With summer just around the corner, it's almost time to start whipping out the barbecues and hosting a backyard party. While hot dogs and hamburgers are often the food of choice for a backyard barbecue, there are some tricks you should know before slapping your patties onto the grill.

Here we teach you the top tips on how to grill burgers, including how long to grill burgers, how to get the patties to stay together, and ensuring that your meat remains juicy throughout.

Hamburger How-To

friends over grill

There are some rules you should follow when getting ready to grill up some hamburgers such as which meat to choose, how long you should grill for, what kind of grill you can use, and little tricks to shape the patty. It might sound a little overwhelming, but don't worry because we're here to walk you through the most crucial steps.

Choosing Your Meat

One of the first things you want to look for before you start is the type of beef you want. Realistically you can use pre-packaged stuff from the grocery store, but if you want to make a delicious burger you should really be using freshly ground beef. The reason why is because you don't want something that's been sitting around for who knows how long. You can also ask the person behind the counter any additional questions you might have.

Typically, people tend to use different cuts of beef for their hamburgers, but a popular choice seems to be the chuck cut, which is beef that comes from a cow's shoulders. The reason why is because it's thicker and usually holds a decent lean-to-fat ratio.

You should aim to get meat that has a decent fat percentage so you can have a nice, juicy patty when you're done the grilling. Try to get beef that has about 20% fat. The remaining 80% of the beef will be lean, making the lean-to-fat ratio 80/20. Of course, you can always play around with the percentage of fat you have in your beef, especially if you're planning to cook the patties for different levels of doneness. But, 80/20 is a good place to start. Also, avoid using patties that are high in lean percentage as you want to make sure you have a juicy product when you're done, not a dried out patty.

Shaping The Patty

fire grill

Shaping the patty correctly is pretty important because you want to make sure that your patties actually take on the shape of a hamburger and not look sunken in or having a growth coming from the center of it. As you already know when you're grilling a patty the ends charcoal first (it's basically like this with other meats as well). But the thing is that when you pack a patty too tightly or don't shape it properly, it turns into this little hard ball instead of a nice, juicy hamburger.

What you want to do is pack the patty and then press your thumb into the center of it to leave a little dimple at the top. The reason for this is that when you're grilling, the edges will grill first and the middle has the tendency to puff up a little bit. Having a dimple in the center avoids this.

You also want to ensure that you gently mold the meat into balls without packing them super tight. If you pack the burgers too tightly then you're running the risk of them losing their texture. Pack them just tight enough to stay together without crushing them.

Grilling Your Hamburgers

flipping hamburger patties

Now we've come to the meat of the article. It's time to get grilling! But before we hop into things, let me tell you a few quick tips:

  • You shouldn't ever squish down on your burgers with a spatula as the patties will lose their juices.
  • You'll maintain the juiciness of your patty by only flipping them once on the grill.
  • You can work with whatever grill you have, but you just need to make sure that it's hot enough.
  • Before you start grilling you'll want to make sure that everything is clean.
  • Let the grill preheat for about 10-15 minutes.
  • Make sure that you have a food thermometer for you to determine when your burger is done. The USDA recommends that you cook your burgers through until they reach an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit.

After that's all done you're going to want to grill your burgers over high heat and then move them over to a low-heat area of your grill after a couple of minutes. Here are some times you should follow depending on how your guests want their burgers done:

Medium-rare: Grill patties for about two minutes on each side over high heat. Then move to a low-heat part of the grill and cook for another two minutes. The internal temperature should be around 145 degrees Fahrenheit.

Medium: Grill patties for about two minutes on each side over high heat. Then move to low-heat and grill for an additional three minutes. The internal temperature should be about 160 degrees Fahrenheit.

Medium-well: Grill patties for about two minutes on each side over high heat. Then move to low-heat for an additional four minutes. The internal temperature should be around 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

Well-done: Grill patties for about two minutes on each side over high heat. Then move to low-heat and grill for another five minutes. The internal temperature should be around 170 degrees Fahrenheit.

Don't Neglect Your Buns


Though you may like your buns untoasted let's take a walk down Memory Lane for a second. Have you ever had a great, juicy burger, placed it on an untoasted bun, and wound up with juice all over your hands? Of course! That's because the bread will turn soggy if it isn't toasted and the juiciness from the meat will soak right through it, not only causing it to fall apart, but also turning it into a goopy mess. Trust us, it's better to toast your buns.

Put out some condiments for your burgers and there you have it! You're ready to finally show up with that neighbor with your superior grilling skills.

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