How do you make a good burger at home?

28 May 2020
How do you make a good burger at home?

Are you looking for tips to create a good burger at home? Burgers do not have to be associated with junk food. Italian Spoon reveals tips to transform the humble burger into a quick and easy gourmet recipe the whole family will love.

It’s May 2020 and many cafes and restaurants around the world are pivoting to take away or just starting to re-open. This week there is a special tribute to hamburgers, not that the world needs an excuse to eat them. Americans eat over 50 billion burgers a year, so it’s only fitting that many will be consumed on Hamburger Day which is celebrated each year on the 28 May. I am all about supporting local businesses however the purpose of this blog is to inspire you to create a first-class burger from the comfort of your own home.

Making the perfect burger seems simple right? It sure seems easy but each component and layer requires careful consideration, or what you may call tender, love and care. For a traditional hamburger, you firstly need to get the burger patty right. That means using seasoned minced meat (ground meat) and cooking the meat to perfection. Then you need to consider your toppings such as cheese, bacon, lettuce; condiments such as tomato ketchup and mayonnaise; all of which are placed in between two bread buns. So many people get it wrong, but not anymore!

1. Perfect minced meat and seasoning

The best burger starts with the prefect minced meat (ground meat) selection. Chuck (stewing) steak and brisket make a flavoursome patty with a good meat to fat ratio. The ideal ratio we are looking for is 70% meat and 30% fat which applies to beef, lamb and turkey to create a juicy burger. If you want to go on the leaner side, use a ratio of 80% meat and 20% fat but that’s where we draw the line. Ask your butcher to freshly mince the meat for you. Sorry but pre-minced meat will not do – we are out to create the best burger here. Using Wagyu beef is more costly but makes the juiciest burger i have ever tasted and totally worth it. Why not treat yourself to a juicy Wagyu beef burger today! If not, using good quality chuck or brisket mince is also great.

Shape your burger patty into a round shape, approximately the same size as the burger bun. In terms of size, I allow 150g of minced meat per burger patty. Please do not add egg, chopped onion or breadcrumbs – we are making a burger, not a meatball. Wait, don’t season just yet – refrigerate until ready to use (ideally ½ hour to 1 hour is plenty). If you season ahead of time, unwanted moisture is drawn to the surface of the burger patty and we don’t want that. Seasoning is very important but only just before cooking to keep the patty as juicy as possible. Remember to season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper on both sides of the burger patty.

2. Cooking the perfect burger patty

Now that you have the perfect meat to fat ratio and have seasoned your patty it is time to cook it perfectly. Preheat your BBQ or pan over high heat. Brush each burger patty with olive oil before cooking. This will speed up the cooking process. If cooking on a BBQ, keep the lid down while cooking. Burgers should be placed onto a hot grill or pan and turned only once after a crust has formed which takes 2-3 minutes. Do not be tempted to press the burgers down while cooking – leaving the beef patty untouched allows it to hold onto its juiciness. Our final tip to cook the prefect burger patty is to rest the meat for a few minutes before serving. This also maintains the juices in the meat. A beef or lamb burger should be pink inside, whereas pork, chicken or turkey patties should be cooked through.

3. Which cheese is best?

Don’t underestimate the cheese selection for your burger. You want to choose a variety of cheese that naturally melts when heated. Our cheeseburger recipe includes Mozzarella. Good choices also include Gouda, Caciocavallo, Swiss and Gruyere cheese. That’s right – our burger has no cheddar in sight! Cheese should be placed over the cooked patty when turned half way through cooking. This way, the heat from the patty will soften the cheese and ooze down……yuuuuum.

4. The question of bread bun

The foundation, in this case the bread bun, is a very important factor. A classic burger bun is round, slightly sweet and soft (not crusty) but stable enough to hold the patty, toppings and sauce. If the bun is not stable enough, it simply won’t hold the burger together and fall apart. Which bread should you use to create the best burger and compliment your juicy meat patty and perfectly melted cheese? Brioche buns are my first choice but milk buns and white rolls are also good. Personally, I go for a brioche roll that has a shiny and firmer top crust which is lightly sprinkled with sesame seeds for the finishing touch.

Before serving, the bread buns should be just toasted on the outside for texture and slightly warmed on the inside texture. Toasting the bun also helps to strengthen the bread so it can hold the toppings and sauce.

5. Toppings to elevate your burger

We have already talked about which cheese to use. Your burger now deserves the best toppings to take it to the next level. Popular toppings include:

  • Grilled bacon slices – a must for crunchiness and flavour and is the perfect marriage for beef, chicken and turkey burgers
  • Lettuce – particularly great in chicken burgers. Be sure to use lettuce that is crunchy and fresh (such as baby cos) with leaves that are cut down to the same size as the bun
  • Caramelized onions – add a beautiful sweetness to burgers
  • Tomato – use only salad tomatoes that are firm (not too ripe) and slice horizontally. Personally, I would skip the addition of sliced tomato as it adds unwanted moisture to the burger.

6. The better the sauce, the better the burger

Ketchup would have to be the most popular sauce for burgers. Individually tomato ketchup and mayonnaise are classic choices for burgers. Ketchup is one sauce I recommend buying from the store. If you are really passionate, a home-made mayonnaise can take your burger from good to great. Even if you choose to buy ketchup and/or mayonnaise, it doesn’t mean that you can’t put a spin on it. To spice things up a little, why not try a combination of these two sauces, using 2 parts mayonnaise and 1 part tomato ketchup to make a custom sauce.

As you can see, you don’t need to add many ingredients to make a great burger at home. Check out the fullquick and easy recipe Simone’s Ultimate cheese burger on the Italian Spoon website. I just have one last request and that is to forget about using cutlery. A burger must be eaten with your hands to every bite!

X Happy cooking and buon appetito!

Vanessa Bottaro

Founder and Owner at Italian Spoon
What is second best thing to being in beautiful Italy? Cooking and writing about Italian food, of course!

I live in Melbourne, Australia with my husband Simone and two children. They are my first love! Italian Spoon brings my second love for cooking Italian food and blogging to life and I am loving it!

I hope to inspire you to continue the tradition of Italian home cooking. Buon appetito!
Vanessa Bottaro

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