Grilling the Perfect Burger

I love to grill hamburgers at least once a week during the spring, summer and fall months, and nothing spells warm weather like grilling hamburgers and eating out on the deck.  To me there are several criteria for making the perfect burger:  tasty meat, delicious seasoning, great grill marks, and your choice of condiments.

Below is a picture of some burgers that I grilled up this evening and to me they were the perfect burger.

Tasty Meat
The perfect hamburger starts with tasty meat.  If you use pink slime infested, nasty meat, then you will never get the perfect burger, no matter how good your culinary skills are.  To get the tasty meat you want to use a well marbled cuts of meat.  Take 1 pound of flat brisket, 1 pound of chuck roast, 1.5 pounds of boneless short ribs, 1 pound of boneless rib-eye.  Yep, I know, I know, this is not going to be a cheap burger;  you are going to create the perfect burger.  You want to grind it all up and make sure the different cuts of meat are distributed evenly in the mixture.  You also want to cut off any large amounts of fat that you may find in the brisket flat, because this will be nasty if you grind it up with the meat. You may need to remove 1/2" or even an 1" of fat off the brisket. However, the rest of the meat you should be able to get away with leaving the fat in the meat and grind it up with it.  The fat will provide juice and flavor to your burger.

I've experimented with lots of seasonings for burgers over the years and have even stuffed the burgers with feta cheese for extra flavor.  However, I have 3 favorites that I repeatedly come back to over and over again. 
The first is Lipton Onion Soup Mix, this is great and you can even find recipes to make a knock-off at home so you can bypass all the MSG and extra crap that is thrown in the mixture.
The second is Jamie Purviance's Weber's Real Grilling Cheeseburger of Champions recipe that is absolutely fabulous.
The third is Weber's Gourmet Burger Seasoning.  A lot of home grillers like to make their own recipe's but for me I have no problem with using commercial mixtures if they are tasty.  It's hard to go wrong with the Weber Gourmet Burger Seasoning Mixture.  The only thing I like to change is to add 1 TB of Worcestershire Sauce and 1 tsp of Soy Sauce to the meat to give it some "moisture" which helps the burger to not fall apart during the cooking process.

Grill Marks
The secret to getting great grill marks is to make sure you preheat your grill so the grates are good and hot.  For burgers, you want a high heat somewhere in the 500F range.  Hamburger doesn't really have a lot of surface moisture like steaks, so there is no need to pat them dry before adding to your grill.  Apply a very thin layer of olive oil to the burgers and this will prevent the meat from sticking--and I mean a very thin layer.  Don't overdue it with the olive oil.

I generally like to grill my burgers for about 4-5 minutes per side when using 1/4 pound patties.  Also, invest in a burger press and you'll have more consistent looking and cooking burger patties.

When it comes to condiments, there are so many choices out there that you could literally write a volume of books on the subject. For me though, I generally like to keep it simple.  First, leave off the ketchup.  I know this may seem like heresy to a lot of you out there, but for the perfect burger, it needs something more than ketchup.  Ever since I was about 10 years old, I have been leaving off the ketchup and substituting my favorite barbecue sauce.  Either homemade or commercial sauces work for me.  At any given time you will find a selection of 1 or possibly 2 homemade BBQ sauces and 2 bottles of commercial sauces in my refrigerator.  My two favorite commercial sauces are Sweet Baby Ray's Original and Famous Dave's Sweet and Sassy sauce.  My 2 favorite homemade sauces are No.5 sauce (google it) and a Carolina Honey sauce that I make (vinegar and tomato based).
The next sauce that I like to add is mustard.  I rotate between cheap yellow mustard and brown spicy mustard.  It just depends on the mood that I'm in.  When it comes to mustard, the more you put on the better the burger.  Just don't overdue it and have it drip on your clothes. LOL
Next you will need about 3-4 pickles on your burger.  For me there is only one pickle worthy enough to be put on the perfect burger and that is my mother's homemade Bread and Butter pickles.  However, you can feel free to substitute store bought B&B pickles for your burger.
For a lot of my burgers, this is all I do.  However, I also like to add romaine lettuce about 50% of the time.  Once again, it just depends on the mood that I'm in.

For me the condiments shouldn't detract from the meat but just simply add to the wonderful flavor of your perfect burger.


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  • 6/29/2012 11:41 AM Nate wrote:
    I just discovered your podcast. Cool post! You might want to try the 6 pepper blend from Gordon Food Service (GFS) if you have one in your area. I use it on everything that I grill and it rocks. You should also look at something called Bad Byron's Butt Rub. That is good too for grilling. Since it is hard to find in my area (due to its popularity) I only use it on special occasions. When I traveled to Malaysia, they top their burgers with thai chili sauce, shredded cabbage and a fried egg. It sounds weird but it is very good!
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  • 6/29/2012 6:12 PM The Outdoor Podcast wrote:
    Glad you found us here at TOP, and I'll be sure to check out those spice blends.

    Reply to this

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