My Burger Bible

Hamburger with Grilled Onions

Hamburger with Grilled Onions

By now you all know that Mama’s Gotta Bake, and oftentimes Mama’s Gotta Cook, but now that the warm weather has rolled into Southern California…Mama’s Gotta Grill. If you’ve read this blog for any length of time you would think that I live on nothing but cake, cookies and the occasional scoop of ice cream. Β But if the truth be told, what I’m totally obsessed with is burgers. Oh please, spare me with your turkey, chicken, lamb, salmon and veggie burgers, I’m a purist and it’s nothing but good ‘ol beef burgers for me.

For years I’ve kept a tiny, tattered notebook in the over-stuffed utility drawer in my kitchen. I call it My Burger Bible. Every time I see a tip in the newspaper, the internet, a cookbook, YouTube or the television on how to make a better burger, I write it down in this notebook. So, as summer approaches and you begin to fire up your grills, I thought I would share some of the information I’ve accumulated with you.

Tips for making the best burgers

Tips for making the best burgers

The Meat

  • When it comes to a tasty burger, fat is your friend. Fat will add tons of flavor and moisture to your burger, and it will shrink less. I usually choose a meat mixture with a 70/30 fat ratio. If that sounds too fatty to you, then go with an 80/20.
  • Never use frozen or pre-formed patties, that’s just an insult to any decent burger. If you can, have a butcher coarsely grind a combination of chuck and brisket.
  • When forming the burgers, use wet hands so that the meat will not stick them. Don’t overwork the meat to form the patties. The less you handle the meat the better, otherwise the resulting burger will be dry and dense.
  • Season you burgers with salt right before you’re ready to grill them. Salt takes the moisture right out of the meat and you’ll end up with some pretty dry burgers.
  • When you’re cooking a lot of burgers at once on the grill, it helps to weigh and size the patties, this way they will cook uniformly. (Serious Eats)
  • Bobby Flay suggests that when you’ve formed your patty, take your thumb and make a well in the center of the burger. This will help it to keep it’s shape. Also, chilling your patties for several hours before cooking will aid in them keeping their shape.

Grilling the Burgers

  • You will want to place your burgers on a very hot grill because you want to sear the outside of the burger. Searing the burger seals in the juices.
  • When the burger is on the grill, don’t press down on it with a spatula, or you will squeeze the juices right out.
  • When the burger is properly seared, it will no longer stick to the grill.
  • Like other meats that you grill, let your burgers “rest” for several minutes before serving them, so that the juices will redistribute. (Huffington Post)

The Bun

  • My friends, never take bun selection lightly. One must carefully consider bun to burger ratio seriously.
  • When forming your patties, make them approximately the same size as your bun. You can make the patty a little bit bigger than the bun, as the patty will shrink a bit on the grill.
  • Don’t choose a bun that is too soft because they tend to fall apart if your burger is juicy. However, don’t choose a bun that too hard as the burger will shoot out of it when you take the first bite. My personal favorite is a brioche bun.
Take the pointier end of an egg and use it to make a "well" in the center of the burger

Take the pointier end of an egg and use it to make a “well” in the center of the burger. This will help the burger to keep its shape.

So, how does Mama like her burger…simple. I like a little crispy lettuce, fresh tomato, lots of ketchup (yeah, I do!), but most importantly I’ve gotta have the grilled onions. They take 5 minutes to make and my burgers wouldn’t be caught dead without them.

Grilled Onions

Grilled Onions

Grilled Onions

  1. Slice 2 large onions thinly, or for best results, slice them on a mandolin (on the thicker setting) for uniform size. Toss the onions with a tablespoon of olive oil, Kosher salt, fresh ground pepper, and some red pepper flakes until coated.
  2. Set your grill to medium-high.
  3. Spray a piece of foil with cooking spray and place on the hot grill. With tongs, spread the onions out over the foil and toss occasionally so all slices cook evenly. Remove from the heat when the onions have begun to caramelize and are softened. About 5-8 minutes. Use immediately.
  4. Enough for 4-5 burgers.
Grilled Hamburgers

Grilled Hamburgers

Recipe: Easy

65 Comments on “My Burger Bible”

  1. I love this post as I love burgers too! Some great advise that I will be putting into practise this weekend! Thank you!

  2. Now that is a burger!

  3. This is a great post — great tips and that burger looks fantastic!!

  4. That burger looks so good! Love all the details, especially indenting the middle of the burger. I’ll be tring that tip!

  5. Great burger tips and a lovely photo. Now, I seriously want one and when you want a burger there is no substitute. πŸ™‚

  6. Jess @ jessjamz says:

    Mmm, this post made my mouth water! What camera do you use to shoot your pictures; they are wonderfully clear and successfully make me want to reach out and eat my screen πŸ™‚

    xoxo -j

  7. carol says:

    Good Job Mama! these look so delicious. Might have to make one tonight!

  8. PigLove says:

    Now that I would absolutely LOVE – a beef burger that looks awesome!! XOXO – Bacon

  9. Wow, your pictures make me want this burger now!! Great job. Will cook a few this weekend.

  10. Whoa! That’s a juicy looking burger Sheryl. I just want to sink my teeth into it! πŸ˜€ Great post!

  11. Thank you for your post. Today I realize what is a burger for an American πŸ™‚ and it sounds so “italian”. I felt the same emotion as I would talk about pasta.
    I will try to follow your advice.

  12. Mama’s gotta grill, love it! Your hamburger looks so good and your photo’s are beyond amazing, I love a good burger and grilling is one of my favorite parts of summer.

  13. You should make a burger cookbook! You definitely know your fair share about burgers. Great tips, thank you.

  14. Well now I’m hungry even though I just polished off lunch. πŸ™‚

  15. paintedlady says:

    Wow this burger looks soooo good! I don’t like onions and yet, I’m dreaming of sinking my teeth into this burger!

  16. nessa says:

    Great tips! That burger is taunting me…

  17. Clover says:

    Great tips, Sheryl. Thanks especially for sharing your technique for grilling onions! Definitely going to have my burger chef (hubby) incorporate that into our burger-making. BTW, one of hubby’s nicknames is “Burger” because he loves them so much! πŸ˜€

  18. Just beautiful!!! Yum!

  19. Some great tips here – thanks!

    I’m coming to your next BBQ.

  20. Michelle says:

    I believe we may be the only people in America who don’t own a grill. But those photos and tips are really making my reconsider that. Goodness knows we’ve always got an extra egg!

  21. I love that you have a burger bible Mama! It looks exactly as you promise, grilled to perfection and resting for the eating! Love that very handy tip on the patty & pointy side of the egg. We might be nearing winter here but I don’t want to give up my BBQ just yet! πŸ™‚

  22. Yummy! Love grilled onions — my fav! Looks delicious!

  23. Megan says:

    This is making me incredibly hungry! Nice job!!

  24. Thanks for this – great tips! My stomach is rumbling….

  25. Briana Jane says:

    Home made burgers are the ONLY way to eat burgers – love this post! Guess what’s for dinner tonight?!

  26. Janet RΓΆrschΓ₯ch says:

    You can’t tell, but I am purring. Burgers with grilled onions? Luscious.

  27. naomimgruer says:

    My hubby and 18 year-old son could eat a burger every night. I opt to eat red meat once a week. Your tips will help satisfy us all!

  28. Francesca says:

    i love this. American girls need burgers! But maybe you also have a recipe for those awesome lookin’ fries in the background?!

  29. Jarome says:

    Burgers are one of my comfort foods. Thank you for sharing tips on how I can make my burgers the next big thing. πŸ™‚

  30. ohlidia says:

    And here I thought that all you ever did in the kitchen was bake! You do make a mean burger!! It looks pretty awesome! I love burgers as well and they are my hubby’s favourite on the grill. Thanks for the great tips!

  31. Villy says:

    I don’t have words to describe how awesome this looks. I can watch this burger as a wallpaper on my computer all day… Drooling.

  32. […] Gotta Bake takes the art of burger making to a whole new level.Β  Make sure to check out her Burger Bible full of great tips and tricks for making the perfect […]

  33. lulu says:

    When it comes to grilled onions, no matter how much I make it’s never enough. I agree, they are what make a burger. Thanks for the egg tip. I’ll be trying that this weekend when I make burgers.

  34. Carolyn Chan says:

    LOVE THIS POST MAMA ! What a great idea to collect tips along the way, because I, too, am obsessed with burgers. Are you patties just beef only ? I love the seeming simplicity of your recipe (with all the handy hints behind it !).
    I struggle in Singapore to get good burger buns – they are usually awful processed, sugar-laden buns here and I think I need to go a-huntin’ a little further to get some good brioche.
    Thanks !

    • Hi Carolyn, no, not just beef…I love anything in burger form. Actually salmon patties are a real favorite. I’m surprised to hear that you can’t get a good burger bun in Singapore!

  35. I just ate a burger and this post makes me want another one!!

  36. sarahlouisek says:

    Girl, you know how to grill too? I am impressed. I want those burgers and onions you are cooking up, yum!

  37. themondaybox says:

    Your burger tips are great and I was so happy to see that I already knew a few of your expert hints! Though you write with beef in mind, your tips apply to the veggie and chicken burgers we most often eat. I think the very first one is essential. Fat is your friend. People always complain that veggie and poultry burgers fall apart. Mine don’t because I know to add cheese into the patty mixture. Flavor, moisture, and improved texture. Now to improve our burgers with the rest of your ideas. πŸ™‚

  38. Que bueno y que rico!!!! Tu hamburguesa me encanta
    un saludo , me gusta tu blog πŸ™‚

  39. Oh wow. These look so good! Nothing better than a big, juicy, tasty burger with lettuce, tomato and onion. It’s making me so hungry!

  40. Malou says:

    Mouth-watering burger, just like the way my husband prefers his burger! πŸ˜‰

  41. I don’t think anyone has ever captured a burger quite so perfectly before πŸ˜€


  42. holy smokes, such great photos.

  43. Great tip re the egg and the burgers do look delicious!

  44. There are so many great tips in here, my mind can’t handle it all! I’m printing this list out so that I can follow it to the letter and make the ultimate burger. I’ll think of you with every juicy bite, Mama πŸ˜‰

  45. thehomesliceblog says:

    Some great tips and fab photos! So hungry now!

  46. liliangrey says:

    I’ve never read such helpful tips on making a burger before! Really appreciate this post, love learning new things πŸ™‚

  47. LFFL says:

    Your pics are great! Makes the food look so good.

  48. Brooks says:

    Sheryl, thank you for the lovely compliment over at my place. I saw this post linked recently on a popular food site but came back for a closer look. Spot on handbook covering burgers from start to finish. It is a splendid guide to get your grilling game ON!

  49. Lizy says:

    Holy Molly! This post is the wikipedia of all burgers! Thank You for sharing! It shows you not only put some flavor but brains into the preparation of your burgers! I have to admit that I could do that for my 1st burger, but when my guys wanting to eating them every week, I tell you by the end of the week I just use whatever buns I have left, I just make sure they are round and top it with just ketchup, lol! joking aside, this is a very helpful guide! will bookmark for future reference. I came over to visit from the Burger Bash at the Contessa’s

  50. Rosa M Lillo says:

    I just love baking but adore eating burgers, especially something like this!!! I’m simply mesmerized staring at my laptop screen…
    Thanks for sharing πŸ˜€

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