Top 5 Tips for Burger Recipes

If you'd like to go beyond plain burger recipes then these tips will help you create the most juicy and flavorful gourmet burgers ever...

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#1 Where's the Beef?

It really is all in the meat. When you buy ground beef from the supermarket chances are it's pieces from all parts of the animal, trimmings from other cuts.

Ideally, if making beef burger recipes you want to use meat with a higher fat content so the burger stays juicy.

Ground chuck from the shoulder portion has the right amount of fat, usually between 16% and 18%, compared to more lean cuts that have considerably less.

Look for medium ground and avoid lean to extra lean. If you go for lean or extra lean then add some ground pork to increase the fat content.

For extra flavor combine 1 part ground sirloin with 2 parts ground chuck and still maintain suitable fat content.

Consider grinding your own beef so you know what you're putting into your burger recipes.

top sirloin

burger recipes

There are many household meat grinders available today including some appliances like Kitchen Aid that come with meat grinder attachments.

If using all ground sirloin, which has tremendous flavor but is a leaner meat, then include some ground pork to add fat content.

grilled burgers
ground beef pork

I generally mix 3 parts sirloin to 1 part pork.

Select either ground pork or look for a pack of fatty, thick, sliced side pork - shown above.

If in doubt, ask your butcher and tell them what you need it for.

There was a time that I promoted using an egg in with the mixture as a binding agent...well I know better now and don't do it as I think it makes the burger slightly tougher, so don't you do it either!

And don't add breadcrumbs, or oats or other "filler" like some recipes call for or your Mother or Grandmother always used with ground beef.  They used it back in the day to make what they had feed more people, and I think that's just carried over today as "the thing to do".  Like adding egg.

The only time I'll tell you to use breadcrumbs in a burger is if it's poultry like chicken or turkey.  Then you definitely need the binder just to keep them together until they're cooked.

#2 Flavor Boosters

Depending on the type of meat you're using, ground beef, lamb, pork or turkey, determines how much natural flavors will be present.

All of the burger recipes include tips for additional seasoning you may want to add to boost the flavor or change the flavor all together.

ground beef seasonings

Salt and pepper, garlic or onion powder are typical spices everyone has in their kitchen and can add extra flavor to burger recipes.

Be sure to follow the guidelines in the recipes as a little usually goes a long way.

<-- Notice the egg in the picture, DON'T DO IT!!!

Other seasonings include Worcestershire sauce, grated ginger, grated onion, chopped hot peppers, hot sauces, BBQ sauce, Dijon mustard, cumin, parsley, smoked paprika, dill, lemon zest, the list really is endless.

#3 Shape Up!

You've selected the meat, maybe ground your own and you've added the extra spices and flavors to the meat.

Now you need to form the patties. It sounds pretty simple and it is but here are some helpful tips:

  • Wet your hands with cold water first to make it easier to work with the ground meat and keep if from sticking to your hands
  • You're going to be making patties 3/4" thick so select enough meat, between 1/2 and 3/4 cup, and working lightly form a ball. Important - do not pack the meat tightly, this will make a tough burger.
  • Gently form the balls into the patty shapes so they're 3/4 inch thick and uniformly round. These will shrink in diameter as they're cooking so make the diameter of the patty bigger then the bun or breads you'll be using.
  • burger patties
  • Along with shrinking in diameter burgers have a tendency to puff up in the center becoming rounder as they cook. This can make it tough to keep the cheese or toppings on the burger. The tip here is to make a small indent in the patty with your thumb or the back of a small spoon when your shaping them. As they puff up they'll end up being uniform again in thickness after cooking.
  • Keep the hamburger patties refrigerated before putting them on the grill. It takes longer to melt the fat (render) in a cold burger so that means they stay juicy longer and won't dry out on the grill!

  • #4 On the Grill

    You're grilling burger recipes over direct heat with the grill pre-heated to high.

    When ready to cook brush and oil the grate, click to see how to oil the grates.

    grilled burgers

    Place the burgers on the grill and add more seasoning.

    You'll be grilling burger recipes until cooked through, depending on the thickness this is usually 5-7 minutes per side.

    An instant read thermometer should show at least 160F internal temperature for medium before you remove them.

    It's important to flip the burgers only once.

    grilled hamburgers

    You'll know if it's time to flip them when you try to slide a spatula under the burger - if it's sticking to the grate it isn't time to flip.

    Give it another minute and try again. If you don't you'll just end up leaving bits of burger on the grate.

    If you're adding cheese, mushrooms or other meats (grilled pancetta or bacon) then add it immediately after you've flipped the burger.

    #5 Off the Grill

    After the burgers are cooked and have at least 160F internal temperature for medium then it's time to remove them.

    Like other grilled meats it's helpful to let them rest before you eat them to ensure the juices re-flow throughout the burger.

    best hamburger recipe ever

    Shown here is the Ultimate Burger with Mushroom Cheese Sauce.

    Cover the burgers with tin-foil tented up in the center with a small slit to allow steam to escape.

    This will ensure your burger recipe is a complete success and you've made the ultimate gourmet burger.


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