Tips for a Juicy, Yummy Burger

Finished Cream Cheese BurgerBurgers! We all love them and I often crave them, a feeling that can only be brought on by being bombarded with fast food joints and TV commercials.  Although I’m not so much into the fast food style of hamburgers I do have a weakness for one occasionally.

My favorite burger is one that is juicy and filled with flavor, cooked medium rare.  The problem with getting a medium rare burger is you have to trust the place you are ordering the burger from or getting your meat from.  So needless to say, I don’t order too many medium rare burgers when eating out. Now for me while I do love a good beef burger, burgers are more than just beef.  An awesome turkey burger is hard to beat as long as it hasn’t been cooked until it’s dry and tastes like sawdust (yes, I know what sawdust tastes like. Don’t ask!).  And let’s not forget the veggie burger.  Yummy!

Today, I’m going to focus on the beef burger but the tips I give work for the others as well.  Now everyone has their own favorite mix of beef to make the best burger.  Mine usually depends on my food budget or when a cut is on sale enough to afford the really good stuff.  For me, hamburgers should also be made using a 80/20 meat to fat ratio.  Anything less and you don’t have enough fat to make the burger moist and juicy; any more and it’s just too much fat.  Buy the best you can afford when buying meat for hamburgers.  While I do buy already ground packs of meat from my trusted stores, I love to get a chuck roast or New York or Rib-eye steaks ground into burger when they are on sale for an even better burger.

Uncooked Cream Cheese BurgerThe next important thing about making burgers is how you handle the meat when forming your burgers and seasoning.  Good meat doesn’t need a lot of seasoning, plus you’re adding toppings so don’t over season.  Match the seasoning to the type of toppings you’re planning.  Hold the salt until right before cooking because it draws the moisture out of the burgers.  Handle the meat just enough to form the patties and don’t pack it tight.  Your burgers will be less dense and heavy.

NEVER push down or smash a spatula or anything on your burger while it’s cooking.  I cringe to think about how I used to watch my mom cook hamburgers and she always smashed them down.  You are pushing the juice out of them when you do it. (there are arguments for smashing them but it’s been my experience they end up dry). Just make sure your skillet or grill is pretty hot, put in your burger, depending on the thickness most burgers will take between 2 and 3 minutes per side.  Only flip them once!  Take them out of the pan and allow them to rest a couple of minutes before serving so that the juices settle back in, just like with all meat.

Get a good hamburger bun.  The bun is a very essential and important part of making the burger and adds a lot to the flavor so choose carefully.  The same goes for the toppings.  Choose a good lettuce such as leaf or Romaine if using lettuce.  Slice up a good sweet or red onion and get the perfectly ripe tomato.  A good burger is all about quality ingredients from start to finish.  Burgers are so versatile because you can put anything on them that you like, so get creative and have fun.

The burger I show in the pictures is one that I made using 1 pound of 80/20 ground chuck and is stuffed with leftover jalapeño popper filling, check out my recipe for those and you’ll know what to put in it if you want to try it out.  Make sure you leave the cream cheese in the fridge until right before using so it stays cold.  Then wrap the meat good around it to seal it in.  I put about 1/2 ounce to each 4 ounce burger.  I also sautéed up some onions, garlic and jalapeno to mix into the meat, along with fresh ground pepper and sea salt sprinkled on top.  For the toppings I used some beautifully aged 7 year sharp cheddar, fresh roasted jalapeno and a toasted potato bun.

Cooked BurgerMy burgers came out of the pan, juicy and the cream cheese just oozed out when I bit into it.  The jalapeño was spicy without being overpowering.  Yummy! My husband was in burger heaven, I think I even heard a moan or two in there about how good they were while he was eating.  I do know that he made it back for seconds!

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