Homemade hamburgers are a delicious treat for lunch or dinner, and can be made on a stovetop or a grill. Keeping the burger juicy will seal the flavor inside of the meat. A juicy, thick burger will have more flavor than a thin, dry, overcooked burger. To cook juicy burgers, purchase ground beef with a high amount of fat. Handle the patties gently when you’re shaping them. Finally, avoid squashing the burgers with a spatula while they’re cooking.
EditPreparing Your Patties
- Shop for fresh-ground meat to make burgers with. Freshly ground beef will make the best and juiciest hamburgers. Look in the supermarket’s butcher case. This will have been ground more recently than packaged beef. In general, avoid purchasing pre-packaged beef for your burgers.
- Also avoid purchasing frozen ground beef, no matter how fresh it is. Freezing the beef will decrease its taste and make for a dryer burger.
- Purchase ground beef with 80% lean and 20% fat. Meat with this ratio—often referred to as “ground round”—has a relatively high percentage of fat to lean. Fattier beef will always result in a juicer burger. 85% lean and 15% fat (ground chuck) should be okay. Just avoid any ground beef that is 90% lean or higher (ground sirloin). Even if this beef is cheaper, it’ll almost always result in a dry burger.
- You can purchase ground beef at any supermarket. If you’d like organic meat, check a health food grocery store, or look in the organic section of a large supermarket.
- Tear off a generous chunk of beef to form the patties. Once you’ve brought the ground beef home, you can form the individual patties. The size of the patties can be left up to personal preference, but in general a fist-sized chunk of beef will produce a good sized burger.
- Handle the meat gently. When you’re tearing chunks of beef off of the slab you bought, do not handle and squeeze the meat too much. If you mash the beef while you’re handling it, you’ll wring some of the moisture out of the meat.
- Form burger patties with your hands. Use your hands to gently press each fist-sized chunk of ground beef into a relatively flat, disc-shaped patty. If you’re working on a hard surface (a clean countertop or a plastic cutting board), you can press the patties against the surface to avoid squeezing them too hard with your hands.
- Shape your patties however you like. In general, the patties should be about across and high before cooking.
- Press a dimple into the center of each burger. Your burgers will cook quickly at the edges, and more slowly in the centers. To achieve a burger that is evenly cooked through, use your index and middle finger to press a dimple into the top of each burger. Aim to make the center of each patty about lower than the edges of the patty.
- The dimple will also prevent your burgers from bulging up in the middle.
EditCooking Burgers on the Stovetop
- Set a flat frying pan on a burner at medium-high heat. Depending on the number of burgers you’re planning to cook, you can use either a large or a small frying pan.
- On most ranges, medium-high heat will be about 7.
- Add the burgers once the pan is hot. The patties should each sizzle when they hit the hot surface of the pan. Give each burger at least of space on either side in the skillet, so that none of the burgers fuse together as they cook.
- Flip the patties with a thin spatula after a 3-5 minutes. Once the burgers have cooked for a few minutes, slide a thin spatula under each burger and flip it over. As when molding the patties, the burgers will stay juicier if you handle them as little as possible while cooking. When flipped, each burger should have be seared to a dark golden-brown on the bottom side.
- Never press the burgers down into the frying pan with your spatula. This will not help the burgers cook any faster, and will press liquid out of the meat. This, in turn, will result in a dryer burger.
- Cook the burgers for another 3-5 minutes on the second side. Cooking the burgers for 3-5 minutes on both sides should ensure that they’re evenly cooked through. You’ll know that the burger is done on the second side when it begins to sizzle. Look to see that the burger is a nice golden-brown color.
- Resist the urge to flip the burgers over 3 or 4 times. Once will be enough.
- Watch the side of the burgers to see how done they are. If you cut into a burger to see when it’s done, you’ll risk losing some of the juiciness you’ve worked hard to preserve. Instead, take a close look at the sides of a burger. If there’s a slight line of pink in the middle of the side, the burger is medium-rare.
- If the sides are all browned, the burger is medium.
- Serve the burgers when they’re medium-rare or medium. As the burgers continue to cook, more juice will cook out of them. Ensure that you’ll have a juicy, flavorful burger by serving the patty when it’s medium-rare or medium.
- Set the burger on a bun, and garnish with tomato, lettuce, mustard, ketchup, and whatever else you choose.
EditGrilling Juicy Burgers
- Pre-heat the grill before applying your burgers. Heat two separate regions of the grill: one to be a high-heat zone at about . Set the other as a low-heat zone, about .
- Let the grill pre-heat for 15 minutes before you apply the patties.
- Oil the grill as it pre-heats. While the grill is warming up, drizzle some olive oil onto a paper towel. Rub the paper towel along the surface of the grill to lubricate it. This will help your patties cook evenly and prevent them from sticking to the grill as they brown.
- Set your patties on the high-heat side of the grill for about 2 minutes. The intense heat of the grill will create a delicious browned crust on either side of the burger, which adds to the rich flavor of the meat.
- If you were to leave the burger over high heat, the temperature would dry out the interior of the burger and eventually overcook the whole patty.
- Flip the burgers after about 2 minutes. After the burgers have cooked for about 2 minutes on the high-heat side of the grill, use a spatula to flip them over. When flipping the burgers, keep them at a distance of about from each other.
- If the burgers are too close together, they may cook unevenly or fuse together while cooking.
- Move the patties over to the low-heat side once they’re browned on both sides. Once both sides of the burgers are evenly browned, use your spatula to gingerly lift the patties and move them to the low-heat side of the grill. 
- Keep a close eye on the cooking burgers so that you can remove them from the grill when they’re as done as you’d like them to be.
- Cook the burgers for 3-4 minutes on the low-heat side. Here, their juicy insides will continue to cook without getting dried out or burnt. Use the full surface of the low-heat side of your grill to keep the burgers from touching one another.
- Flip the burgers at about the 2-minute mark. This will ensure that all of the patties are evenly cooked through on both sides.
- Remove the burgers when they’re medium-rare to medium . Evaluate how cooked the burgers are by paying attention to their size and firmness. Burgers will shrink and tighten up as they cook. A rare burger will still be juicy if lightly pressed with a spatula, and will be soft and slightly squishy.
- If you’re using a meat thermometer, a rare burger will be about . A medium-well burger will be about .
- If you cook your burger to a higher temperature, it will no longer be juicy.
- Ground meat is not considered fully cooked until its interior temperature is . If you’d like to make sure that your burger is fully cooked, insert a meat thermometer into its center. Keep in mind that fully cooking your burger will result in well-done beef. However, if meat isn’t fully cooked through, you run the risk of ingesting E Coli.
EditThings You’ll Need
- Ground beef patties
- Thin spatula
- Frying pan
- Meat thermometer (optional)
- Ground beef patties
- Olive oil
- Paper towel
- Meat thermometer (optional)