The best way to cook burgers is not on a grill
Note: If you refuse to ditch the grill, watch the video above to learn how to make the ultimate (grilled) burger.
Conjure up your ideal summer barbecue—pineapple pool floats, sweaty cans of beer and all—and chances are burgers charring over smoky coals are part of that vision. After all, there's no more quintessential food to slap on a grill, right?
Tradition aside, turns out the ol' Weber might not be the best home for those perfectly formed patties. Before you start hurdling oversize grill spatulas our way, hear us out on how you should cook this All-American classic.
(1) Burgers Dry Out on a Grill: A well-made burger patty is ribboned with fat, which will render out while cooking. On a grill, not only do you lose this precious grease as it falls in between the grates, but it causes flare-ups. Not the kind that make you look cool, but the ones that lead to blackened, dried-out exteriors that taste like soot. Stick to panfrying—the burger will sear in its own rendered fat (look, no one ever pretended this was health food), keeping it extra juicy.
(2) You Won't Get a Good Sear: Yes, crosshatched grill marks are aesthetically pleasing. But no one's going to be paying attention to your burger's char once enrobed in cheese and sandwiched between a sesame-seed bun. A good cast-iron skillet will give you the entire patina of crispy goodness that has us lining up at the nearest Shake Shack.
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(3) You Have to Overwork the Meat for It to Hold Together: As J. Kenji Lopez-Alt of Serious Eats points out, the best burger patties are ones that are just barely shaped. Their outsides get crispier, they retain juices better and, more importantly, they stay tender. By the time your ground beef patties have been worked enough to hold up on a grill grate, they'll be dense and rubbery.
So if you want the best burgers possible, start reaching for the cast iron. Yes, we know that even we've been guilty of grilling our patties in the past, but if burgers are part of your idyllic summer barbecue, just take your heavy-duty skillet outside. You can slap it on the grill grates, directly onto the charcoal or on the grill's side burner. (As a bonus, you won't be spending the night cleaning grease spatters off your kitchen backsplash.)
Do you agree with us? Yeah, we didn't think so, but feel free to chime in below.
Whether your idea of the perfect picnic is cooking in the wilderness or sipping a summery cocktail at a sidewalk café, we've got everything you need to spend your Summer in the Wild. Let the outdoor entertaining begin.