How to make the best hamburger

How to make the best hamburger

Whether you’re cooking for co-workers at an office picnic, entertaining friends over a long holiday weekend, or relaxing at home with the family, you can nail this summer staple with a few pointers on how to make the best burger. Make them tasty, healthy, and fun with these tips.

Best way to make hamburger patties

To make the best burger, start with the right meat mixture. Super-lean meats are great for other dishes, but indulge in a slightly less healthy 80/20 blend when making burgers. The extra fat keeps the burger juicy and delicious. Make it a little healthier by switching to ground turkey, if you prefer, but keep the ratio the same.

Another tip for cooking hamburgers is to handle them as little as possible. Mix in seasonings and add-ins only enough to distribute them evenly; wear food service gloves if you don’t want messy hands. To form the patties, pinch off a patty-sized ball of meat and press it flat with the palm of your hand — don’t roll it around to make a perfectly formed ball first. When making hamburgers, the taste is more important than the look. Finally, make a well in the center of the patty, so that the middle is thinner than the edges. This helps cut down on the shrinking and prevents that odd hump in the center of the burgers.

While forming the patties, you can also choose a side in the “tavern versus diner” debate: thicker, 6 to 8 ounce tavern burgers are juicy and can be cooked to spec, while thinner, 3 to 4 ounce diner burgers cook quickly and have crispy edges.

Only flip the patties once, whether you are grilling hamburgers on an outdoor grill, using griddles or indoor grills, or cooking them on the stove top. Don’t mash them down with the spatula while they cook; pressing on them will push the juices out.

Ideas on how to season hamburgers

Purists insist that the best hamburgers include only meat, salt, and pepper. Others advocate adding other ingredients. Either way, be sure to season inside and out. Add the seasonings to the meat before cooking, and then sprinkle the salt, pepper, and any herbs you’re using on the outside as well for great taste all the way through.

One way to keep the burgers juicy and get a few more patties from a smaller amount of meat is to add bread crumbs. For even better flavor and some added healthy fiber, try using oatmeal and an egg, instead. Add about 1/2 cup of rolled oats and one egg (or 1/4 cup mayonnaise) to each pound of ground meat to make six, rather than four, delicious and juicy burgers. Mixing in minced onion or onion soup mix gives an additional blast of flavor.

For a more “Euro” style, add mustard, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce and onions to the meat mixture. Give the burgers your personal spin by mixing in your favorite fresh or dried herbs, like basil, rosemary, or thyme.

Tips for cooking hamburgers guests will love

For many, hamburgers means grilling, but sometimes, you just don’t want to drag out the grill. A heavy-duty or non-stick frying pan is a good option for indoor burger-making.

Cooking the patties to a preferred doneness is also guaranteed to please guests. Use a kitchen thermometer to make sure that the internal temperature reaches at least 145 degrees for safety, then use these guidelines for total cooking times, (cook each side for half that time, then flip and cook for the remaining time):

  • Rare: 6 minutes
  • Medium rare: 7 minutes
  • Medium: 8 minutes
  • Medium well: 9 minutes
  • Well: 11 minutes

Food safety experts advise that the very young, very old, pregnant women, and people with compromised immune systems should only consume well-done meats.


How to make the best hamburger without the beef

Swap the ground beef for ground turkey, or surprise family and guests with these alternative burgers.

Lamb Inside-Out Cheeseburgers

" width=Recipe courtesy of NYTimes

Pulse 2 pounds of lamb shoulder chunks with salt and pepper in the food processor until it is coarsely ground.  Shape the meat with around 1/4 pound of smoked mozzarella, cut into eight chunks. Flatten lightly and grill to desired doneness.

Tuna Burgers

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Mix together and form patties:
1 1/2 pound tuna steaks, finely chopped
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon chipotle puree
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon honey
2 green onions, chopped
salt and pepper


Delicious hamburger recipes for sauces

Gather your cooking utensils and serving dishes for the additions that take your best burger all the way over the top.

Special Sauce

Mix together:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons sweet relish
1 tablespoon chopped cornichon pickles
1 tablespoon red onion, minced
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon hot sauce
salt and pepper to taste

Barbecue Mayo

Stir together 1/4 cup barbecue sauce and 1/2 cup mayonnaise.

Machismo Sauce

Saute 2 sliced onions, 1/2 cup minced jalapenos, and 1/2 cup dark brown sugar in 1 tablespoon olive oil until tender and translucent.

Garlic Confit

Smash and peel a head of garlic. Place the cloves in a small baking dish and cover them with cooking oil. Roast them, covered, at 300 degrees for 1 hour. Mash the mixture or pulse it in the food processor until smooth. Spread it on the hamburger buns.

Bleu Cheese Spread

Pulse 1/4 pound bleu cheese with 1/4 pound cream cheese until smooth.

Shark Sauce

Recipe courtesy of SeriousEats

Place these ingredients in the blender and process until nearly smooth:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 tablespoon mustard
4 kosher dill pickle slices
1/4 teaspoon grated garlic
1/4 teaspoon paprika

Whether you prefer a traditional hamburger with a special sauce or something a little different, these great tips and burger recipes will make your next barbecue a hit at the office or at home. Congrats, you know how to make the best burgers in town!