From the worldwide famous fast food to the drive-throughs restaurants and family backyard reunions, burgers are the iconic comfort-food for millions of people.
Whether you enjoy eating burgers only with simple toppings, like ketchup and mustard, or you like adding lots of fancy fixings, the secret for a delicious burger stands in its patty.
This is the reason why a simple act like cooking or grinding the meat incorrectly can change a lot the final taste of your burger.
Luckily, all through this article, we will discuss the relationship between ground meat and heat and how to control this connection to get the tastiest burger around.
Tips And Tricks To Cook Only Juicy Burgers
Here are our recommendations for all those of you who love burgers but don’t know how to make them taste better and have that juicy texture. From the quality of meat to the type of cooking surface, every aspect is important:
1. Shop only for fresh-ground meat
This prime step is essential and mandatory. Once you have freshly ground beef (1), you are one step closer to your dream burgers. Once stepping into the supermarket, look for the butcher case and try to find fresh meat instead of purchasing the packaged beef.
Generally speaking, people should avoid purchasing pre-packaged ground beef for their burgers.
Why Choosing Fresh Ground Beef?
Well, the answer is simple and logical: fresh meat is tastier and juicier. Don’t go for the frozen and pre-packaged ground beef or all those frozen patties. The ice crystal might change the meat’s flavor and decrease its final juices, making the burger taste so good.
Furthermore, when buying frozen meat, you don’t actually know when it was packed. But by buying fresh ground beef, turkey, pork, or chicken, you know what the quality to expect is.
The top places to find fresh meat are the butchers or right from the meat counter from your favorite grocery store. If you are lucky enough to have a trustful local butcher, ask them to cut you the best parts of beef. Some supermarkets also have meat counters where you can find fresh meat.
The Fat Percentage
When buying fresh meat, it’s important to follow the best fat percentage. As such, try to choose ground beef with 80% lean and 20% fat. This is the “secret” in having a tasty, juicy burger, as the meat has the perfect ratio between fat and lean. If you don’t have a problem with fat (2), don’t hesitate to look for it. Usually, fattier beef will always result in juicier burgers.
However, if you care about your diet and enjoy tasty dishes, avoid any ground beef that is 90% lean or more. This way, your burger will be too dry, and you will find yourself adding mayonnaise or other sauces to make it tastier.
Understand Beef Labels
Read the labels! This is essential when it comes to all the food you are purchasing. When it comes to the meat percentage, you will see that most beef will be labeled with 2 percentages.
One of them will show you how much fat is present in that cut, and one will refer to the lean part. These labels are usually written on the packed meat, so keep an eye on them.
Freeze Fresh Meat By Your Own
If you want to make sure about the meat you will be using in your juicy burgers, you can purchase larger quantities of good-quality beef and freeze it. Make sure you wrap it tightly, using a waxy butcher paper, then tape it shut. After the waxy layer, add some aluminum foil over everything and tape it as well.
Once you have this, it’s time to write down the package’s date and cook it within 4 months. Leave the ground meat to defrost in the fridge. If you run out of time, you can take the meat out of the wrapping layers and place it under cool water for about an hour.
2. Form Individual Patties
Tear off a nice amount of beef, so you can start forming the final patties for your burgers. The size of these patties is just a matter of preference. Try to consider the size of your buns too. Generally speaking, a fist-sized chunk of beef will help you get a nicely sized burger.
3. Use Cold Butter
This is one of my favorite tips regarding the juiciest burgers. Butter is a great ingredient (3), not only in cakes but also in adding juiciness and flavor to the burger patties. Try to use only cold butter and to grate it.
When cutting the butter pieces, make sure they have a similar shape and have the same temperature as the ground beef.
Make some “little pockets” all throughout the patties and let them cook evenly. Butter gives a unique flavor and texture to your burgers. Just give it a try.
4. Handle The Meat Gently
When shaping the burger patties, it is essential to handle the meat as gently as you can. When you are tearing the chunks of beef, try to handle them with a lot of care. Another tip – don’t squeeze the meat too much.
If you mash the beef while shaping it, you will lose much of its moisture and flavor.
When forming the burger, use your hands. Gently press each chunk of ground beef on a flat surface. You can also use a disc-shaped patty, like a reference. As long as you choose a hard surface to shape the patties, make sure to avoid squeezing them too much.
When it comes to shape and size, it is only a matter of preference. Shape the patties as you wish. In general, meat patties should be around 10 cm across and 1.9 cm high before cooking them.
5. The Dimple Into The Center
Before cooking the patties, make a ¼ inch dimple right in the center of each burger. This is a great trick for the burgers to cook quickly at the edges but slower in the center. The burger will receive all the juices in its center, and the final taste will be richer.
The dimple will also prevent the burger from bulging upright in the middle. The recipes for juicy burgers are easy to follow, and we love these ones.
6. Salt The Burgers
It’s time for seasoning the meat patties right after shaping them. Instead of mixing the salt into the burger, which can decrease the moisture and make the patties dry, spread salt outside the meat right before starting to cook it.
Grilling Juicy Burgers
Here we are, at one of the most critical parts in getting juicy burgers. How should you cook the patties to keep their flavor and juices?
- The Grill
How should the grill be? Should we use intense heat or not? Well, keep the surface hot, but not for the entire cooking process (4). The grill’s intense heat will indeed create that nice brown crust, which is a must for the best-cooked burgers.
At the beginning of the cooking process, the surface should have around 250 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature will allow the sugar and protein in the meat to react and form that unstable structure when all the flavor compounds break down.
The result will be a tastier, caramelized flavor, absolutely delicious.
This process is popular as Maillard reactions (5). The higher is the heat, the better will be the browning reactions. And the flavor of the meat will delight your senses.
If you leave the heat for too long, the burger crust will go from the beautiful browny color to a full burn. In order to prevent this situation, start grilling the burger over the hot surface first, then move it to lower heat. To finish cooking the patties, turn off the heat.
Another tip is to preheat the grill first. The meat should sizzle once placed on the hot surface. Brush the grill evenly, then lubricate the surface with some paper soaked in oil. Contrary, if the grill still has carbonized residues, the fresh food won’t taste so good after all.
When is a burger all done?
The cooking time is critical if you are looking for a juicy dish. However, there are lots of visual signs that will indicate when the meat is ready to serve.
We would recommend a thermometer in this stage because it is the easiest path to an excellent dish. Once the meat is heating, the protein in it becomes drier, and the look of the meat is browner, a bit translucent, and firmer.
So the hotter you will keep the temperature of cooking, the more changes the meat will suffer.
So, we would recommend you let the meat for a rare burger until reaching 120-125 degrees Fahrenheit. At this stage, the patty should be full of juices, have a bright red color, and a soft-touch texture.
If you leave the meat at 160 degrees Fahrenheit, the patty will be smaller, drier, and will have a tough, compact texture. The best way to take the temperature is by inserting the instant thermometer all through the side of the patty.
The tool will reach the interior of the meat and register the temperature accurately.
Cooking juicy burgers is easier, now that you know some tips and tricks. All these steps are essential, from the good quality of meat to shaping the patties and grilling them at the right temperature.
Prepare a burger night with friends and show them what you have learned today.