Burgers are not only one of the most popular grilled foods, they’re also one of the most basic.
That said, here are seven steps for grilling up hamburgers juicy enough to satisfy your tastebuds time and time again:
Step #1: Prepare your grill for cooking over direct heat at 450-650 °F (high heat) – you’ll be grilling your burgers at high heat right above the coals or gas burner.
Step #2: Form your ground beef – preferably using 80-85% lean beef – into 3/4 inch thick patties. Any thinner and it will break apart or dry out while grilling. Any thicker and you’ll end up with a burger that’s done on the outside and raw in the middle… or done in the middle but charred on the outside.
Step #3: Make a small indent in the middle of each pattie with a press of your thumb. While it usually only happens if you use beef that’s more than 85% or lean… or overwork the beef when forming the patty… from time to time a hamburger can puff up in the middle like a football while it cooks. Making a slight dimple in the middle of the patty with your thumb will stop swelling dead in its tracks.
Step #4: Sprinkle a bit of kosher salt on your burgers before putting them on the grill. Contrary to popular belief, seasoning your patties with a light pinch of salt will NOT dry out your burgers there simply isn’t enough salt, or time, for it to draw out any moisture. What it WILL do is wake up and intensify the flavors
Step #5: Place your patties on the grill directly above the heat source and grill for 3 minutes. If at all possible, leave the burgers undisturbed for the entire time. Giving the meat time to caramelize where it contacts the rack will not only give you those eye-catching grill lines, it’ll will allow the meat to detach from the grate and eliminate sticking.
If you experience any flare ups close your grill lid and vents for 10-15 seconds if using a charcoal grill… or, grilling with gas, carefully use a long spatula to move the patties as gently as possible to different area over the heat source.
Step #6: Flip your burgers then grill to an internal temperature of 135-150° F – about another 5 minutes. This will give you nice, juicy, MEDIUM-done hamburgers with just a hint of pink in the middle. If you experience flare-ups, follow the suggestions in step 5.
Step #7: Take your burgers off the grill, cover with foil and let them rest for 5 minutes, then serve. Skipping the rest is one of the most common mistakes grillers make. Heat from cooking causes pressure in the burger which forces its juices to concentrate in its center. Bite into a burger just a minute or two after it comes off the grill and those pooled juices will immediately gush out on to your fingers and plate… or worse, your shirt. Let it rest first and they’ll redistribute evenly back throughout the burger ensuring each bite remains moist and juicy.
And there you have it, seven simple steps for grilling great hamburgers.
If your making cheese burgers add the cheese in the last minute of cooking that way it will have enough time to melt but not enough time to completely run off or burn.
And if you prefer your burgers done rarer, or more cooked than medium you’ll find the temperatures and estimated times here: How Long Do You Grill Hamburgers.