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ULTIMATE BURGER GRILL GUIDE: HOW TO GRILL THE PERFECT BURGER

Summer is here and grills are ablaze cooking up seasonal favorites. A summertime staple is cooking burgers on the grill but often they turn out dry and tasteless. This EASY Ultimate Burger Grill Guide gives you everything on how to Grill the Perfect Burger! It will change your burger game completely.

With a few simple burger grill tips for how to grill hamburgers your homemade burgers will rival the best juicy hamburgers from your favorite restaurant.

ULTIMATE BURGER GRILL GUIDE: HOW TO GRILL THE PERFECT BURGER

Though grilling burgers isn’t difficult it does require some basic information to grill like a pro. The ground beef used, some key steps in the burger preparation and grilling and basics like knowing how to check for doneness make all the difference! We’ll hold your hand through it, don’t worry

WHICH GROUND BEEF TO USE FOR GRILLING BURGERS

Ground chuck is the most popular ground beef to use for burgers. The higher fat amount gives great flavor and keeps the burger moist while not being overly expensive.

Maintaining a 15-20% fat content is the perfect target in a ground beef to make a great moist grilled burger. Ground meats can be mixed for different flavors; even combinations like beef and chorizo, beef and ground pork or different types of ground beef. Just keep the fat content in that 15-20% sweet spot!

WHAT TO ADD TO THE GROUND BEEF TO MAKE IT STICK TOGETHER?

I’ve seen the question ‘what should be added to the ground beef to make the burger stick together?’The answer is NOTHING! 

Unlike something like meatloaf or meatballs that require a binder like bread crumbs to stick together, good quality ground beef with the fat content mentioned handled well is all that is need for a perfect grilled burger!

HOW TO GRILL BURGERS – 8 KEYS TO PRO SUCCESS

You may be surprised that many grilling tactics, like pressing the burger down, are the WRONG way to get the perfect grilled burger. Following these simple steps will have you grilling burgers like a pro!

  1. Not the time to cut the fat:  Fat is actually a major component in adding flavor to burgers. With our current day fat consciousness, I’m here to advise when grilling burgers don’t cut the fat. I typically use 85% leangrass-fed ground beef. I also use ‘double ground’ beef, which ensures a better mix of the fat uniformly into the meat.
  2. Prepare burger patties and chill them. Making the burger patties early and refrigerating them allows them to better stay intact while grilling. Don’t overhandle them which can compress the meat and start to melt the fat. You can even run your hands under cold water before making the patties on a hot day.
  3. Stick Your Thumb in It. Pressing your thumb into the center of the prepared burger to make a divot will keep it from bulging as it grills. It keeps the burgers nice and flat.
  4. Brush burgers with olive oil before grilling.This might sound excessive but it ensures the burgers won’t stick on the grill and will take on a nice sear, sealing the juices inside.
  5. NEVER push on a burger when grilling!For some reason it is commonplace as a burger grills to push down on it with a grilling spatula. DON’T! This only squeezes out flavorful juices that keep the burger moist.
  6. Turn onceOnly. It is best to turn a burger the fewest times possible. Grill experts recommend starting with a hot grill, allowing a 2-3 minute sear on one side and turning to fully cook on the opposite side. This keeps the burger intact and juicy.
  7. Check the internal temperature. There are many rules of thumb on how to check to see if a burger is cooked. The safest way is to use an instant read meat thermometer and ensure the internal temperature has reached 160. Also, the meat will continue to cook some once it is removed from the grill.
  8. Allow burgers to rest before serving. Once the burgers are done, place them on a platter to ‘rest’, or sit for about 5 minutes before serving which allows the burger to remain juicy and intact.

GRILL TEMPERATURE FOR BURGERS

Generally, burgers should be cooked on Medium-High (approximately 375 degrees) to High (400 degrees). Most gas grills have a built in thermometer to monitor the heat but you can buy a grill thermometer for charcoal grills too.

GRILL BURGERS WITH LID ON OR OFF?

When cooking things quickly leaving the lid off is the norm. I live in a windy area so from habit I grill almost everything with the lid on/down (it helps with flare ups too). Burgers can be cooked with the lid on or off just be sure to monitor for flare ups and doneness with an Instant Read Thermometer.

HOW LONG TO COOK BURGERS ON THE GRILL

The key to testing the doneness of a burger is measuring the internal temperature with an Instant Read thermometer.

The USDA guidelines state ground meat should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees. This temperature ensures killing of any dangerous food safety related bacteria.

Meat does continue to cook while it rests off the grill so usually they can be taken off the grill slightly under 160 degrees.

This guide focuses on beef burgers but if cooking ground turkey burgers the internal temperature needs to reach 165 degrees. Grilled salmon burgers need to reach an internal temperature of 145 degrees.

GRINDING YOUR OWN BURGERS

The issues with bacteria and food safety driving the USDA to specify the safe doneness temperature of 160 degrees has to do with the grinding process itself. As well as when buying ground beef it’s not clear what cuts it is made from or how long it has been since it was ground.

If you grind your own burgers from a fresh piece of chuck you can bend the rules can consider grilling to a medium-rare temperature of 130-135 degrees or higher is you prefer it more well done.

As a rule of thumb, here are the cooking times (beef burgers) for different doneness when cooking over high heat (note: all grills are different so always check with the thermometer):

NOTE: these temperatures and times are shared for reference only. I do not recommend cooking burgers to a doneness temperature of less than 160 degrees F unless they have been freshly ground yourself.

  • Rare (120-125 degrees): 4-5 minute total
  • Medium-Rare (130-135 degrees): 6-7 minutes total
  • Medium (140-145 degrees): 8-9 minutes total

HOMEMADE CONDIMENT RECIPES FOR GRILLED BURGERS

Once the burger is cooked, topping and adding condiments is the fun part making it a personal masterpiece! I love to throw some red onion slices on the grill to add on top along with some favorite easy homemade condiment recipes. Here are some favorites:

  • Homemade Barbecue Sauce
  • The Best Homemade Ketchup
  • Blueberry Whiskey Barbecue Sauce Recipe
  • Chipotle Mayonnaise

GRILLED BURGER RECIPES

A grilled burger is a classic summer staple. When done well, it is a great example of how the simplest recipes can be the best.It’s easy to change up the flavors following this same burger grill guide by adding in different ground meat to the burger and other ingredients. One of my favorites is Southwestern Bacon Cheeseburgers.

They combine ground beef and ground chorizo sausage with grated Monterey Jack cheese and diced green chilies. The patties are grilled and topped with grilled onions and bacon!

My FAVORITE Burger TIP: when assembling the burger and toppings, place a piece of lettuce UNDER the burger above the bottom bun half instead of on top. This helps keep the juices from the burger from saturating the lower bun (especially good with gluten-free buns).When you feel like upping your grilled burger game this Hot, Juicy Bacon-and-Egg Cheese Breakfast Burger is one of my favorite grilled burger recipes!

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