How To Grill The Perfect Burger

by Matt on September 20, 2010

I can’t believe that is has taken me this long to write this post!

I like to think of grilling the perfect burger as an art or a science. Since I am usually grilling burgers at least twice a week, I like to think that I have become an “expert” in this area. As a matter of fact, Bobby Flay showed up to my apartment last night and challenged me to a . How could I not win with a burger looking like this?

Perfect Burger 010

Once he saw what he was really up against, he proclaimed defeat. Seriously, look for me on the one day. I will be there.

Grilling is so easy, but many people are afraid of it. To get that juicy, melt in your mouth texture, you just need to know a few basics:

  1. Buy the Best Meat: This will make or break your burger. If you buy some cheap meat from Wal-Mart, you probably won’t get a great burger. I only buy 100% grass fed meat for a variety of reasons.
    • Beef produced naturally on grass tastes better. The first time I ever had grass fed beef, I knew that I would never go back. This is how beef SHOULD taste.
    • Grass fed beef is higher in Beta Carotene, Vitamin E, Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA), and Omega 3 Fatty Acids. In other words, it is a lot healthier for you than corn fed beef.
    • Grass fed cattle are never given growth hormones or antibiotics. At least this is how most ranchers operate. I would recommend talking to your butcher to make sure.
    • Pasture based agriculture is among the most environmentally friendly of the sustainable farming practices.
    • Most grass fed beef that you purchase will be from local farmers.
  2. Chill the Meat First: Before you even form the patties, put the meat in the fridge for a half hour or so. Keeping the meat cold will help it retain it’s shape and will keep the fat inside of the meat.
  3. Make a Well in the Patty: When beef patties cook, they contract, and can leave you with a rounded, uneven burger. It might look like the burger is pregnant. Push a little well into the center of the meat, about an inch or two around and a quarter-inch deep. You will have a perfectly flat burger when you are finished.
  4. Don’t Push Down on the Meat: This is one of the all time most important rules when cooking a burger. Pushing the meat down will squeeze out the juices and you will be left with a dry, sorry piece of meat. Would you rather have a juicy hamburger and have to wait an extra minute, or would you rather have a sub par burger so you can chow down right away? It’s up to you.
  5. Back in the Fridge: After you’ve formed your patties, put them back in the fridge to cool down again for 30 to 45 minutes.
  6. Get the Grill Piping Hot: You want to sear the meat so you can lock in the juices. Low and slow is not the way to go when cooking burgers.
  7. Salt and Pepper: If you have the right meat, salt and pepper is all you need. Let the meat do the talking, not the spices.
  8. Put It On and Leave It On: Once you put the meat on the grill, don’t mess with it. Do not push it down; don’t even touch it. Just let it cook. Burgers should only take 2-3 minutes per side, with one flip. I like to undercook mine a little bit because they will continue cooking during the resting phase.
  9. Put the Cheese On Before It Leaves the Grill: Add the cheese after you flip the burger. This will give it time to melt and ooze before it hits the table.
  10. Let the Meat Rest: This is important. Like a steak, the meat needs time to redistribute it’s juices so you don’t lose them after the first bite. Two to three minutes should work fine.

Yes please.

Perfect Burger 011

If you follow these 10 easy tip, you will have a burger that looks like this:

Perfect Burger 012

Excuse me, but I think it’s time to fire up the grill again.

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

September 20, 2010 at 12:15 PM

hahahah. great tips! i wish i had a grill (even a foreman!) at my apartment. i’d be eating burgers every day…maybe it’s a good thing that i don’t then :)

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MattNo Gravatar September 20, 2010 at 1:12 PM

Your pants are lucky. Mine, not so much ;)

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September 20, 2010 at 1:19 PM

I have a knack for opening up your posts right when I am at my hungriest.

Fun/pathetic fact: I’ve never (personally) grilled anything in my life…

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MattNo Gravatar September 21, 2010 at 9:32 AM

Have you at least eaten grilled food?

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September 20, 2010 at 2:53 PM

the biggest thing i’ve found is letting the meat rest…that carryover cooking is just the right amount of time for a perfect, juicy burger!

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MattNo Gravatar September 21, 2010 at 9:32 AM

I totally agree!

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September 20, 2010 at 4:33 PM

ow – awesome tips! I love that you add the cheese before it leaves the grill!
Do you have a favourite sort of cheese that you use?

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MattNo Gravatar September 21, 2010 at 9:31 AM

I like gouda, bleu, and cheddar. Mmm…

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DadNo Gravatar September 20, 2010 at 6:14 PM

Matt, the burgers look amazing. I may cook some tonight.

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September 20, 2010 at 7:48 PM

Like Cathleen, I’ve never grilled anything before. Only on a George Foreman grill. But I don’t think that counts.
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MattNo Gravatar September 21, 2010 at 9:30 AM

Well you need to get on that ;)

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September 20, 2010 at 8:47 PM

I’m forwarding this post to my husband. He’s a burger fanatic, too. :)
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MattNo Gravatar September 21, 2010 at 9:24 AM

Good deal :)

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September 21, 2010 at 1:41 AM

Yes yes yes to number 4! I hate it when I see someone doing that to burgers they are preparing…I just cringe

What % lean is the grass fed beef? I want to make sure I buy a kind that’s not too lean so I can get all the benefits of the CLA and Omega-3 fats.
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MattNo Gravatar September 21, 2010 at 9:30 AM

The grassfed beef I buy is between 85-15 and 90-10. Perfect fat ratio for burgers.

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dana marieNo Gravatar March 27, 2011 at 5:17 PM

want.

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