Easy Hamburgers Recipe photo by Taste of Home
Total Time
Prep: 20 min. Grill: 10 min.
This is the only hamburger recipe you need! We'll walk you through how to make hamburger patties that grill up to juicy perfection.

Updated: May 14, 2024

There are many hamburger recipes out there, and many of them include fancy seasonings, eggs or bread crumbs. But the perfect burger patty—the one that’s juicy on the inside with a lightly charred crust on the outside—doesn’t need any of those additions. It should taste like beefy goodness. So we take a straightforward approach and season our all-beef patties with salt and pepper only.

The way we combine those three ingredients is where burger science comes into play. Choosing the right ground beef and handling it properly is the best way to create grilled burgers with a rich flavor and tender texture. Once you’ve nailed the burger patty, let your imagination go wild with the toppings, and transform a regular hamburger into your favorite restaurant burger.

The Best Ground Beef for Burgers

Different patties with ratings TMB Studio

The best hamburgers we’ve had are juicy and rich and taste like beef. And it all starts with choosing best ground beef for burgers. Here’s what you need to know before you hit the store:

  • Use high-quality beef: The beef is the star of the burger—not the seasonings. If you buy the highest-quality beef you can afford, you won’t need to dress it up with additions like Worcestershire sauce and garlic powder. So skip the bargain-bin options, and ask your butcher for help if needed. When it comes to grass-fed beef vs. corn-fed beef, grass-fed has a meatier, more pastoral flavor while grain-finished beef is sweeter and richer.
  • Consider the fat content: Juicy, flavorful hamburgers have the ideal beef-to-fat ratio. For grilled burgers, we recommend an 80/20 blend (80% lean meat and 20% fat). You can use higher-fat blends (like 70/30) for an extra-juicy burger, but take care when flipping the burger; high-fat patties can fall apart on the grill. Lean blends (like 90/10 beef) work in a pinch, but they’ll turn out drier and less flavorful.
  • Make a custom blend: Ask the butcher to grind the beef to order. (Or, if you’re really serious about your burger game, do it at home with a meat grinder or a food grinder KitchenAid attachment.) Each cut of beef has a unique flavor, so try blending sirloin with chuck roast. Or add beefy-flavored cuts, like brisket, short ribs or hanger steak, to the mix.

How to Make Hamburger Patties

In theory, a hamburger patty recipe is pretty easy. However, how you combine and shape the patty determines how it will eat. For starters, wait to salt the burgers until they hit the grill. Salt draws out moisture from proteins, which is a good thing when brining whole proteins like steak. With ground meat, salt can draw out too much moisture, leading to a dry, dense burger. So sprinkle the patties with salt just before grilling to create a juicy interior and a deliciously salty crust.

Next, keep the meat cold. You want the fat to be as cold as possible so it will rapidly expand when it hits the grill’s heat, creating delicious flavor pockets inside the patty. Keep the ground beef in the refrigerator until you’re ready to form the patties. Then, refrigerate again until you’re ready to grill.

Finally, avoid overworking the meat. Overpacking or squeezing the ground beef will make the burger dense, even if you’ve done everything else right. Wet your hands with cold water to keep the meat from sticking, and cup the portioned beef in your hands to form a lightly packed ball. Then, gently form the ball into a disk that’s a slightly larger than the bun. Only apply enough pressure to make sure the patty stays together.

Hamburger Ingredients

  • Ground beef: For grilled burgers, we recommend using 80/20 beef. It has enough fat to keep the burger juicy as it cooks over the grill’s intense heat. Lean ground beef tends to dry out on the grill, so it’s better suited for stovetop burgers (especially when they’re basted with butter, like Wisconsin butter burgers).
  • Hamburger buns: The best hamburger buns are soft and squishy, like sesame seed or potato buns. To add a hint of sweetness, try brioche buns. If you have a spare 40 minutes, try making homemade hamburger buns.
  • Optional toppings: Customize your burger with flavorful additions like lettuce leaves, sliced tomato, sliced onion, bacon and mayonnaise.

Directions

Step 1: Shape the hamburger patties

Shaping the meat into patty shapesTMB Studio

Shape ground beef into four 3/4-inch-thick patties.

Editor’s Tip: The meat will shrink as it cooks, so shape the patties slightly larger than the bun. To minimize shrinkage, create a tiny indentation in the center of the patty with your thumb. (If you’re planning to cook the burgers inside on a skillet, make a doughnut hole in the center of the patty instead.)

Step 2: Season the hamburger patties

Just before grilling, sprinkle the patties with salt and pepper.

Editor’s Tip: If you went all-in with high-quality beef, you don’t need seasonings beyond salt and pepper. However, if you want to infuse the burgers with extra flavor, add seasonings like finely chopped green onions, Montreal seasoning and Worcestershire sauce before forming the patties. Using your hands, lightly but thoroughly mix the seasonings into the beef. Work as quickly as possible so the meat stays cold, and avoid squeezing or overworking the beef.

Step 3: Grill the hamburgers

Grilling Patties on outside in grillerTMB Studio

Grill the burgers, covered, over medium heat until a thermometer reads 160°, five to six minutes on each side.

Editor’s Tip: Thinner patties will cook more quickly than thicker patties, so use a digital thermometer to monitor the exact temperature of the burger. The USDA recommends a food-safe cooking temperature of 160°F for ground beef.

Step 4: Build the perfect hamburger

Top the bun bottoms with the burgers. If desired, serve with lettuce, tomato, onion, bacon and mayonnaise.

Editor’s Tip: For cheeseburgers, add a slice of cheese immediately after removing the burgers from the grill. Cover the burgers with a plate or tent with foil to help the cheese melt.

Top Shot of Hamburger and ingredients involved in itTMB Studio

How to Make Hamburgers Without a Grill

Grilled hamburgers have a fantastic charred, flame-kissed flavor, but the weather doesn’t always cooperate. To cook hamburgers inside, try using the air fryer for air-fryer hamburgers. You can also cook burgers in the oven on a greased baking sheet, or cook burgers on the stove in a skillet (an especially good option for smash burgers).

Hamburger Variations

  • Juicy Lucy: Stuff the burgers with cheese to make a Juicy Lucy burger.
  • Bacon cheeseburger: Top the burger with cooked bacon and your favorite cheese—sharp cheddar, pepper jack or American cheese—to make bacon cheeseburgers. (Add barbecue sauce to make it a barbecue bacon burger.)
  • Mushroom Swiss: Finish the burgers with sauteed mushrooms and a slice of Swiss cheese to make a mushroom and Swiss burger. For extra-creamy mushroom flavor, smother the burger patties with warmed cream of mushroom soup.
  • Hawaiian burger: Marinate the hamburger patties in teriyaki sauce, and garnish the burger with grilled pineapple slices for an aloha burger.
  • Lettuce wrap burgers: Skip the bun, and make California burger wraps with Bibb lettuce leaves.
  • Cheeseburger salad: Make a cheeseburger salad or cheeseburger bowl by serving the hamburger patty on a bed of chopped lettuce and vegetables.
  • Non-beef burgers: If ground beef isn’t your thing, use another ground meat to make turkey burgers, pork burgers or venison burgers.

Can you make hamburgers ahead of time?

Hamburgers taste best right after they come off the grill, but you can prepare the burger patties ahead of time. Shape the patties, but do not add the salt and pepper seasoning. Store the raw burger patties in the refrigerator, covered, for up to two days.

You can also store uncooked burger patties in a freezer-safe container in the freezer for up to four months. Thaw the burgers in the refrigerator overnight before cooking.

How to Store Hamburgers

Store leftover cooked hamburgers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to four days. Reheat the burgers over medium heat in a covered skillet until they reach an internal temperature of 165°. I like to add a little water to the skillet for added moisture and steam the burgers back to life.

Hamburger Tips

What are the best toppings for hamburgers?

You can add any burger toppings to grilled hamburgers, but remember that the toppings will compete with the flavor of the beef. That doesn’t mean you can’t get creative, but try to keep it balanced. Consider adding one savory topping (like bacon or a fried egg), one to two creamy toppings (like cheese, mayonnaise, special sauce or avocado), a few crisp toppings (like lettuce, tomato or onion) and one bold flavor (like pickles, spicy jalapenos or barbecue sauce).

Are grilled hamburgers better on a gas or charcoal grill?

The charcoal vs. gas grill debate is long and storied, and each grill has its pros and cons. In the end, any type of grill works, so use the one you’re most comfortable with. The best gas grills heat up quickly and make it easy to control the heat with a turn of a knob. On the downside, almost every gas grill I’ve used has hot spots. It’s best to move the burgers around the grill to make sure they all cook evenly.

Charcoal grills infuse more smoky flavor into your burgers, which is a major plus. However, they take longer to heat up. There’s a learning curve to adjusting the vents to increase or decrease the heat, too. (Some charcoal grills are easier to use than others, so check out our Test Kitchen’s best charcoal grills.)

Should you press down on your burger while grilling?

Please don’t press down on burgers while they cook! Yes, pressing down on burgers speeds up the cooking time. But this common mistake when grilling burgers also squeezes the juices out of the hamburger patty. You worked hard to create those juices while shaping the patty, so don’t let them go to waste now. If your burgers take longer to cook than expected, transfer them to the indirect heat side of the grill. Close the lid until they’re cooked through.

How long do you cook burgers on the grill?

In general, a 1-inch-thick burger patty should take 10 to 12 minutes on the grill. Thinner burgers will cook more quickly than thicker burgers, so use a meat thermometer to know—not guess—when your burgers are finished cooking. Make sure to flip the burgers halfway through so they cook evenly and gain a gorgeous char on each side.

Should you let burgers rest after grilling?

Just like steak, you should let burger patties rest for about five minutes before serving. The burgers will stay plenty hot during this time, and the juices will redistribute inside the meat. Otherwise, the juices will drip right out onto your plate (or your hands) as you bite or cut into the patty.

Watch how to Make Easy Hamburgers

Best Hamburger

Prep Time 20 min
Cook Time 10 min
Yield 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1-1/3 pounds ground beef
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 4 hamburger buns, split and toasted
  • Optional toppings: Lettuce leaves, sliced tomato, sliced onion, bacon and mayonnaise

Directions

  1. Shape ground beef into four 3/4-in.-thick patties. Just before grilling, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill burgers, covered, over medium heat until a thermometer reads 160°, 5-6 minutes on each side. Top bun bottoms with burgers. If desired, serve with lettuce, tomato, onion, bacon and mayonnaise.

Nutrition Facts

1 burger: 265 calories, 13g fat (5g saturated fat), 62mg cholesterol, 495mg sodium, 15g carbohydrate (2g sugars, 1g fiber), 21g protein.

Grill these easy hamburgers and add your favorite toppings. Not into grilling? Make the patties on the stovetop, in the oven or even in the air fryer. —James Schend, Dairy Freed
Recipe Creator