Memorial Day is just around the corner. You know what that means, it’s grilling season. And what better way to enjoy a long weekend than with the perfect, flavorful burgers. But I’m not talking about just any grilled hamburger. I’m talking about the best burger recipe you will ever find. I’m serious! The best juicy burgers ever.
I grew up eating hamburgers that looked like hockey pucks, only much, much thinner. The only way they even resembled a burger was because they were in between a bun. And not even a good bun, more like a dinner roll, only thinner.
And then I discovered the secret ingredients to the best juicy hamburgers. I still have a saved article in an old binder from the Washington Post, circa 1999, on how to make the best hamburger. No recipe, but tips. I saved it because I realized when I made burgers, I made all the mistakes detailed in the article. Here are a few tips and my recipe for the best, juiciest, most flavorful burger you’ve ever tasted! Promise!
Start with Fatty Meat!
I was always taught that lean ground beef was better. It was more expensive, so it had to be better, right? Wrong, definitely wrong. According to the butcher at Florence Prime Meat Market in New York City, the best choice of meat is 80/20. The flavor and most of the moisture is in the fat content. If you are grilling, most of the fat drips off and even if you are making them in a frying pan (a cast iron skillet works far better which we’ve done on occasion when out of propane), you can dab up or pour out the excess fat. But fat content does add flavor in the cooking process.
Next, consider the Grind
Not all ground meat is the same. At some large supermarkets, they buy coursely ground meet packaged in tubes and then grind the meat again in the store before it’s packaged and sold. Everytime meat is packaged, it becomes more compact and dense. Some large stores will custom grind meat on request, but not if it’s busy or in the evening. Your best bet is to go to a butcher. You’ll get exactly what you want! We try to buy our meat at Florence Prime Meat Market on Jones Street in Greenwich Village. I found this article in Bon Appétit on Florence Meat Market and stop by whenever I get the chance. But good grocery store meat works just fine.
What are the secret ingredients?
I always start by adding a little salt and black pepper to the meat. There’s a myth that salting the meat will make for a dry burger, I don’t find that to be the case, especially when adding the secret ingredients.
This may sound strange but once you’ve added the salt and pepper, form a small cup-sized mold in the center of the meat. Using a half of an onion (I use yellow onions) use a fine grater and grate the onion and its juices over the meat. Then add two tables of heavy cream and gently fold the onion juice and heavy cream into the meat being careful not to over-mix or pack the meat too tightly together.
What size should you make your burgers?
We usually make 6-ounce hamburger patties, and I find it helpful to use a small kitchen scale to get them all the same size.
Any larger than 6-ounce and you’re looking for trouble, especially on the grill. I find it impossible to get them cooked without getting a little charred on the outside. And we always let the meat come to room temperature before putting them on the grill.
Cooking Do’s and Don’t’s
Start out with an idea of how long your burgers will take and set a timer! We typically cook 6-ounce burgers 7 to 7.5 minutes per side on a medium-high heat grill. If you worry about about making sure your burgers are cooked properly, you can use an instant-read thermometer. Remove the burger from the grill/skillet and insert the thermometer into the side of the burger to make sure the internal temperature has reached 160º for a well done burger. This is according to the USDA. However, we like medium to medium-rare burgers and cook them about 6.5 to 7 minutes per side on the hot grill.
Don’t cook the burgers until you are ready to eat them!
Food will continue to cook even after it has been removed from the heat source. So if you wait to eat it, chances are it will have dried out. Have everything ready to go so when your burgers are ready, you’re ready to eat!
No Squishing or flattening!
Resist the urge to take the spatula and flatten the burger. I used to be guilty of this! Of course I was jut squeezing the moisture right out of the burger. My husband is far more patient than I am and only flips once and never ever flattens the burgers!
Consider the buns
What your burger is wrapped in matters. And a brioche bun is ideal. They used to be hard to find, but now even Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods have them. If I’m going to eat bread, it has to be good bread and you can never go wrong with a Brioche bun.
A lot of people talk about their secret sauce. But the secret is not in the sauce, it’s in the meat, onion juice, heavy cream and a little sea salt and black pepper. These burgers are great even without any condiments. However, our favorites are: spicy mayonnaise, pickled red onions or caramlized shallots and ripe, juicy tomatoes from our garden – when in season. All go well with cheddar cheese, so it’s really personal preference.
Here’s the recipe to make the best juiciest burgers ever!Print
How to make the best burger every time!
I’ve been making burgers this way for almost 20 years and it’s hard to find a better burger anywhere! I’m not sure where we saw the recipe, but I do know it was from James Beard. I think it’s pretty close to what I read somewhere 20 years ago!
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 14 minutes
- Total Time: 24 minutes
- Yield: 6 1x
- 2 1/4 pounds 80/20 ground chuck
- 1 small yellow onion
- 2 teaspoons heavy cream
- salt and pepper
- Place the ground chuck in a bowl and create a cavity in the center.
- Generously salt and pepper over the entire meat
- Pour the heavy cream in the center and grate the onion.
- Fold over the meat combining the cream and onion, but do not over mix.
- Make 6 patties that are 6-ounces each
- Prepare the grill, once hot, spray the grates with cooking spray like Pam
- Cook for 7.5 minutes on each side.
- Add cheese and allow to melt
Keywords: cheeseburger, hamburger, sandwich