With summer in full swing, many of us are heading outside to fire up the grill — and one iconic summer staple that we’re all making is burgers – whether it be classic ground beef, salmon burgers, or even black bean. Before you start flipping, there are a few tips to keep in mind.
Here are my 7 tips for how to cook the perfect burger:
1. Choose the Right Meat
Burgers are all about the meat — and choosing the right kind is key. Try using ground beef chuck, at around 20 percent fat. It won’t dry out from the intense heat of the grill, but instead remain juicy and delicious. Another tip is to ask your butcher to grind the meat while you are there so you are assured the freshest quality.
2. Keep it Simple
Don’t mix in too many extra ingredients like eggs, bread crumbs, or herbs. This will cause overworking of the meat, which can create a tighter and denser burger. The fat also will start to melt on your hand instead of staying in the burger. If you want to add some aromatics, saute garlic and onions in olive oil and cool completely before adding them to the meat.
3. Form the Patties
You don’t want to mush your patties together into a tight ball. Instead, gently form the beef mixture into 4 1/2-inch patties and make a dimple in the center. This will help the burger cook evenly and will help it keep shape while cooking.
Salt is an important part of creating the perfect burger, but when you add it to the meat is crucial. Once you have formed the patties and you are ready to grill, now it’s time to season your burgers liberally with salt and pepper. If you add the salt into the beef before you have formed the patties it can draw moisture out of the beef and also start dissolving muscle proteins. This can turn your burgers from juicy and moist into dense and flat.
5. Get the Grill Right
Start by oiling the grill grate so the burgers don’t stick. To do this, pour some oil on a clean kitchen towel and apply it directly to the grill grate. Once the grill is hot, add the burgers making sure they are evenly spaced. Grill for about 4-5 minutes on each side making sure not to push down on them with a spatula.
6. Get Cheesy
Select cheeses that melt well like Cheddar, Monterey Jack, or blue cheese. Avoid aged cheese or cheeses that are low in fat content because they don’t have that melty factor.
First choose the right kind of bun that is proportionate to the size of your patty. Also, sturdy breads like brioche, challah, or whole wheat buns work well. Next, always make sure to toast your buns slightly on the grill. This makes them less likely to fall apart when eating.
Now that you’ve got these tips down, you’re ready to start grilling the perfect burger. Top the burgers with a crisp lettuce leaf, ripe tomato slices, and a smear of special sauce (mix of ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, and chopped pickles).