guess there really is a wrong way to cook em. Huh?)
Some people like to add sauces, marinades, seasonings and/or other ingredients to their meat before it’s cooked. Others like to cook their burgers plain to allow the natural flavors of the meat to come through. This is something the chef gets to choose based on their desire. Here are some classic burger seasonings many people enjoy: (remember to not over do it)
- Salt and pepper (1-2 tsp. each)
- Finely chopped onion or chives
- Soy sauce
- A1, 57, Worcestershire or barbecue sauce
- Shape the hamburger meat into 1/4 – 1/3 lb patties, about 1/2 inch thick, and about 3 inches in diameter. (the more you work the patty, the dryer it will become)
- Prepare the grill. (make sure it’s clean and oiled)
- Light the grill and let it come up to medium heat. Let grill remain at medium heat for 5 minutes or so.
- Add any wood chips for flavor if so inclined. (follow directions for wood chips)
- Put your burgers on the preheated grill
- Do NOT press down on the burgers while cooking. (This squeezes out the tasty juices.)
- Flip burgers after 4-5 minutes (Do your best not to turn the burgers more than once)
- If you are adding cheese, add cheese about 1-2 minutes before done.
- At the 2/3 minute interval after flipping, check doneness.
- Remove one burger and cut into it. For medium-rare, the inside should be pinkish, but not bloody.
- Use an instant-read meat thermometer. The USDA recommends an internal temperature of 160 degrees F (This usually results in a med-well, to well-done burger)
- Remove burgers from grill as soon as they are done. (Remember they will still cook a bit after they are removed from the grill.)
- Serve your burgers with a variety of condiments.
How to cook a really good burger video.