Burgers 101: Pro and Beginner Grilling Tips
June 6, 2022
9 min. read
Happy (Belated) Burger Month!
In addition to being National BBQ Month, May was also National Hamburger Month. (Don’t worry…we didn’t forget about this!) In order to give both foods their turn in the spotlight, we chose to postpone our celebration of Burger Month until June.
In recognition of this essential summer food group, we’re giving away a brand new charcoal kettle grill during the month of June (along with 20 burger themed runners-up prizes), as part of our Summer Fun Season Sweepstakes. So be sure to enter for your chance to win!
But first, to get you in a grilling frame of mind—take a look at these burger tips and recipe ideas and gear up for a delicious month ahead!
Let’s begin by reviewing a couple of quick facts about grilling!
- The term “grilling” typically applies to foods that are cooked “hot and fast” (as opposed to barbecue which is cooked “low and slow”). This includes things like burgers, hot dogs, steak, or vegetables, but the term can also loosely apply to just about anything that is cooked over a grill.
- Grills come in all shapes and sizes, but they are typically categorized according to the type of fuel they use, ranging from gas to charcoal to electric. Each type of grill has its own unique benefits. Learn more about the similarities and differences here.
- Food may be grilled using either direct heat or indirect heat (or a combination of both). This is done by creating separate “zones” on the grill; for example, by placing hot coals on only half of the grill grate of a charcoal grill or by leaving off one or two burners of a gas grill. This technique allows you to move the food to different heat zones during different stages of the cooking process.
- Grilling conditions may also be adjusted by opening or closing the lid of the grill throughout the cooking process or by adjusting the air flow (or temperature dials) to increase or decrease the overall temperature of the heat source. Learn more about temperature control on gas and charcoal grills here.
- As you might expect, different types of food require different cooking times, temperatures, and types of grilling. For example, burgers are best cooked over high temperatures using direct heat and require about 3-4 minutes per side for medium doneness (depending on the size of the patty). To learn about recommendations for grilling other types of food, check out our Grilling Resources Page.
Burger/Grilling Tips for Pros (The “Traditional” Method)
There are many ways to cook a burger. You can smash them into thin crisps on a flat-top griddle. You can fry them up on a stove-top skillet or cast-iron pan. You can even prepare them in unconventional ways using various kitchen appliances (more on this below). But for now, we’ll focus on the traditional method: plain and simple backyard grilling.
Regardless of which type of outdoor grill you use to cook your burgers, this technique results in a delicious chargrilled flavor with a subtle smoky taste and beautiful grill marks seared into the surface of the patties and also allows for more control and customization on how the burgers are cooked.
Tips & Tricks for Grilling Burgers:
- A popular meat-to-fat ratio for burgers is 80/20. You can also customize your patties by blending together different cuts of beef, such as chuck, sirloin, or brisket. Learn more about each of these cuts in our Ultimate Guide to Beef.
- Don’t overwork the burger patties. Form the ground beef into loosely packed patties and keep the meat cool until your grill is preheated. This helps the burgers stay together better and prevents them from getting too tough.
- Press your thumb into the center of each burger patty to form a small divot prior to grilling. This keeps the burgers nice and uniform once they are cooked. You can also press an ice cube into the center of your burger patties; this helps them stay juicy.
- Add cheese to the burgers during the last minute of the cooking time to allow it to melt. Choose your favorite burger toppings that will enhance (but not distract) from your expertly grilled patty. Find topping inspiration in our DIY Burger Bar blog post. (P.S., Check back in a few weeks for more burger topping inspiration!)
- Get creative with your burger proteins, condiments, and flavor combinations. Find some creative burger recipes here.
- If using a charcoal grill, consider picking up some of these grilling accessories: grill brush, long tongs, a spatula, charcoal chimney starter, lighter cubes, lighter, protective gloves, grill cover, and two charcoal baskets (to create heating zones).
About the Weber Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill 26″
For our Martin’s Summer Fun Season Sweepstakes burger-themed grand prize for the month of June, we are giving away a Weber 26” Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill. This large classic grill can fit up to 19 burgers, making it ideal for your next family dinner or backyard cookout party! It also comes with a hinged cooking grate, One-Touch™ cleaning system, and Tuck-Away™ lid holder for additional ease of use.
For more details on this specific model, visit www.weber.com, or check out the resources below:
- Product Overview: Weber Original Kettle Premium 26″ Charcoal Grill
- How To Set Up Your Grill For Indirect Grilling: Use this method for food that takes more than 25 minutes to cook, or for delicate proteins, such as roasts, whole chicken, ribs, or fish.
- How To Set Up Your Grill For Direct Grilling: Use this method for food that takes less than 25 minutes to cook, such as burgers, steaks, kabobs, veggies, etc.
- Cooking Demo: How to Make Burgers on Charcoal Grill
Traditional Grilled Burgers: Recipe Demonstration
To learn how to grill burgers using a Weber charcoal kettle grill, watch this cooking masterclass from Weber’s YouTube channel!
How To Grill Burgers | Weber Grills
- Decide your grilling game plan: what you’ll be grilling, how you’ll be grilling it, and how long it needs to be on the grill.
- Inventory your grill: clear out any ash or debris and make sure you have all the tools and accessories you will need.
- Set up the grill for direct grilling: light the charcoal and allow it to start getting hot.
- Pre-heat: This brings the grill up to temperature, helps to sear and caramelize the burger, and prevents sticking. Place the cooking grate on the grill, close the cover, open the vents, and set a timer for 15 minutes.
- Prepare the burgers: start with 80/20 ground chuck and incorporate the topping ingredients directly into the meat (optional), e.g., Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, BBQ sauce, bacon, and onions. Form beef into patties ¾ inch tall; place a thumbprint in the center.
- Clean the cooking grates using a stainless steel bristle brush.
- Sear the burgers: add burgers to the grill and begin cooking.
- Continue cooking burgers: set a timer for 4-5 mins per side. Meanwhile, pay attention to the grill: look for white smoke (a good sign); lower the temperature or move the burgers to indirect heat if needed.
- Flip the burgers: just flip once throughout process, don’t press down/squeeze out juices. Add cheese at last minute
- Allow burgers to rest for 30-40% of the total cook time.
Watch video: https://youtu.be/_c9Pdj8hAbA
You can also find some of these tips at: www.weber.com.
Burger/Grilling Tips for Beginners (The “Easy” Method)
There are a number of reasons why you may choose to cook burgers using a method other than traditional grilling. It may be that the weather is dismal and you are unable to go outside, or maybe you live in an apartment or condo with no access to an outdoor cooking space. Or perhaps you just prefer to utilize other methods of cooking such as the oven or stove top.
Well—did you know that you can also cook burgers in an air fryer? That’s right! This trendy kitchen appliance can cook up some juicy, flavorful burgers in no time (and even comes with some unique benefits)!
Tips & Tricks for Cooking Burgers Indoors:
Here are a few tips to help you get the most out of this “cheat” method:
- Include a savory sauce with your burger to enhance the “umami” flavor typically associated with grilled meats. Soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce also help to add a salty, umami flavor. Try using this special sauce for a barbecue-style burger.
- Add some liquid smoke to your ground beef or incorporate it into your condiments for an extra chargrilled flavor. You can also utilize smoky spices such as paprika, cumin, or chili powder to enhance the barbecued taste of a grilled burger.
- Use ridged grill pan to replicate the grill marks achieved on a traditional grill.
Beginner Burger Recipes
These recipes allow you to replicate your favorite chargrilled burger in the comfort of your home, using some creative ingredients and kitchen devices!
Air Fryer Cheeseburger
Use an air fryer to cook burgers in just 8 minutes (per batch) for a convenient, no-mess cooking method, perfect for all your year-round burger cravings. This method allows you to cook burgers in the same amount of time as a traditional grill—without the extra preheating and cleaning time required with a gas or charcoal grill!
- 1 Pound Ground Beef
- 2 Cloves Garlic, minced
- 1 Tablespoon Soy Sauce
- Kosher Salt
- Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- 4 Slices American Cheese
- 4 Martin’s Sandwich Potato Rolls
- Tomatoes, sliced
- Red Onion, thinly sliced
- In a large bowl, mix together beef, garlic, and soy sauce. Shape into four equal sized patties. Press your thumb into the center of each patty to form a divot. Season both sides with salt and pepper.
- Place patties in air fryer, two at a time, and cook at 375° for 4 minutes per side (for medium doneness). Remove and immediately top with a slice of cheese. Repeat with remaining patties.
- Spread bottom buns with mayo, then add lettuce, cheeseburger patties, tomatoes, onions, and top bun. Enjoy!
Alternate Burger Recipes:
- Sheet Pan Burgers: Prepare burgers for a large crowd using a baking sheet and an oven to cook the ground beef in bulk, then serve on a full sheet of Martin’s Slider Potato Rolls.
- Pig Beach Smash Burger: This classic smash burger, courtesy of Chef Matt Abdoo, is cooked using a flat-top griddle. (Also, be sure to check out his homemade condiments: Bacon Onion Magic and Diner-Style Burger Sauce!)
- Campfire Mac Cheese Burger: Did you know you can also cook a burger over an open fire using a grill grate and cast-iron pan?
- Big Marty Burger: Use a stove-top skillet to create this diner-style, fast food look-a-like burger!
Martin’s Summer Fun Season Reminder
Don’t forget to head on over to https://MartinsSummerFun.com to enter for your chance to win a Charcoal Kettle Grill!
1st Place – Weber Original Kettle Premium Charcoal Grill 26’’
Runners-Up Prize: Martin’s Big Marty’s Rolls, Martin’s branded condiment caddy, Martin’s branded baseball hat, Martin’s branded apron, and miscellaneous Summer Fun Season items.
Coming Up Next:
Check back next week for more burger-themed content!
- June 6: Burgers 101: Pro and Beginner Grilling Tips (This Post)
- June 13: Regional Burgers of America
- June 20: Burger Spreads and Toppings Guide + Martin’s Featured Recipe
- June 27: Food Service Highlight: Burger Restaurants, Pop-Ups, and Friends
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