Be the hero of your 4th of July BBQ and grill the perfect burger!

Be the hero of your 4th of July BBQ and grill the perfect burger!

Be the hero of your 4th of July BBQ and grill the perfect burger!

We have tested all sorts of methods for mixing, shaping, and grilling backyard burgers, and even talked with grilling experts to get their advice! Here is our take on the perfect grilled burger.


First Things First: Start With a Clean Grill

Just like you want to use a clean skillet with a little oil to cook dinner on the stovetop, you want to start with a clean grill with oiled grill grates when making dinner on the grill.  Even better, use a Kona Grill Mat With Holes to get the juiciest burgers without the hassle of cleaning your grill later!

Start by scrubbing your grill grates with a Kona grill brush to remove any built-up residue from past meals. To get the best results, first dip your grill brush in water to leverage the amazing cleaning power of steam. 

After the grates are clean, oil the grill by dipping a folded paper towel in oil and using grilling tongs to rub the oil-soaked towel on the grates. 

Buy an 80/20 Mix of Ground Beef

A burger can be seasoned a million different ways, but it means nothing without a solid foundation. For a juicy, flavorful burger, skip the extra-lean ground beef patty blends and use ground beef with a higher fat content.

Ground beef with an 80/20 mix is the best for grilled burgers—this means a mix 80 percent lean beef and 20 percent fat. The 80/20 ground beef you would buy in the supermarket is usually ground chuck, which is great for burgers.

Keep the Meat Cold

The heat from your hands combined with room-temp ground beef can melt and smear the fat. This prevents the fat from binding with the lean meat, causing too much of it to render during the cooking process, resulting in a dry, dense burger.  The solution is to keep the meat cold and shape the patties as quickly as possible.

Leave the ground beef in the refrigerator until you're ready to season it and form the patties. Then mix the ground beef just until it comes together and not a second more. Form it into patties and put them back in the fridge until you are ready to grill.

Don't Over-Mix the Ground Beef

Less is more when it comes to mixing the ground beef and forming patties. If you’ve eaten a burger that crumbles apart as you eat it, that was mostly likely a result of someone overworking the beef. You are trying to get the fat and the protein to bind together, but if you overmix it, you will “break” the binding, causing your burger to dry out, crumble, and lose flavor.

Evenly sprinkle your seasonings over the ground beef and use your hands to fold them in gently.  A simple and delicious seasoning is simply adding salt and pepper!  Salt is a miracle seasoning for grilled beef as it transforms the bitterness of charring into the signature savory flavor of flame grilled foods.

How to know when the meat is fully mixed?  A charcuterie expert and chef shared a little trick. After mixing your ground beef with any spices or other add-in ingredients, take a piece the about the size of a quarter and flatten it to the palm of your hand. Turn your palm down. If the meat sticks, you’re good to go.

Size Matters With Burgers

Some people like the idea of a huge hamburger patty spilling out over the edges of the bun, and some believe it should be a perfect fit (we fall into the latter category). But no one wants a burger that’s smaller than the bun.

To correctly size your patties to fit on your buns, make your burgers about 1-inch thick at the edges, and one inch larger than the bun.  This considers the inevitable shrinkage that happens during cooking.  Make your life simple and get yourself a Kona Burger Press!

How Long to Grill Burgers

To grill with charcoal or wood, we recommend investing in a Kona Chimney Starter. It’s a tall metal cylinder with holes in it. Use a Kona Fire Starter to get the fire lit quickly. Position the chimney starter on the bottom of grate of your grill and light the Kona Fire Starter. You will have hot coals in 15 to 20 minutes.

If you're using a gas grill, open the lid, turn on the gas, and light the grill. You want to get your grill up to 450 to 500 degrees before adding your patties.

When it comes to making juicy homemade burgers, it's important to know a hamburger's done temperature.  It can be hard to tell burger doneness by just looking at it.   The only sure way to find out if your hamburger is done is by using a meat thermometer. An Instant-Read Meat Thermometer ensures perfectly cooked hamburger patties that are still juicy on the inside while brown on the outside. To correctly check the burger temperature, insert the thermometer through the side of the patty so the point is in the center.

In general, follow these total grilling times:

  • For rare burgers, cook for 4 minutes total (125°F)
  • For medium-rare burgers, cook for 5 minutes total (135°F)
  • For medium burgers, cook for 6 to 7 minutes total (145°F)
  • For well-done burgers, cook for 8 to 9 minutes total (160 °F)

Please note that the USDA recommends cooking ground meats to an internal temperature of at least 160°F, which is well done without any pink in the center. Cooking burgers to other degrees of doneness should be done at the cook's discretion.

Flip – Don't Press! – Your Burgers

Once you put those patties on the grill, don’t press them down. Pressing forces the fat and flavor out the burgers, which results in dry, bland patties.

However, feel free to frequently flip your burgers. There is a belief that it is best to let the burger be and only flip once during cooking, our experience is frequent flipping cooks a burger more evenly.  Get yourself a Kona Stainless Steel Grill Tools Set and be the envy of all your friends and family!

When to Add the Cheese

Add cheese about 1 minute before the burger is finished cooking. Some of our favorite flavors are Swiss, cheddar, and Havarti.

When to Toast the Buns

I’m a toasted brioche bun kind of person. They are rich with butter and sturdy enough to hold all of my fixings and my burger, but also, they squish down and are easy to bite through.

Whichever buns you prefer, butter the top and bottom of the bun, and then plop them on the back of the grill, out of direct heat, until they are golden. Start toasting the buns when you have a minute left on the patties.

Don't Forget to Rest Your Burgers

Resting isn’t just for humans. Let the burgers rest for a minute after they come off the grill. This allows time for the juices to redistribute throughout the burger, giving you a more flavorful experience.

Ways to Flavor Your Burgers

Once you’ve mastered the basic burger, feel free to get funky with your flavors.

You can blend different cuts of meat, add mushrooms, anchovies, herbs, or cubes of cheese. I’m a big fan of Kona Butchy Boy seasoning in my burgers, because it adds a robust kick that perfectly pairs with beef. Ultimately, the choice is yours, if the patty is meaty and juicy, you can’t go wrong!

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