It’s great to have the grill going again, isn’t it? There is just something about that flame-broiled, hot-off-the-grill taste that is difficult to replicate through any other medium of cooking, especially when it comes to serving up a great burger. Burgers are arguably the most popular backyard barbeque item of the summer, and home chefs everywhere are constantly trying to perfect the ideal patty, often without realizing how easy it is to completely ruin a good burger at the drop of a hat. There are many common grilling mistakes that almost everyone has made at least once, but luckily, these mistakes are easy to correct. Here is Total Home Supply’s “Do’s” and “Don’ts” of grilling – our guide to grilling a better burger.
DON’T go overboard with shaping and seasoning the meat. While seasoning is all up to personal preference, anything that results in working the meat more than usual can have dire effects on the quality of your burger. When you handle (beef) burger meat too much the heat from your hands warms up the fat, which will then emulsify while cooking, resulting in a dry, rubbery patty.
DO pack burgers lightly and for as little time as possible. Form round patties and make thumbprint divots on both the top and bottom of the burger so that it expands into a perfectly flat, thoroughly cooked (but not dry!) burger.
DON’T season the meat before you form the patties. Again, this will result in over-working the meat and, especially if you add the salt too early, will severely dehydrate the meat.
DO add salt and pepper only immediately before the patty goes on the grill. Making sure to use Kosher salt (its shape and consistency allows you to season more evenly), sprinkle one side of the uncooked burger with seasoning, and begin by grilling that side face-down. Just before turning, season the the other side the same way.
DON’T turn patties too soon. Burgers need time to rest while cooking to preserve the juices.
DO wait until they are thoroughly crispy on one side before flipping. This will take approximately 4-5 minutes on high heat (ALWAYS use high heat. Burgers don’t need to stew, they need to sear).
DON’T Use a spatula to press down on your burgers while cooking. All of those flavorful juices are meant to stay inside the burger. Pressing out the juices to make your grill sizzle just wastes a lot of flavor.
DO Let your burger rest while it cooks, so as to let the juices have the time they need to redistribute throughout the meat.
DON’T close the lid of your grill to “speed up” the grilling process. Contrary to popular belief, this does not speed up cooking, and your burgers will take on a funny smoke-like taste.
DO keep it simple and avoid trying to take short-cuts. 4-5 minutes of grilling time on each side – anything else is a recipe for disaster.
DON’T add cheese too early. Overly melted cheese just becomes runny and messy, and you will end up with more cheese on your grill than on your burger.
DO wait until the burger is nearly done to add cheese. Like we said, you should aim to cook your burgers on high heat for approximately 4-5 minutes on each side. About 2-3 minutes in on the last side is when you should add your cheese.
DON’T cut through or poke holes in your burger to test the doneness – that’s also how juices spill out!
DO learn how to tell when a burger is done to your preference. Doneness is best (and most safely) determined by temperature above all else. Use an instant-read thermometer to make sure your burger is cooked to a safe 160°F.
The one thing that is almost impossible to mess up is choosing your burger toppings. After your perfectly seared patties are off the grill, pile on your favorite toppings, serve with your favorite side dishes, and enjoy!