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10 Tips for Grilling Up the Perfect Juicy Burger

A burger on a bun sitting on a cutting board with a side fries and a dish of ketchup.
Emilee Unterkoefler / LifeSavvy

It’s time to put an end to those tiny, bland burger patties. These 10 tips will have you creating and grilling the juiciest, tastiest cheeseburgers ever! From crafting the patties, to loading on the perfect toppings, we’ll take you through every step.

When done correctly, these essential guidelines work together to deliver a meaty masterpiece you’ll love grilling time and again.

Know Your Beef

Using the right ground beef blend is the foundation of a juicy, flavorful burger. When perusing the meat section at your local grocery store, always select an 80/20 blend, which means 80 percent lean and 20 percent fat.

If you’re looking for a “diet” burger, this one likely won’t cut it. But, come on—you have to splurge on a cheat meal once in a while, and we say a greasy burger is the perfect choice!

Always Craft Your Patties

Three raw burger patties stacked on top of each other, separated by small squares of parchment paper.
Emilee Unterkoefler / LifeSavvy

While it’s convenient to grab a package of premade patties, we recommend taking the time to make them yourself. Then, you’re guaranteed fresh ground meat and have the freedom to make them as thick and large as you want.

When you open your package of ground beef, use a knife to cut the rectangular brick into even sections for equally sized burgers, or weigh each hunk of meat. Some people even like to use an appropriately sized cookie cutter so their burger will fit the bun just right.

Make Them Large Enough

One of the most significant issues people run into when grilling burgers is shrinking beef patties. You want a big juicy burger, not a shrunken meatball with way too much bun.

To achieve the best possible beef-to-bun-ratio, make your patties about one inch larger than the bun, as shrinkage is inevitable.

Dimple the Center

Another problem many home-grillers run into is puffing in the centers of their burgers. To avoid this, use your thumbs to press a large dimple in the center of your patties.

Besides crafting and dimpling the centers, we encourage you not to futz with the beef much more than that.

Don’t Skip the Seasoning

Someone seasoning a raw hamburger patty with cracked black peppercorn and sea salt.
Emilee Unterkoefler / LifeSavvy

Grilling expert Bobby Flay is surprisingly modest when it comes to his burgers and recommends only adding salt and pepper to them before grilling.

However, if you have a favorite burger seasoning you can’t live without, feel free to sprinkle it on instead. Whatever you do, don’t just throw on your burgers without seasoning them with something—it will really enhance the flavor of your meal.

Turn Up the Heat and Wait for Grill Lines

A hamburger patty on a grill with grill lines seared into it.

We always recommend using high heat when grilling burgers, to ensure those beautiful, flame-kissed char lines will develop. Preheat your clean grill and, using tongs, swipe a wad of paper towels dipped in oil up and down the grates.

Place your patties directly on the oiled grill grates and enjoy hearing that satisfying sizzle. Wait at least three minutes before flipping your burgers.

The goal is to allow them enough time to develop seared grill marks, and if your burger sticks, it isn’t ready to be flipped. Once those grill lines appear on each side, you can flip as often as you like for fast, even cooking.

Never Squash Your Patties

Perhaps it’s the excitement of the flames growing once some grease falls through the grates, but for some strange reason, many people have this urge to squash their burgers.

When you press down on your burgers, it pushes out all that flavorful, greasy goodness. Remember, you want a juicy, savory burger here, so leave that fatty flavor be!

Check for Desired Degree of Doneness

The absolute best and safest way to check if beef is cooked to the correct temperature is with a thermometer. If you need a refresher on how to use an instant-read thermometer, check out this helpful article.

Here are the degrees of doneness according to Certified Angus Beef:

  • Rare (cool, red center): 125 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Medium-rare (warm, red center): 135 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Medium (warm, pink center): 145 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Medium-well (slightly pink center): 150 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Well done (no pink): 160 degrees Fahrenheit.

Buns Matter

A buttered and grilled burger bun.
Emilee Unterkoefler / LifeSavvy

When it comes to buns, some rolls from the bakery section are always a solid choice, as long as you plan to use them within a few days. We prefer pretzels buns. They’re soft enough to prevent everything inside from sliding out, yet sturdy enough to not get soggy.

If you’re going for meaty pub-style burgers, you’ll want a sturdy, yet soft, roll or bun that will keep its shape and won’t be overwhelmed by the toppings inside.

Always take the extra few minutes to butter your buns and grill them like they do at most pubs and restaurants. Not only does this add an extra kick of flavor, but it also warms and softens the buns just in time for that first bite.

Select Toppings Wisely

For burger toppings, nothing quite beats the classic lettuce, tomato, pickle, and onion. However, cooking is all about experimenting. If you’re a brunch fan, throw a little corned beef hash and a fried egg on top.

Or, try finishing off your burger with some fried onions, bacon, and barbecue to add a smoky campfire flair. Think about some of your favorite foods and turn them into a burger concoction you can make time and again.

Whether you’re just making some burgers for dinner or planning a Fourth of July extravaganza, follow these helpful guidelines and impress all your friends and family.

Emilee Unterkoefler Emilee Unterkoefler
Emilee Unterkoefler is a freelance food writer, hiking enthusiast, and mama with over ten years of experience working in the food industry. Read Full Bio »
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