Are looking to learn how to grill burgers perfectly every time? They are a summertime classic and really are easy to prepare. They always turn out juicy, never dried out. Cheese, bacon and other toppings shown are optional but recommended for incredible flavor!
One of our favorite things to eat here once the weather is nice enough to grill is burgers. In my opinion it is really the best way to make them so I usually do not make them inside. In the picture here they are served with our bacon ranch pasta salad but grilled potato wedges are another great side dish to serve burgers with!
Burgers are usually the first thing we make for the season, followed by perfectly grilled T-bone steaks. It is like a little traditional kick off to start the season! Then it is anything goes - by that I mean whatever is on sale at the store.
The onions on top of the burger here in the picture are easy to make and the flavor is amazing, they are onions caramelized with Jack Daniel's. Of course they are optional but I do recommend making them at least once to try them!
Cooking burgers on the grill
This recipe shows you how to cook burgers on a gas grill, it may be slightly different on a charcoal grill.
We also like to cook bacon on the grill to serve with burgers, but this is optional! If you cook the bacon on the grill, I do recommend the foil instead of directly on the grill grates due to the amount of grease in bacon.
The meat matters so make sure you get the right one! You want to pick out a higher fat package of ground beef for them. When adding ground beef to sauces and one dish meals it is best for lean, but burgers need fat to be juicy.
We recommend 80% for burgers and found that is the best fat ratio. This is 80% lean beef and 20% fat. The lower the number with ground beef, the more fat there is.
73% is too fatty in texture and taste. You risk the grill flaring up with that high of fat.
85% works if that is what you have or what the store has, but not as good as 80. Do not go any leaner then 85 or you will have dry burgers.
I don't use a burger press but some people do. The problem with a burger press is that you don't get as thick of a burger and the inside should be pushed in a little bit.
A press makes them flat burgers so if you do decide to use one, be sure to use your fingers to make a slight indent in the center of the burger. I find it is harder to cook a perfectly flat pressed burger without drying it out then one you shape with your hands. I don't own a press and never will.
The preferred way to shape them is to take one third of a pound for each burger and manually shape them into 1 inch thick patties. Then take your fingers and smoosh down the middle just a little bit making it a bit thinner then the edges. Notice the indent in the middle of each burger in the picture above? It goes across the whole middle.
Seasoning for a burger should be added to the top of the burger, not mixed into it. The only exceptions would be fresh minced garlic and/or fresh chopped onion if you choose to add them - we do not but have tested it.
Salt pulls moisture out of meats so we do not recommend adding it to the mix but to the top just before you are ready to put them on the grill.
We also only put the seasoning on the top of the burgers - the side that will be cooked last and has the indent. The taste of the seasonings are great, but so is the flavor of the burger so we do not season both sides.
You can change up the seasonings but we use:
- dried minced onion
- smoked paprika
- black pepper
- garlic powder
You may choose to just put salt and pepper on yours and that is great too!
On the grill
You picked out the beef, shaped your patties and now it is time to to be cooking the burgers on the grill! There are some important tips here but no worries, they are easy to follow.
Grill temperature - the temperature should be heated to about 450 degrees Fahrenheit when you place the burgers on the grates. You want to char the outside while cooking the inside to desired temperature.
Flipping the burgers - Flip the burgers once during cooking to cook both sides. Do not repeatedly flip them! The more times you flip them, the more juices you will lose from them to the grill. And never press them down on the grill.
After you cooked both sides you flip once to put the cheese on the side that was on the grill grates to melt faster. I like to flip, add the cheese, turn the grill off and close the lid for about 1-2 minutes for the cheese to melt evenly.
Allow them to rest - As with any other meats, grilled burgers should rest before eating. Allow them to rest for about 5 minutes before eating them.
The cheese (if adding) -
It doesn't have to be perfect, but I always fold the corners of the cheese in a little bit to make the slice a bit closer to the size of the burger. If the cheese is much bigger, it melts off the burger and all over the grill.
Some cheese is harder to fold the corners on then others, do your best here - it will melt and nobody will know the shape the cheese was before it went on the burger.
Pictured below is pepper Jack which is very easy to fold (even tho it breaks) the corners. Mozzarella is a great cheese to put on top of grilled burgers, but don't sweat it if the corners don't stay in - it is hard to fold in!
How long to grill burgers?
How long to grill them depends on how thick you make them, how well you like your burgers done and how hot your grill is when you added the burgers. There are many factors that can come into play here so I would start with the guideline below and adjust accordingly.
We recommend cooking to at least medium here (that is how we eat them), but the FDA recommends cooking ground beef to at least 160 (well done.) Please not that anything over 160 degrees Fahrenheit will likely be dried out.
The safest way to be sure your burgers are cooked is by using a meat thermometer inserted from the side so you get an accurate temperature. If you insert it from the top, it is likely you will poke through the burger.
Be sure your burgers are slightly indented in the middle for these cook times. Temperatures are all in Fahrenheit.
- For rare (120 degrees) - 3 minutes on each side
- Medium rare (130 degrees) - 4 minutes each side
- For medium (140 degrees) - 5 minutes each side
- Medium well (150 degrees) - 6 minutes each side
- Well done (160 degrees and over) - 7 minutes each side
After the grill times, flip once and add cheese. Turn the grill off and close the lid for 1-2 minutes to let the cheese melt.
Frequently asked questions
The indent helps the burger to hold it's shape and it also helps it to cook evenly. The middle of a burger will swell slightly so without the indent it puffs up in the middle.
If you forgot to put the indent and they are on the grill, no worries they should cook just fine. The inside might take a minute longer to cook through and your burger will be slightly puffy. Do NOT squish it down while it is cooking.
I close the grill for most of the cooking but it depends on what else I am cooking and if it needs to be flipped. Burgers cook fast and on a higher heat so it doesn't make a big difference if the grill is open or closed - it might take an extra 1-2 minutes to cook if open.
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Now that you learned how to grill burgers, here are some other great recipes you might enjoy!
How to Grill Perfect Burgers
- 2 pounds ground beef 80% is best
- 6 burger rolls
- 1 Tablespoon dried minced onion
- 1 teaspoon parsley
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
Suggested toppings (optional)
- 1 tomato sliced
- 12 bacon slices cooked
- 6 cheese slices
- onions caramelized with Jack Daniel's
- Turn grill on and get the temperature up to about 450° - 500° Fahrenheit.
- Mix the seasoning ingredients together in a small prep bowl.1 Tablespoon dried minced onion, 1 teaspoon parsley, ½ teaspoon garlic powder, ¼ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika, ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- Shape the burgers into ⅓ pound burgers about an inch thick. Take your finger and push down slightly on the middle of the burger to make an indent in the middle of the burger.2 pounds ground beef
- Sprinkle the seasoning on the tops of the burgers
- Place the burgers spread out on the hot grill grates and close lid (see notes.) Cook for 3 minutes for rare, 4 minutes for medium rare, 5 minutes for medium, 6 minutes for medium well and 7 minutes for well done.
- Flip the burgers and cook for the same amount of time as the first side.
- Check the temperature of the burgers to be sure they are at desired level of doneness: rare 120°F, medium rare 130°F, medium 140°F, medium well 150°F or well done 160°F
- If adding cheese: flip burgers, add cheese slices and turn grill off and close the lid. Let the cheese melt for 1-2 minutes.
- Allow the burgers to rest for about 5 minutes before eating.