How To Make The Perfect Burger - Our Guide To Temperatures and Grilling

Written in 2024
by Adam

    There are countless ways to prepare the perfect burger. Each one will have its toppings, flavourers, and stuffings. However, they need to be cooked properly in the interest of health and safety. 

    If you grill your burger on a heat that’s too high, then you will end up with either burnt or dried out burgers. Having your temperature settings too low will leave you with a burger that is placid and rubbery, and nobody wants placid rubbery meat... 

    Ideally, you want a burger that is juicy and tender, but of course, needs to be safe to eat.. You need to hit the sweet spot so that you can enjoy the perfect burger. Let us walk you through tried and tested temperature and grilling tips to ensure you can look forward to the best burger... 


    Temperature Guide for Grilled Burgers

    Let us lay down the ground rules. Any store-bought or pre-ground meat should be cooked to an internal temperature of 71 degrees Celsius. Only then will it be seen as safe to consume. Why is this the case when people eat a steak that is 17 degrees Celsius cooler than a burger?

    It has a lot to do with the actual grinding process for burgers. As far as a juicy steak is concerned, much of the bacteria lives on the surface. Therefore, when you sear it at high temperatures, the bacteria gets killed. This is not the case with burgers where much of the bacteria live inside. 

    One way to determine if your grilled burger's temperature is just right is to grab a meat instant-read thermometer such as the Thermapen 4 Professional Thermometer.

    By doing so, you can be sure that your favourite burger will safely stay within the recommended temperature zone. Ensure you regularly clean and sanitize your thermometer between uses. 


    What are the risks with ground beef?

    The thing is that ground beef is prone to contamination, there are several reasons for this. As a whole, it is usually sourced from multiple cows, unless it is stated explicitly that it was derived from a single source. 

    The entire grinding process spreads the bacteria throughout the meat that is about to be packaged as ground beef. 


    How to Reduce the Risk of Contamination

    It is easy to reduce the risks associated with meat contamination. Follow along with us as we highlight a few tips:

    • Ensure you keep the temperature of your meat at or just below 4.5 degrees Celsius when storing it
    • Prepare your meals in separate areas and make use of clean utensils set aside for this purpose.
    • Always wash your hands before handling any raw meat and when you're done with the preparation.
    • Sanitize all work surfaces before preparing your burgers

    These are just some basic guidelines to keep in mind.

    Before we delve into tried and tested ways to grill the best burgers, allow us to bring something interesting to your attention.

    Now you’re aware of the grinding process of prepackaged meat and burgers there is enough reason to consider grinding your own beef instead. Besides, who knows which cuts of beef were used to put the prepackaged ground meat together. Why not grind your own meat just before grilling time as you'd have better quality control this way. 


    The benefits of grinding meat yourself

    Grinding meat for yourself is not just intended for putting together medium-rare grilled burgers; you may be surprised to learn that it holds out a host of benefits we do not often give much thought to. 

    Let's have a look.


    Cost efficiency

    Down the line, you will save yourself a lot of money grinding your own meat. After all, pre-ground meat is often marked up quite a bit in lieu of processing and labour costs. 

    Meat blends can be customized according to taste.

    Even though certain off-the-shelf meats are classed as "special grind" or "butcher blends", you won't know for sure what kind of cuts were used. 

    As well as this, if you choose to grind your own beef cuts, you will have better control over what goes into your burger. For instance, you get to mix a bit of sirloin with the short rib to give you a one-of-a-kind taste.

    As you master the whole grinding process, you can start experimenting with an array of flavours. 


    Quality and freshness

    Anything you grind at home will in most cases be a lot fresher and even tastier than the prepackaged meats you get at your local store.

    There is simply no comparison in terms of quality and freshness as store bought ground beef sits on the shelves for extended periods and gradually loses its unique flavours. 


    Handy Tips for Grilling the Best Burgers

    But, hang on! What about getting your temperature right when it comes to grilling time?

    Fortunately, you can use the two-stage cooking method. Here is how you can pull it off:

    1. The very first thing you do is to place the burgers on the side that is unheated as the ambient heat from the hot side will do its magic by cooking your burgers in a controlled fashion using a lower heat setting. 
    2. The second stage is when the burgers have reached a heat that is close to your desired temperature (Well done - 73°C, Medium Well - 68°C, Medium - 62°C, Medium Rare - 57°C, and Rare - 51°C), you should turn up the grill to a high-heat setting and grill the burgers until they reach the desired heat. 

    Following the two-stage cooking method means the heat moment is lessened and the person grilling the burgers has more time on their hands to get the burgers off the grill and not overshoot the target doneness of the meat. 

    Another useful tip for burger lovers is to consider the fat ratio of their meat. Many celebrity chefs will tell you the more fat your meat cuts have, the better result you will achieve when it comes to grilling your burger. Besides, the fat cooks out once you turn up the heat on your grill. 

    That said, it is good to know that the ideal ratio of meat to fat is in the region of 85/15. This way, your burger is still juicy but with a little less fat. 

    In Conclusion

    It is clear that the prospect of loading your grill with a range of burgers that brims with a variety of flavours is a no-brainer as everybody loves a good meal at the best of times. 

    Just think about it. Imagine the fresh lettuce, tomato, variety of pickles and the tangy mayo and spicy tomato sauce that adds extra flavour to your grilled burgers.

    The last thing you want is to discover the burger you or your guests have been looking forward to savouring is either overcooked or slightly raw as you did not take the necessary precautions to ensure the temperatures were just right. 

    Luckily you had a chance to read the contents of our guide on temperature and grilling and how to make the perfect burger. So, the chances are slim that you will either undercook or overcook your favourite grilled burgers as you’re now filled with loads of information from our guide. 

    Written by Adam

    Adam is the creator of the SmokeGuys website, running it since 2016. Hater of coriander, lover of all things meat... Adam currently works in marketing with a dream of being able to make food his full-time 'job' in the longer term.

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