How to Make the Perfect Burger:
Who doesn’t love a perfect burger that is juicy, flavorful, and perfectly cooked? It’s an art that, when done correctly, can be a real masterpiece. Here I have for you all of the tips and tricks you need to make the best burgers that everyone will love.
Making the Patties:
- Use 80% ground chuck: Perfect for the juiciest burgers.
- Don’t overwork the meat: When you handle ground beef you are altering the structure of the proteins. The protein chains become linked and as a result, the meat becomes tough. To avoid this, use your hands to gently shape the patties.
- Make the Beef the Star: Mix-ins such as egg, bread crumbs, onions, etc. are great if your making meatballs, but this is a burger. For one, adding all that stuff forces you to overwork the meat. And two, it takes away from the delicious flavor of the beef. Keep it simple with salt & pepper for a great, delicious burger.
- Form patties larger than the size of your bun: During cooking the patties shrink significantly. So shaping them larger results in a patty that is, or is close to, the same circumference of your bun.
- Make a divot in the center of the patties: The center of the patty will puff up during cooking, so making a divot keeps them nice and flat.
How to Season Correctly:
- Do not salt the beef too early: As soon as you add salt to beef it starts drawing out moisture and dissolving proteins. So if the salt is added too early you will be left with a dry, tough patty. The best time to season is right before you’re about to cook the patties.
- Season generously: Even the world’s finest Kobe beef would be bland without a generous addition of salt and pepper. Freshly ground black pepper and kosher salt are best.
Cooking the Patties:
- Cook patties over high heat: Burgers cook quickly over high heat. The best way to cook burgers is by using a very hot cast-iron skillet or griddle with a neutral oil or rendered beef/pork fat.
- Making a bacon burger? Awesome, the rendered fat is perfect for cooking patties in.
- Use a meat thermometer: Unless you are very skilled at the poke test, it’s always best to use a meat thermometer. Cook to an internal temperature of 135° for medium-rare and 150° for medium-well.
- Let the burger rest: Let the burger rest for 5 minutes before serving so it has time to reabsorb its juices.
Assembling the Burger:
- Use the right bun: The best buns for burgers are potato buns, brioche, or sesame. Butter the buns and toast on the inside for about 30 seconds before assembling the burger.
- Keep toppings to a minimum: If you go crazy with toppings the burger will be too big and end up falling apart. Choose 3-4 of your favorite toppings and a couple of condiments.
Order of topping assembly can be a controversial topic- remember when everyone freaked out over Google’s hamburger emoji that had the cheese UNDER the patty? Anyways, this is my logic, try not to judge: Lettuce under the patty so that it catches the juices and keeps the bottom bun from getting soggy. Then, onion goes in between the lettuce and the patty, serving as a barrier that keeps the lettuce away from the heat. As for the tomato, I don’t really have a preference of under or over.
Have a different order you prefer? Let me know in the comments. Maybe you’ll sway me. 😉
More Recipes I Think You’ll Like:
The Perfect Burger
- Cast iron skillet
- 1 lb. ground chuck, 80% lean ground beef
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- kosher salt
- fresh ground black pepper
- sliced onion
- 4 large slices Beefsteak or vine-ripened tomatoes
- 4 slices Cheddar cheese, American cheese, or muenster
- 4 slices Iceberg, romaine, or green-leaf lettuce
- Prepare your toppings and condiments.
- Gently shape the ground beef into 4 equal patties that are about an inch larger in circumference than your bun, ¼ lb. each. Press a divot into the center of the patties.
- Heat the oil in a cast-iron skillet. Once the skillet is very hot, add the patties and season with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste. Cook for about 3 minutes per side for medium-rare (135° on a meat thermometer) or about 5 minutes per side for medium-well (150° on a meat thermometer).
- Let the patties rest for 5 minutes before serving. Toast the buns with butter, if desired, and add the toppings of your choice. Be sure to read the post above for detailed instructions.