Learn how to cook a hamburger
How to cook a hamburger seems like a silly question. Isn't it obvious? Actually no. It isn't a silly question. Let's see what it entails.
This page covers tips and techniques for cooking the hamburger patties, not the entire burger with the condiments and bun.
- Make uniformly flat patties
Since the cooking surface is flat, you will want to shape your hamburger patties flat until they're about as big around as the bun. If your patty is too small, add more meat. You can weigh the ground beef to get the weight so that you can divide them evenly.
The trick is to keep a consistent thickness of between half an inch to one and a half inch. This helps the meat cook evenly throughout. Use a patty press or burger mold to help make patties easier and faster.
- Use the one-flip rule
The idea is to only flip the burger once during cooking. This isn't easy to do if you are not sure whether the patties have browned sufficiently on one side. How long each side takes is dependent on how high the heat is, the pan used and the type of meat used.
Although it is not easy to get the timing right, it is still good to try to keep to the one-flip rule as it reduces the chance of the meat breaking up during flipping and retains its juiciness.
- Cover the burger near the end of the cooking cycle
When the burger is about ready, cover it with a small cover to steam it slightly.
- Use a clean grill
It seems superfluous to say this but the grill should be free from bits of charred meat. A clean grill produces beautifully cooked patties. The patties are easier to flip and will not stick to the grill. The same principle applies when you are pan frying or broiling your burgers.
- Never press on the burger while cooking
How often have you seen people pressing down on food cooking in the pan and squeezing the juice out into the pan? That might be good for other types of food but it is definitely not good for hamburger patties.
I know, it can get boring waiting for the patties to brown but you have got to resist the temptation. Go prepare something else like the side dishes or chop some onion or take the condiments out from the fridge.
- Achieve a cooking temperature of 160 degree F.
The Beef Council recommends an internal cooking temperature of 160 degrees F. for beef patties before eating. This ensures that any germs and bacteria lurking within the patties are killed. If you're unsure how hot your patties are, use a meat thermometer. Remove the patties from the grill, insert the thermometer into the middle of the patties and wait for the indicator to stop.
1. How to cook a hamburger by grilling
Grilling is a form of quick cooking that involves applying direct heat to the surface of the food. As grilling produces smoke, many people prefer to grill outdoors using an outdoor grill.
Grilling can be done using indoor grills although they are not common in home kitchens.
This is by far the most popular cooking technique for hamburgers although you will need to control the cooking temperature.
2. How to cook a hamburger by pan frying
To start pan-frying, set your non-stick pan on the burner on medium-high heat. When the pan is sufficiently hot, place the patties onto the pan to cook.
After a few minutes, you should see the edges of the patty beginning to brown and curved up away from the pan slightly. When the browning gets about a third of the way up, you'll know it's time to flip.
Let the other side cook for the same amount of time. When the sides are almost completely brown, cover the pan with a small metal lid and let the patty "steam" for a few minutes. Or up to 8 minutes if you want a well-done burger.
Take off the cover and viola! A perfectly cooked hamburger!
3. How to cook a hamburger by pan frying cum oven baking
Pan-frying and finishing off in the oven can achieve the perfect texture and level of "done-ness". This method is great for big burgers.
The thing to note if you are going to use the oven is the pan you are going to use. Check whether it can be used in the oven. A cast iron skillet would be best.
Here's how you do it:
- Preheat a cast iron skillet over the stove at about medium-high heat
- Add just a touch of cooking oil
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
- Fry the patty in your skillet until the bottom has browned and you can see the juices emerging from the top of the patty
- Flip the patty over
- Place the skillet with the flipped burger in it into the heated oven for about 5 minutes
- That's it! It's done.
4. How to cook a hamburger by broiling
Broiling is especially useful when you're beginning with a frozen burger patty and you have a nice big oven.
Broiling means to expose the food under or over direct radiant heat. When you set your oven to the broil setting, the heating element above glow a bright red. Place your uncovered food under it.
If you're going to broil in an oven, use a broiling pan to catch any excess grease.
- Turn your oven to broil
- Place burger patties on the broiler pan
- Cook till you see juices emerging from the top of the meat.
- Remove the broiling pan from the oven and flip the patties
- Place the broiling pan back into the oven
- Cook 5 more minutes.
- Check that the temperature within the burger is at least 160 degrees F.