Learn how easy it is to grill the best juicy burgers on your gas grill. We will cover it all from the choice of meat, seasoning, grill temperature, how long to grill, and final internal temperature.
I have grilled hamburgers almost weekly for 40+ years. The burger goes from the refrigerator to our mouths in less than 20 minutes. So please enjoy learning how I frequently cook at home and have a delicious grilled hamburger at home.
This is a tutorial for newbies and those who can't seem to get it right on that big box gas grill. If you're an accomplished griller, you can move on or stick around for some tips.
We are not making a gourmet burger— no grounding meat, stuffing, and magic ingredients. But you will learn to make a delicious hamburger with store ground meat and simple seasonings on your home gas grill. How is that for a goal?
Like many things, once you get your primary method down, the variations can flow. A darn good everyday burger I have done a thousand times. It is not a special meal, but it is an excellent easy dinner in less than 30 minutes.
So, let's do our burgers right. You will be glad you did.
Funny story (skip this paragraph if you want to get on with it).
In Lee Iacocca's autobiography, a section talks about the Ford Motor Company executive dining room having the best burgers ever. When the chef was asked about his technique, he demonstrated the method starting with a whole beef tenderloin going into the meat grinder.
Great starts will give excellent results. I don't start that way, and I assume you won't either. But really good starts and great technique can come close.
I love this. I'm sure I have done this a thousand times.
🐄About Ground Meat for Hamburgers
Using 80/20 ground beef is an easy answer. Most of us will start with store-bought ground beef, which is fine. I find ground chuck or sirloin has more flavor than other versions.
Leaner will not be as moist, and you are going for taste here. Do not use "hamburger" meat.
Most burger gurus suggest 20% fat for the moistest, most tasty burger. I think they are right. Fat does taste good.
Ground Beef vs. Hamburger Meat
There is a difference between hamburger meat and ground beef. Ground beef has a variable amount of fat, but the fat is from the beef being ground. Hamburger meat can have up to 30% fat from other cuts, which is not good. Please choose #1, not #2.
Lower fat or alternative ground meat.
Low Fat: You can sneak that amount of fat down a bit to 15% fat and still come out good, but less than 15% requires some special treatment.
You can go lower fat by adding something to retain moisture like my Healthy Low Fat Burgers or American Test Kitchen, adding a panade of milk and bread.
Alternative Ground Meat: Ground meat like chicken, turkey, or other meat substitutes needs different techniques.
👨🍳How to Grill Hamburgers
Preheat the grill to high heat.
Clean and oil grates, then as hot as your gas grill will go. You are cooking a relatively thin patty of meat rapidly, so direct high heat is correct.
While my very hot Weber runs 650° plus surface temperature, and you might "only" get 550°, the results will be similar. Some smaller grills will only get to about 500°, they will take a bit longer, but we are cooking to a final internal temperature and never by time alone.
Charcoal Grills: Your grill can be a gas grill or charcoal grill. It does not matter for this to work.
Some gurus suggest you must use charcoal. If true, I can't grill a burger since I don't have a charcoal grill. Use what you have. Just get it very hot, cleaned, and oiled.
Prepare the hamburger patties.
Start with 80/20 ground beef. Make the patties the size of your buns and use ⅓ to ½ pounds of ground meat.
Put a "dimple" in the middle of one side—about 1 inch or a bit more in diameter and about ⅓ of the thickness of the pattie.
Seasoning the hamburger patties.
Just some salt and pepper will do. I use my All Purpose Seasoning - 7:2:1 and 7:2:2, which adds some garlic powder to the seasoning. Montreal seasoning is very popular, also. But season as you wish.
Grilling the hamburger patties.
Place over direct heat. Cook for about 5 minutes on the first side, flip and cook another 3-4 minutes on the second side. Then check the temperature.
Total cooking time is 8 to 10 minutes, but the exact time will vary by your grill and the thickness of the meat. But the actual correct answer is as long as it takes to get to 160° internal temperature.
❓FAQs about Grilling Hamburgers
Since the meat is under 1 inch thick, you can grill with the hood open, but I prefer to keep the hood closed to keep the temperature high.
There are many variables: The size and thickness of the burger, the start temperature of the meat and the grill, and how frequently you open the grill and flip it are the most important ones.
The minimum safe internal temperature for hamburgers is 160°. It also gives a moist and tasty burger.
For safety, the FDA suggests all ground beef should be cooked to 160° internal temperature. 160° is the minimum safe temperature for any ground meat except ground poultry which should be cooked to 165° for safety.
Please follow these guidelines for your safety. Rare or medium-rare burgers are not safe.
I like to use 165° for beef hamburgers to ensure all areas are done but not much higher, or you have a hockey puck.
Yes. You must cook to a final internal temperature and never by time or looks.
A good thermometer is a must. I use a Thermapen, which is worth every cent of the almost $100 it costs. But you can get good results for $15. You can see specific models in The Cooking for Two Shop.
✔️The 3 Secrets for the Best Grilled Hamburgers
- Indent the center of the burger to prevent "puffing." This seems strange, but it is a must-do. Without this, the center will puff up thicker, and it will be hard to get to the correct internal temperature. The outside will almost burn and will dry out — all bad things. I start with a ¾ inch thick burger and compress a 1-inch diameter area about ¼ inch.
- Flip once and do not press. Don't play with your food, and don't keep poking it to check the temp when you know it's not done. The more you flip, the more juices drain and the more flare-ups. The more pokes, the more moisture drains. Pressing the meat drains moisture making the final burgers dryer.
- Do not compress the meat. Pat it into shape. If you use a burger press, just use it to shape. Keeping the meat cold will keep the fat and make a more tender burger so work quickly.
Excellent baked goods make great results. A cheap bun will ruin your great grilling.
Most people want a burger to fit the bun and don't like a large bun and a smaller burger. Since we are learning the basics, a standard burger bun fits a ⅓ to ½ pound burger well, and that is what we will do here.
When I want to be fancy, I will toast the buns briefly on the grill but turn the heat down and butter or oil slightly before toasting.
Sharp cheddar or something like Velvetta (I know, but I like it) are the most commonly used. Other good choices are Swiss or Havarti.
Who doesn't like cheeseburgers? I want to add cheese for about 30 to 60 seconds before removing the cooked burgers from the grill.
In addition to bacon, the usual mustard, ketchup, lettuce, tomato slices, pickles, slices of onion, BBQ sauce, and other sauces like Worcestershire sauce—the list is endless.
Other Burger Recipes
This recipe is listed in these categories. See them for more similar recipes.
🖼️Step-by-Step Photo Instructions
Note: Some images are from different grillings, so some may vary.
Preheat grill on high. Clean and oil the grill grates.
Start with 80/20 ground beef and divide it into ⅓ to ½ pound balls. They are the size of a tennis ball and then form into patties about ¾ inch thick and about 4-inch diameter. Safety note: Always wash your hands for safety before and after touching ground meat.
Give them a good sprinkle of kosher salt and black pepper on both sides. I'm using my 7:2:2 (salt, pepper, garlic).
THE BIG SECRET TO GOOD RESULTS. Press one inch round ¼ inch deep indentation into the center of one side.
Grill over direct heat with a closed lid preferred, but you can do open grilling if you want. Flip with a spatula after 5 minutes.
Grill another 3-4 minutes and check the temperature. Get to 160° to 165°, then add cheese for about 30-60 seconds if using cheese.
I don't feel a great need to rest the meat before serving. By the time you place it on the bun and do things to it, it has been enough time.
How to Grill Hamburgers on a Gas Grill
- 1 pound ground beef - 80/20. Use ⅓ to ½ pound per burger.
- Salt and pepper to taste OR 7:2:2
- buns and fixings
- Preheat grill on high. Clean and oil grill grates.
- Start with 80/20 ground beef and divide it into ⅓ to ½ pound balls. They are the size of a tennis ball and then form into patties about ¾ inch thick and about 4-inch diameter. Safety note: Always wash your hands for safety before and after touching ground meat.
- Give them a good sprinkle of salt and pepper on both sides. I'm using my 7:2:2 (salt, pepper, garlic).
- THE BIG SECRET TO GOOD RESULTS. Press one inch round ¼ inch deep indentation into the center of one side.
- Grill over direct heat with a closed lid preferred, but you can do open grilling if you prefer. Flip after 5 minutes.
- Grill another 3-4 minutes and check the temperature. Get to 160° to 165°, then add cheese for about 30-60 seconds if using cheese. Times are given as estimates. You are cooking to the final internal temperature and NEVER by time alone.
- I don't feel a great need to rest the meat before serving. By the time you place it on the bun and do things to it, it has been enough time.
My Private Notes
- I suggest 80/20 ground beef for routine use. We prefer ⅓ to ½ pound per burger.
- Wash hands for safety before and after touching ground meat.
- The grill should be on high. You can grill with the hood open, but I prefer to use a closed lid. It is easier to keep the grill temperature up.
- Cooking time varies by your grill and the burger, so cook to a final temperature, never by time alone.
- 160° is the minimum internal temperature for ground beef, but I prefer to use 165° to ensure all areas are done.
- REMEMBER: Times are given as estimates. You are cooking to the final internal temperature and NEVER by time.
- Follow the secrets listed below.
- Nutrition is calculated for the meat only and does not allow for the fat drainage. Salt is my estimate of "to taste."
The Three Secrets To Getting it Right
- Do not compress the meat.
- Indent the center of the burger
- Flip once if possible. Don't keep poking it and flipping.
To adjust the recipe size:
You may adjust the number of servings in this recipe card under servings. This does the math for the ingredients for you. BUT it does NOT adjust the text of the instructions. So you need to do that yourself.
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Editors Note: Originally published August 17, 2013, Updated with expanded options, refreshed photos, and a table of contents to help navigation.