6 Quick Tips for Grilling Burgers
1. Keep Everything Cold
Until the burger patties are formed, it’s important to keep the ground beef as cold as possible. Ground beef is full of fat, especially if you’re using 80% lean, which is what we would recommend. When it is warmed (like say on a warm, sunny day), the fat starts to liquify and gets all over your hands, the plates, etc in the form of grease. Any grease on your hands is flavor not in the burger. So keep the ground beef cold right up until you’re ready to form the patties.
2. Form Your Patties Gently
The easiest way to turn your tender hamburger into a tough slab of meatloaf is to overwork the meat. Ground beef is very sensitive to physical inputs. Excessive kneading will cause proteins to cross-link with one another, turning it from soft & tender to tough & springy. So gently form your patties, with the minimum amount of handling.
3. Salt After Patties Are Formed
Just as overworking the ground beef changes its texture, so does mixing the salt into the meat before the patties are formed. The salt breaks down proteins and draws out moisture the moment it comes into contact with the meat. So don’t add the salt until the patties are formed and you’re ready to start grilling.
4. Season the Outside of the Patties:
When the coals are hot and you’re ready to start grilling, NOW is the time to season your burger patties – and liberally too! Even premium ground beef needs a little salt to bring out its natural flavor. Salt, pepper, and any other spices you might want. Dust them up and then get them on the grill.
5. Flip Your Burgers Whenever You Want
We don’t claim to be bonafide burger aficionados, but Kenji Lopez-Alt over at Serious Eats does. He and his team of burger experts have recently concluded there is no rule on how many times to flip your burgers. If you want to flip them once, sure. If you want to flip them every 15 seconds, go for it. Despite what some backyard BBQ blowhards might tell you, it doesn’t make an appreciable difference. So you do you. Flip as many times as you want.
6. Use a Digital Thermometer
If you want consistent results, then you need real data. By using a digital meat thermometer you can know the exact level of doneness of each of your burgers. They are not that expensive and can be easily picked up online.