Grilling Tips from the Pros: Burgers

by | Jun 28, 2022 | Article

Summer is in full swing, and you know what that means, it is grilling season y’all! To help you be the king (or queen) of the grill, volunteers from the World’s Championship Bar-B-Que Committee are bringing you grilling tips throughout the month of July.

A summer cook-out wouldn’t be complete without the all-American burger! That is why this summer staple is first up on our grilling tips’ list. We spoke with David Stone, past-chair of the World’s Championship Bar-B-Que Committee to learn how to make the perfect burger, just in time for the 4th of July weekend.

What is the best way to prep the burgers?
I start with ground chuck. Not TOO lean, just the right amount of fat to keep them juicy, probably about 85/15 to 90/10 meat/fat. I like nice, big patties 1/3 to 1/2 pound. Be careful not to make them too thick or they can shrink.

After you form out the patties, use your thumb to press the center, making it thinner than the outside edges of the patty, about the size of a half dollar around and about 1/2 as thick as the rest of the patty. As the fat renders and the patty shrinks, it will keep its form better instead of shrinking into a ball. Place them back into the fridge while you finish your other prep, so they will keep their form.

What’s the best seasoning?
My personal favorite is good old Uncle Chris’ Gourmet Steak Seasoning. It has the right amount of salt, pepper and garlic, along with other spices, to make your taste buds happy. Dry onion soup mix is very good as well, as is ranch salad dressing dry mix. Really, anything that tastes good can be mixed in with your hamburger. Whatever your preference, try different things and be sure to mix it into the patties prior to shaping the patties.

What’s the best temperature to cook your burgers?
Hamburger is different than steak, and contains bacteria, so it should always be cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees.

How long do you grill the burgers?
This depends on your heat. Are you using charcoal or gas? Charcoal burns hotter and cooks faster and can create its own flavor, where gas is quick to heat, easy to use and quick to cool and clean-up.

How do you know that the burgers are done?
Cook the burger until you see juice coming up through the top. If you like yours a little more done, wait for a little more juice. Flip the burger, ONLY ONCE. DO NOT smash the burger or flip it multiple times. When you smash it, you just squeeze out the juices. If it needs to be smashed to keep it flatter, don’t make it so thick next time. Try pressing down the middle a little more, thinner or wider, when you make the patties. If you flip it multiple times you also loose juices each time, usually causing flare-ups and drying the meat out even more.

What is your favorite thing to pair with burgers?
Homemade guacamole always pairs well with burgers. I like to use sliced onion, just be careful when adding it to the grill so that it doesn’t fall through. I think it makes your burger just a little better. If you’re a cheese fan, add the cheese about 30-45 seconds before taking the patty off the grill.

For a great summer lunch or dinner, add some french fries, potato chips, potato salad, baked beans, etc.

Good news is there is plenty of time to practice. Practice makes perfect and whether you are cheese or no cheese, mayonnaise or mustard, pickles, lettuce, tomato, raw onions, grilled onions, the combinations and possibilities are endless and it’s so much fun spending time in the backyard with family and friends, making memories we never forget. Just have fun with it and post some pictures of your results!

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