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How to get my burger that perfect doneness

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Hello all. For the past several weeks, I have been trying to perfect doing a burger on the stove top in a pan. The patty is a little over 8 ounces of hand-formed 80/20 ground chuck. All that is mixed within the burger is a little salt and pepper, and a little more seasoned on the outside of the patty. I have my burner on as high as it will go, and I try to do about 3-4 minutes on each side. What inevitably happens is the be burger's outsides look beautiful, with a nice char on both sides, but the insides (I used a small thermometer the last time) remains raw. As I wait for the center to get to medium rare (I'm aiming for about 128-130 F), the outer areas of the burger exceed well into the well-done zone. How to I get the a uniform pink/red burger? I've read that I should just sear the outside of the burger to get a nice char and then stick it in the oven (some also say broiler, too). If so, how long and at what temperature? Help me with my over-done burger blues :(

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  1. Very gently hand form your meat...(Ya ain't makin snowballs) Pan fry with medium heat until you reach 160* -- Do Not press on the meat with a spatula...

    Enjoy!!

    1. I sear mine in a very hot pan for 2-3 minutes per side, then put them in a 450 oven for 5 or 6 minutes. For us, they're perfect every time.

      1. OP - your problem probably is you're cooking far too hot. The outside burns before the inside get the way you want. Especially if you're making patties that are 1/2" or thicker.

        Reduce your heat to medium and cook longer. As others have said - don't compact the meat too much as you form patties and never, ever press the cooking burger with a turner.

        3 Replies
        1. re: KiltedCook

          KC is right - you need to preheat your pan well, at medium to medium high, depending on the composition and weight of the pan. What are you using? Cast iron, medium will do because of the superior heat retention. Cheaper, thinner pans will need more heat. Once you have flipped the burger (which should be done only once, turn the heat down to low, or even off, if it's cast iron. There'll be ample residual heat to brown the second side and cook the interior meat.

          1. re: greygarious

            Ahhh...that might be my biggest problem: Too much heat. I'll give the medium heat a try. On a medium heat cast iron pan, about how long should the burger be on each side?

            1. re: pastry634

              I often use frozen patties and I make smaller, rare burgers, so I can't advise on cooking time. The meat will release from the pan when it's ready - you shouldn't have to dig at it with the turner. Be sure to preheat slowly - a good 10 minutes on medium. Do not think you can hurry it by starting on high - that won't work the same. Adamshoe is right that room temp meat cooks more evenly but if you want a well-seared exterior and pink interior, that will be harder to achieve without using cold meat. I'd use room-temp if I wanted a medium-to-well done, large burger.

        2. Good advice from all. I would add: make sure you let the meat sit @ room temp for one hour BEFORE cooking. Meat that's cold in the center won't cook as evenly. adam

          1. Stick with high heat but use the oven. For an 8 ounce burger, you need to use the oven.

            I use super high heat and my cast iron skillet. Preheat the pan for at least 5 minutes.

            I cook for about 2-3 minutes on the first side, flip, and then I put the skillet in a pre-heated 450 deg oven for about 3 minutes, so total cooking time of about 5-7 min. There is enough heat in the pan to get the sear on the second side of the burger.

            1. I don't like to use the oven any more than I have to during the summer. What I've found to work pretty well is to put a decent sear on one side of the burger, flip, cover, and reduce the heat to low until the meat is done to taste.