Hamburgers are perhaps the most common food we cook on the grill. Grilling a burger is more than just tossing a frozen patty on the grate over an open flame, however. Sure, this method works, and produces an acceptable result, but learning how to grill hamburgers that are truly great takes a bit more effort.
Preparing to Grill a Great Hamburger
Mastering the art of how to grill hamburgers starts with selecting great beef. This does not mean that you need to run out to the finest butcher shop and purchase the most expensive ground sirloin or round, but it does mean that you need to understand what makes one type of ground beef different from another. Lean ground beef does not have enough fat content to produce a juicy burger, but if your beef is too fatty it will take on an unpleasant greasiness that seeps into everything and makes a soggy bun.
It is generally recommended that you use ground beef that has about an 80% to 20% lean to fat ratio. If you are purchasing your beef pre-ground, ground chuck works fine for hamburgers. To upgrade the flavor of your burger, purchase some fattier ground chuck and blend it with a more flavorful ground sirloin. Perhaps the most ideal way to achieve great beef for your burger would be to grind it yourself. For do-it-yourself grinding, use a 3 – 2 – 1 ratio of chuck, sirloin, and short rib meat. This will produce both an ideal beefy flavor and the right amount fat, creating the perfect texture.
How to Grill Hamburgers with the Perfect Seasoning
When it comes to burger seasonings, the best rule of thumb is to keep it simple. Many outdoor chefs like to load their beef patties with onions, peppers, Worcestershire sauce, seasonings, and even ranch powder. At some point, however, with all of the seasonings, one tends to venture from the world of hamburgers to the world of “grilled, flattened meatballs.” They may be good in their own right, but they have lost their hamburger essence. Quite frankly, a wealth of seasonings is often likely to mask a poorly grilled burger.
Remember that beef has a wonderful flavor of its own, and does not need much seasoning to bring that out. Especially if you have invested extra money in a good beef blend, you don’t want that flavor to be lost in the fray of competing seasonings. The best way to season a hamburger is with salt and pepper on both sides. You can also add a dash or two of Worcestershire sauce while it is grilling to enhance the beefy flavor. This way, you will be able to enjoy the beef flavor like never before.
The Right Grill Technique for a Perfect Burger
For a great burger, get the grill to a temperature on the upper end of medium-high. Start with the temperature around 450 – 475. Just before putting the patties on the grill, season them on both sides with salt and pepper. It is important not to let the salted patties sit for very long before putting them on the grill.
Let the burger sit on the grate until it releases easily for flipping. When it releases from the grate with minimal effort, you know you have achieved the right sear on that side. Flip the burger over and let that side obtain the desired sear marks. If your grill is hot enough, you will have a nicely seared, borderline crispy, exterior with a moist, medium doneness on the interior.