Make the Best Burgers on the Block

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You might think that a food as popular as the hamburger would have some rules–what cut of beef, how you make the patty, how you cook it, and how you assemble it.

Of course, we all know that’s not the case. Even the big chains have their own distinguishing recipes and cooking secrets.

Yep, I guess there’s something for everybody. But at the end of the day, there indeed ARE some tips I can share with you to ensure that you have the “Best Burgers on the Block!”

And it all starts with the beef.

You might think that leaner is better, but if you want a juicy, flavorful hamburger, that’s not the case. The standard meat-to-fat ratio for a juicy hamburger is about 80/20. More fat than 20%, and you’ll have too much burger shrink and risk flareups on your grill or in your pan. Less than 20%, and you’ll lack the moisture, flavor and tenderness that the fat gives your patties.

As far as which cuts of beef make the best hamburgers, my first preference is ground sirloin, then ground chuck and last, ground round. Unless I know the butchers, I usually don’t buy ground “hamburger,” as I don’t know for certain which cuts of meat were used.

It’s not a surprise that by typical costs per pound, they often rank from the most to least expensive, in that same order.

In my perfect “burger world,” I’d chop or grind together a 50/50 blend of 80/20 ground sirloin and ground chuck.

Okay, so you have your ground meat. Then what?

My best tip, if you’re NOT flavoring your burgers with one thing or another, is to avoid kneading the meat, balling it up and overhandling it when you make your patties. That can make the finished burgers tough.

What I do instead is use a round cookie cutter or ring mold.

To be sure all my burgers cook at the same rate, I carve away and weigh anywhere from 4 to 8 ounces of ground beef from my purchased amount and then gently press it into my ring mold on a plastic, film-lined cookie sheet.

I personally like a thicker burger, so I weigh my patties to between 6 and 8 ounces.

Once all your burgers are portioned, I cover them and keep them chilled until I’m ready to cook.

If you like to season your raw burger meat with condiments or ingredients like bacon, cheese or onions, my advice is to keep all of your ingredients well chilled, and then CHOP (not knead them together with your hand). This will, again, ensure that your burgers are juicy and tender. Lastly, let your mixture rest about an hour before you make it into patties. That will help the flavors marry together and the meat relax, which will also make for a more tender and juicy burger.

For more information about seasoning, cooking and serving your burgers, check out Nino’s Burger Primer and our Guide to Grilling.