There is nothing quite like the perfect grilled hamburger in the warm summer months. You get to share a meal with family and friends, and the food just tastes better when eaten outdoors.
The person behind the BBQ may have the best of intentions. Unfortunately, if they don’t know how to properly cook a burger, you’ll be left with a bland, dry dinner. How do we fix the problem? By knowing how a grill master does it.
Here are six expert tips for cooking burgers on a gas grill.
Tip #1: Use top quality meat
You can have the best seasoning and grilling technique, but it isn’t tasty if you don’t have a great burger mix. Start by picking out your ground meat. This should be an 80/20 mix of lean beef and fat, but that is just a starting point. Instead of regular beef, you can go for ground sirloin, brisket or even short ribs.
Then, consider what pork can do for your flavour profile. Ground pork or sausage gives an incredible taste and takes your burger game up a few notches. Remember to keep the same fat content and if you have the setup, grind it yourself.
Tip #2: Prep the meat
Once you have your burger blend, keep the meat cold in the fridge until you are ready to season and shape the patties. You don’t want the fat to get heated up and melt because it will render too fast while grilling and result in a dry burger.
Don’t over mix as you are adding your spice, either. Sprinkle your seasonings in and fold the meat gently. Coarse salt and black pepper with a nice spice rub are all you need. Let the meat blend do the rest.
Shape your meat into 5 oz patties around 3/4 of an inch with the edges around 1 inch thick and 1 inch larger than your bun. Put them on a tray with parchment paper and put them back in the fridge until you are ready to grill them.
Tip #3: Start with a clean grill
Whether you have new gas grills or an older model, your equipment needs to be in a clean condition. Turn on your gas, light the grill and let it heat up to around 450 degrees to burn off any leftovers. Use a wire grill brush to make it shine. Then bring the heat back up. You can also oil the grill if you like.
Tip #4: Take time to grill the burger
Now that you are ready bring out the burger patties. Brush the patties with some olive oil to ensure they don’t stick. Don’t worry about the fat content because fat is good! It will also form a seared layer and keep the juices in.
Keep your grill temperature between 350 and 400 degrees, and place your patties on the grill, making a thumb indent in the middle of each burger 1/4 inch deep to prevent bulging while they cook. Resist the urge to press down the burgers with your spatula. That is just going to compress the burger and squeeze out the juices. Let the grill do the cooking and make sure to monitor closely.
Tip #5: Flip the burger once
Once you get your burger patties on, be patient. Let them cook for 2-3 minutes on one side and then gently flip them. Then you are just cooking until you reach the desired temperature.
There is no flipping back and forth because it serves no purpose. As long as you have your temperature right, 2-3 minutes a side is perfect. Plus, all that extra flipping will risk breaking the patty or ruining the shape.
Tip #6: Check the grill’s temperature
Suppose you are a trained chef or seasoned griller and can tell temps by touch, then congrats. For newbies, use a meat thermometer. Your target temp is 160 degrees. Some people like rare while others like well done, so gauge it yourself anywhere from 4-5 minutes to 9 minutes.
It’s time to put the cheese on about 30-60 seconds before the burger is done. You spent time making a top-quality mix, so don’t cheap out on the cheese. Strong cheddar, smoked gouda and Monterey Jack are strong cheeses that taste amazing. Pick your favourite and put enough on so it melts completely over the patty.
There’s your perfect, grilled burger patty. Now you need to have a large spread of condiments, toppings and sides to go with it. Let everyone build their burger so they can make it unique. They can decide if they want BBQ sauce after it’s on their plate, not while cooking it.
In the end, what you have is a grill master’s burger made on your gas grill. By using fresh ingredients and lots of customizable toppings, it will take your burger to the next level.