How to Grill a Hamburger

Created March 8, 2017
How to Grill a Hamburger
It's grill time, and here's how to grill up that perfect burger. MORE+ LESS-

Fire up the grill and get out the hamburger. You got this.

It’s grilling season and nothing says it better than a juicy, grilled hamburger. It’s not hard to make a grilled burger, but there are some tricks to making an excellent grilled burger.

Let’s walk through some of the important parts. For starters, ditch the pre-formed frozen patties. It’s slightly more work to make your own, but the results are vastly superior. Take the time to do it right!

When it comes to picking a ground beef, there are a lot of options. These days you can find high-end kobe beef, but to be honest, I wouldn’t use that for burgers. Anything from ground chuck to ground sirloin can be used (or a mix), but ideally you want a fat content of 15-20% in your ground beef. That will keep the burgers juicy.

While you can eyeball a burger size, if you're feeding a crowd, I recommend weighing them. In my mind, the perfect burger is 6 ounces (1/3 pound). That will leave you with a big burger, but not comically big.

By weighing the burgers, you’ll guarantee that they all cook evenly and everybody gets the same size burger.


After you weigh your burgers (or eyeball it), use a light touch when forming them into patties. Don’t press on them a lot or compact them. Try to keep the meat light.


People get crazy with seasoning burgers, but if you cook it well, all a good burger really needs is salt and pepper. I like to use kosher salt and freshly ground coarse pepper. Use big pinches of both to season your burgers on both sides.

Do you know what a football burger is? You probably do. It’s when you make your own burgers and they end up shaped like footballs: big in the center and skinny on the ends. It’s not a great shape for burgers. 


To prevent this from happening, make a small thumbprint in center of each burger. As the burger cooks, the meat will expand and fill the thumbprint. The finished burger will be nice and flat (and easy to top).


For my money, it doesn’t get much better than a charcoal-grilled burger. If you have one (and have the time) prepare your coals for direct-heat grilling. You don’t want the coals to be super hot, but they should be directly under the burgers so a nice crust is created.

You can absolutely use gas grills, obviously. If you are, then heat your grill to medium-high so your grates are nice and hot.


If you have 6-ounce burgers, they will probably need to cook for 4-5 minutes per side for a medium burger.

At some point, I like to toss on the buns as well.


Burgers can dry out quickly if you overcook them, and while there are many people who claim they can eyeball when a burger is done, the only way to know for sure is to use a thermometer.

Grabbing the temperature with an instant read thermometer takes just a second and guarantees your burgers are cooked to the right doneness.

If you’re shooting for a medium burger, you want the temperature to be around 140ºF. A medium well burger will be about 150ºF.


When your burgers are done they should have a nice crust on both sides.


Oh, I forgot the cheese! A good burger doesn’t need cheese, but it does help. If you’re adding cheese, do so a minute or so before your burger is done and cover the grill so the cheese melts quickly.


Pile the finished burgers on toasted buns with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and condiments!

For a great burger recipe that's loaded with cheese, check out my Grilled Cheeseburgers with Cheese Sauce recipe, too.

Enjoy grilling season!


Need a salad to serve with your burgers?

Here are some good ones to try: 


Nick is so happy it’s grilling season! Check out his blog, Macheesmo, and follow him on his Tablespoon profile.