Burgers 101

Get the lowdown on making the perfect burgers. From forming the patties to serving it up, gain the tips and tricks to fix your bad burger habits.Get Burger Recipes

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Crisp air, team flag hanging in the yard, and the scent of grilled burgers filling the neighborhood&mdashit’s easy to see why fall and football go hand-in-hand. Whether you’re a hamburger purist or you love yours covered in cheese, nothing says tailgating party like burgers on the grill.

These days, as we’re all social distancing and tailgating from home, we can get really creative in upping our burger game. We’re here to share some inspiration and, of course, mouth-watering burger recipes.

Burgers 101

A burger might seem quite simple to prepare, but not all burger recipes are created equal. Whether it’s for a pan-seared burger made on a stovetop, or a classic backyard burger served at a Fourth of July barbecue, the perfect burger recipe starts with the right cooking techniques.

Keeping Burgers from Sticking to the Grill


Heat your grill up before cleaning it with a sturdy grill brush. Any residual debris will come off hot grates much easier than cool ones.


Grab a wad of paper towels with a pair of long-handled tongs and dip them in a bowl of vegetable oil. When the towels have absorbed the oil, run them over the cleaned grill grate.


The oil will burn off at first. Continue to dip the towels into oil and slick down the grate it will become "nonstick." When the grate turns black and glossy, your grill is good to go.

Hamburger Keys to Success

Three common mistakes to avoid in the quest for the perfect burger.


Just dusting salt on the exterior of shaped patties doesn’t cut it. Put the ground beef in a bowl. Lightly break up the meat with your hands and sprinkle evenly with salt. Use 1 teaspoon of table salt for 1½ pounds of ground beef, the amount you will need for four burgers.


Ground beef is not Play-Doh. The more you handle it, the denser and more rubbery it will become when cooked. After you’ve seasoned the meat, divide it into individual portions and, with lightly cupped hands, shape into patties. As soon as the patties hold together, stop!


Flip the burgers just once—after they’ve developed deep brown grill marks—and don’t be tempted to press on them. Pressing down on the burgers as they cook squeezes out the flavorful juices, which end up in your grill (causing flare-ups) instead of in your burgers.

Hamburger Temperature Guide

Many of us depend on thermometers when we’re grilling expensive steaks, but when we grill (cheap) burgers, we think we needn’t bother. Wrong. For consistently delicious burgers cooked to just the right degree of doneness, don’t guess. Take the temperature in the center of each burger with an instant-read thermometer.

MEDIUM-RARE BURGER: 125 to 130 degrees, 2 to 3 minutes per side

MEDIUM BURGER: 135 to 140 degrees, 3 to 4 minutes per side

MEDIUM-WELL BURGER: 145 to 160 degrees, 4 to 5 minutes per side

WELL-DONE BURGER: 160 degrees and up, 5 minutes and up per side

Burger Bulge

Making a shallow indentation in the center of the patty is the first step toward a great burger.

The collagen, or connective tissue, in ground meat shrinks when heated. This causes the bottom and sides of the meat to tighten like a belt, which forces the surface of the burger to expand. To prevent a bubble burger, press a 1/4-inch divot, or indentation, in the center of each patty. The collagen will still tighten, but the indented meat won't bulge.


If you start with a flat burger patty.


. you'll end up with a bulging burger like this one.


Pressing a small divot into the center of each patty.


. keeps the burgers from bulging. The result? Perfect burgers.

Start With the Right Beef

Most recipes simply call for "ground beef," but, as any supermarket shopper knows, the choices are much more varied. What are the differences between ground round, ground chuck, and ground sirloin? And what about fat content, which can range as low as 7 percent?

To find out, we prepared burgers using each type of ground beef and held a blind tasting, asking tasters to comment on the taste and texture of each burgers The results were clear differences between the cuts were obvious and noted across the board. Types of ground beef are listed below in order of preference.

Ground Chuck

Cut from the shoulder, ground chuck ranges from 15 to 20 percent fat and was favored by our tasters for its "rich" flavor and "tender," "moist" texture. The best choice for burgers.

Ground Sirloin

Tasters found ground sirloin a bit "dry" in burgers, though it did have "good beef flavor." Cut from the midsection of the animal near the hip, ground sirloin usually ranges in fat content from 7 to 10 percent.

Ground Round

Lean and tough, ground round comes from the rear upper leg and rump of the cow. Tasters rejected the round as "gristly" and "lacking beef flavor." The fat content ranges from 10 to 20 percent.

Ground Beef

Any cut or combination of cuts can be labeled "ground beef," so consistency is a problem. Because ground beef may have as much as 30 percent fat, greasiness can also be an issue. Our tasters dismissed the ground beef as "mushy," with an "old boiled beef taste."

#100 Edmund's Bacon Egg & Cheeseburger, Edmund's Oast, Charleston, S.C.

This clubby brew pub, the preserve of craft-beer advocates Rich Carley and Scott Shor, is named for Edmund Egan, an English brewer who started making beer in Charleston in the mid-eighteenth century (an oast is a kiln for drying hops). The beer selection, not surprisingly, is extraordinary, and there are interesting wines and seductive cocktails. The food is surprisingly varied (curried squash custard, pickled shrimp, whole fried flounder), but for many Charlestonians, it's all about the burger — a beautiful construction of thick burger patty, melted cheese, crisp bacon, a sunny-side-up egg, and all the usual trimmings on a smoked-salt-and-black-pepper brioche bun. It towers so high that some diners eat it with a knife and fork.

Southwest Turkey Burger

Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

A few years back, Carl's Jr. and Hardee's reached out to us and asked for help designing a new line of turkey burgers that would improve on an otherwise high-calorie menu. A lot of time and testing went into the burgers, during which we learned just how well turkey takes to intense, vibrant flavors that might not jibe as well with beef. In the end, this spicy-cool burger didn't make it on the menu, but it remains one of the best turkey burgers we've had. Now, with this turkey burger recipe, you can judge for yourself…

Get our recipe for Southwest Turkey Burger.

#99 The Chronic, Mom's Burgers (Compton, California)

Located in Compton, California, Mom’s Burgers is a blue-roof burger shack that will have you coming back for more. Burgers at this Black-owned spot are served the old-school way — in a greasy brown paper bag — and topped with iceberg lettuce, chopped white onions, ketchup, mustard, mayo, pickles and a slice of tomato. Locals rave about the legendary Chronic burger — a colossal burger topped with American cheese, fried egg and bacon.

How to make Smash Burgers 101

Smash burgers are so simple to make. They are basically the home version of greasy-spoon, diner style burgers.

Smashed thin on a flat-top griddle or cast iron pan, and dressed simply to your choice of toppings.

We will NOT criticize you for adding ketchup / catsup. Smash burgers are very personal so do what you like!

You will need:

Some ground beef – I like 85/15.

Some seasoning – I used Morton’s Nature’s Seasons which is basically a salt pepper garlic blend with added herbs and spices. (*any* seasoning will do)

Sautéed onions are optional too.

Small squares of parchment paper or wax paper (foil will do in a pinch)

A quality bun (I like Maier’s Kaiser Rolls).

– pre-heat skillet / flat top to medium high heat

– Season small pats of meat with your choice of seasonings

– roll small patties into balls slightly bigger than a golf ball

– place balls o’ meat onto skillet or flat top

– cover with paper and smash super thin

– cook until juices protrude through top of patties

– flip patties and cook until done

– assemble onto buns, add condiments of choice, and enjoy your 2am diner style burger!

8 ounces (225 grams) mushrooms

1 1/2 cups (85 grams) broccoli florets

2 tablespoons (30 grams) oil such as olive oil, avocado oil or grape seed, plus more for cooking

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed

1/3 cup (35 grams) walnut halves (about 14 halves)

2 cups packed (85 grams) spinach leaves

Handful tender fresh herbs like chives, parsley or cilantro (optional)

1/2 cup (35 grams) panko breadcrumbs or use homemade breadcrumbs

1 tablespoon (15 grams) tomato paste

3/4 cup (115 grams) cooked brown rice

Bread rolls, lettuce, tomato, cheese and favorite burger sauces

Size and Shape Matters

First, let’s talk about a few pointers for ensuring the perfect juicy burger. One of the reasons we love burgers so much is that it’s one of the few times where a cheaper, fattier meat is better than a leaner, more expensive meat. To ensure a great burger, opt for an 80/20 lean/fat ratio in the ground beef.

Prior to shaping your patties, you’ll want to add a bit of the seasoning blend to the ground beef itself, to incorporate the delicious flavor throughout every single bite of the burger.

I’ll share my super secret (dirt cheap) method for forming the perfect burger patty… I use the lid from my peanut butter jar. Line it with a piece of plastic wrap and then put the burger into the lid, pack it down gently, lift up the plastic wrap to remove it. Repeat as needed.

Photo Credit au.hadnews.com

All the Best Veggie Burger Recipes for Your Summer Cookout

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Summer is around the corner (hello, Memorial Day Weekend, how did you get here so fast?) and that means burger season is here. No classic cookout is complete without a perfect veggie burger, so we’re pulling out some great burger recipes from the Vegetarian Times archives and around the web to get you started. Whether you prefer store-bought or DIY patties, there’s a perfect veggie burger waiting for you.

Chicago Diner Burgers – Vegetarian Times These burgers take inspiration from retro diner county favorites in the Windy City.

Tempeh-Mushroom Burgers – Vegetarian TimesThe secret ingredient in this burger is grated beet, which adds juiciness.

Vegan “Big Mac” – Food FlaneurDietitian and food writer Reena of Food Flaneur believes “junk food does not have to be unhealthy.” She demonstrates that here with a tempeh take on the Big Mac.

Gluten-Free Veggie Burgers – Vegetarian Times We use Textured Vegetable Protein to make this GF burg dried seaweed brings depth of flavor – and extra iron – to the party.

Homemade Grilled Veggie Burgers – Vegetarian Times This recipe from Chef Tony Matassa is a rich, satisfying classic sure to please a crowd. (Note: Contains cheese.)

Beyond Meat Smashburger – Baking Steel Smashburgers are all over Instagram, with their signature thin patties and delicate, crispy lacing. Here’s how to make an easy veg version using Beyond Meat.

Grilled Portobello Mushroom Burgers – Vegetarian Times The “secret sauce” to these meaty, backyard cookout all-stars? A marinade of Syrah wine.

The Best Veggie Burger – Love and Lemons One of our favorite food blogs developed this classic, delicious veggie burger that stands up well to grilling outside.

How to make this seitan burger recipe

Seitan burger patties are surprising simple to make. We’ll start with the dough, which is a mixture of button mushrooms, tomato paste, spices and wheat gluten. Then we’ll shape the dough and let it simmer in broth before finally searing (or grilling) the patties burger-style!

Step 1: Create the dough
First, add the mushrooms to a food processor and blitz a few times until they’re finely broken down.

Add the tomato paste and spices, and then blitz again to combine.

Add the what gluten and blitz just until it comes together in a cohesive mixture. Do not over mix.

Step 2: Shape the patties
Portion the dough into 8 balls, and then flatten each one as much as possible into a hamburger shaped patty. They will expand when cooking, so flatten them a bit smaller than you’d like them to be when finished.

Step 3: Cook in broth
Add all of the broth ingredients to a large pot and bring to a simmer. Gently lower the vegan burgers into the broth, ensuring that it covers the dough. If the broth does not cover the dough, transfer to a smaller pot. Partially cover and simmer for 30 minutes. When finished, remove the patties from the liquid.

Step 4: Sear the burgers
Sear the patties on a well-greased pan or grill over high heat to slightly char the outside. Serve as you would a regular hamburger!