The bar is great for grabbing a few drinks, hanging out with friends, and maybe having a basic snack. Sadly, most of the food is pretty lacking, and that’s especially true for burgers. They’re often bland, overcooked, or both. No amount of bacon-wrapped this and sriracha-mayo that can make up for a poorly cooked patty, so it’s time to take matters into your own hands. And it’s easier than you think. Our step-by-step breakdown and video show you how to grill perfect burgers every time.
The first, and maybe the most important, step is cleaning your grill extremely well. Nothing else will matter if the grates are so dirty that everything sticks. Next, preheat your grill to around 600 degrees Fahrenheit — that’s high heat for a charcoal model.
For the rest of our simple step-by-step guide, continue to page two.
Make sure you’re getting your beef from a reputable source since it’s the star of the show. Go for chuck: It has good flavor and about 20% fat, which makes for a juicy burger. Nothing leaner, or you’ll end up with a dried out patty. If you’re lucky enough to have a full-service butcher shop, have them grind the meat specifically for you.
Now, you need to make the patties. Working as gently as possible, form the meat into ½- to 1-inch-thick patties. This thickness allows a nice sear without risking overcooking the burger. Anything too thick will burn up on the outside before the interior has a chance to cook, and it’s just too hard to eat anything that massive without the ability to unhinge your jaw.
Using your thumb, create an indentation in the center of the patty. Because burgers plump as they cook, this step ensures the patties will come out perfectly flat.
Once the meat is formed, season it generously with kosher salt. Don’t bother with fancy spice blends or herbs, because simple seasoning does the best job of highlighting the beef flavor.
Once your grill is properly heated, slide the patty onto the grates, indented side facing up.
Let the beef get a good sear, which will take about 3 to 4 minutes. Flip it just once, then let it cook another 3 to 4 minutes. Resist the temptation to press down on the patty with a spatula, because that forces all of the juices to run out. Nobody wants a dry burger.
If you’re using a charcoal grill, move the patty off the coals. If using a gas grill, turn the heat down to medium. Then, cover with the lid, and continue to cook. This will take anywhere from 3 to 10 minutes, depending on how rare you like your burger. Figuring out doneness can be tricky for beginners, so you may want to use an instant-read thermometer to help you get the hang of things.
For a cheeseburger, top the patties with a slice 2 to 3 minutes before removing from the grill so the dairy can fully melt. If your grill has a warming rack, use it to start warming your buns as well.
Remove the burger from the grill, and let it rest 1 minute while you gather the rest of your ingredients. Then, build your sandwich with whatever toppings you’d like. Anything goes, but we especially like lettuce, onions, tomatoes, and pickles. You can even dress it up with a flavored mayo or special sauce.
Congratulations on cooking the perfect burger! The only logical thing to do is grab a beer from the fridge, and sit down to enjoy your excellent cookery. Be prepared for company next time, because your pals will be begging you for an invite when they find out you know how to make the perfect burger.