I’ll be honest, when I made my first burger, it sucked. There was no flavour, it fell apart and I overcooked it. That was about 14-years ago, now I think I make pretty good burgers – at least that’s what people are saying!
So how do you make a burger? It’s a pretty simple process with just a few things to keep in mind. In this simple guide, I’ll show you a super easy method with minimal ingredients, and a fancier method.
How Do I Choose the Right Hamburger Meat?
The leaner the meat, the less fat and natural flavour, but don’t let that stop you from using an extra-lean meat and still creating a delicious burger! Ground beef is produced from all different kinds of cuts: Regular and Medium ground beef have more fat from the shoulder, Lean and Extra-Lean come mostly from the leaner part of the cow such as round steak and sirloin.
Tips & Tricks
Here’s a few tips I learned over the years in my trial and error of patty making:
Keep it moist – Don’t over-handle the hamburger meat while you’re making a patty. Doing so will dry out the meat – you’ll want to retain as much moisture as possible. Of course a sauce or an egg helps with moisture, too. If your hamburger mixture is too moist to the point where you can’t even form a patty, add some breadcrumbs to help soak up some of the moisture.
Form a ball that fits in your hand comfortably and then flatten it between your hands and mold it just enough so that it’s formed. Ensure that the outside is sealed and not ripped so that the juices don’t escape. Then leave it alone.
Not too thick or too thin – I like to make mine about 3/4 of an inch thick. If you make them too thick, they take longer to cook and they can burn, too thin and you lose some of that juiciness, plus you can’t stuff thin burgers very well.
Of course, if you don’t like getting your hands dirty, you could always use a Hamburger Patty Maker.
Shrinkage – Make your patty bigger in circumference than normal so that when it shrinks, it’s the right size. Also place your thumb down in the center making a small dimple, this also helps prevent it from shrinking. Finally don’t close the lid the whole time and keep the grill at a low temperature so it doesn’t cook too fast. You’ll want low heat to control the moisture more.
Everyone has their own take on what’s best to put in a burger – if you make them at all. Some use binders, some don’t, some add spices, herbs or stuff them with cheese. I tend to mix it up every once in a while to keep it exciting.
The bread can make or break a hamburger. You’ll want as fresh as you can get (homemade if possible!) My favourite at the moment is a brioche (french) bun, which just has a higher egg and butter content. You can find them at most local supermarkets. I also like a Ciabatta roll or nice, fresh bun loaded with sesame seeds.
I like to brush the insides of mine with a bit of extra virgin olive oil and them throw them on the bbq for 10-15 seconds to get that slightly crispy texture on the inside yet still soft on the outside. Or if you have your stove top on and are frying other ingredients for your hamburger, throw the buns in too face-down; the flavours from whatever you have in your pan will love to absorb itself into the bun!
Again, entirely up to you or whatever you have on hand. However I will suggest a sharper cheese like a sharp cheddar, provolone or blue cheese. Remember not to add the cheese until you’re a minute away from taking the patty of the grill.
Whether it’s on a BBQ or a pan on your stovetop, I use low – medium heat to retain the moisture so the patty doesn’t over cook. For a 1-inch thick patty you’ll want to cook each side for about 6-7 minutes. Or you can multiply the thickness by 14 or 1 inch x 14. You can test it’s doneness without cutting it open and losing all your precious juices by pressing a fork down flat side. The firmer it feels, the more cooked it is. If you’re concerned about uncooked burger meat, use a thermometer, it will be safe at 160°F.
In this method I will include an egg as a binder, simply because it helps keep the patty together and adds more moisture to your burger, but I tend not to use a binders as much anymore. The fattier the beef, the less likely you’ll need a binder. The garlic and onion and of course salt really help to bring out all the flavours and is the key to this method of patty producing.
In the recipe I added a few more ingredients to this one such as Worcestershire, Soy sauce or evaporated milk, sautéed mushroom, onion, lettuce or spinach and some herbs and spices. The sauce really accentuates the beef and adds so much to the experience. I really encourage you to experiment with different flavours if you’re so inclined to do so. If you want to just stick with this default, that’s fine too!