How to Properly Grill Hamburgers!
What’s more American than grilling hamburgers? Hamburgers and hot dogsare the whole reason they put grills in public parks, in my opinion. Burgers and hot dogs are the whole reason we show up to the stadium 6 hours before the game (well, and beer I guess…). We discussed hot dogs the other day, so I wanted to step back and talk about how to grill hamburgers the right way. You see, hamburgers may seem easy to make, but I have choked down far too many dried out and burnt disks of beef than I care to remember. It’s time we did something about it, it’s time we take a stand, it’s time for me to stop complaining about it and start educating the masses! So let’s get down to it and talk about best practices for grilling hamburgers.
Like many other grilling recipes, people just need to slow down and pay attention to details and technique to achieve burger grilling deliciousness. Here are what I consider to be the key factors in hamburger perfection.
- Choose the right meat. Here’s a newsflash, fat tastes good! That may not be too PC, but it’s true. You know that last burger you had at the restaurant, the one you said “man, my hamburgers never taste this good”. I would bet my squirt bottle that the main reason theirs was better is that you feel guilty buying anything other than “lean” ground beef. Quit fighting it, fat is delicious! Need another reason, ok, we are in tough times and fatty meat is cheaper. There, doesn’t the desire to save money seem to dull the desire to eat healthy? I recommend ground chuck or ground sirloin for a good fatty ground beef. Check the label and ask your butcher, you want about 20% fat or so. Most serious hamburger junkies swear that grounding your own meat is the way to go. Sounds hard, right? If you have a food processor, it really isn’t. Start with some boneless (duh) chuck with the fat still intact, cut it into strips and ground in the food processor in small batches. Is it worth all of the effort? Personally, I don’t think so if you have access to great beef. If you live in the wilderness, probably, but you probably don’t have a food processor either. I’ll do a taste test one day to finally prove whether or not people can tell the difference…
- Use high heat and cook them fast! Like most thin meat products, it’s best to apply high and direct heat to your hamburger and cook it as fast as possible. Leave the lid open, crank up the heat and don’t cook them too long or they will dry out.
- Be gentle with that meat! Most people really pack the patties tight and then flatten them down too much. A loosely packed patty makes for a juicy hamburger! If you pack your hamburger patties too tight, you run the risk of drying out the meat and making them tough. The only thing I am going to recommend you do to that patty is make an indention, but we’ll talk about that in a bit…
- Don’t “squish”! PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE don’t EVER flatten or squish your burgers with a spatula while they are grilling. You might as well pick it up with your hands and squeeze out all of the juices. Why do people usually feel the need to do that? Because the burgers usually inflate or bloat in the middle during grilling, we’ll talk about how to prevent that if you stick with me below…
- Flip only once! As meat cooks, the heat pushes the juices away from the heat source. To achieve a juicy burger, you only want to flip the burgers once so that you don’t disrupt those juices any more than necessary. Most people ask, how long do you cook hamburgers on a grill? The short answer is “not too long” :). The real answer varies, based on the grill and the thickness of the hamburger, but one thing that does hold true is only flip once! We’ll answer the “how long” question in a bit, your meat will tell you when if you know what to look for. But for now, resist the temptation to keep flipping, please!
- Don’t skimp on buns. Why would you go through all of this trouble to learn how to make a better burger and then serve them between some bad buns? I like to go with french hamburger buns from my grocery store’s bakery.
So that is the very high level break down of the reasons why most people screw up a perfectly good hunk of ground beef. Follow these helpful tips and you will be the Barbeque Burger King of your family and friends.
- Prep: 15 mins
- Cook: 10 mins
- Yields: 4 to 5 Burgers