Making a great burger isn’t hard at all! The little things you do from mixing the meat to resting can make all of the difference in the world! I’ll go through a few items that will take your normal burgers into awesome restaurant style burgers!
Update: Yes, the X in the title was intentional. I meant it to be click-baity but I’m not ready to commit to click bait.
Do’s and Don’ts!
Do: Mix spices and salt into the meat for maximum flavor. You can achieve thousands of different flavors and profiles with minimal effort. Hey, if you like just plain beef, that’s cool too!
Don’t: Over-massage your meat. When you add the spices, you don’t want to over work the meat. The variability gives it the texture, and working it too much causes a mushy burger.
Do: Break up the meat and spread it out before adding the spices. This will help minimize the amount of “massaging” you have to do.
Don’t: Dump all the spices on top of the unbroken meat. This is how you get flavor pockets, and in order to spread it out you will have to over massage the meat; that means mushy meat.
Do: Get meat at least 75-85% lean. 80% should be your target. This allows the meat to retain juiciness and flavor without setting the grill on fire.
Don’t: Get really lean or really fatty meat. Too fatty will be a mushy and unappetizing/greasy burger, and too lean will be a dry and chewy burger.
Do: Grill it on High. Burgers aren’t as good for the reverse sear as steaks. We are after the Maillard Reaction and we want it NOW.
Don’t: Grill it on Medium or lower. To retain maximum juiciness, we want the burgers to be in and out of the grill as soon as possible. There is a reason all burger joints have their griddles on high or they cook burgers directly on fire.
Do: Leave it alone and covered. Seriously, keep your hands off your meat. Once that burger is on the grill, walk away and engage someone in small talk for a few minutes. We want to make sure we get those coveted grill marks. One flip and you’re done!
Don’t: Smash your burgers with a spatula. You are on my sh*t list if you are a burger smasher. This just means you like dry burgers, otherwise I can’t figure out why you are squeezing out all the liquid.
Do: Dimple your burgers! When you dimple your burgers, you are ensuring the burgers don’t puff up creating a burger smaller than your buns and doubling in thickness creating a really tall burger.
Don’t: Smash the burgers. Seriously, stop it. This needed to be repeated.
Do: Keep your added accouterments to less than the thickness of the burger. We don’t want a super tall burger. It’s a novelty: they make great pictures, but nobody can realistically eat them.
Don’t: Mix things that can get soggy (fried onions, bread, etc) with things that make things soggy. Example: Don’t layer the fried onions on top of the tomato. We want to make sure we maintain the texture.
Do: Toast the inside of the bun. By toasting the inside of the bun for 30 seconds on the grill, you have created a hardened surface that liquids have a more difficult time permeating. Smearing ketchup/mustard/aoli on a toasted bun will still keep the bun dry.
Don’t: Use Wonderbread/soft fluffy light/cheap buns… unless it truly is your favorite flavor. A good bun, like a potato brioche, is a firm dense bread that increases the texture and flavor of a burger. Heck, you don’t even see those soft fluffy white bread buns at Burger King; Even they use an upgraded toasted bun.
Do: Use quality ingredients all around. Yes the meat usually gets the most attention, but the other 50% of the sandwich deserves attention as well! Kraft Cheese with Heinz yellow mustard and relish isn’t going to cut it. Think Thick Cut bacon instead of regular bacon; stone ground mustard instead of yellow; Romaine lettuce instead of iceberg… etc.
Don’t: Forget to give me a comment below. Would love to hear from you!
Try some of my other recipes over in the recipe section!