Grilled Cheeseburgers (Grilling Basics)
Now, I’m not going to say burgers are hard – I know they are the first thing everyone throws on the grill – but there are a few tricks to know if you want the best possible burger.
Tip #1: do not to overwork the meat. Use a gentle hand when you’re shaping the burger – overworked burgers are dense and tough. I use a burger press – I gently form a handful of meat into a ball, then press it flat and fix any cracks in the edges. That’s actually…
Tip #2 – make sure the edge of the burger is structurally sound. If there are any breaks in the edge, they will pull apart in the heat of the grill, and worst case the burger may break into pieces.2
Tip #3 is to leave some of the grill as a cool zone. Burgers drip lots of fat into the grill. The occasional flare-up is fine, but if a raging fire starts under the burgers, move them to the cool zone for a minute to let the flames die down.
The final Tip, #4, is add the cheese for the last couple of minutes. I like the crispy, lacy edges that come from cheese melting on the grill, and prefer it to a cold slice of cheese on the bun.
So, here it is, my recipe for basic cheeseburgers. Nothing fancy, and nothing better.
Recipe: Grilled Cheeseburgers
- Grill (My trusty Weber Kettle.)
- Optional: Burger Press (Mine is massively over-engineered. I love it.)
- No burger press? No worries. Gently shape the burger with your hands, giving it a bit of a dimple in the middle so it doesn’t puff up on the grill.
- Burgers always shrink on the grill. No matter how I shape them, how wide I make them, they always seem to wind up smaller than the buns. If you want a burger to overflow the bun, make it wider than you think you should – wider than seems safe – and you’ll be OK. Me? I think I’m going to attack the problem from the other end and buy slider buns next time.
- Of course you can get fancy – grill the onions, use a better cheese, go crazy with the toppings. Burgers are a foundation to build on. Once you’ve got your basic burger, go wild! (My current favorite: Fire Roasted Poblano Burgers.)
What do you think?
Questions? Other ideas? Leave them in the comments section below.
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And, frankly, my kids would rather have the burger – basic burgers are my kids favorite grilled meal. Nothing fancy, just ground beef, a slice of cheese, ketchup and mustard, and a bun. In one case, even that’s not basic enough – my youngest wants his burger plain. No cheese, nothing but bread and ground beef.↩
Note: This is a tip from Chef Michael Ollier at Certified Angus Beef, and was an “Of course!” moment for me in the beef class. Unfortunately, I took all the pictures with this recipe before I took the class, so you’ll see some ragged edges on my burgers. Never again!↩