Labor Day is the grillers favorite holiday. It's the last summer cookout and the perfect opportunity to have some fun with classic grill foods. Hamburgers are sure to be on tens of thousands of barbecues over the Labor Day weekend, so we thought that we would show you the best way to make the best hamburger and we're also sharing a full recipe at the end.
Save money and skip those weird premade beef patties that have who-knows-what in them and make the ultimate burgers packed with flavor, juiciness, and the unmistakable taste of quality.
How Do You Make the Perfect Burger?
Making the perfect hamburger patty isn't hard, it just requires that you know a little bit about choosing, handling, seasoning, and cooking ground beef. We will walk through our process of making the ultimate hamburger so that you can easily replicate the process at home with ingredients that are easy to find. Once you've read this article, you'll have the skills and knowledge to make the best burgers on the planet.
Choosing the Best Beef
Those premade burger patties are a convenient way to handle a big crowd of hungry guests, but you pay more for the convenience. You'll save money buying ground beef and making your own patties at home. You can even do this ahead of time and freeze your patties so they are ready when you are.
We understand the push over the last several years to switch American diets to lean ground beef. In some recipes, we think it's great, but for burgers, you really need that extra little bit of fat you'll get. Look for ground meat that is around 80% lean. This means the butcher is adding 20% fat to the mix. We like this ratio because too lean burgers will tend to shrink and lose lots of moisture as they cook, leaving you with shriveled hockey pucks for burgers.
Selecting the Right Grind
Most of the stores will sell ground beef that is fine-ground. This will work fine on the grill, but we like to use a coarse grind for our hamburger patties when we cook them in a cast iron skillet. It gives a juicier bite and is a little easier to work with. If your local butcher doesn't stock coarse-ground beef, just ask. They can usually set it up for you. A great trick to get juicy burgers that also have the appropriate not-too-dense texture is to mix half coarse and half fine ground beef. This trick maximizes the amount of juiciness the burger retains while giving you a great texture.
Seasoning the Patties
The trick to properly seasoning ground beef burger recipe is to use the right amount. Flavors can go any way you want from spicy to savory. You can add ingredients like Worcestershire Sauce and mustard, cheese cubes and garlic powder, or keep it simple and use nothing more than coarse-ground black pepper and kosher salt. Our personal favorite burger recipe uses Bearded Butchers Blend Seasoning Original which adds a mildly spicy, savory flavor that is delicious and will go with anything.
The trick to seasoning your ground beef is to avoid overworking the meat. Start with your ground beef very cold and place it in a mixing bowl. Add your spices to the bowl. You can use a meat chopper, a spoon, or your hands to mix the flavors in. But remember that the more you touch the meat, the less tender it will be when you cook it. Try to handle the meat as little as possible and make sure it stays cold. Once the seasoning is mixed in well, return the meat to the refrigerator until you're ready to make your patties.
Forming the Patties
Just like with flavoring the meat, you want to avoid over-handling it when forming patties. This is where lots of people go wrong, because it's very tempting to roll it, squish it, and shape the beef. Over the years, we've learned a few tricks to avoiding overworking our meat. You'll know you've overworked the meat if your hands get sticky from fat when shaping your patties.
The best way we've found is to grab a ball of very cold seasoned ground beef and put it on the cutting board. We curve the palm of one hand and gently press the burger into a patty shape, using the palm to seal the edges and keep everything nice and round.
Parchment paper cut into squares works perfectly to keep the patties from sticking to one another. A bit of kitchen gear that can help you with getting the perfect size burgers is a basic kitchen scale. By weighing the meat before forming patties, you'll know that every burger is the same size.
How Thick Should the Patties Be?
This is largely up to you, but we've found that the best size is between a quarter and a third of a pound for a great burger. This size tends to satisfy most people without wasting a bunch of beef on burgers no one is going to eat. Make burgers that are about one inch thick for grilling. Thinner patties cook really fast and may get overly tough.
Using a Burger Mold
Over the last several years, a few burger-making instruments have come along that can really speed up the process. One of these tools is called a burger press. It's basically just a cast iron circle with a handle. You simply make a ball of meat and press the mold onto it until the patty is formed. This is a fantastic tool to have on hand if you are making a lot of burger patties.
How to Grill the Best Burgers
There are a few tricks you can use to take those perfect patties you just made and grill them into the best hamburgers. Start with a clean grill and make sure you've got a hot bed of coals. If you are using a gas grill, leave it on high heat. Working quickly, gently place the burgers on the grill making sure that they aren't touching. Areas that are touching will cook slower and you won't get great results.
Grill each side of the burger for about three minutes on each side. Watch the surface of the meat – you'll notice the color of the juices coming up will change from red to clear. That means it's done.
The best way to make sure your burgers are perfectly cooked without overcooking them is to use an instant read thermometer. You'll be looking for an internal temperature of about 125 degrees for a medium to medium-well done burger.
Go crazy when it comes time to offer your guests options for toppings. Sliced cheese, lettuce, tomato, and red onion are all popular toppings. You can also add crisp bacon, cheddar cheese, or barbecue sauce to mix it up. Homemade hamburger buns will make your cookout the talk of the neighborhood.
Our Most Important Tip
The best tip to follow when making the best hamburger patty recipe is to make sure you handle the meat as little as possible and keep it cold while forming it. This prevents the fats from transferring onto your hands which will leave you with dry, tough meat.
Experiment with different seasonings, fresh garlic, and toasted buns with Miracle Whip to add even more flavor. We hope your Labor Day cookout is more fun than work, and we hope that when you make your own 5 star burgers at home, you have as much fun as we do.
The Best Chipotle BBQ Cheeseburger Recipe
- Ground beef, approximately ¼ lb per patty
- Bearded Butchers Blend Seasoning Chipotle
- Sliced Cheese, Colby Jack or other
- Bacon slices, preferably applewood smoked
- Bearded Butchers Blend BBQ Sauce
- Onion strings
- Brioche hamburger buns
- Form ground beef into patties about ¼ to ½ lb each. Keep in the fridge until it’s time to grill.
- Preheat the grill to a medium temperature.
- Place patties on the grill and sprinkle Bearded Butcher’s Chipotle Seasoning to cover.
- Grill for 5-8 minutes per side, flipping once.
- Place sliced cheese on patties and let it melt slightly before removing. Don’t overcook your beef by waiting too long to put the cheese on.
- Lightly toast the buns, then place the patties on the bottom portion.
- Layer the patties with smoked bacon and fried onion strings. Then, give it a healthy dollop of the Bearded Butcher’s BBQ Sauce.
If you're looking for more recipes for this weekend (like pulled pork or ribs) make sure to check out our Labor Day cookout guide as well.
The Bearded Butchers are dedicated to providing as much information as we possibly can to help you understand how to best process and prepare meats of all kinds. To help you, we maintain a blog and YouTube channel with lots of free, high-quality information. The Bearded Butchers and Beardedbutchers.com are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. This means that The Bearded Butchers may receive a commission if you click on a link above and make a purchase on Amazon.com.