How to make hamburgers

Learn the secrets of grilling a really good hamburger on a gas grill (or a charcoal grill).  It is oh so easy if you know a few secrets. Great burgers can be yours.

close up picture so a nicely done burger on a bun. All on a white plate. Editors Note: Originally published August 17, 2013, it has gotten some attention but not what I believe it deserves. This is a technique I use almost weekly. The burger goes from refrigerator to your mouth in less than 20 minutes. So please enjoy learning how I frequently cook at home.

If you’re an accomplished griller, just move on. This is a tutorial for newbies and those who just can’t seem to get it right.

This is not the gourmet burger. I’m not grounding meat. I’m not stuffing the burger, and I am not mixing in various things. We are going to learn to grill store-bought ground beef and make a darn nice meal easily in a way you don’t have to keep looking back at a recipe. How is that for a goal?

Funny story (skip this paragraph if you just want to get on with it). In Lee Iacocca’s autobiography, there is a section that talks about the Ford Motor Company executive dining room having the best burgers ever. When the chef was asked about his technique, he demonstrated the method starting with a whole beef tenderloin going into the meat grinder. Great starts will give great results. I don’t start that way, and I assume you won’t either.

My Rating

My rating system. Great 5 out of 5I love this… I’m sure I have done this a thousand times.


  • 1 pound 80% ground beef
  • vegetable oil, to brush the pan
  • salt
  • 8 slices American cheese
  • 4 buns, not too soft
  • mayonnaise. LOTS. not optional.

Topping ideas

  • ketchup
  • mustard
  • lettuce
  • tomato
  • onions
  • pickles
  1.  Place a cast iron skillet or griddle on your grill. Turn the grill to high heat and close the lid. Let it heat up for several minutes, until it is very hot. (You can also make these on the stovetop; set your skillet over medium-high heat.)
  2. Brush the skillet with vegetable oil.
  3. Take 1/4 pound of ground beef straight from the package. Loosely shape it into a ball if you need to (depending on the shape of the ground beef you bought, you may not even need to do any shaping. If it came from the store in a nice tall mound, you might just need to grab a hunk.) Do NOT pack. 
  4. Place the ball of meat on the oiled skillet. Work in batches if you need to; I can fit 2 at a time on my skillet. (Need to get myself a griddle!)
  5. Smash the burger with a metal spatula or a grill press. You want your 1/4 pound burger to be about 4 inches across.
  6. Season with a generous amount of salt. Salt is your friend. Add some pepper if you want, but not necessary. 
  7. Close the lid of your grill (no need to cover if you're on the stovetop.) Let cook undisturbed for about 2 minutes, until the outer edges are brown.
  8. Flip the burger, season with more salt, and place two slices of American cheese on the burger. Cook until the cheese droops, about 1 more minute. This is for medium rare. Remove from the skillet.
  9. Serve with a soft warm bun, lots of mayonnaise, and whatever over toppings you want. You really can't go wrong. You could even get crazy and stack 2 patties together for a double decker. (2 thin patties is way better than 1 too-thick patty.)
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by The Food Charlatan

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