12 Ways to Make Your Burger Taste Even Better

Your burgers will be the star of every backyard cookout!

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Taste of Home

Nothing says “summer” better than a burger sizzling on the grill! And you definitely can’t go wrong with our top-rated burgers. Read on for ways to make ’em all even better, including a handful of unexpected ideas.

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Fresh Ground Beef at the butcher.
Shutterstock / Th1nk

Pick the Right Meat

It seriously makes all the difference! Pick up a special blend (say, 50% chuck and 50% sirloin or something with bacon trimmings) to get a unique flavor and texture. You’ll want to avoid the pre-packaged stuff—stop by your butcher instead.

Pro tip: If you ask nicely, many butchers will ground your preferred cut of meat on the spot.

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the formation of ground beef for grilling burger
Shutterstock / Mikhaylovskiy

Look for the Perfect Ratio of Meat to Fat

For well-cooked burgers, go with 75% meat to 25% fat, because they’ll be cooked longer and you don’t want a tough burger. For most people, an 80% / 20% balance is just right.

Using a charcoal grill delivers delicious flavor. Here’s how to use one.

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Pair of hand mixing raw ground beef mixture preparing to make fresh gourmet hamburgers
Shutterstock / Teri Virbickis

Don’t Overwork the Mix

For a moist burger, don’t overhandle the meat before cooking. If you add seasonings to the beef, gently mix them in with two forks until just combined. Then shape into 4-in. round patties about 1/2-in. thick (beef plumps when it cook).

Psst…Check out our guide for how to make the perfect burger.

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Mayonnaise in a glass jar with a spoon on white wooden boards.

Add a Secret Ingredient

Even the right cuts of meat can get a touch dry. The best burgers have help from a secret ingredient (such as a dollop of mayonnaise, yogurt or sour cream) that packs in moisture and flavor.

This All-American Cheeseburger uses lots of surprising things to stay juicy!

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peanut butter in a jar on a knife
Shutterstock / Andrew Balcombe

Drop in Some Peanut Butter

Another way to add some extra moisture to your burgers is to mix in a spoonful of peanut butter. Not only will this add some Georgia flavor, but the oil in the peanut butter will keep the patty super-succulent.

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Salting water
anastasiia agafonova/Shutterstock

Don’t Salt Too Early

Do not add any salt to your ground beef mixture if you’re going to be forming your burgers ahead of time. Salt breaks down the beef protein causing the inside of your burger to become sticky and tough. Instead, add a liberal sprinkling of salt to the outside just before you cook them.

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Mushroom stuffed cheeseburger
Taste of Home

Hide a Surprise in the Middle

You might think it’s impossible to improve on grilled burgers, but hiding a tasty surprise in the middle of the patty makes ’em even better. Try some herb or garlic butter, a dab of homemade relish or some melted cheese.

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Hamburgers on the grill
Shutterstock / MelvinDyson

Let it Be

Try not to press on burgers with a spatula while grilling. Doing so squeezes out the juices, decreasing flavor and increasing the chances of drying out the patties as well as causing flare-ups when cooked on a grill.

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Add Ice Chips to the Patty

Really! Some expert chefs add ice chips to the meat mix. This technique only works when you’re grilling right away, but the steam formed over the hot coals will work wonders to lock in moisture.

Try adding ice chips to any of our very best burgers before cooking.

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Chopped herbs spread out over a white cutting board
Taste of Home

Add Some Herbs

Herbs are another fab way to add some zing. How about lamb burgers with mint or rosemary, or hamburgers with cilantro, lemongrass, chili and lime? These Herb & Cheese-Stuffed Burgers sound amazing.

Pro tip: Strong herbs work best because the flavors won’t get lost.

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Various spices spoons on stone table.
Photo: Shutterstock / Evgeny Karandaev

Spice Things Up

Spices create tongue-tingling magic with even the simplest burger recipe! Turn your barbecue into a Mexican fiesta by adding chili, cumin and cayenne to your mix. (Be sure to serve it with homemade guac.) You might also like these delicious Cajun-inspired burgers.

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Taste of Home

Think About the Toppings

Toppings can make or break a burger. We love homemade toppings like cranberry ketchup, mac n’ cheese or spicy barbecue sauce paired with everyday condiments like cheese slices and crisp lettuce.

Here are a few mouth-watering burger toppings, so you’ll never be short on ideas.

Elizabeth Manneh
Elizabeth is an experienced freelance writer, specializing in health & wellness, education & learning, family life & parenting, and women's equality & diversity. She's been published on ReadersDigest.com, Paysa.com, Huffington Post, Thrive Global, Red Tricycle, and The Good Men Project. She was also a regular contributor to Love Live Health and Daily Home Remedy. Elizabeth is a retired primary school principal and education consultant, with a continuing passion for education and learning. She's familiar with writing newsletters, reports to stakeholders, financial reports, business plans and evaluation reports.