It is always a good time to have a burger. Burgers are succulent, tasty, tender and filling. Most people grow to prefer certain places for their burgers because making burgers is not simple. It is more than just frying a patty and assembling a bunch of ingredients. There are a lot of factors that combine to give the perfect burger.
A simplified way of looking at a burger is to know that you consume carbohydrates, proteins, fats and some vitamins in a single. The hardest part about making a burger is the struggle to establish a balance between all the ingredients so that their flavors can merge well with each other. When you have the right equipment, meat and understand the science behind it, you can make a good burger.
Does your burger stick to the grill?
If you had an affirmative response to any of these questions, then you need to read further.
Making burgers is not hard, but it does get complicated to manage all the different flavours and creating an equilibrium. It comes with practice, but you need to know to be aware of all the things you are doing wrong in this case. You are probably making your burgers the wrong way, so we are here to help you out. This article explores all the details that go into making the perfect burger.
How to grill the perfect burger
It is not hard to grill burgers, but some base level information goes a long way. The first question to tackle is about the meat or ground beef variety used for grilling burgers.
The most popular ground beef for burgers is ground chuck, because it has a very high-fat content, enhancing its flavor and texture while being affordable.
The fat requirement for a moist grilled burger is 15% to 20%, anything less would make it dry and bland. As long as the fat content is maintained, you can mix different kinds of ground meat, such as beef and chorizo or ground beef and ground pork. Several types of ground beef are also combined in various proportions to give a signature flavor.
Next, we will tackle the issue of making the burgers stick together because burger patties falling apart causes the juices to leak out, making it look messy.
If you have ever grilled a burger, then you will be familiar with the unfortunate incident of the burger just crumbling into pieces. It goes from a well-formed meat burger to a bunch of scrambles in no time, and somehow it leaves you feeling sad.
So the next time your burger is falling apart, you might want to think about buying better quality ground meat.
The Techniques For Grilling A Good Burger
You might be surprised at the number of grilling tips out there that are wrong. Following the faulty guide has several people blaming themselves for being bad cooks, instead of realizing that there could have been something wrong with the recipes. You do not have to worry, because we are here to hold your hand and show you an in-depth deconstruction of burger-making. We are here to clear the air with a few simple tricks and tips and rest assured, you will be grilling the best burgers after reading this.
1. Let your burgers chill
Make your burger patties early, and let them chill in the freezer. This step will ensure that they have the time to bind together and stay intact when put on the pan. The crucial part is to avoid overhandling your burgers, but doing that will melt its fat, causing it to fall apart. It is also advisable to run your hands under cold water before making the patties, especially during hot weather.
2. Do not chill them beyond the recommended time limit
That is until they are rock hard. Leaving your burger in the fridge and forgetting about it will probably not end well.
3. Do not cut the fat off
If you want full, juicy burgers, you might want to keep the recommended fat level. A fat-free burger will be a lot more complicated to execute and will not taste as good as a classic burger. A good option is “double-ground” beef, which ensures that the fat content is spread evenly throughout the burger. The bottom line is, do not cut the fat when making a burger.
We understand the concern around weight loss and fitness, but it does not go with burger preparation. There are ways to make burgers with minimal fat content, but they are a lot of work. It is because fat is an essential ingredient in building the texture of any burger. No matter the type of meat, make sure that you have created a balance by maintaining the 15% to 20% fat content.
4. Brush them with some olive oil
This simple step ensures that your burgers do not stick to the pan, although it may sound a little excessive. If you have a non-stick pan, then you could skip this step, but olive oil adds a layer of a new flavour to your meat. A layer of oil or butter will also help the burger develop a beautiful sear. You can use whichever oil/butter you want, but the most popular thing in the culinary world for this purpose is olive oil. It only depends on the kind of flavour you prefer.
5. Press the center
Fortunately, this quite well-known tip is useful while making burgers. Press the center and make a divot in your burger, simply put, it prevents the burger from swelling and keeps it nice, flat and juicy. When we cook anything, it tends to rise in the center, but burgers should be levelled and even. Doing this step will ensure that you avoid unnecessary hassle while assembling your burger.
6. Never press the patty
We have seen many professionals smash their burgers as soon as they go on the grill. However, it is the worst possible thing you could do to your burger. It is common sense that smashing anything will cause all the contents to squeeze out, and it also applies to a regular burger.
The misconception that pressing a burger patty will somehow make it more delicious is the worst “tip” related to grilling. Pressing the burgers just makes all the juices bleed out, leaving you with a flavorless, thin and dry burger. Besides, most people are not fond of a paper-thin patty either, so avoid smashing your burger and enjoy it thick and full.
7. The ideal internal temperature range
Always keep an eye on the internal temperature of the burger patty, because it is an indicator of how well done your meat is. The safest and most effective way to check the internal temperature is by using a good quality instant-read meat thermometer. Take it off the heat when the thermometer reads 160, and your burger will be perfect. It is also crucial to know that the meat will continue to cook for some more time you will take it off the heat. Remember that the minimum safe internal temperature is different for each meat type. Lean meats have a lower threshold, for instance, salmon.
It also depends on how fresh your ground meat is because you can slightly lower the threshold if your ground meat is fresh. Do not exceed the required internal temperature, or else your burger will turn chewy and hard.
8. Do only one flip
The first step is to heat the grill, then place your patty on it and let it sear for a good two to three minutes on one side. After that, flip your burger over and do not turn it again. Your burger patty is more likely to fall apart if you turn it more often. It is why it is crucial to place your grill on high heat before placing the patties on it. If it does not fall apart after too many flips, then it means you have pressed your burger too hard and probably ruined it.
9. Let them rest
Keep your burger patties on a rack and let them sit there for five minutes before serving. This step keeps them juicy and intact. It also allows them to release all the steam before you assemble them between the buns. Remember, sandwiching a very hot burger between two buns will result in a bad case of condensation. Besides, biting into a hot burger will end up burning your mouth, so let most of the steam escape the burger and enjoy that succulent bite.
10. How to position the lettuce
It is shocking how many people overlook this small step in assembling burgers. It leaves the burger soggy and causes it to fall apart too. The lettuce should go under the burger, at least if you want your bun to not get all wet due to the burger. A soggy bun is the last thing you want. When you place a piece of lettuce below your hot burger, it creates a barrier between all the leaking juices and the bun.
Find out the right temperature for your burger
Ideally, burgers are best cooked between the range of 375 to 400 degrees, and it translates to medium-high temperature. Your grill is required to be well heated before you place a burger on it.
Most gas-powered grills can monitor and maintain their temperature on their own, but it is advisable to buy a grill thermometer for a charcoal grill.
The doneness of your burger patties depends on the type of meat used to make them. For instance, beef burgers are best cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees as it ensures that all the harmful bacteria gets eliminated. The internal temperature for ground turkey burgers is 165 degrees whereas for ground salmon it is 145 degrees. So make sure to check the guidelines for the temperature range.
As a piece of advice, avoid going for rarely done burgers if you are using store-bought ground beef. Following this advice will kill all the bacteria in it, and there is no way to estimate just how contaminated store-bought ground beef can be.
What about the lid?
It is the subtle details like the lid position of your charcoal grill affecting the final result significantly. When it comes to burgers, you can keep your lid on or off, depending on the flare-ups and wind conditions. It comes with practice, but make sure that you are keeping the required temperature range constant. If your burger is under 1 inch thick, then you can cook with the lid open. However, most people prefer to keep it closed to maintain a high temperature.
It also depends on how hot your grill can get, because different grills have different upper limits for the grill temperature. If your grill does not heat to the required temperature, it is advisable to keep it closed to retain as much heat as possible.
How about grinding your meat to your preference?
Most harbors preparing ground meat are breeding places for bacteria and germs, thanks to the unhygienic conditions and heat. You are also unaware of the cuts your ground beef comes from, and most companies do not specify how long it has been since the meat was ground. It is a good idea to grind your burgers, more so when you intend to make a unique burger of your combinations.
A perk of grinding your burgers from a fresh cut of meat is that you can slightly reduce the temperature and create a burger of medium or rare doneness. Reducing the temperature of your burger is not recommended unless you grind the meat yourself.
Condiments for grill hamburgers
Once the burger has been cooked and seared to perfection, you can start playing around with different combinations of spices and condiments. It is the most exciting part of making a burger. There is hardly anything more satisfying than making your own “ secret sauce” which leaves people craving your burgers. You can make your version of a barbeque sauce, modify the flavour of your mayonnaise, combine cheeses or make the ketchup from scratch. The more personal, the better!
A stuffed burger is one where you add certain ingredients between two parties so that there is an outburst of flavors when you bite into it. Stuffing your burgers is another way to customize them and up your game of grilling burgers. Some options for the inner stuffing include cheese, guacamole, beans etc.
How about changing the patty- non-beef burgers
Changing ground meat can bring a lot of new flavors to the table. Some types of meat are lean and need to be smoked instead of grilled. For instance, salmon tends to dry out due to its leanness, so it ideal smoking it using a charcoal grill.
An easy way to smoke food burgers without a smoker is by placing a heavy foil on the grill along with some wood chips on it. This process allows the flavors to infuse all the way through without drying out. This method is easy enough to be applied to things other than burgers too.
The right grill
Both a gas or charcoal grill is ideal for smoking and cooking burgers. It does not matter as long as you get it hot enough to grill your burger. If you want to cook a thin patty rapidly, then direct high heat application is ideal. Use whatever you have to heat the grill, but a charcoal grill is the best thing for burgers. It adds an extra layer of flavor to it. It does not matter whether you are using a gas or charcoal grill, make sure to get it hot, oiled and cleaned.
A simple recipe
- Two pounds of ground beef.
- Spices and condiments.
- Cheese/ mayonnaise.
- Freeze your ground beef until it is chilled enough.
- Once the burgers are chilled, separate the ground beef into four parts, half a pound each.
- While making the burgers, ensure that you do not overwork the ground beef.
- Pat them gently to form patties and make a divot in the center of each one.
- Now you can season the burgers with your choice of spices, but most people are comfortable with a classic salt and pepper seasoning.
- Arrange them in a single layer on a plate, cover and let them chill for at least an hour. Do not freeze them beyond six hours.
Heat your gas or charcoal grill to a high temperature, 375-400 degrees to be precise. You can gauge the temperature of your grill by hovering your palm above your grill. If you can hold it for 3-4 seconds, then your grill has reached the perfect temperature. Ensure that the grill is not too hot, because it may burn the top layer of your burger, instead of giving it a sear. Grease some oil on your grill thoroughly so that the burgers do not stick.
- Brush one side of your burger with oil, preferably olive oil, and place that side down on the grill.
- Then brush the other side with oil, close the lid and let it cook for 2-3 minutes.
- You should see the grill marks when you flip your burger.
- Cook for another 2-3 minutes or 6-7 minutes depending on how well done you want your burger.
- Measure the doneness of the burger with an instant-read thermometer.
- If you plan on adding cheese, then place it over the burger about 2 minutes before taking it off the grill.
Remember that cooking time will be less if your burgers are small. Once you have removed the burgers from heat, allow them to rest for a few minutes before assembling. Remember, not letting them rest will give you a soggy burger, and it is not a good idea.
The above recipe was the most basic version of a burger, so there is plenty of room for customization.
You can add vegetables, cheese spreads and everything else that comes to your mind. Cheese-filled burgers had taken the internet by storm in recent years, and there are cheese-filled buns too. It just tells us that there are several ways to get creative with a burger.
This article put forth our take on the grilling burgers complete with all the details necessary to grill the perfect burger. All you need for a good burger is some practice with these basics, and you will be all set. Try experimenting with different types of meat and condiments. You can also make the buns at home from scratch, giving it a personal.
Honestly, homemade buns are almost always better than the store-bought ones, because they are fresh, crisp and soft. If you make more things at home, then your chances of having a better burger are more.
There are several recipes for different seasonings and spreads floating around the internet. Try different ones, and we are sure you will have picked a favorite burger recipe, one much better than any burger joint has to offer.
This article was all about ground meat burgers, but it is a different ballgame altogether when you grill vegetarian burgers. There are many options to customize them, so they are quite fun to make. Check out more ways, because the more you know, the better.