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How-to Tuesday – How to Grill the Perfect Hamburger


For the past several weeks I have been trying to grill the ultimate hamburger. In order to do that, we need to define what the ultimate hamburger is:
1. Juicy
2. Thick
3. Medium to well done
4. Not needing much spice
5. Delicious

The first burger was juicy, thick, lightly spiced, but still mooing. Feeling the heat to get the burgers ready for the already finished meal, in my haste I didn’t check them well enough; hence we ate meat that was far too raw.

Lesson #1: Thou shalt take thy time to do things right. (Thank you Mr. Rogers; your lessons still linger with us.)

The second burger was smarter than his younger burger. He built his house out of sticks… Wrong story, sorry. So the next go round, I let them cook longer. Albeit still in a rush, I didn’t cook them until the juices ran clear. “Medium rare” I lied to myself, and served them up. They were rare, and my wife didn’t much care for the blood on the plate.

Lesson #2: Thou shalt cook them until the juices run clear.

The third burger was not entirely perfect, but very very very close. I defrosted some premade patties that were about 3/4 inch thick, so it passes the thickness test. I lightly spiced them with a fresh batch of house seasoning, so they passed the spice test. I put them on a preheated grill, and cooked one side for about 7 minutes then turned them once and grilled for 7 more. I knew they were juicy because a slight press brought out the sizzle, and the meat thermometer hole shot like a geyser. Yes they were delicious, but one was medium and the other was medium rare. Three lessons on this one:

Lesson #3 Thou shalt not squish the juices out of thine meat.
Lesson #4 Thou shalt check all meat with the meat thermometer.
Lesson #5 Thou shalt calibrate thy meat thermometer, and thou wouldst be better off to not buy a cheap one.

The fourth burger was, well, a good apex to the strange weekend I had over Easter. Nothing seemed to go right, and I’ve been dealing with sick kids all day. Since we missed out on my Mom’s famous marinated chicken, I decided to fire up the grill and do another hamburger. The burger was top-notch. However, I burned the buns while trying to toast them. Thick, juicy, well done: it was perfect; except for the burnt bun.

Lesson #6 Thou shalt cook thy burger first, then thou shalt toast thy bun.
Lesson #7 Even a bad burger is still a burger. Be grateful you have a burger.

A few more lessons from my experience:

Lesson #8 Form thy meat to about 3/4 inch thick. Freeze the patties with wax paper in between them in food saver bags.
Lesson #9 Thou shalt defrost thy meat before grilling. It seals in the flavor better if you can get a good sear.
Lesson #10 Thou shalt preheat thy grill on high to get good sear marks, then reduce thy heat to medium.

What is your experience cooking the ultimate hamburger? Sound off in the comments. Don’t forget! Add a comment to help decide what we’ll be cooking in the iron chef challenge! Leave a comment below with a meat and a veggie or fruit or starch!


From → Grill

  1. YUM. YUM. YUM.

    Now I am craving burgers. Thanks a lot.

  2. Although I just had some fab left over potato salad, green beens, & ham, my mouth is still watering for a delicious grilled burger. Thy shalt remember that others have trials & err's too and that I'm not the only one, LOL.

  3. BTW, I like putting a square (cut from a cube) of butter in the center and my burgers are about an inch thick. I'll have to start grilling again to see how long I grill each side. These little butter burgers are delish!

  4. Two of my favorite tips are
    1) weigh your meat to get even portions. I like 4 oz for normal burgers and 5-6 oz for huge burgers.
    2) Poke a finger hole in the center of each patty. That keeps them from balling up in the middle.

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