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Best Burger Cooking Tips

Cooking tips for the caring cook.


Tips to Create Great Burgers

  • Cook on a grill for the best charred flavor. A grill pan will work nicely, too, but produces a more subtle char.
  • Heat the grill with the rack off. Clean and coat the rack with cooking spray away from the fire so the spray doesn't cause a flare-up. Carefully place the rack on the grill shortly before adding the burgers.
  • The best tools for making burgers are your hands. Be careful not to compact the meat when shaping the patties. Work ingredeints evenly and lightly into the meat; overworking compacts the meat and creates tough bugers.
  • Avoid moving burgers on the grill before turning them so the outside develops a good char.
  • Use a spatula large enough to pick up the entire burger.
  • Do not press the patties with the spatula as they cook; doing so squeezes out flavorful juices.
  • Use a meat thermometer to test for doneness (and wash it between tests). Follow the USDA's guidelines: 160 degrees for ground beef, veal, lamb and pork; 165 degrees for ground poultry.
  • To ensure the meat cooks evenly, make a thumbprint indentation into the middle of the patty before it goes over the heat. Alternatively, poke a hole in the middle of the hamburger patties while shaping them. The burgers will cook faster and the holes will disappear when done.
  • Burgers, like steaks, should rest five minutes after they come off the heat to allow the juices to redistribute throughout the meat.

Lighten Up Your Burgers

  • Trim the base. Try lean ground beef or turkey, but don't go too lean. Very lean groun beef, like round or 99 percent fat free ground turkey can lead to dry burgers.
  • Spice it up. Add your favorite sauces, herbs and spices. Even changing your binding agent from plain bread crumbs to seasoned makes a difference.
  • Add some flair. Boost flavor and eye appeal with special toppings, such as caramelized onions, sauteed mushrooms, barbecue sauce, fat free salad dressing, reduced fat cheese and all the fresh vegetables you can pile on.
  • A 2014 study in the Journal of Food Science finds that swapping 50 percent of a dish's ground beef for cooked button or cremini mushrooms boosts flavor beyond that of an all-beef meal, with fewer calories and less cholesterol, saturated fat and sodium. As it turns out, mushrooms contain flavor-enhancing umami compounds, which elicit savory, brothy, or meaty taste sensations that complement beef.

Better Burgers

How about stepping away from greasy burgers and saying hello to nutrient-rich, low calorie sensational burgers? Try one (or all) of the following burger ideas.

Clean and Lean Bison Burger. Enjoy a real bacon burger for fewer calories by making patties out of bison, which is leaner and richer-tasting than cow. Bison is always pastured and usually antibiotic and hormone-free.

Chickpea and Walnut Burger. Forgo frozen processed patties for an easy, fresh ption which turns meatless into max by mixing beans with scallions, carrots and walnuts. Top with a cramy honey-tahini sauce.

Pork Sausage Burger. Spiced lean pork combines with an egg sunny-side up to pack a burger with a whopping 38g of protein. Parsley and peppery arugula add vitamins K and C. Make it low-carb by switching out the bun for a sturdy lettuce leaf.

American Hamburger Tidbit

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