Beef Burgers: Back to Basics

Posted by Missy McCabe on

It’s the backyard staple. There is no more iconic, functional and delicious grilled classic than the burger. Cooking up a decent burger is easy to learn and approachable for all skill levels, but it’s mastering the craft that takes some true fine-tuning. With the range of BBQ options we have in stock, we’d be remiss if we didn’t log some serious hours in front of the flames 😉

So, without further delay, here are our top-tier tips for the best burger you’ll sink your teeth into this summer.

Simple is best

It’s not uncommon to see family burger recipes loaded up with additional ingredients in the ground mixture. Breadcrumbs, sauces, seasonings - all going into the patties ahead of time. While there’s nothing “wrong” with this, sometimes less really is more. A simple mixture of whatever your protein is for your patties is all you need for the best and purest burger experience. We’ll touch on seasonings shortly!

Make your own patties

Ideally, you’re going to grind your own meat. This lets you customize your ratio of lean & fat to your liking with the freshest possible result (bonus tip: many who prefer their burgers to be less than well-done will grind their own meat at home so they know exactly what is going into their grind). You don’t need an expensive setup to do this; food processors work great - and even some elbow grease + a cleaver will get you a great consistency - close to that of storebought ground meat. However, we’re not oblivious to the fact that most of the time, you’ll be buying pre-ground meat - and that’s okay! Buy as fresh as possible, remember that fat = flavour, and stay away from pre-formed patties.

Bonus patty tips

Thickness - No hard and fast rules. Not too thick, not too thin. Somewhere between ½ - 1” thick is a safe range to stay in.

Loosely formed - Overworking the mixture takes away from your overall tenderness. Even if you’re using a form for the perfect shape, try not to work the meat with your hands too much. Gently form it into your preferred size and shape.

Fat ratio - This is why we recommend grinding your own. It gives you the ultimate control over your lean-to-fatty ratio. The best burger is 80% lean and 20% fat. You can play with different cuts to achieve your ideal texture and flavour when grinding at home (bacon is ABSOLUTELY a viable candidate for your fatty portion of the mix). If buying pre-ground, medium ground is your best bet, as it does typically fall within the 20% fat content range. Lean ground will still give you a solid burger if cooked properly - but, as we said, fat = flavour.

When to season

This one might surprise you. Do NOT season your meat until your patties are fully formed. You might be thinking: “But won’t you get a lot more flavour if ALL of the mixture is seasoned?” Here’s the thing: when you season the mixture before forming patties, the salt you’ve added begins to dissolve muscle proteins and causes them to join up with one another. A loosely packed patty seasoned after forming holds its shape but breaks apart quite easily and gives you the ideal end result. Pre-seasoned meat formed into patties becomes much more uniform, firm, and not as appealing once cooked. Don’t believe us? Check out the effect on the cooked patties here!

As for what you season with - we have a couple beef & all-purpose rubs that are fantastic on burgers. The sky’s the limit with what you choose to adorn your burger with - as long as salt & pepper make the cut, you can’t go wrong.

Flipping out

You will see that the debate on when and how often to flip your burger is a fiery one (pun intended). This one truly is up to your own preference. Depending on how thick your burgers are, how hot your grill is, and your cooking style - you may flip only once, or many times. The main rule of thumb is not to force your flips. If the meat is giving you a hard time trying to get underneath, it’s not ready. Wait until it comes loose with ease.

Temperature does NOT lie

This tip is true for anything you grill. When it comes to proteins, knowing when it’s ready is easily the most important part of the game. Especially with store-bought ground beef, where it is always recommended to reach a well-done internal temperature, it’s very easy to overshoot and overcook. An instant-read thermometer is a surefire way never to miss the mark. While the temp readings from a thinner patty may be less reliable, when you’re still figuring out your groove, it’s wise to have a helping hand to gauge doneness for food safety and best results.

Spatulas at the ready! You’ve now got some handy burger tips to work into your next cookout. If you’ve got any of your own grilling secrets, we love to hear them! Shop all things BBQ at today. We’ve got amazing grills and amazing accessories for every skill level and budget.

Now for the real question: How do you dress your burgers?

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