Hamburgers patties can be made with numerous different cuts of meat and using different methods of cooking.  Common cooking methods for hamburger patties include grilling, broiling and pan frying. However, where broiling and grilling causes the natural juices (fat) to drip away from the burgers as they cook, pan frying (or searing) the patties allows them to actually cook in their own juices. A number of preparations, both external and internal, can make flavorful hamburgers.

Sometimes, the simplest approach is the best. When making hamburger patties in a pan, a liberal use of salt and black pepper, maybe all you need to bring out the best flavor. Salt and black pepper (use kosher salt or sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper) allows the flavor of the meat to come through. Just dusting salt on the exterior of shaped patties isn’t enough. Put the ground meat in a bowl. Lightly break up the meat with your hands and sprinkle evenly with salt and, then, pepper. 

For some additional flavor, spices and seasoning can be added prior to cooking the patties. Add dried spices and seasonings, such as onion and garlic powder. For a little kick, add a small amount of ground cayenne pepper to the meat prior to shaping into patties. Oregano, thyme and paprika are also dried spices that go well with hamburger, as well as ground mustard seed. Worcestershire sauce or steak sauce can be added before you make your patties. They impart extra moisture to your burgers, as well as extra flavor.

The more you handle the meat, the denser and more rubbery it will become when cooked. After you’ve seasoned the meat, divide it into individual portions and, with lightly cupped hands, shape into patties. As soon as the patties hold together, stop.

Turn the burgers just once during cooking—and don’t be tempted to press on them. Pressing down on the burgers as they cook squeezes out the flavorful juices, which end up in the pan instead of in the burgers.

Many of us depend on thermometers when we’re cooking expensive steaks, but when it comes to burgers, we think it isn’t necessary.  Burgers should be cooked to just the right degree of doneness, don’t guess. Take the temperature in the center of each burger with an instant-read thermometer.

MEDIUM-RARE BURGER: 125 to 130 degrees, 2 to 3 minutes per side

MEDIUM BURGER: 135 to 140 degrees, 3 to 4 minutes per side

MEDIUM-WELL BURGER: 145 to 160 degrees, 4 to 5 minutes per side

WELL-DONE BURGER: 160 degrees and up, 5 minutes and up per side

Cooking on Top of the Stove:

If the meat has been frozen let it thaw in the refrigerator overnight.

Divide the meat and shape into patties, however big or small and thick or thin that you want them. Remember that ground beef shrinks when cooking, so take that into account when sizing.

Place the burgers in a large, deep skillet and turn the burner on medium heat. Make sure the handle is turned away from the front of the stove, especially if you have children.

Place a lid on the skillet. This will prevent grease from spattering all over the stove, making more of a job for you to clean up.

Cook the burgers for about 4 minutes for medium and then turn them over in the pan. Cook for 4 or 5 more minutes. It doesn’t take long to cook burgers, just watch them so they won’t burn or overcook.


Heat a deep, large skillet.

Slice and cook 1 onion in 1 tablespoon butter; set aside in a small bowl and keep warm.

Shape the patties large and thin, when cooking they will shrink and become much thicker and juicy.

Place the patties in the pan and cover with a lid. Cook on medium-low heat.

Turn the burgers once the top is starting to brown.

DO NOT press down-if you press down you will not have juicy hamburgers.

When they are done (use the temperature chart above), cover the top with the cooked onion and put a slice of cheese on top of the hamburger. Cover the pan again for about a minute until the cheese starts to melt.

Cooking in the Oven:

Use a broiler pan that allows fat to drip away from the meat. If the burgers are large and thick, roast at 350 degrees F. for about 10 minutes and then finish under the broiler to brown.


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with foil- put a cookie rack on top. Place the burgers on the rack and season them. Bake for about 15 minutes/ 20 minutes.

The following method works well for turkey burgers:

Ground turkey is a good substitute for ground beef or pork. Turkey is a leaner meat and it contains less fat. Instead of frying the turkey burger in oil on the stove top, you can bake them in the oven. Oven-baked turkey burgers take slightly longer to cook, but baking in the oven gives you a less crisp texture.

Heat the oven to 375 degrees F. Apply nonstick cooking spray to a baking dish.

Combine 1 lb. of lean ground turkey, 1 lightly beaten egg, 1 cup of crushed crackers or bread crumbs and salt and pepper to taste. Mix the ingredients together well.

Form the turkey mixture into four equal sized patties. Place them in the baking dish.

Bake the turkey burgers for 30 minutes or until they have an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Turn the turkey burgers over once while they are baking in the oven.

Add a slice of cheese during the last 2 to 3 minutes of the cooking time. Once the cheese melts, remove the turkey burgers from the oven and serve them while hot.

The Perfect Indoor Burger

4 servings


  • 1 1/2 pounds ground chuck (80 percent lean) or ground turkey (90 percent lean)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 slices cheese
  • 4 hamburger buns, split; toasted, if desired


Divide the meat into 4 equal portions (about 6 ounces each). Form each portion loosely into a 3/4-inch-thick burger and make a deep depression in the center with your thumb.(This prevents the burger from bulging in the center while cooking.)  Season both sides of each burger with salt and pepper.


IF USING A GRILL PAN: Heat a grill pan over high heat on top of the stove. Brush pan with the oil. Cook the burgers until desired doneness, according to the temperature chart above. Turn burgers half way through the cooking time. Cook turkey burgers until cooked through, about 5 minutes on the second side.

IF USING A SAUTE PAN : Heat the oil in the pan over high heat until the oil begins to shimmer. Cook the burgers until golden brown and slightly charred on the first side, about 3 minutes for beef and 5 minutes for turkey. Turn over the burgers. Cook beef burgers until golden brown and slightly charred on the second side, 4 minutes for medium rare (3 minutes if topping with cheese) or until cooked to desired degree of doneness. Cook turkey burgers until cooked through, about 5 minutes on the second side.

Add the cheese to the tops of the burgers during the last minute of cooking. and top with a basting cover, close the grill cover, or tent the burgers with aluminum foil to melt the cheese.

Serve the hot burgers on toasted buns with your favorite condiments.


Pesto Turkey Burgers

Servings: 4

This Mediterranean-style turkey burger is flavored with basil pesto and crumbled feta cheese.


  • 1 1/4 pounds lean ground turkey
  • 2 tablespoons basil pesto
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese, plus extra for topping
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons seasoned salt
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Sliced tomato and lettuce
  • Greek yogurt


Add oil to a saute pan and heat to medium high. 

Mix together ground turkey, pesto, garlic, feta cheese, seasoned salt and breadcrumbs in a bowl until evenly blended. Form into 4 patties.

Cook pesto burgers until no longer pink in the center, about 5 minutes per side.

Serve on whole wheat buns or pita bread with tomato, lettuce, yogurt and additional feta cheese.


Chicken Parmesan Patty Melts

4 Servings


  • 5 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1 cup marinara sauce, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound lean ground chicken
  • 2 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
  • 2 ciabatta rolls, split and toasted


In a large bowl, combine 3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, 2 tablespoons marinara sauce, pepper and salt.

Crumble chicken over mixture and mix well. Shape into four patties.

Place on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Broil 4 inches from the heat for 4-6 minutes on each side or until a thermometer reads 165° and juices run clear.

Top with remaining marinara, the mozzarella and remaining Parmesan.

Broil 1-2 minutes longer or until cheeses are melted. Top each roll half with a patty.

Pork Burgers

Makes 4 servings


  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 cups thinly sliced Spanish onions
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound lean ground pork
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped green olives
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1/4 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup Monterey Jack or Mozzarella cheese
  • 4 whole-wheat hamburger buns, toasted
  • 2 whole jarred roasted red peppers, halved lengthwise


Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. Set aside half the onion for topping; finely chop the other half.

Preheat a stove top grill pan to medium.

Place the chopped onion in a large bowl; add pork, olives, garlic, paprika, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon pepper and the salt. Gently combine, without over mixing, until evenly incorporated. Form into 4 equal patties, about 1/2 inch thick.

Combine mayonnaise, lemon zest and lemon juice in a small bowl.

Oil the grill pan. Cook the burgers, turning once, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center registers 165°F, 10 to 12 minutes total. Top with cheese (1 tablespoon per burger) and cook until it is melted, about 1 minute more.

Assemble the burgers on toasted buns with the lemon mayonnaise, some of the reserved onions and  half a roasted pepper.

Salmon Burgers with Green Goddess Sauce

Serve on toasted hamburger buns or focaccia bread.

The key to perfect salmon burgers is to handle the fish delicately: don’t over season, over handle or over cook it.

Makes 4 servings


  • 1 pound wild salmon fillet, skinned
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion or scallion
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon hot pepper sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons Green Goddess Sauce (recipe follows)


With a large chef’s knife, chop salmon using quick, even, straight-up-and-down motions (do not rock the knife through the fish or it will turn mushy) until you have a mass of roughly 1/4-inch pieces. Transfer to large bowl and gently stir in onion (or scallion), basil, hot sauce, lemon juice, salt and pepper, being careful not to overmix. Divide the mixture into 4 patties, about 1 inch thick. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes (or up to 2 hours) before cooking.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the burgers and cook until browned on both sides and just cooked through, 4 to 6 minutes total. Serve with 1 tablespoon Green Goddess Sauce on each burger.

Green Goddess Sauce

Makes 1 1/4 cups


  • 3/4 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
  • 4 anchovy fillets, rinsed and chopped
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon capers, rinsed
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste

Combine mayonnaise, sour cream, anchovies, chives, parsley, capers, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a food processor and pulse to combine.

MAKE AHEAD TIP: Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.