Updated: Sep 21, 2021
Grilling the best burger is both an art and a science. Learn 7 classic techniques (and some pro tips) before heading outside to heat things up!
Grilling season is upon us and the flames are calling! Whether you're craving classic beef, poultry, veggie, or grains in your patty, these tried and true methods will give you the best flavor and texture with every bite.
1. Heat Your Grill
First things first, make sure your grill grate is clean. Give it a good scrub if it needs it. This is much better to do AFTER cooking, so things will be ready for next time. So, remember to give it a good scrub once you're finished, when the char is still warm and easier to remove.
Heat your grill to around 450 degrees. You want it nice and hot in order to get a delicious crust on your burgers.
2. Chill Your Patties
When forming your patties, you don't want to warm up the meat. If you're going with beef, the best burgers are made with 80% lean meat. This means there's still enough fat in the mix to keep it from drying out on the grill. It also means you don't want that fat to melt and smear as you're forming your patties. Keep the meat in the fridge until you have everything else ready.
Work the meat as little as possible to wrap in any fillings and then get it into shape. Shape your burgers to be 1 inch wider than your buns. Leave the edge taller than the center. Don't press a thumb into the middle to make a dent, rather, make the whole center part slightly flatter with a raised edge. More like a pizza than a donut.
This premise holds true for all types of meat patties, which tend to swell in the center. Patties made with veggies don't usually swell, so they're best shaped flat. Of course, if you're grilling up a portabello burger you'll just have to enjoy the shape nature gave you!
3. Season Your Crust
A flavorful crust on your burger comes from cooking quickly over high heat, but it's even better with a little extra spice. Season the outside of your burger with a bit of salt and pepper. This boosts the flavor as it blends with the juices, forming that delectable crunch we crave!
Make sure you put your patties back in the fridge until cooking time, to help them hold together and stay moist.
4. Oil Things Up
Thoroughly oil your hot grill grate by soaking cooking oil into a paper towel, and then using tongs to rub the towel over the hot metal. This not only makes cleanup easier, but it facilitates easy burger-flipping, which brings us to our next tip...
5. Flip It Gently
You may have heard that you should flip your burgers only once during their cooking. This isn't really a hard-and-fast rule. Flipping burgers more than once allows them to cook more evenly, as long as you're gentle.
Never press down on your burgers with your spatula or any other cooking tool. The loud sizzle you hear is flavor leaking out and going up in smoke! Be gentle as you flip, to keep all the juices in the meat where they belong.
6. Warm Your Additions
When the burgers are nearly done, it's time to add buns and cheese to the grill. Place your buns (preferably buttered) off to one side of the burgers, where they'll still get some good heat. Start them cut side down, and flip them if you like a crispy top (I prefer to keep the outside soft while the inside crisps up).
Lay cheese on top of your burgers with about a minute left and close the grill lid. This will melt things nicely without it pouring right off the patty.
7. Level Up Your Condiments
Raise your condiment game by adding additional flavors to the classics. Try out these recipes for Chipotle Mayo, Jalapeño Ketchup, or Habanero Honey Mustard with El Yucateco Hot Sauce. Simple additions can add a whole new dimension of flavor to your classic burger.
Give these pro tips a try this 4th of July weekend and taste the difference! Before you know it your friends will be begging you to share your superior grillmaster knowledge!
If you're looking to give back this summer while winning cool prizes, check out GrillPerks' Summer of Love Sweepstakes! They've teamed up with Operation BBQ Relief to support communities affected by disasters all over the United States. For every cash prize, they'll donate hot meals to communities in need.
For more grill tips and delicious summer recipes, check out these other posts: