Chefs' Secrets to Better Burgers

Make better burgers with tips from the pros.
Related To:
Think the best burgers are all about the beef?

Not necessarily.

James Beard Foundation’s Blended Burger Project promotes healthy and more-sustainable cooking by blending beef with mushrooms to decrease the meat content of the patties. This summer, Miami’s The Pubbelly Restaurant Group is spreading the word by inviting local chefs to dream up their own spins on the concept.

While they were at it, we asked the pros to help improve the standard summer grill-out with their expert takes on better burgers:

Master the Moisture

Ingrid Hoffmann is a master of sneaking vegetables into her patties. “I like adding moisture to the patty by using shredded onions, zucchinis and mushrooms,” she says. “Creating a barrier on the bread with a good mayo or avocado-based sauce also helps the bread not get soggy.” Even her condiments are far from standard, as Hoffmann uses pulled pork, mushrooms and jicama slaw to spice up her combinations. And once burgers are on the brain, not even stormy weather can get in her way: “If bad weather prevents you from grilling outdoors, one of my tricks is to take a large-size Pyrex, line the bottom with a layer of bread bottoms, then do layers of meat, cheese and other desired ingredients, place the tops of bread buns last and bake in the oven; easy for a one-dish wonder.”

Flip Out

Jose Mendin, Founding Partner and Chef of The Pubbelly Restaurant Group recommends an 85-15 ratio of meat to fat. “I like to use fatty meats in my blend such as brisket, chuck and sirloin,” he says. “Flip once; that way, the juices stay in the middle of burger. If you flip the burger too many times, you will end up with a messy, dried-out burger.”

Steer Clear of the Smash

Lorena Garcia of Chica restaurant, who created a sweet chile-topped short rib burger, advises against smashing the meat. Don't press your burger on the grill,” she warns. “You will squeeze out all of the yummy goodness that keeps the burger moist.” For the best-possible cheeseburger, don’t be afraid to add water. “When adding cheese to your burger, add a bit of moisture with a spray of water, then cover.”

Form and Function

Miami native Michelle Bernstein used three types of mushrooms, as well as sirloin, brisket and oxtail in her onion ring-topped patty. Temperature, form and seasoning help ensure perfect patties. “Make sure the burgers are cold when they go on the grill or in a hot pan,” she advises. When it comes to forming them, Bernstein says to indent the top using your thumb. And you should wait until the patties are formed to season them, since you should “only season the outside, not the inside," Bernstein adds.

All-Around Appeal

Known in New York City for her fried chicken, Root and Bone’s Janine Booth is no stranger to great burgers. Her all-around approach tackles temperature, form, fat and toppings.

  • Make sure your grill is super-hot and know where your hot spots are!
  • Don't squish your burger while it's grilling! This just pushes all of that juiciness out!
  • Whatever meat you are using, make sure the grind is composed of about 20% fat.
  • Burgers are great... But what makes them even better and juicier is the condiments you pair with them. Think outside the ketchup & mustard box into flavored aioli, relish, chutneys etc.
Keep Reading

Next Up

Raise the Steaks

Beef up your meat routine with a few easy updates to standard steaks.

No-Beef Burger Recipes

Get great non-beef burger recipes and tips from Kelsey Nixon, Rachael Ray and more using mushrooms, chicken, turkey and tuna on Cooking Channel.

How to Make a Better Cheeseburger

Get our tips for elevating your burger recipe, including out-of-the-box toppings, add-ons and tasty substitutions.

5 Tips for Better Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

It's hard to improve upon the classic grilled cheese recipe, but we thought we'd give it a try. Here are three tips for upgrading your grilled cheese sandwich, plus a few new recipes to try out.

Sifted: The Ultimate Oatmeal Cookies, Secrets to Banh Mi + More

Get Cooking Channel's take on the best in food news, recipes and more from around the web, including recipes for banh mi and light summer desserts.

Better Burgers for Your July 4th Party

Get Cooking Channel's best burger recipes without the beef, for when you're hosting a vegetarian or just want to mix it up.

Can You Grill It? 9 Foods Beyond Burgers to Throw on the BBQ

This season, try putting some char on everything you serve, whether it's appetizers, sides, desserts or even cocktails.

On TV

Remains of the (Turkey) Day

So Much Pretty Food Here