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How to Grill Burgers 

How to Grill Burgers 

There’s nothing quite like the smoky, delicious taste of a grilled burger.

However, trying to recreate that same taste at home is not as simple as plopping a burger on the grill. Grilling a burger involves more than that.

Luckily, we’ve got a few burger grilling tips that will allow you to grill burgers that will rival burgers from your favorite burger joint.

Charcoal vs. Gas Grill

As with most things, such as the pork shoulder vs. pork butt debate, the brisket fat side upor down, and the sirloin vs. ribeye debate, there is a debate about charcoal vs. gas grills.

Truth be told, the superior choices for grilling burgers are wood and charcoal grills. 

This is because of the additional smoky flavor that the meat absorbs and the char that these types of grills create.

Both charcoal and wood grills are versatile pieces of cooking equipment. The grill gives you a better burn which creates a superior sear.

On the other hand, millions of people around the world use gas grills because they are convenient, easy to use, and don’t create as big of a mess as charcoal or wood grills do.

Nevertheless, you can still cook a deliciously juicy burger using a gas grill.

If you are using a charcoal grill, you will need a charcoal chimney starter.

If you need a chimney starter, check out our review of the best charcoal chimneys.

Essentially, a chimney starter is a tall cylinder with perforations in it.

Paper is crumpled up into balls, placed into the bottom of the chimney starter, and filled with charcoal or charcoal briquettes.

Place your filled chimney starter onto your grill’s bottom grate and light it. Within 15-20 minutes, your charcoal or briquettes will be ready to use.

On the other hand, if you’re using a gas grill, lift the lid, turn on your gas and light your kamado grill.

Heat your grill to 450-500°F before adding your burger patties to your portable pellet grill.

Tips for Making Burgers

As mentioned above, grilling the best burger involves more than slapping a few patties on the grill.

Use these burger grilling tips to help you make the best BBQ burgers.

Use a Clean Grill

Have you ever seared an eye of round steak in a dirty skillet? In the same way, you sear ranch steaks in a clean cast-iron skillet; you want to grill burgers on a clean grill.

Use a grill brush to remove caked-on grime from your grill. If you need a grill brush, check out our review of the top 5 grill brushes.

Next, brush the grills grates with oil, and it will be ready to use.

Use 80/20 Ground Beef

Even though a burger may be seasoned to perfection, it is worthless without a sturdy basis to stand on. When it comes to burgers, extra-lean ground beef is not a good fit. To create a moist, flavorful burger, choose ground beef with high-fat levels.

80/20 ground beef is the best choice for burgers. In short, 80/20 ground refers to a mixture of 80% lean beef and 20% fat. 

Ground chuck is the perfect example of 80/20 ground beef. The ground beef you purchase from your local supermarket is almost always ground chuck.

Avoid around ground sirloin, which has a 10% fat to 90% meat ratio. 90/10 ground beef is more likely to dry out due to the high temperatures of the grill.

Keep Your Burger Meat Cold

Unfortunately, we are predisposed to hot hands. Hot hands mixing room temperature ground beef can melt the fat.

This inhibits fat from mixing with the lean meat, resulting in too much fat-melting while the burger is cooking. Ultimately you will end up with a dry, tough burger.

The best way to prevent the fat from melting is by chilling your ground beef and forming your burger meat quickly.

Chill your ground beef until you are ready to season it and shape it into patties.

Place your burgers back into the fridge once you’ve formed them into patties.

Do Not Over-mix the Meat

Believe it or not, it’s extremely easy to overmix ground beef.

If you’ve had the unfortunate displeasure of consuming a burger that fell into crumbles as you ate it, the ground beef was likely over-mixed.

Over-mixed ground beef will result in a dry, crumbly burger.

Sprinkle your seasonings onto the ground beef and gently mix them to combine.

Burger Size Matters 

Some individuals want a burger that is bigger than the bun, while others prefer a burger that fits the bun perfectly.

One thing is clear; no one likes a burger that is much smaller than the bun.

The best way to ensure our burger fits your bun perfectly is to form your burger meat into patties at least an inch thicker than the burger bun. 

This will account for the shrinkage that will happen during the grilling process.

In addition to this, brush your burger patties with oil before you put them onto your grill.

Even though it seems excessive as you have already brushed your grill with oil, it makes sure your burgers do not stick and creates a beautiful sear.

Preheat Your Grill

With the thought of diving into a juicy warm, delicious burger in the near future, it can seem impossible to wait for the grill to heat up.

However, you must resist the temptation of placing your burgers on a cold grill.

Trust me; it is not worth the trouble. Heat your grill to a temperature between 350°F and 375°F before adding your burgers to the grill.  

Nevertheless, make sure you allow the burger patties to sit at room temperature before you grill them.

Just like a cold steak does not belong in a hot skillet, a cold burger does not belong on a hot grill.

Placing cold burgers onto a cold grill will result in some burgers being cooked while others are undercooked.

How Do I Make Ground Beef Stick Together?

People often think there’s some magical secret ingredient that makes ground beef stick together. 

However, the truth is there’s no secret ingredient to make burger meat stick together. 

Burgers are different from meatloaf or meatballs. They do not require binders such as eggs or breadcrumbs.

To make a great burger, you only need ground beef with a healthy meat-to-fat ratio.

Can I Make Burgers Ahead of Time?

Of course, you can make burgers ahead of time. In fact, you can premake your burger patties up to 6 hours in advance, wrap them with plastic wrap and chill them until you are ready to grill the burgers. 

Should I Indent My Burger Patties?

Whether you are have read a dozen cookbooks or surfed a million pages on the web, there is one common practice regarding burgers: making a thumb or tablespoon-sized indent in the center of the burger patty. 

The concept behind making an indentation is that it prevents the burger from puffing up in the center as it cooks.

Although some people believe indenting burgers prevents shrinkage, this is simply untrue. The dimple only prevents the burger from rising in the center.

To create a dimple in your burger patties, you can either form the patties with your hand or use a burger press to form your burger patties.

Next, use one of your thumbs to make a shallow indentation in the burger while holdings and rotating the edges of your burger to form a circular patty.

This method will allow you to create an indent without melting the fat or overmixing the meat.

Indirect and Direct Heat Zones

Similar to grilling a top-round steak, you must create indirect and direct heat zones.

On the one hand, if your grill is too hot, your burghers will burn on the outside while its interior remains raw.

On the other hand, if the grill is too cold, the burgers will cling to the grill, dry out, and turn an unappetizing gray color.

Therefore, it is best to set up hot and cool zones.

You can easily do this by placing more coals on one side of the grill (direct heat) and fewer coals on the other side of the grill (indirect heat).

Next, cook your burger on the direct zone to achieve the perfect sear and move it to the indirect zone if they char too quickly.

To set up indirect and direct heat on a gas grill, turn on half of the grill’s burners and leave the remaining burners off.

How to Flavor Your Burgers

Once you have achieved the perfect grilled burger, it’s time to experiment with more flavors.

You can test out different cuts of beef, add bacon, mushrooms, herbs, butter, cheese, herbs, or anchovies.

Essentially, you can’t go wrong with flavorings as long as your burgers are juicy and moist.

Do I Grill Burgers With the Lid on or Off?

Since burgers cook relatively quickly, most people always grill them with the lid off.

However, if you live in a windy climate, you may not have the option to grill with the lid off.

Nevertheless, you can grill with the lid on or partially closed if you have a domed grill.

Although this method can minimize flare-ups, make sure you watch the flare-ups.

Can I Use Foil When Grilling Burgers?

Yes, you can use foil when grilling burgers. Simply place your burgers on the foil paper and place them on the grill.

Grilling burgers on foil paper will actually make cleaning your grill that much easier. 

In addition to this, foil prevents the fat from the burgers from dropping into the flames and causing a flare-up.

 The burgers will also get the chance to cook in their own juices if you cook them on foil paper.

When Do I Flip a Burger?

Like a pancake will tell you when it’s ready to be flipped, a burger will tell you when it’s ready to be flipped.

The liquid will accumulate on the top of the raw surface.

Make sure you do not press down the burger or char the burger too much, or all of those juices will be lost.

What If The Weather Is Not Suitable For Grilling Burgers

Although burgers cooked outdoors are ideal, sometimes the weather does not allow you to grill outdoors. 

Nevertheless, you can cook burgers in a cast-iron skillet.

Simply add a little oil to your seasoned cast-iron skillet and set it over high heat. If your cast-iron skillet is not seasoned, check out how to season a cast-iron skillet guide.

Add your burgers to the cast-iron skillet and allow them to cook for 3-5 minutes until a beautiful crust develops.

Like searing a steak, you do not want to move the burgers.

You will prevent the crust from forming as the meat will stick to the pan.

Turn your burgers over and cook them for an additional 3-5 minutes until they reach your desired temperature.

Alternatively, you can also grill your burgers using an indoor grill, as most of them can be used indoors.

If you want to purchase an indoor grill, check out our review of the 5 best infrared grills.

How to Grill Burgers

Program your gas or charcoal grill to a temperature between 375°F-400°F, so it is at medium-high heat. 

Do not forget to brush your grill’s grates to make sure they are clean before brushing the grates with cooking oil. 

Divide your 80/20 ground beef into 4 uniform pieces, then form it into patties that are 3/4-1-inch in thickness and a little larger than the buns you are using.

Create a slight impression in the center of the burger patty with your thumb to prevent the burgers from puffing up.

Next, generously season your burger patties with salt and pepper or your favorite burger seasoning or BBQ rub.

Place your burgers onto the direct heat zone and cook them for 3-5 minutes per side until the burgers reach your desired temperature.

If the burgers begin to char or burn too much, move them to the indirect grilling zone.

Cheddar, Swiss, gouda, or blue cheese are all great cheeses for burgers. Nonetheless, you can use any kind of cheese you prefer.

Add your cheese if you are using it during the final minute of cooking time so that it can melt.

Remove your burgers from the grill and allow them to rest. Yes, you have to let burgers rest too.

Luckily, you only have to let your burgers rest for a minute or two.

This allows the burger’s juices to redistribute into the meat, creating a moister and more flavorful burger-eating experience.

The Buns  

Brioche buns are very popular for burgers since they have a buttery flavor and stable foundation to hold the burger and its condiments.

Brioche is also easy to press down and chew.

Pretzel buns have also become a popular choice for burgers. Pretzel buns have a thin, chewy crust and a soft yet fluffy interior.

Whether you prefer a pretzel or brioche bun, cut it in half and spread butter onto the top and bottom bun.

Place the buns onto the direct heat side of the grill and grill them until they are golden.

It is best to toast your buns at the same time you place the cheese onto your burger patties.

All that’s needed is to assemble your grilled burgers.

How Long to Grill Burgers

Before placing your burgers onto the grill, you must decide which temperature you want to cook your burger.

In regard to how long to grill burgers, it depends on the thickness of the burger patty, the grill’s temperature, and your desired temperature.

On average, it can take about 6-10 minutes to cook burgers.

However, it is best to use a thermometer to determine the temperature of the burger.

If you are interested in purchasing a food-grade infrared thermometer, check out our review of the best infrared thermometers.

Rare burgers have a temperature of 125°F and take about 4 minutes to cook.

Medium-rare burgers have a temperature of 135°F and take about 5 minutes to cook.

Medium-rare burgers have a 145°F and take about 6-7 minutes to cook. Lastly, well-done burgers 160°F and take about 8-9 minutes to cook.

Even though these are the temperatures for grilling burgers, the USDA suggests cooking all ground meats until they have a temperature of 160°F.

This temperature is well done and does not have any streaks of pink in the center. 

Nevertheless, it is up to you to use discretion when cooking burgers. 

Final Thoughts 

Now that you know how to grill burgers, you can grill up as many juicy, delicious burgers as you desire.

Do not forget to chill your burger meat and use 80/20 ground beef.

As long as you follow our burger grilling tips, you will have an enjoyable burgher eating experience.