The key to making a delicious burger is to keep things simple. Many failed burgers are the result of overcomplicating the process. If you start with good-quality ingredients and apply basic grilling techniques, then you really don’t need to do much to turn out a delicious burger. Use high-quality ground meat (go for grass-fed beef, if you can; it has more flavor) that has some fat content (80 to 20 ratio of lean-to fat), which is needed to keep the burger moist and to enhance its flavor. Handle and cook the burgers with care. Other types of ground meat, particularly lean meats, like chicken or turkey, may need a few extra ingredients to achieve the same results.
When you’re forming burger patties, be gentle with your ground meat mixture. If you pack the meat too tightly, the density will make the patty seem tough. Form the burger into a round that is the same size as your bun (it will shrink as it cooks) and then very gently press the middle of the patty to form a small dent — this helps the patty retain an even thickness during the cooking process.
Salt can draw moisture out of the meat mixture, so don’t add it to the ground meat. Instead, season both sides of a burger just before cooking.
Medium heat is best when it comes to burgers; if you cook your burger at too high a temperature, it can cook unevenly.
Don’t be tempted to press on the burgers as they cook (since they won’t puff up as much in the center) and turn the burgers gently as they cook, so you don’t lose meat juices and flavor.
The Perfect Burger
- Oil for the grill
- 1 1/2 pounds ground grass-fed beef (80-85 percent lean)
- Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
- 4 slices sharp white cheddar cheese (4 ounces)
- 4 sandwich rolls or buns
- 1 beefsteak tomato, cut into 4 slices
- 1/2 Vidalia onion, cut into 1/4-inch rings
- 4 lettuce leaves, such as green-leaf, Boston or romaine
- Ketchup, mayonnaise or mustard
Preheat grill to medium-high; brush grates with oil.
Gently form beef into four 1-inch-thick patties, about 4 inches in diameter. Make an indentation in the top of each patty. Generously season both sides with salt and pepper.
Grill burgers 3 minutes. Turn, top with cheese, and grill 3 minutes for medium-rare.
Toast rolls face-down on the grill until just lightly browned, about 30 seconds.
Sandwich burgers in rolls with tomato, onion, lettuce and condiments.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1/2 yellow or orange bell pepper, chopped
- 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
- Coarse salt and ground pepper
- 1 pound ground chicken
- 4 toasted hamburger buns
- Lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise, for serving
In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium. Add onion, bell pepper and celery; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl; cool to room temperature.
Add chicken to vegetable mixture in the bowl. Mix to combine. Shape mixture into four 4-inch-wide patties. Brush burgers with remaining oil and sprinkle the burgers with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
Heat a grill to medium-high. Clean and lightly oil the grill.
Grill burgers until browned and cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes per side. Place chicken burgers on buns and top with lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise or sauce of choice.
- 1 pound lean ground pork
- 3/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
- 1 yellow bell pepper, cut into thin strips
- 1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
- Coarse salt and ground pepper
- 2 teaspoons red-wine vinegar
- 4 slices fresh mozzarella
- 4 toasted buns
Heat a grill to medium-high. Clean and lightly oil the grill. In a bowl, mix pork with fennel seeds. Form into 4 patties.
On a large piece of foil, combine oil, peppers and onion. Season with salt and pepper. Fold foil around the vegetables and crimp ends. Grill the foil packet until vegetables are crisp-tender, about 8 minutes.
Season patties with salt and pepper. Grill until cooked through, about 6 minutes per side.
In a medium bowl, mix the vegetables with vinegar. Top each patty with vegetables and a slice of mozzarella. Cover grill and cook until cheese is bubbling, about 1 minutes.
Serve burgers on toasted buns.
- 2 pounds fresh center-cut tuna
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 anchovy fillet, minced
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
- 2 celery stalks, peeled to remove strings and minced
- 1 1/2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup arugula
- 6 buns
- Condiments of choice: cheese, horseradish sauce, etc.
Cut tuna into 1/4-inch chunks with a very sharp knife, trimming away any dark parts. Coarsely chop tuna by hand until it begins to hold together. Transfer to a bowl over a bowl of ice.
Add garlic, olive oil, sesame oil, anchovy, basil, celery, ginger, salt and pepper; combine well. Chill for up to 6 hours until ready to cook.
Heat grill to medium high and oil the grill grates. Form tuna into 6 patties and place on the grill, 4 minutes per side for rare to 7 or 8 for well done.
Serve with arugula on toasted buns brushed with mayonnaise or other condiments.
Mediterranean Lamb Burgers
- 1 1/2 pounds lean ground lamb
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
- Olive oil
- 4 hamburger buns
- Feta cheese, crumbled
- Kalamata olives, chopped
Heat a grill to medium-high and lightly oil the grill grates. In a medium bowl, mix lamb, cumin and coriander. Form into 4 patties.
Coat the burgers with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill 4 minutes per side for medium-rare.
Serve burgers on buns with crumbled feta cheese and chopped olives.
Black Bean Veggie Burgers
These burgers are great if you are cooking for vegetarians and non-vegetarians. The meat burgers can go on one side of the grill and the bean burgers on foil can go on the other side of the grill. In order to keep veggie burgers from falling apart on the grill, make sure all the ingredients in the burger are thoroughly dry before combining them.
- 1 (16 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1/2 red bell pepper, cut into 1 inch pieces
- 1/2 onion, cut into wedges
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon hot sauce
- 1 cup plain bread crumbs
- Olive oil
Preheat an outdoor grill for high heat and lightly oil a sheet of aluminum foil.
Dry black beans well on paper towels. In a medium bowl, mash the black beans with a fork until thick and pasty.
In a food processor, finely chop bell pepper, onion and garlic. Place on paper towels to dry well.
Then stir into the mashed beans.
.In a small bowl, stir together the egg, chili powder, cumin and hot sauce.
Stir the egg mixture into the mashed beans. Mix in the bread crumbs until the mixture is sticky and holds together. Divide mixture into four patties.
Place patties on oiled foil and grill about 8 minutes on each side.