Help & inspiration for grilling the best burgers.

Grilling season is upon us, and you might be eager to throw on an apron and get cooking. But before doing so, you might want to make sure your burger-grilling technique is in top shape. We’ve got some tips on forming the perfect patty and grilling it to its juiciest potential, along with some fun burger and drink ideas for your next barbeque.

Throw some stuff in it!

Up the ante on your hamburger patty by throwing some extras in the hamburger meat. You can try hamburger classics like different cheeses, butter or bacon. For bold, adventurous pallets, try mixing in some soy sauce or panko bread crumbs. Salsa or herbs mixed in can also go a long way, adding a little twist to the classic burger. Broths, oils and sauces mixed in to your liking are all simple ways to treat your hamburger patties before grilling.

Do’s and Don’ts:

  • DO try leaner meats instead of fatty. Lean-meat patties will shrink less than fatty ones, so if shrinkage (or fats in general) is an issue for you, go for something lean.
  • DON’T add salt to your patty until after it’s cooked. Salt added before cooking will only dry out your burger.
  • DON’T turn your patties over more than once for even cooking.
  • DO put a firm indentation in the center of your patty. As it cooks, the patty will even out and the depression will disappear. This keeps the center of the patty from puffing up. And speaking of a thick-centered patty…
  • DON’T flatten out your patty while grilling, as you’ll release the juices that give it flavor!
  • DO try forming patties in over-turned jar lids. Not only will they be perfectly round, but they will all be uniform in size as well, which your guests will appreciate.

Burger inspiration:

Variety is great in keeping things interesting as well as ensuring your guests will have a sandwich they like. Try substituting beef for other proteins, like a turkey burger or even pork. Of course, veggie patties are great for vegetarian eaters.

Try this idea: mini pork patties atop pepper jack cheese, with caramelized onion. Looking for something even more bold? Try a burger packed with onion, garlic and curry powder for a spicy kick, subdued by a cool cucumber-yogurt sauce. Meanwhile, kids will delight in this funky idea: form hamburger meat into a hotdog shape to put into a hotdog bug. It will have the familiar taste, but this time in a fresh shape.

No matter what your taste is, experiment with different spices and sauces you can mix into a recipe. And don’t forget to step out of your comfort zone with different cheeses and veggies.

Pair your dinner with a good drink.

A cookout isn’t complete without some choice drinks to go with it. Ginger shandies are great after a long day with Hoegaarden, ginger beer, lemon and mint sprigs. Those looking for another way to cool of might desire a cucumber-lemonade chiller alongside a spicy burger meal. Finally, one can never go wrong in mixing up a big serving of sangria for guests.

Give the kids a fresh, delicious drink with homemade raspberry lemonade–and be sure to leave some room for an ice cream float dessert, like an Italian cream soda.


Listen In:


This post is adapted from the May 17, 2014 episode of Home Wizards that was released on iTunes May 18, 2014. You can find this segment during hour one of the podcast.