Before you serve up any patties to your guests, commit these BBQ sins to memory. (Then, once you’ve grilled up the perfect hamburger, check out our picks for best rolls, ketchup and mustard to serve with it!)
1. Your meat matters. Choose wisely
If you want a really juicy hamburger, use ground beef that’s a combination of 80% meat to 20% fat. The less fat, the drier the burger.
2. Handle with care
Throw out the hamburger press. The best burgers are hand formed using just enough pressure and taking no longer than necessary to form a patty. Don’t press, mold, and over work. In your efforts to get a perfect-looking burger, you’ll wind up with a tough-tasting one.
3. Don’t turn your patties too soon
Let your burger get good and crusty before you flip it. You’ll know it’s ready to be turned when it releases easily from the grill grates or pan. If it doesn’t, don’t force the issue.
4. No squishing, please
Nothing’s more luscious than a fat, juicy burger that dribbles down your chin. Avoid the urge to press down on your burger while it cooks as you’ll force out the juices — and the flavor along with them.
5. Take its temperature
Don’t risk putting a damper on your cookout with food poisoning. Make sure you’ve killed any disease-causing bugs by cooking your meat until an instant-read thermometer says 160°F. And no, the color of the beef is not a good way to judge doneness.
6. Cook on cast iron, not a regular skillet
If you can’t grill it, that is. A cast iron skillet is a good go-to when you have run out of gas, or just don’t want to face the hot, cold, or rainy conditions in the backyard. Avoid the temptation to cook in a grill pan. While its ridges will give your patties grill marks, the space into between the marks will be gray and spongy. Cook in a flat-bottomed cast iron pan and both sides will come out browned and crusty, contrasting nicely with the juicy inside.