What's the secret to making the best burgers?
Before I get to the tips, can I just say how excited I am…
Burger season is HERE!
Now, maybe in your house burger season is year ’round. And if that’s the case you’re now my new bff!
The great news is these tips can easily be applied anytime you grill up burgers — whether you’re grilling in the dead of winter, hot summer nights, on an outdoor grill, or on your stovetop.
Tip #1 -- THE PERFECT RATIO
The goal of any burger is to create that super juicy bite, that keeps bringing you back for more. You know, that first perfect bite where the juices threaten to run all over your fingers, and you run and grab an extra napkin, while burger flavors literally explode in your mouth. Yep, that’s exactly what the goal is.
And in order to get your burger nice and juicy the fat ratio is EXTREMELY important.
If you have no idea what I’m talking about, next time you’re in the store (or ordering online) take a look at the label on the ground beef. The label will have numbers and you might see 80/20 or 85/15 or 90/10. The second number is the fat ratio.
You want to be sure you’re buying meat with a fat ratio of at least 15%. 18% is better and if you can find 20% that’s ideal. Why is this the best ratio? If you use beef that’s too fatty, you’ll just wind up with a super greasy burger. And if you use beef that’s too lean (like 90/10) you’ll end up with a tough and dry burger.
Juicy is good, greasy, nope, not what you’re going for.
I usually find 85/15, but have also been able to find 80/20 in my local butcher store.
This ratio is also important if you’re using ground turkey or ground lamb.,
Tip #2 -- MIX GENTLY AND DON'T FORGET THE DIMPLE
Ok, so, technically, these are 2 tips, but they both go hand and hand (yep, I’m always here for a good pun!) and will give you an extra juicy burger that lays nice and flat.
I can’t say this enough — don’t over mix your meat.
That’s a good tip for meatballs AND burgers. The more you mix, the tougher the meat will get. Gently mix your seasonings with a fork or with your hands. You want to mix just enough to barely incorporate all the ingredients.
If you’re always wondering why your burgers shrink or get that dome top, it’s because you’re not giving them a dimple before cooking.
What’s a dimple?
You take your thumb, and gently press it into the center of the each uncooked patty. No need to make it too deep — just a shallow indent will do.
This will ensure your burger won’t shrink and will stay nice and flat, so you can layer on all your favorite toppings without having them slide off onto your plate and onto the floor.
Tip #3 -- REFRIGERATE BEFORE COOKING
Yes, I realize this is the absolute opposite of what I tell you when cooking meat. With every other cut of meat, you want it to come to room temperature before cooking.
But not burgers.
With burgers you want to store the shaped and dimpled patties in your fridge and take them out right before cooking.
Because this helps keep the burgers from falling apart on your grill AND also helps keep the burgers nice and juicy.
Tip #4-- THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX
Don’t make your burgers with just beef — there are ENDLESS combinations and other ground meat options that make mouth watering burgers.
You can use pork, chicken, and lamb.
And if you’re craving seafood, shrimp and salmon make excellent tasty burgers.
Oh, and while we’re chatting about all things “out of the box” play around with different flavors and seasonings.
These pork burgers not only have chorizo AND bacon, but cumin and shallots, too.
Tip #5 -- HAVE FUN WITH THE TOPPINGS
There are SO many directions you can go with burger toppings. I love setting out a bunch in bowls on the counter for everyone to help themselves.
And what I love most is having fun twists and unusual toppings — like pickled radish, sauerkraut and guacamole, different cheeses like brie or havarti, and even fun bun options like brioche or, my family’s favorite, King’s Hawaiian buns.
Here are some other yummy options:
Jalapeños (especially good when you also use Pepper Jack cheese)
Shredded carrots and radish (like on this banh mi burger)