The Ultimate Burger
How to grill the perfect cheeseburger every single time. Tips and tricks for making the perfect burger!
Happy Memorial Day, my friends! It is the start of grill season and I am so excited to sit by the pool with my husband and kids and devour a cheeseburger today.
I am going to be sharing all of the tips and tricks I have learned over the years for grilling up the ultimate burger. Burgers are super simple but it is the little things to make them go from ok to phenomenal. You wanna be the grill master and have all of your friends want to come to your BBQ? I got you.
How to make the Best Burger:
It all starts with the beef. You want to choose the right type of beef to make the perfect burger. My suggestion is to go 80/20 which means 80% lean and 20% fat. This is a nice ratio to ensure you end up with a juicy burger. If you go to 93% lean and 7% fat, you will end up with a drier burger.
I also suggest going to the butcher counter and ordering the beef from there instead of the ground beef in the tight shrink-wrapped packaging. I prefer to ask for ground chuck that is 80/20.
Once you bring the beef home and are ready to fire up the grill and make the burgers, here's a suggestion to make sure your burgers have a perfect texture -- DON'T OVERHANDLE the BEEF. You want to carefully form the patties and don't compress the beef too tight. A looser patty retains juices better which means a juicier burger.
If you have baked cookies or cakes before where texture is super important, you know that once you add your flour to the mixture, you don't want to overwork the dough as it stimulates the gluten and creates strands that can toughen the cookie.
It is the same type of philosophy with beef. In one of my favorite cookbooks, The Food Lab, he stated, "working the meat unduly will cause proteins to cross-link with each other like tiny strips of Velcro, making your finished burgers denser and tighter with every manhandling of the beef."
A Burger isn't meatloaf! There's a difference. Forget the fillers -- the onions, the bread crumbs, the herbs. Keep it simple! You want the beef to be the star ingredient and that means just simple salt and pepper will do the trick.
I remember watching Bobby Flay years ago, who is such an iconic grill master, say this over and over again. "Do sprinkle the outside of the burger liberally with salt and pepper. But do not season the meat mixture itself or add herbs, onions or garlic to it. "That is meatloaf,” Flay told TODAY Food. “We are making burgers."
Season well but don't salt and pepper the ground beef until the patties are formed. You want that coveted crust on the exterior or the burger and salt helps to create that. Sprinkle the salt on right before putting the beef on the grill.
HEAT UP the GRILL until it is HOT. You want the grill to be hot to maximize the crust formation on the burger and to brown the exterior. But how do you know when the burger is done? Well it depends on how you like your burger cooked.
Here's a burger temperature guide (from the Food Lab):
120 degrees F and below -- RARE (red/raw in the center)
130 degrees F -- MEDIUM-RARE (pink and warm)
140 degrees F -- MEDIUM (totally pink, starting to dry out)
150 degrees F -- MEDIUM-WELL (grayish pink, much drier)
160 degrees F and above -- WELL-DONE (completely gray, very little moisture)
We have the burger down, but now we need to choose the right bun. You want a bun that will hold up to a big juicy burger. I have had a few buns disintegrate and completely fall apart once the burger hit it. It needs to be able to handle the juices. Also, the bigger the bun, the bigger the burger. So keep that in mind when buying buns. You don't want the buns to be too big unless you are making big ol burgers!
Choosing the toppings is the fun part! I love creating a burger toppings board full of every topping you can think of. Here are some of my suggestions for the perfect burger toppings.
Ultimate Burger Toppings:
Cheese -- many people love American cheese because it melts so beautifully but you can't go wrong with medium Cheddar cheese or Pepper Jack for a bit of spice.
Lettuce -- I suggest green leaf for a beautiful pop of green or iceberg lettuce for the crispness.
Tomatoes -- a thick, juicy tomato brings all of the freshness.
Pickles -- you either love them or hate them but they bring some tang and crunchy texture to a burger.
Red Onion -- this is where things can get tricky. You don't want to overpower your burger with onion flavor so I like to add just a few rings instead of an entire slice of onion. I also prefer using a red or sweet onion because they are milder in flavor.
Bacon -- do you want to elevate your burger? It is as simple as crisping up some bacon and adding it to your burger. It just puts it over the top!
Roasted Jalapenos -- you want to add a little spice to your burger? I love slicing up some jalapenos and cooking them at 400 degrees for about 8-10 minutes.
Avocado -- this just adds such a creaminess to the burger that compliments bacon and tomato so well.
Ketchup -- this is a must on a burger. It complements the beef perfectly!
Mustard -- it is the tanginess for me. Mustard has an incredible flavor pay-off on a burger.
Mayonnaise -- this may be debatable because some people can't eat a burger without it. It depends on personal preference.
Here are a few more burgers on Modern Honey:
ARIZONA BURGER -- The Ultimate Burger is made with seasoned ground chuck, crispy bacon, cherry peppers, jalapenos, thick tomato, green leaf lettuce, red onion, and a special burger sauce.
DRAGONSLAYER BURGER -- all of the most flavorful toppings all on one burger!