The stats are in! It’s not steak, it’s not brats, nor ribs, but BURGERS that top the list of our favorite foods to throw on the grill during the season. So…what makes the perfect burger?

For some, it’s a live fire—even a preference for wood is on the list that produces the perfectly charred, seasoned crust and a juicy, meaty interior that has that perfect contrast with the soft-yet-sturdy bun of your choice and whatever condiments you feel like curating.

In this post, we’ll go over the 10 steps to achieve the sublime burger nirvana. Get ready to get blissed out over barbecue! 

  1. Fresh Ground is best. If at all possible, starting with freshly ground beef (preferably grass-fed), puts you ahead of the delicious game. If you can, use a meat grinder or even a stand mixer with the grinder attachment. You can use the coarse blade to grind the meat…make sure to do it twice! You can also request your local butcher do it for you.

  2. Blend The Beef Start with chuck and then add richer, more flavorful cuts—sirloin, brisket, and even boneless short ribs make a tasty burger. If you want to go off the beaten path, you can add more outlandish additions like beef marrow, bacon, or even uncured pork belly. Go ahead! Experiment! (don’t forget to take notes so you can replicate the successful efforts!)
  3. Fat is Important! The perfect burger needs fat—at least 20% is recommended. But don’t worry too much—some of it will cook out.
  4. Be Careful: Make sure your beef is thoroughly chilled when you begin. Chill your hands under cool running water. Take your meat and divide it equally into portions about 7-9oz a piece, and then form into patties about an inch thick and an inch larger than the buns you’re using. Using your thumbs, make a small depression into the top of each patty (burgers tend to puff more in the center of the patty.) Finally, handle the patty as little as possible so that you don’t melt the fat or compress the meat.

  5. Chill Your Patties: Make sure your meat has been chilled for at least an hour before grilling. Line a plate with plastic wrap and arrange your burgers in a single layer. Cover and then refrigerate for up to 6 hours.
  6. Season Well. Use coarse sea salt and fresh ground pepper as a base. Claude’s Marinades are a perfect addition to your BBQ feast.
  7. Make it hot, hot, hot! Make sure that your grill is prepared for direct grilling and then preheat it to high. In the best case scenario, you’d be grilling over a wood fire. But if that’s not your scenario, just toss some wood chunks on your coals or over the flavorizer bars of your gas grill. Keep your patties chilled until they’re ready to be grilled. Place the burgers on the hot grate and grill until the bottoms are nice and brown—2 to 3 minutes. Take a spatula with a sharp blade, turn, and continue grilling until cooked to taste.

  8. Never Ever Press Don’t press your patties with a spatula. It wrings out the juices and dries out your burgers.
  9. Let Them Rest. Transfer your patties to a plate and let them rest while you grill your buns (lightly buttered, of course!) The buns can take less than a minute to toast, so watch them carefully.
  10. If You Build It, They Will Come. A lettuce leaf on the bottom half of your bun keeps the bread from getting soggy. Next, the patty, then the tomato, pickle, and other accoutrements.