Burgers for Every Craving
Get ready for a big bite! Here are recipes, DIY toppings, and tips to build your own perfect, juicy burger.
The aroma hooked me in. On a recent summery day I flung open the windows to let the fresh breeze from the garden blow through the house, and along came a waft of something that was definitely not roses or jasmine...meat. Meat on a grill. Smoky meat on a grill. Like Mickey Mouse aloft in search of pumpkin pie, I followed my nose outside to investigate. Burgers.
Sure enough, that nice couple across the street was grilling, and I could see a metal spatula going in for the flip. It was tempting to invite myself to dinner, but with a sigh, I stopped gawking and stepped back inside. Since then I’ve had a major craving. I’m dreaming of burger recipes with the works: juicy, nicely charred hamburger patties tucked into soft buns with a heap of salty, tangy sweet toppings (bacon jam! pickled onions!).
If the recent surge in searches on Yummly for homemade hamburgers and hamburger buns is any indication, you’ve got the same longing. And that means only one thing. We gotta get cooking.
Jump ahead to:
Hamburger basics and quick and easy burgers
You’ve probably made burgers plenty of times, but if you’re ready to elevate the results, read on.
What’s the best meat for hamburgers?
A great burger is one that’s so juicy it drips down your chin, right? To achieve this, you need some fat. For the classic beef burger, bypass extra-lean ground beef and go for ground chuck (it will be labeled with an 80:20 lean-to-fat ratio or say "80% lean").
Some cooks like to up the stakes with a custom blend, either ground to order by a butcher, or ground at home. Oh, Sweet Basil recommends a 60:40 mix of chuck and brisket (an extra-flavorful cut) in 2 Secrets for the Best Hamburger. J. Kenji López-Alt goes for all brisket in his Simple, Perfect Fresh-Ground Brisket Burgers, and explains how to grind the meat using a meat grinder or food processor. Rachael Ray’s Graze Burger, modeled after a luxe burger from a restaurant, features a custom grind of sirloin, rib-eye, and bacon.
How to make hamburgers
Handle the meat mixture gently when you season and shape the patties, keep them cold until cooking, and make them ¾ to 1 inch thick — that’s the consensus of many burger pros. Then there are the fine points. For starters, shape your beef patties 1 inch wider than the buns since the meat will shrink as it cooks, advises How to Grill the Best Burgers (an excellent simple hamburger recipe).
For Juicy Steakhouse Burgers, Once Upon a Chef shapes patties as she learned when working at a steakhouse, with a depression in the burgers so they stay even and don’t puff up on the grill. (She also adds a blend of white bread and milk to the meat to keep the burgers tender and juicy.) Have you tried a smash burger? Freddy’s Burgers, by Pioneer Woman, demonstrates the thin-burger “smash” technique that’s ideal if you like crusty edges.
How to season hamburgers
Whether or not you prefer burgers plain or loaded with toppings is up to you, but I think we can all agree that a burger just ain’t a burger without salt. And it turns out when you add salt is critical to the burger’s final texture. J. Kenji López-Alt did the heavy lifting to answer this important question. If you salt the meat before shaping the patties, you’ll get a dense, sausage-like texture, he learned. But if you wait and salt the outside until just before cooking, your burgers will be loose-textured and tender.
At what temperature are hamburgers done?
For food safety, the USDA recommends cooking ground beef to 160°F, or well done, as measured on an instant-read thermometer. That said, you may prefer a different doneness for personal taste. Here is the range of meat temperatures:
Well done 160°F
How to grill hamburgers
Here are the basics on how to grill hamburgers for patties 1 inch thick: Heat a grill to medium-high (400° to 500°F). Grill the burgers with the lid closed, turning them once, until they have a nice sear and are 160°F in the center (or done the way you like), about 10 minutes total. For cheeseburgers, add a slice of cheese to patties during the last minute or two of cooking.
How long to cook hamburgers on the stove
Here are the basics on how to cook hamburgers on the stove, for patties 1 inch thick: Heat a frying pan or cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the burgers, turning them once, until they’re nicely browned and 160°F in the center (or done the way you like), 6 to 10 minutes total. For cheeseburgers, add a slice of cheese to patties during the last minute or two of cooking.
10 deluxe homemade hamburger recipes
We’ve covered quick and easy hamburger recipes. Ready to consider some gourmet hamburger recipes? Just add a green salad or side of slaw.
This one is truly all about the bacon: Burgers, cooked on the stovetop in bacon fat, are topped with caramelized onions cooked in bacon fat, plus a bacon fat mayo, and a crispy woven bacon topping. Wowza.
Salty blue cheese meets salty-sweet bacon and caramelized onions over burgers that you cook on the grill or on the stove. A touch of onion powder, salt, and black pepper season the meat.
Life Tastes Good reimagines a Caprese salad in the form of summery, tangy-sweet burgers. She grills the patties, adding a homemade balsamic glaze, and then tops them with fresh mozzarella cheese, tomato, and basil leaves. Chopped mushrooms, egg, and almond flour in the burger patties help hold in the juices, a bit as you might make meatloaf.
Maybe you were wondering how to bake hamburgers for those times when you don’t want to fire up the grill and you don’t want to deal with spatters or multiple pans on the stove. Just set the patties on a wire rack in a rimmed baking sheet that you’ve lined with foil and roast them in a hot oven. No flipping required.
Was there ever a better excuse for a deliciously messy, multiple-napkin meal than the patty melt? Get yourself some good rye or sourdough bread, Swiss cheese, and thousand island dressing. Season the burgers with a little Worcestershire sauce, pan-brown to perfection, and add caramelized onions and the works.
Some clever cooks make an art out of reverse-engineering their favorite restaurant dishes, and that’s the case with this copycat recipe. Serious Eats browns thin patties (two per burger) with mustard spread on the meat, adds American cheese, and then sandwiches them with browned onions and a sweet pickle-ketchup mayo. Dill pickle chips, tomato, and iceberg lettuce? Check.
You can't have the perfect burger without the right sauce, says Oh, Sweet Basil. She's discovered just the right combination of mayo, regular mustard or Dijon mustard, bbq sauce, ketchup, pickle relish, Worcestershire, and onion and garlic powder.
Imagine the flavors of Korean grilled, marinated beef in burger form! You’ll grill burgers simply and then glaze them with a bulgogi sauce featuring gochuchang (spicy Korean red pepper paste). Sesame buns, kimchi mayo (with a little sesame oil and scallions), pickled daikon radish, and shredded cabbage complete the feast.
What do do when you're craving tacos and you're craving burgers? Just add some taco seasoning to your beef patties, grill them, and tuck some crunchy tortilla chips into with the buns! Add some pickled jalapeño chili if you're looking for an extra hit of heat.
Grilled lamb and salty feta cheese are a natural pairing, and these generously sized burgers by grill master Jamie Purviance add in multiple herbs and spices and refreshing cucumber-yogurt sauce for good measure.
Turkey burgers and chicken burgers
For a lighter approach to classic burgers, many cooks reach for lower-fat ground turkey or ground chicken. These next recipes include tricks for ensuring the burgers come out moist and flavorful.
Turkey burgers can be on the timid side, but Once Upon a Chef makes them both juicy and tasty by mixing approximately equal parts ground turkey and ground turkey Italian sausage for the patties.
Smoked paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, and your favorite barbecue sauce season these burgers, with a little shredded cheddar cheese for good measure. At serving time layer them up with caramelized onions, more sauce, and cheese.
The hot sauce that you love in fried Buffalo chicken seasons both the patties and the blue cheese mayo for these easy burgers. Panko bread crumbs mixed with the ground meat help it stay moist on the grill.
Veggie burgers to love
How to make veggie burgers that you’ll want to serve again and again? Let's consider a few creative ideas for black bean burgers, the classic mushroom burger, and even sweet potato burgers.
Grilled black bean burgers get the deluxe treatment with quick-pickled onions, chipotle silken tofu “mayo,” and guacamole.
For a quick and easy veggie burger, mash canned black beans into a chunky paste and then stir in dried breadcrumbs, egg, dried seasonings, and a little bell pepper and onion. Brown the patties in a skillet and then serve with tangy pan-seared apples and barbecue sauce.
This weeknight-friendly, classic mushroom burger features grilled, large and meaty portobellos, sundried tomatoes, wilted spinach, a little onion, and mayo.
Inspired by the much-loved flavors of Southern cooking, these burgers are a (literal) mash-up of sweet potatoes with roasted pecans, kale, plus some quinoa to help hold the patties together.
Homemade hamburger bun recipes
Maybe you’re going all-out with your burger experience and have decided to make your own buns. Or maybe the store inexplicably ran out of buns. Whichever the reason, you’re in for a treat when you make hamburger buns from scratch.
No-yeast hamburger buns in 20 minutes? It’s possible, when you stir up a dough that’s reminiscent of biscuits. Baking powder makes these rise, and yogurt, butter, and honey make them moist and a little sweet.
A light and tender texture and slightly sweet flavor reminiscent of brioche buns make these yeast-leavened hamburger buns a winner.
If you follow the keto diet, then classic carbohydrate-centric hamburger buns don’t work for you. But you can enjoy buns made with an ingenious combination of almond flour, mozzarella cheese, cream cheese, and eggs.
From-scratch hamburger condiments
While you can make a very fine burger with store-bought fixings, the ultimate burger deserves the homemade touch.
There may be no more swoon-worthy fixing for a burger than bacon jam. Smoky, savory, and sweet, it’s made from browned bacon that’s cooked down with onions, garlic, black coffee, cider vinegar, brown sugar, and maple syrup until syrupy. The recipe takes 1 ¾ hours total time on the stove or about 4 hours in the slow cooker, but then keeps for a month in the fridge.
You never knew ketchup could taste so good until you cooked down fresh tomatoes with ginger, garlic, chili, roasted pepper, vinegar, and brown sugar. In about an hour, it’s go time.
Any burger is better with a pile of caramelized onions. The secret is to cook them slowly over low heat to bring out their sweetness.
Tangy spiced onions add a big pop of flavor and color to your burgers and take less than 10 minutes prep time to make.
Your own crunchy pickles, made with fresh pickling cucumbers, dill, and spices, the old-fashioned way! They take about 45 minutes to put together, and then need to chill overnight.
You can give any burger the diner touch with a big ol’ pile of tender browned mushrooms.
Once you’ve treated yourself to the ultra-fresh flavor of homemade guac made with just-smashed avocados, you may never go back to store-bought.
Next-level your summer cooking
Now that we've got the burgers covered, here are some more recipes and articles to explore to plan your summer feasts.