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how do you make your burgers?

what's your signature burger and how do you make it juicy beside using 80/20 mix. I love beef burgers but also interested in your tried and true ways to make turkey, chicken or veggies burgers flavorful and juicy. Thanks. I don't really have a signature burger but I always like a slice of raw onion on my burgers. :)

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  1. Yes, 80/20 to start, salt pepper and Worcestershire.
    I form the burger, not to big not too small, and then press down with my thumb in the middle.
    Then dip it in cold water right before you cook it.

    I dont like a lot of cooked toppings like grilled onions, bacon or mushrooms on my burgers (except as noted below).

    A slice of cheddar, red leaf or bibb lettuce, some diced red onion, pickles, ketchup and a nice country style mustard. Sometimes, I will skip the ketchup/mustard/pickle and make a thousand island/remoulade dressing. If I am make a bleu cheese burger, I skip all the condiments and the onion. I like to make a BBQ burger by basting with BBQ sauce and using pepper jack cheese-served with no condiments/onion other than a little extra sauce.

    I dont eat raw tomato, but you could add a thin slice as well.

    As for the roll, I prefer a soft potato roll, lightly toasted. But sometimes I will go with a kaiser style as they stand up a bit better to larger, thicker burgers.

    1. Very lean burgers really benefit from very finely chopped raw mushrooms mixed in -- as the burger cooks they'll release their moisture and keep the patties deliciously moist and tasty.
      Saw this tip posted here a few months ago in reference to chicken burgers, tried it and was blown away. Best chicken burgers ever.

      As far as beef goes, chuck, though I'd love to try throwing some shank meat in sometime. I had some bison shortribs once and made burgers out of the trim -- they were really tasty, but the meat didn't hold together as well as burgers from another cut -- I believe it's the different texture of the muscle fibres (long, thick strands) that made the difference.

      1. I start by grinding my beef... mix of cuts for a good fat and flavor profile. For the actual patty, I make two sizes, 4oz for me, 6 oz for him [yup we are just getting older], season with kosher salt on the surfaces, and let rest at room temperature on a paper towel. Grill over a medium charcoal fire to a perfect medium rare, serve on homemade sesame buns. Serve with ketchup, dill pickles, and he has a slice of aged cheddar cheese.

        Very simple, and all about the beef.

        1 Reply
        1. re: smtucker

          Oh, girl, you make your own buns? Would you share your recipe?

          I think a 6oz burger is a dang big burger. That's what we make and I wouldn't want it any bigger.

          But, my dear, ixnay on ketchup :( Bob's educated me. It's mayo and horseradish. Usually grill onions and a slice of sharp Cheddar.

        2. For beef burgers, I spent most of the summer playing around with beef cuts and fats. To be honest, making super exotic grinds with chuck/brisket/short rib/ribeye fat, etc. really didn't do a tremendous amount to the flavor. Was it better? Sure. Was it so much better that I will do it on a regular basis? Probably not, unless I can find a cheap source for brisket and boneless short ribs.

          For turkey burgers, I usually add shredded cheese, scallions, and various other things. More importantly, cook them at a lower heat. There isn't much wiggle room between done and dry as a hockey puck, so I try to get properly cooked over nicely charred.

          Lamb burgers, I haven't tried anything aside from ground shoulder and I don't add anything to the grind. Advice on that front would be appreciated.

          Geez, this thread is making me wish my grill wasn't covered in snow right now.

          3 Replies
          1. re: BigE

            Lamburgers! - I love 'em. I add nothing to the grind which should be more red than pink, but I pat in a generous dusting of garlic powder and ground rosemary to the formed burger, plus coarse black pepper, and grill over charcoal with mesquite chips. I add havarti cheese shortly after the flip and cover the Weber until done, serve on a nest of Boston lettuce on a good bun, with mint sauce. Lamburgers cook slightly more slowly than beef burgers, and they plump up a lot more, so one works these variables into the equation.

            1. re: Veggo

              I like my lamb burgers with a thin slice of feta cheese.

              1. re: Veggo

                That sounds great! I haven't ground lamb yet but keep meaning to. No mint sauce for me, probably some mustard.

            2. Equal parts sirloin, brisket and trimmed oxtail.

              Grind your own meat.

              Loosely hand-form your own patties. Never squeeze the meat into a hocky puck. Bad bad bad move.

              Season with salt and pepper right before cooking (and not a moment before)

              Sear, then cook to a medium rare

              Serve on brioche bun.

              3 Replies
              1. re: ipsedixit

                you had me till brioche. sub out a potato roll and i'm game! I do no condiments or greenery. Just bun, burger and melted cheese (cheddar or american).

                1. re: ESNY

                  Yup, same here.

                  I'm easy on the bread. If it's potato roll you want, then it's potato roll you shall have!

                  1. re: ipsedixit

                    The only problem with potato rolls is that they match well with a thinner burger. If you are making a thick burger, or a burger with a higher fat content (i.e. juicy) they sometimes fall apart. You need a stronger bread to hold a 1/2 lb patty plus condiments.

                1. A friend's secret is to use brisket meat. I haven't tried that yet, though.

                  I am a believer that seasoning the meat is key. Sometimes I season the meat and then form it into patties. Other times I just sprinkle the patties generously with salt and pepper. For the former, test a patty before cooking them off, and taste to check the salinity. Add more as needed.

                  My colleague developed this recipe, which was delicious!

                  Jill (from the CHOW.com Kitchen)

                  1. I use 70/30. (Probably giving myself a heart attack...but, they're just...delicious!)

                    I start out with a quick sear in butter on both sides, then turn it down, put a lid on it, and cook until the juices run clear.

                    Perfection with a slice of cheese and some mayo.

                    1. Usually 80/20 here, just because I'm usually too damn lazy to grind my own and too poor to go buy the fancy stuff. Weigh the meat and then each patty's worth - around 6 or 7 ounces, typically - and then very gently form the patties so the meat doesn't get squished together. Then they're laid out on a low flat rack and salted and peppered on the surface, both sides, then I lay a clean dish towel over to keep the bugs off and let them sit for at least an hour or two.

                      My favored cooking method is on a flat iron skillet bottom, second-favorite my grill pan. I'm not a big fan of flame-grilling, but Mrs. O likes those and I enjoy using the grill, so I'll do that now and then. Trader Joe's used to have ciabatta rolls that were to my taste the perfect bun for a big burger, but the ones they have now (when they do) aren't shaped right for that. I am not a brioche-bun fan, either, so I usually default to Kaiser or onion rolls, again a big favorite of Mrs. O's. Oh, and ALWAYS cheese!

                      Her: ketchup, relish, onion, lettuce, tomato. Me: mustard, mayonnaise, pickle, onion, lettuce tomato. And a bib.

                      1. I used to put all kinds of "stuff" in the burger meat but for the last several years I have have just used salt and pepper and grated onion. I grate a whole onion and add it along with the juice to the meat. It adds great flavor and keeps the meat, no matter how lean, quite moist. I either grill them or cook in a cast iron pan.

                        1. My signature burger is def. a turkey burger. I add mustard, swiss cheese, and scallions to my burger mix, then throw them on the grill and serve with tomato, lettuce, and mayo on a good bun, if I can find one.
                          I don't have a decent method for making beef/pork burgers, but I love toppings like bacon, avocado, bean sprouts, and tomato.
                          I like raw onion, too, but unfortunately I'm allergic, so if I don't want a serious headache afterwards I have to steer clear.

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: KimberlySH

                            I do Bittman's burgers. I buy a piece of chuck roast, do the best I can to cut away the sinewy parts, grind in the food processor or Kitchen Aid grinder attachment if I'm not too lazy, mix in some finely chopped onions, salt and pepper and grill.

                            My college roommate used to make burger patties with small pieces of ice in the middle. Made the inside cook less as the outside browned. If you didn't get stuck with a small piece of ice in your mouth when you bit into your burger, you'd be happy.

                            1. re: KimberlySH

                              I'm looking for a good turkey burger recipe. I have seen scallion with blackbeans in turkey, but not mustard of swiss. Do you shred the cheese? Can you give more specifics?

                                1. re: jerseycity chef

                                  I mentioned above adding very finely chopped raw mushrooms to the burger mix when making poultry or other lean burgers -- keeps them incredibly juicy. That, or mix in some finely diced bacon. Or both. Can't go wrong.

                                  1. re: Whats_For_Dinner

                                    do you cook the bacon and mushrooms first?

                              1. The patty: six ounces of fresh-ground seven-bone chuck. Dimpled in the middle. Salt and pepper, nothing else. Grill or griddle, highest heat possible, until mid-rare.

                                The bread: homemade brioche. But leave out most (all?) of the sugar. Buttery and tender, with a bit of structure - perfect. Various commercial options are also acceptable, but I'm not going to put my signature on them.

                                The condiments: none necessary, but homemade mayo is always welcome. As is a bit of crisp lettuce. And tomato, but only if it's in season (ie, just picked on the back patio). Paper-thin slices of sweet onion are also a possibility. Pickles on the side.

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: alanbarnes

                                  I'm intrigued, how does the texture of a reduced sugar or sugar free brioche compare to the sweet variety?

                                  1. re: gadfly

                                    AFAIK sugar isn't a significant contributor to the texture. But then again, I never make sweet brioche, and am continually surprised at the number of people who assume it is laden with sugar by definition.

                                    1. re: alanbarnes

                                      Interesting, thanks. It seems like adding more short chain sugars to a baking process would impact the texture a great bit, but I've always found applying this kind of simple logic to something as complex as baking to be terribly foolish. Of course, I'm also a terrible baker, which doesn't help matters. And count me as one of those number that's only ever experienced sweet brioche. Maybe because most of the bakers around me that make brioche are from Eastern Europe, so their brioche is really just Tsoureki with no mastic or Challah with loads of butter added?

                                    1. re: cosmogrrl

                                      For more uniform thickness after cooking. Patties contract as they cook, and a flat one ends up thicker in the middle than at the edges. Dimpling the middle results in a flatter cooked patty.

                                  2. I know that burgers are typically supposed to be simple, but I like things highly seasoned so I occasionally make South Asian-spiced cheeseburgers with ginger, garlic and onion along with toasted cumin, coriander and cardamom which I serve on buttered buns with cilantro and spicy ketchup. Springboarding from a Dutch recipe, I also make cheeseburgers with allspice, garlic, dark soy sauce and sambal and top them with lettuce, onion and fry sauce.

                                    5 Replies
                                    1. re: JungMann

                                      That South Asian burger sounds interesting - ever tried it with ground pork?

                                      1. re: alanbarnes

                                        You know, as often as much as I love pork, I never have! I guess I have a new dinner project.

                                        1. re: JungMann

                                          And maybe a tablespoon or two of fish sauce. Ooooh, mommy!

                                      2. re: JungMann

                                        JM, Both of those sound REALLY good. I'll be trying. Mustn't get to hidebound.

                                      3. The very best burger I ever had in a commercial establishment was made with about 15-20% pork...and that's how I've made them at home ever since. I hate soft 'hamburger' buns and prefer Kaiser rolls, though sadly, really good kaisers are getting hard to find.

                                        As far as toppings, I like a variety of ways ranging from plain to what is lately my favorite: a slice of tomato, a light schmeer of mayo, a small amount of India relish, and a spoonful of ketchup. On a pan toasted roll.

                                        1. When cooking indoors, I like to make smashed burgers.

                                          Get the cast iron smokin red hot, loosely form ground beef into balls a little bigger than an egg, and roll in salt and pepper. Drop the meat balls into the pan and press the hell out of them with a spatula until flat, then leave 'em alone for about 1-2 minutes, then flip, and leave for another minute.
                                          I get a very crisp crust over the entire surface and a very juicy inside with the quick flash fry.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: Novelli

                                            the roll in salt and pepper doesn't make them to salty?

                                            1. re: Novelli

                                              My roommate makes a similar style burger that's absolutely delicous - lil momma, these burgers are very simple and are best, imo, when they're aggressively seasoned with plenty of S&P. This is what he does:

                                              Heat up two separate Cast Iron skillets, get em both crankin hot. Prepare two patties that are about 3 ozs each. Season with PLENTY of S&P.

                                              Throw both patties onto the first skillet, and press into the skillet to make sure the entire patty is making contact with skillet. when the patty is nice and crispy, flip onto the other cast iron skillet and add cheese.

                                              Toast buns on the first skillet on the meat juice while the patties finish cooking.

                                              Assemble burger with condiment of choice, and pickles and onions.

                                              I used to be a big burger with lettuce tomato onion kind of guy until I had this burger...anything else is just a distraction. This burger is all about the crispy meat, cheese and onions. Pure delicious burger goodness without anything else. You must try it if you like burgers. :)

                                            2. 80/20 ground chuck and pork. Tucking a small pat of butter in the centre of each burger adds such flavour and moisture (and calories!). Just S &P and freshly-ground nutmeg for seasoning.

                                              As I am a condiment person I usually do caramelized onions, homemade ketchup (papaya when available) and grainy mustard and aioli. Recipe for excellent hamburger buns -

                                              1. 80/20 is too fatty for me personally. Grandma always had the butcher grind some round steak, probably closer to 10-15 percent fat. the fresh meat makes up for the flavor. And as someone above has said there are a lot of other comments on this subject in other threads.

                                                1. I use 80/20 or 85/15. I add worcestershire sauce, peri peri sauce (sometimes), a bit of bread crumb and an egg (or just a yolk for a small amount of meat), S & P and into a cast iron skillet they go!

                                                  1. Loosely form patties in a metal ring. This saves time, gives consistant size, and avoids hand forming, which results in a compacted, rather than a loose patty (this to me is a major factor for a good result). Make sure the grill is sufficiently hot so the surface will quickly sear and hold the patty together - otherwise it will fall apart. Loosely formed patties will start to pull apart, but can be gently reformed on the grill.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: MarkC

                                                      It takes me maybe five seconds to form a patty and do it very, very gently. So gently that when it's time to put on the grill I may have to again gently compress the edges so they don't fall apart. I don't have to worry about consistent size cause I grind my own meat (last time 10#) and weigh them out in 6oz sizes that the time.

                                                    2. For beef burgers. I like 75/25 if I can get it, but 80/20 will definitely do. I usually don't have a bun or bread at home for my burgers, but when I do, I like a nice big roll. Make an 8-10oz patty. I like mine with a heartbeat, so I usually season with salt, pepper, cumin, and worcesterchires sauce. Topped with a slice of tomato, lettuce, and bleu cheese dressing. If I'm out of bleu cheese dressing, I'll throw on a raw onion and mayo (on occasion a little ketchup).
                                                      If I'm having lamb burgers, my favorite is to top it with cucumbers & feta or tzatziki sauce. Turkey burgers I top with slices of grilled granny smith apples and brie.

                                                      1. I like a simple burger...80/20, salt and pepper, formed in a square (but getting the patty out of that gizmo is a bitch!), not too thick...Tiny sliver of butter in the cast iron, (or hot, hot grill if weather isn't crazy) lettuce, tomato, mayo on toast

                                                        1. there have been a number of discussions about great burgers, favorite burgers, perfect burgers, etc, some of which chowhound has links for below this thread. I'm gonna be foolish and try to summarize the common points.. most of which I happen to agree with, a couple of which I don't, none the less these represent what I have perceived to be the common elements.

                                                          1) Fresh ground meat, most often beef. the fresh ground meat has a flavor that can not be matched by pre-ground "manufactured" meat that has been treated who knows how.

                                                          2) 80/20 lean to fat ratio. This is the most commonly cited number for burgers. Less than 20% fat there is too much tendency to get dry tasteless burgers, more than that and they become too greasy and shrink too much during cooking.

                                                          3) Minimal or no seasoning or fillers in the meat before forming into patties. This includes breadcrumbs, egg, worchestershire, salt, pepper, etc. The idea is that you want to taste the meat, not make a meatloaf. In general seasonings should be applied to the exterior just before, during or after cooking-not mixed into the burger itself.

                                                          4) Medium-Rare to Medium is the optimal doneness. Again a flavor and texture thing. No hockey pucks. Commercial burgers are almost always overcooked. If you are using meat you have ground yourself, or just had ground the presence of bacteria is greatly minimized. This is one point that is strongly contested by some who are concerned about food safety, but overall the medium rare wins out in most discussions.

                                                          5) Buns should be heavy enough to stand up to a juicy burger, but soft enough that you don't have to tear them apart with your teeth or hands to eat them.

                                                          6) Condiments should be minimal and act to accentuate the burger, not overpower it.

                                                          7) You should be able to bite into the burger without requiring subsequent surgery to re-hinge your jaw and without having to mash down the burger. A burger is finger food, you shouldn't need a knife and fork to get the thing into your mouth.

                                                          2 Replies
                                                          1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                            In the inimitable words of Forrest Gump, "and that's all I have to say about that."

                                                            1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                              A possible 8 - jfood had a tip. If the burger and toppings are a little too wet, you can turn the whole thing upside down so the top of the bun which is usually bigger is then on the bottom. It works.

                                                            2. I've been mixing grated cheddar (and salt & pepper) into the 80/20 burger, a la Christopher Kimball. Delicious! With caramelized onions, of course.