The Ultimate Burger Guide

Burgers, one of the first foods that come to mind when you’re thinking barbecue. This, the Ultimate Burger Guide, will teach you how to make and barbecue the best burgers ever. No dry patties here. Whether you are making them fresh or saving them for later (best practices for freezing fresh burgers below), this guide to the best burgers ever will definitely help.



Really, it’s all about that meat. Mostly. The meat you choose, the way you handle it, and what you season it with that make the base for the best burgers ever.

Rule #1:
No matter what. Keep everything as cold as you can stand but not frozen. That goes especially for the meat but also includes the utensils and bowls.

Chuck is the most used meat for hamburgers. It comes from the shoulder and neck area of the cow, which is a cluster of hardworking muscles that take a while to become tender, so they are less desirable and wind up as ground beef. Brisket is rich and fatty; it makes a great ground beef as well. To be perfectly honest, you can use just about any meat for burgers. Try pork, chicken, turkey, bison, venison, moose, and even duck. As long as you follow the suggestions below, you can successfully make amazing hamburgers easily.

If you are grabbing meat off the shelf, which is perfectly reasonable, ensure that you grab meat that is labeled medium. You are looking for a ratio of 80% meat to 20% fat. However, you can go as low as an 85/15 mixture. For even better results, go to a butcher or the butcher counter at the grocery store and purchase their ground beef – ask when they ground it. You want the freshest meat you can get.

I’m sure it’s happened, that the grocery store has run out of ground beef and you are stuck with a package of extra lean. You can still make delicious burgers by adding fat to the mixture with ground pork fat or shredded, ice-cold butter. Just be sure to add at least 15% by weight.

For the absolute best results, grind your own meat. Chuck is the ideal base here. Place all of the equipment for grinding, including the bowl, into the freezer while you prepare the meat. Slice the chuck into 1-inch cubes and freeze them for at least 10 to 15 minutes. Add your mix-ins or seasonings to the beef before grinding to reduce the amount you handle the mix. DO NOT SALT, but you can toss in uncooked bacon or butter for a little extra fat.




You don’t need to season hamburgers until they are ready to hit the barbecue. Adding salt into the mixture before cooking will break down the protein bonds and create a denser meat patty. Instead, salt and pepper just before hitting the barbecue is sufficient. Read more about the science of salt.


You can season the ground beef with whatever you want before forming patties. The seasoning can change the feel of the burger from a plain old burger to something with a bit of flair depending on the seasonings used. Just a bit of Worcestershire, bacon, shredded cheese, grated onion, or butter, and just about anything else you can dream of will work. Just remember not to add salt and definitely don’t overmix.

Salt 0.25 tsp = 1577.25 mg - Worcestershire 1 tsp = 69 mg salt

When you mix in the mix-ins try not to squish the meat too much. The fat will heat and stay on other surfaces instead of in the burger. Large and chunky mix-ins like diced onion, eggs, and breadcrumbs are not a great idea. These require excessive mixing and handling and can take a juicy burger into overmixed meatloaf territory instead.




6 ounces (about 1/3 of a pound), a healthy handful of meat is ideal for forming the perfect burgers. Using a food scale will help with portioning your perfect patties.

Form the patties by hand, gently taking your portions and rolling them into rough balls, then flattening them into a gently packed patty. A looser patty is ideal for making smash-style burgers on a griddle. Using a burger press is another easy way to ensure uniform burgers with a more stable form. Remember to make the burgers about half an inch larger than the bun you will be using, to account for shrinkage while cooking. Use your thumb or a spoon to press a dimple into the center of the burger to prevent the burgers from puffing up in the middle during cooking.


While forming the patties, lay each one on a piece of waxed paper or parchment paper. This will prevent them from sticking to the platter and each other (if you are making a lot of burgers). Always chill the burgers you have made for at least 30 minutes to ensure the meat has relaxed after handling and that the fat has resolidified.

You can wrap formed patties in waxed/parchment paper then place them into a zip-lock bag for freezing instead of chilling and cooking. Remember to remove as much air as possible from the package before freezing. Date and label for easy identification.

RecipeBlog - Perfect Homemade Burgers - grill



Preheat your barbecue to between 400 and 450°F (200 and 232°C), that’s “high” heat. Keep at least one burner off to create a safe zone to move your patties to if there is an accidental flare-up. Clean the cooking grids if you haven’t since your last cook.

This is the time to add salt (and pepper). Season your burgers on one side, then place the seasoned side down on the grids. Season the other side of your burgers. 6-ounce (1/3 pound) burgers should cook for about 5 minutes per side over direct heat. Cook the burgers to a minimum of 160°F (71°C) as per USDA guidelines.

There are no hard and fast rules for flipping, although some may disagree. You can leave the burgers to cook fully on one side before flipping or flip as many times as you feel necessary. Just remember to wait until the burger releases easily from the cooking grids to flip. Unless you are making smash-style burgers on a griddle, there is no reason to squish your patties.

If you are adding cheese, wait until the last minute of cooking or add cheese while the burgers are resting. Yes, you should rest your burgers, like any other meat, for at least 5 minutes before serving. If you add cheese, tent a little foil over top to make sure it melts.



Try these Star Wars-themed Smash-Style Hamburgers or the complex and hearty Eggs Benedict Burger



Did you know that buns need to be carefully selected to go with the burger too? Don’t worry it’s not rocket surgery or anything like that. Just a little common sense.

If you are making thin patties or smash-style burgers, a soft bun is perfect. It will soak up the juices and make for a great meal. Loads of condiments or toppings? No problem. Butter the inside of the buns and grill or fry them for a buttery-toasty crust to place your desired deliciousness on.

Thick, hearty, heavy burgers need something a little heftier when it comes to buns. Brioche, potato, or artisan-style buns are great for this. Feel free to toast these buns too because it just tastes better!

If you’re unsure about the stability of the bun in relation to the burger, place lettuce on the bottom bun before adding any toppings and/or the burger patty. This will provide a little bit of a buffer and prevent a soggy bottom.

Burger Your Dad - Daring Dad Burger


Toppings & Inspiration

There is only one rule for topping your burger. Put what you want on it. The sky is the limit. Don’t let people tell you otherwise. Whether you like a traditional burger or go crazy with Asian-inspired flavors. Maybe you like it spicy with Tex-Mex overtones, whatever inspires your palate, don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t. Try some of these recipes for inspiration on your next burger.


You can almost smell the delightful aroma
Recipe Blog - Duck Burgers - serve2

Try this recipe for Beef Burgers Irish Cheddar Dip and Aioli or this Asian-Inspired Duck Burger Recipe with Hoisin and Coleslaw.


Now that you have read the Ultimate Burger Guide and know how to make and barbecue the best burgers out there, will you be making hamburgers for dinner tonight? Try these hamburger recipes for more inspiration! Share your favorite burger recipes, success stories, and photos with us on our social pages like Instagram and Facebook. Don’t forget to use the hashtags #NapoleonEats and #FreestyleGrilling!

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