Tips for Making the Best Burgers

All-American Burgers. Linda Larsen

Everyone has had a bad burger with that dry, tasteless meat and tough texture. With just a few tricks and tips for making the best burgers, you'll be in demand! Here's how:

  • Start with really good meat. I like using 80/20 ground chuck, which offers best flavor and a juicier hamburger that isn't too fatty. You could buy some chuck and ask the butcher to grind it for you for the freshest meat.
  • Don't handle the meat too much. Overhandling will make the burgers tough.
  • A panade, or mixture of bread crumbs and milk, will add moisture and tenderness to the meat when the burgers are cooked well-done.
  • Add a tablespoon of water to the meat along with the seasonings when you mix them in. If you are adding a lot of ingredients to the meat, combine all of them first, then add the meat and mix just to blend.
  • Gently form the meat into patties about 3/4" thick. Place the patties on waxed paper and press slightly into the center of each with the bottom of a drinking glass. This indentation will stop the burgers from puffing up when they're grilled.
  • Cook the burgers over medium coals that have an even gray ash covering.
  • Don't press down on the meat when the burgers are on the grill. That will just press out moisture and you'll end up with dry burgers.
  • Cook the meat to 160 degrees F. The temperature will rise to 165 degrees while you are adding the toppings. This is the minimum safe temperature for ground beef or any ground meat.
  • In the last minute of cooking, place cheese on the burgers if using, and cover the grill to melt.
  • Be sure to place the cooked burgers on a clean platter; don't use the one that transported the raw meat. I even like to use a fresh spatula to remove them from the grill just to be extra safe.