How to Build a Better Burger

The best burgers in town will be right from your own backyard.


Want to make your burgers even better? Amp them up with just a few simple tips before tossing them on the grill. But be warned — you may have to fend off the neighbors. 

Step 1

Choose the Best Beef


Freshly ground, high-quality ground beef with at least 20% fat makes the most juicy and flavorful burgers. Visit your local butcher, or look for the 80/20 sticker on ground beef packages at your grocery store.

TIP

For the ultimate ground beef, grind your own. A combination of equal parts chuck roast and beef brisket works great.

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Step 2

Form The Patties


For each patty, grab 5 to 6 ounces of ground beef. Gently toss the meat back and forth in your hands (about 10 times) to form a ball. Place the ball on a flat surface and pat it into a disk, forming a patty at least as wide as your hamburger buns (about 3/4 to 1-inch thick). 
 

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Easy does it! The less you mess with the meat, the better. Overworking ground beef makes it tough and chewy.

Step 3

Dimple It!


Have you ever noticed that your burger patties bulge in the center while cooking? That's because ground beef contracts when it gets hot. Stopping the "burger bulge" is easy — simply make a dimple (or divot) in the center of each patty with your thumb. This will keep that dreaded burger bulge at bay.

Step 4

Season, Season, Season


Generously season the burger patty, but season it simply. Just sprinkle both sides liberally with salt and pepper.

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Only season the patties after they're formed. Salting the ground beef beforehand will break down the meat proteins and give the burger a "springy" texture. Seasoning the patties on the outside will help them develop that coveted caramelized "crust" while they’re cooking.

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Step 5

Test for Doneness


To ensure the perfect doneness, test the burgers by inserting a meat thermometer into the center of each patty. Follow the temperature guidelines below for the perfectly cooked burger:

130°F: Medium-Rare
140°F: Medium
150°F: Medium-Well
160°F: Well Done

Step 6

Top as You Like


There's no right or wrong way to top a burger. Gather up your favorite toppings and have them ready for when those burgers come off the grill. Once you’ve topped to your heart's desire, enjoy a big bite of the best burger in town (right in your own backyard).

Want more? We've got amazing burger layering tips in this video

Find more summer how-tos here »

Plus: Get our best grilled burger recipe »

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About Kitchen Is My Playground

Tracey is the creator of the popular blog The Kitchen Is My Playground, which she founded in 2011. Her goal is to share recipes with other home cooks looking to create flavorful (and somewhat adventurous) food for their families and friends. Connect with her on PinterestFacebookTwitter or Google+.