Cooking Burger on a Grill (All Types Compared)

Burger patties on grill griddle

Cooking your burgers on your stovetop is a fun time. If you’re an outdoorsy type of person, however, you likely enjoy grilling your burgers too. Grilling hamburgers outside is an excellent feeling, but doing it has its own set of challenges.

Different grill types have different effects on your burgers, depending on the equipment you have. The best way to grill a burger is to use wood or charcoal for extra flavor and char. A classic grilled hamburger relies on your technique and how you handle the entire process.

Are you itching to go out and pop hamburgers on your grill? We have a few tips that can help you find the right grilling style for you. Give it a look.

What Is the Best Grill for Hamburgers?

Every American has their way of grilling outside. Some enjoy using charcoal grills, others use gas, and some use electric grills. When it comes to burgers, each of these grills can change how your burgers look and taste.

How do you pick the right grill for making your burgers? You need to understand what they can do for your burgers.

1. Wood and Charcoal Grills

Wood and charcoal grills are among the most popular grills in the US, second only to gas grills. If you love grilling, it’s easy to understand why you would enjoy charcoal grilling.

Charcoal grills add that delicious, smoky taste that barbecue lovers want in their meats. These grills offer an easy way to control your temperatures without complicated knobs and hoses. They’re also a fraction of the price of your typical gas and even electric grills.

The problem with charcoal grills comes with the messiness. After cooking, the cleaning can be extensive and backbreaking. You would also need to deal with adding more coals and working around the smoke.

For burgers, the charcoal grill is one of the most robust choices. Many burger lovers grill their patties because it infuses more flavor into their meats. Charcoal grilling infuses the smoky flavors of the coal into the meat, giving it extra body and mouthfeel.

The charcoal grill also activates what we call the Maillard reaction. Maillard reactions are the browning reactions on meat that reduces the sugars and proteins. With this effect, you get the complex flavors that make it juicy, meaty, and umami.

You can also impart some smokiness to some of your toppings. You can pop your buns for a few seconds for a quick toast. You can also get those delicious grill marks on toppings like pineapples and tomato slices.

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2. Gas Grills

Gas grills are the most popular types of grills in the US for a reason. They’re a staple option for people who don’t want to deal with many of the problems of charcoal. Gas is super easy to use for anyone, even those with no history of grilling ever.

They’re easy to clean and smokeless, using propane to heat their grates. A gas grill is also quick to heat up because the flames are instant. It provides an even cooking surface with very little in the way of time investment.

One issue that some people have with gas grills is the cost and flavor. Gas grills can cost you a pretty penny, with some mid-range units costing the same as top tier charcoal grills. They don’t impart much of extra flavor to your food because of the fuel they use.

Gas grills are great if you want to make hamburgers. The consistent heat can be fantastic for the uniform cooking of your meats and buns. You can pop in your Kaiser roll without burning it in the first five seconds.

If you’re the type who uses flat tops on your grill, you can also pop it in for extra versatility. It lets you cook other accouterments for the hamburger like bacon and eggs. You can even the flat top to get some extra flavor using a basting dome cover.

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3. Electric Grills

Electric grills are one of a kind units. These modern grills are gaining appreciation from people who live in the city and can’t use traditional backyard grills. They’re great for indoor use because of their smokeless nature.

The electric grill has all the advantages of the gas grill, as it provides an even cooking surface. It can also reach higher heat levels compared to a gas grill because of the differences in wattage. You don’t have to vent out dangerous fumes that might cause you health problems in the future.

The problem with electric grills comes with the cleaning and the investment. They can be expensive to invest in, especially if you’re buying one that you won’t use a lot. If you wet the inside of the electric grill by accident, you’re also running the risk of damaging the grill.

Using an electric grill to cook hamburgers should not be much of a problem. A lot of famous electric grill brands can handle the proper grilling of burgers. High-tier units will have enough juice to sear a tasty hamburger patty, albeit without much change to the flavor.

4. Ceramic Grills

Ceramic grills are gaining popularity in the past few years. They can either be electric, gas, or charcoal, but they will use a unique ceramic body. This material can handle heat better, able to regulate temperatures with a wide range of options.

What makes ceramic grills great is the high precision temperature control they have. The advanced porcelain ceramic glaze offers efficient heat and moisture retention. You can cook low and slow or high and fast, depending on what you want to do.

The biggest issue with ceramic grills, however, is the prohibitive cost. They cost at least twice the price of high-end charcoal grills and more than many gas grills. These grills are also very heavy, which can be a turn off if your only plan is to cook on the weekends.

You can cook your burgers using ceramic grills with no issues. It can reach the temperature you need to prepare any size burger that you want. You can even take advantage of its precision temperature control and cook at much higher temperatures.

With the charcoal ceramic grill, you get the added advantage of a smoky flavor that people love.

What Is the Best Way to Grill a Hamburger?

So, which one is the best way to grill a hamburger? The truth is, the technique matters more than the grill that you use. Every grill type offers something that can give you a great burger.

For example, charcoal grills can add more flavors. Depending on the wood that you use, you can impart a different type of smokiness on your hamburger. The cooking can process the proteins and give the right taste to the burger.

Some gas and electric grills have designs that provide ways to drain the oils from the burgers. Many use slanted designs to get the drippings out of the meat. This can result in a far healthier burger than what you always have.

Which Grill Makes the Best Hamburger?

If we have to choose, the standard charcoal and wood grill is the best option for burgers. Hamburgers should be easy, with no fuss and muss. You also want to have as good a flavor as possible that you can get.

A charcoal grill will give you the flame-grilled taste that you would want to taste on your burger. It can also develop your crust with a good char, further improving the grilled flavor.

Many swear by the use of specific wood species to grill their meats. Using hardwoods like hickory, pecan, and cherry can add a delicious smoke flavor. They can also give you a consistent temperature throughout the entire process.

If you have it, a ceramic grill should do the job too. You can use it as a low and slow cooker, especially if you have other meats. Eating hamburger patties with other meats like pulled pork and brisket makes the ceramic grill a versatile option.

Be wary of some electric grills. Many electric grills are not powerful enough to reach the temperature you need for cooking burgers. Many indoor electric grills are only good for thinner burger patties.

What’s vital about grilling burgers, however, is how you do it. The cooking method you use as the grill master contributes to the hamburger you can get in the end. The meat you use, the way you season it, and even how to handle the patty on the grill add to the final product.

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Choosing the Patty Meat to Grill

Choosing the meat for your hamburger patty depends on the taste that you want at the end. Whether you’re making a beef burger or a chicken burger, there are still some rules of thumb. With some choices of meats, there are absolute ratios that you don’t want to break.

Like how we advocate it in every article, beef burgers need to be 100% beef. Use the golden 80-20 lean-to-fat ratio, where you use 80% lean meat and 20% fat. This offers superb flavor and absorbs a lot of the smokiness from the grilling.

If you like to use leaner meats like chicken or turkey, grind meats from the bird’s dark areas. Dark meat comes from muscles that are more iron-rich and use oxygen. These parts include the drumstick and the thigh.

Dark meat from chicken and other birds will have more intramuscular fat. These muscles will have more flavor and be more tender compared to white meat parts. Ground dark meat can also offer the right ratio of lean to fat, improving the meat’s juiciness.

For vegan burgers and meat substitutes like impossible meat, follow the package instructions. One problem with vegan-based patties is they will lack the fat that keeps burgers juicy. You can try basting the patty with olive oil to prevent it from sticking to the grill.

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With any meat, the rule of thumb is always to contain at least some portion of fat. Create patties that are between 4 to 6 ounces (113 – 170 g) and create a disk with them.

Working Out Your Seasonings

One of the details that are crucial to grilling your burger is adding seasoning. It sounds simple enough, but seasoning can have a lasting impact on your burger. The constitution of your hamburger relies on the timing and the type of seasoning you use.

Season your hamburger only before you put the meat on the grill. Do not season while you’re still mixing the meat and shaping it into a patty. Why?

Spices can impact the constitution of the burger in general. Salt can start pulling the natural juices of your meat and can create a crumbly consistency. This error can make your hamburger patty fall apart while on the grill.

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Stay away from liquid seasonings like adding Worcestershire and soy sauce. The added liquid can result in a wet burger that is too moist. This blunder can result in a burger that doesn’t bind and is raw inside.

Add your spices only right before you put it on the rack. Try not to be too fancy with your spices. Some salt and pepper is the best as the base and then go from there.

Working on Your Patty Before and During Grilling

Much of grilling comes from how you move and manipulate your hamburger around the grill. You might not notice, but how big your patty is, how you shape it, and how you move it around can affect the final product.

One of the best ways to grill a burger is to control the size of your patty. A big patty can be delicious and satisfying, but it will be a big problem cooking it all the way through. Keep your patty size reasonable, going between 4 ounces to 6 ounces (113 to 170 g).

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For those who want to cook a big patty, it’s best to arm yourself with a meat thermometer. Pop in the probe to the middle of your burger. You need a temperature of 160 F (71 C), the FDA recommended core temperature for hamburgers.

When forming your patty, form it into a ball and flatten it into a disc. Create a dimple in the middle to promote even meat expansion in the patty.

Pop in your hamburgers only when the heat is high enough. You want the grill’s ambient temperature to be in the range of 375 – 400 F (190 – 205 C). Putting your meat too early can cause the burger to stick on the grates.

Remember to keep your burger flipping to as much as you can. While it’s traditional knowledge to flip only once, recent studies show that flipping more than once is superior. Flipping patties more than once results in a more even cooking.

Doing More with Your Grill

How can you take better advantage of your grill? How can you use it to improve your hamburgers further?

For starters, make sure the grill has clean grates, removing any excess debris stuck on the metal. Any char and debris can add a bitter taste to your hamburgers. Wash the grill rack after use with warm, soapy water to prevent any rusting, pat dry, and store in a dry place.

Brush and line the grill with oils before cooking. It’s necessary to add some extra fat on the grill to unlock a range of flavors from the meat. Oils can also cut down on the sticking that you will experience while cooking on the grill.

Use your grill for cooking some of the toppings that you use to give them an excellent char. Toppings like pineapples, onions, bacon, and other meats can make your burger super tasty. Don’t shy away from adding other toppings like tomatoes, pickles, and even avocados.

Toast your buns around the end of the cooking session. Gentle toasting on the buns can give them some extra texture with every bite. If you’re afraid to burn them, cover them with a foil and pop the bread in. Toasting for a minute per side should be enough to put a decent brownness on the surface.

Once you finish cooking your meats, let the patty sit for a couple of minutes. This simple technique will allow the juices to settle and cook the inside much further. Don’t cut the patty to look in the middle until you build it in your burger and do a cross-section.

Conclusion

Cooking burgers on a grill is an enjoyable activity that you can do. Whether you do it outdoors or indoors, a grilled burger is a unique experience. The entire process of grilling your burger is all about how you handle it.

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Grilling hamburgers should be easy and stress-free. To do so, it’s crucial to find the type of grill that you’re comfortable using.

While almost all grills can work to your advantage, the wood and charcoal grill can be the best. It’s cheap, easy to use, and can impart different flavors on the hamburger. However, most of what you need to do with the burger will come from how you deal with the meat.

Follow the grilling tips that we gave, and we’re sure you can get the best burgers every time. Take time to think about how to take the best advantage of your grill for your hamburger. We’re sure you and everyone would enjoy the burgers that you make.

These burgers will taste fantastic.

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Scott Wagner

I'm Scott Wagner, one of the guys behind BestBurgerGuide.com. I am totally passionate about the world of Burgers and BBQ, especially when I have friends visiting my backyard during a summer sunny day! Here I decided to share my passion with you!

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