When grilling season comes around, you want to be prepared and know how to grill the perfect burger. It is easy enough to prepare and cook them once you know what you’re doing, and they are a staple to many backyard barbeques.
At times though, one is left with patties that are too dry or brittle, and various factors contribute to this. We've done our homework, so you can have peace of mind as we guide you through the best burger grilling practices.
Summary of the Key Findings
- Be sure to select the best type of meat for your burgers.
- You can choose between a charcoal or gas grill.
- Make sure the grill is properly prepped before putting the burgers on.
- Flipping them frequently and cooking them for long enough is vital.
Grilling burgers is always fun over the summer holidays, but can even be something one does during the normal workweek, as they do not take much time and effort.
What you want to know, though, are the steps you ought to follow, along with helpful tips, to up your burger grilling game. So to learn more, be sure to read on.
1. Selecting The Right Meat For Your Burgers.
When it comes to burger patties, you can purchase premade ones that come packaged and frozen.
However, nothing tastes quite like homemade patties, which you have prepared with love and care for your friends and family.
So what should you purchase to make them? You want to look for ground beef with an 80/20 mix.
This indicates that the meat is 80 percent lean beef with 20 percent fat. Although extra-lean ground beef patty blends are healthier, they are far more likely to fall apart once cooked.
This would include the likes of something like a 90/10 ground sirloin. So you rather want to opt for ground chuck, as this will yield the best results .
It is possible to mix the two or speak to your butcher about buying a tailored blend with a slightly lower fat percentage; however, the 80/20 ratio seems to be where the sweet spot sits.
If you decide to go lower, try to keep it above 15% fat still, as this will ensure its moisture, taste, and ability to stay together.
If you decide that you do not particularly like this cut, then an option you can go with is to choose a different (lower) percentage, but then add butter to the mix.
This will ensure that the fat and moisture of the patties match that which is advised. You may need to gauge this, but you'll roughly need 1 stick per 1 ½ pounds of meat.
Related: Ground Chuck vs Ground Beef
2. Making And Preparing Your Burgers.
When you mold the beef into the patties, the key is to complete this process as quickly as possible.
This is because the warmth from your hands, in combination with the room temperature, will cause the fat to melt.
This means there will be less fat to aid in the binding of the lean meat.
If you wish to add seasoning to the patties before grilling them, now is the time to mix it in.
Be sure, though, not to overdo it, as too much seasoning can cause the patties to become flaky.
Once you are done making your patties, put them into a container, and be sure to refrigerate them until it comes time to grill them.
3. What Type Of Grill Should You Choose?
You have two options in terms of grills, and people have been debating which is better for more than enough time. There are pros and cons to charcoal (and wood) and gas grills.
We'll give you a few points to consider, but the final choice comes down to personal preference at the end of the day.
Charcoal grills will infuse far more of a smoky essence to your burgers, and you will experience a greater amount of charring.
There is also a far greater chance of searing occurring, and once again, you will find people arguing about whether that is desirable or not.
Charcoal grills typically take longer to be prepped for the meat, but they tend to offer an even temperature above all the coals if spread out properly.
However, controlling the temperature is much more difficult, and you can do this far more easily with a gas grill, where you simply need to adjust a knob .
The gas also heats up faster than the coals; however, what you are likely to experience with gas is that there are unevenly spaced heat spots.
This means that you may have to move the patties around more than you would with a charcoal grill.
In the end, gas is easier than charcoal, and you are also left with far less of a mess to clean up afterward. In the end, though, it is possible to make perfectly delicious burgers on both types of grills, despite the slight differences.
4. Preparing Your Grill For The Hamburgers.
Before you begin cooking your patties, the first thing you need to take into account is the state of your grill.
Yes, the flames will likely aid in cleaning any residue left from past meals, but the best practice is to scrub the grill grates with a grill brush before commencing.
Then, just as you would if you were cooking with a skillet, it is a great idea to add oil to the grill to ensure against the patties sticking to it.
We suggest using olive oil here for a healthier option, but note you won't need much. Place some on a folded paper towel and rub it over the grates until well oiled.
Related: Seasoning a Charcoal Grill
5. How Long Should Your Burgers Stay On The Grill?
It is possible to cook one's patties for different periods and at different temperatures to obtain varying levels of doneness; however, we must make you aware that there are recommended guidelines stipulated by the USDA.
Cooking your burgers to lower degrees of doneness should be done at your discretion.
The temperatures that follow are those that will ensure that any harmful bacteria are killed.
It is recommended to cook ground beef to an internal temperature of 160°F, which is the same for chicken burgers.
If you make burgers from ground turkey, they should reach 165°F and 145°F for salmon .
It is advisable to insert the meat thermometer into the side of the burger rather than the top, as this will offer a more accurate reading.
Be aware that the time it takes for the burger to reach the desired temperature will depend on the grill's heat and the thickness of the patty.
When cooking beef patties, you may wish to cook them to different levels of doneness, but do note that this is not always recommended.
For varying levels of doneness, see below the suggested times/ internal temperatures:
- Rare – cook for a total of 4 minutes (125°F)
- Medium-rare – cook for a total of 5 to 6 minutes (130°F to 135°F)
- Medium – cook for a total of 7 to 8 minutes (140°F to 145°F)
- Medium-well – cook for a total of 9 minutes (150°F to 155°F)
- Well done – cook for a total of 10 minutes (160°F to 165°F)
6. How Often Should You Flip Your Burgers?
The advice regarding how often you should flip your patties used to be to keep it to a few times as possible.
It was previously recommended that you place your burgers on the grill once it is hot enough and then only flip them once.
So if you were making them well done, you would let them cook for 5 minutes, flip them, and then leave them to cook for the final 5 minutes.
However, this has changed, and the experts would advocate differently nowadays. It is believed that flipping them roughly every minute ensures a more evenly cooked burger.
One thing you want to avoid, though, regardless of which method you decide to opt for, is that once you flip the patties, you ought not to press them down.
This will lead to the fat being squeezed out, ultimately making them drier, and it could lead to them sticking to the grill .
Start by purchasing your ideal meat, which in most cases is ground beef with a ratio of 80/20 – the latter being the fat percentage. You can get it with ButcherBox and have your fresh meat delivered.
Make your patties and keep them refrigerated until you place them on your grill, which you have cleaned and oiled. Cook the patties until they reach the desired level of doneness, and there you have it.
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