The Best Burger Recipe
Note: This post may contain affiliate links. Thanks for supporting COOKtheSTORY!
This is the best burger I’ve ever come across. It’s a homemade burger patty with meat and seasonings, no fillers. It really lets the meat flavor shine!
I make a lot of burgers in the summer. They’re so quick to put together and everybody loves them.
Sometimes I get fancy with my burgers and add things to the meat. Like in this recipe where I mix chorizo sausage in with the ground beef.
And this breakfast burger with bacon mixed into the patty.
Most of the time, I keep things simple though. I start with ground meat and add seasoning. That’s it. No egg. No breadcrumbs. Just meat and seasoning. I want to really taste the meat. That’s the best burger recipe to me.
Usually, for seasonings, I go with Lawry’s Seasoned Salt. There’s just a bit of extra flavor in there. Regular salt works well, too.
I always add black pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder. Not very much of any of it though. When you start to actually build your burger there are going to be lots of toppings going on — tomatoes, pickles, mustard, ketchup, onions, and lettuce. All kinds of things. If you want the flavor of the meat to really shine, don’t overpower it with too many seasonings at the early stages.
I tend to use a mixture of lean and fattier ground beef. Or lean ground beef mixed with ground pork. I sometimes use all lean beef if I want a healthier burger. Whatever kind of meat you use, the most important thing is to not mix or handle it too much. Work the seasoning through the meat very quickly using your hands and do not over mix. It will make the finished burger tough, not tender.
At this point, I always like to do a flavor test, just in case something is off. Take about a tablespoon of the beef mixture and flatten it into a tiny burger patty. Put it on a small plate in the microwave for 20 seconds. If it’s no longer pink on the outside or inside, it’s cooked. Give it a taste. It’s not going to taste as good as your eventual burger, but you can tell if there’s enough seasoning. If you feel the need to add a little bit more, add it to the meat mixture, but be careful not to stir it very much when mixing it in.
Next, you shape your meat into patties. Divide the meat into the number of patties that you want. When I start with 2 pounds of ground beef, I make 6-8 patties. Before you start shaping patties, divide the meat up into the number of portions that you plan to have. Try to get the portions as even as you can. I sometimes even use a kitchen scale to make sure that they’re all the same.
Using your hands, take one portion of meat and form it into a big meatball. You want a nice tight compacted sphere. Once you have that, use your palms to evenly flatten it into a circle. I like them about 4 inches in diameter and 3/4 inches thick. Try to make them a little bit thinner in the middle. Why? As the patties cook they tend to bulge at the middle and you get an uneven surface, a burger that bulges in the middle. Thinning them at the middle when forming the patties will help counter this.
When you flatten the patties, they sometimes crack a bit along the edges. Just run the palm of your hand around to push the edges in a bit and smooth any cracks.
Arrange the patties in a single layer on a plate. If they don’t all fit in one layer, top the first ones with wax paper or parchment paper and then do another layer on top. Cook right away or refrigerate uncovered for up to two hours.
Burgers are great when grilled. If you don’t have a grill, my next favorite is a large flat nonstick or cast-iron pan set over medium heat. You want it hot enough to sear the meat on the outside, but not to burn it before the interior cooks. I start by cooking my burgers for about 3-4 minutes on each side. This depends on the thickness and the temperature of course.
I typically go for a medium to a medium-high heat. Cook on the first side not touching them at all until they get a good sear. Then flip and leave them for 2-6 more minutes (depending on how done you want it). I’ll admit that I often cut into one to see if it’s how I want them. You can also use an instant-read thermometer. You want the interior to be 160°F. That’s well done and is the safest when you’re working with ground meat. I know that many people like their burgers less done than that. If that’s you, you know what you like. Just know that it isn’t completely safe.
If you’re cooking your burgers in a skillet, here’s a trick for melting the cheese very quickly. While your burgers are cooking, put on a kettle to boil. Once you’ve added the cheese to the burgers and are ready for it to melt, drizzle 2-3 tablespoons of water directly onto the pan around the burgers. Cover with a lid. The steam from the hot water will melt the cheese in just a few seconds.
If you’re cooking your burgers on the grill, add the cheese when you flip the burgers for the final time. Then put down the cover so that it has time to melt before the burgers overcook.
Sesame seeds or not is up to you. Well, whatever bun you choose is up to you. I like something a bit more solid, less floppy than the hamburger buns sold next to the wonderbread. I get my buns at the bakery section of the grocery store.
What’s more important than what kind of bun though is what you do with it. For me, it’s critical that the bun be warm. The best is if it’s toasted (maybe with a bit of garlic butter spread onto it mmmmm). But if you can’t be bothered to toast it, that’s fine. Microwave it for 15 seconds per bun. Just get it warmed up a bit. It makes such a difference to the entire burger experience.
The only thing left is the burger condiments. This is a very personal choice. I always go with fried onions, tomato, pickles, mayonnaise, lots of mustard, a tiny bit of ketchup. I bet you know exactly what you like on your burger though, so I won’t give any further instructions here other than to say that it’s best to get everything out and ready before you put the burgers on the grill. That way people can start getting their buns ready while the burgers cook. When the patties are done, they slide right into the buns and it’s time to eat.
- 2 lbs. ground chuck (or use lean ground beef for a leaner burger, or a mixture of the two)
- 2 tsp. seasoning salt
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- 1 tsp. onion powder
- 1/2 tsp. black pepper
- In a large bowl combine beef, salt, garlic powder, onion powder and black pepper just until combine. Do not over-mix or burgers will be tough.
- Divide meat mixture into 6 equal portions (you can do 8 instead if you want a smaller patty). Shape each into a tight ball. Use hands to flatten the ball into a disc. Make it thinner in the center. Smooth any cracks at the edges with the palm of your hand.
- Arrange patties on a large plate. If they don’t fit in a single layer use plastic wrap, parchment paper or wax paper to separate the layers. Cook immediately or cover and refrigerate until ready to cook (up to 12 hours).
- Heat skillet or grill to medium heat. Cook burgers on the first side until a nice dark sear appears, 3-4 minutes. Flip and cook on the second side until no longer pink inside (it will read 160F on an instant-read thermometer), 2-6 minutes.
The scaling tool will adjust ingredient amounts, but not cook times.
Video by Leigh Olson. Article, photos and recipe by Christine Pittman.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links meaning that if you click on the link and buy something I will receive a small commission at no additional charge to you. All opinions are my own.
This post originally appeared in May, 2015 and was revised and republished in July, 2018.