You’ve invested in a shiny new barbecue and even tackled the weed jungle that accumulated in the backyard. Grilling season is here, and now that you’ve got the perfect setting to flip patties for friends and family, all you need to do is master the classic hamburger.
Seems easier than spraying weed killer until your thumb goes numb, right? While many folks don’t put much thought into crafting homemade patties, there’s more to it than grabbing ground beef and a package of buns. Below, we’ve rounded up six common mistakes people make when cooking burgers. And we’re not gonna leave you in the dark: you’ll also find easy solutions to all your grilling woes. Read on to discover how to build a better burger, and then don’t forget to throw these 43 Best Foods for Fiber on the grill to round out your meal while you’re at it.
Your Patties Aren’t Flat
Mistake: “Ever had burger patties that were rounded and not ﬂat? These types of burgers are awkward to eat! People tend to forget that ﬂattening your patty before cooking is essential to making that perfect burger form,” Derek Wolf, fire cooking enthusiast and owner of Over the Fire Cooking, reminds us.
Solution: “Flatten the patties by pressing them ﬂat using a burger press. If you don’t have a burger press, then try pressing together two plates or two cutting boards to get that ﬂat burger form. Fun tip: If you are looking to double stack burgers, make sure to have thin patties or else you will have a very tall burger!”
You Seasoned the Beef too Early
Mistake: “Ever had a burger that was tough and dry? You might have thought this was because you cooked it too long, but I bet it was because you seasoned it too early,” Wolf says.
Solution: “When seasoning the meat, make sure to form the patty before you add Morton Coarse Kosher Salt and black pepper. Salt extracts the moisture from the meat and leaves you with a dry patty. Adding the salt right before you cook can help guarantee you have a nice, juicy burger that is full of ﬂavor.”
Your Grill Isn’t Clean
Mistake: “Nothing is worse than burgers sticking to the grill grate when you try to flip them. Most people think that burgers are so juicy that they will release from the grill very easily. This is not always the case,” Wolf tells us.
Solution: “Make sure to clean your grill grate before cooking. Preheat the grill so that the heat loosens some of the previous residues. Take a grill scraper and brush oﬀ as much as possible. If the grate is really dirty, then add some oil to the brush and put it onto the grill grate (be careful with oil and ﬁre!). Fun tip: Clean your grill immediately after cooking while it is still hot so that you are ready to start cooking at your next backyard grill out!”
Relying Only on the Grill
Solution: “Burgers are simple to make on a stovetop, too—with the right seasonings and toppings. A little seasoning can go a long way to bring out the best flavors. Drizzle olive oil into a frying pan on high heat,” Sidoti says, adding that a cast iron is your best bet. “Once it gets nice and hot, and the heat is distributed evenly, it’ll deliver on those grill marks you’re hoping for.” While the cast iron warms up, form the burger patties using your favorite type of meat and then sprinkle on both sides with salt, pepper, and oregano, Sidoti says.
You Forgot the Thermometer
Mistake: “If you’re a newbie at cooking burgers, it may be difficult to know when the burger reaches the right internal temperature for your desired doneness,” Sidoti warns.
Solution: To help clear up the confusion, Sidoti recommends using a meat thermometer to check for the desired doneness. An internal temperature of 125ºF denotes rare while 130ºF will render a medium-rare burger. Prefer your meat more done? For medium, cook until the meat reaches 140ºF; for medium-well, aim for 150ºF; and for well-done, leave the patty on the grill or pan until it reaches 165ºF.
You Flip too Early
Mistake: Sidoti tells us that one of the most common mistakes people make when cooking burgers is flipping the patty too early or pressing down on the burger while it’s cooking.
Solution: “Stay hands-off!” Sidoti advises. “Let the meat do its thing and cook and then rest for a minute or two when it’s done!”