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Need hamburger help!

Indiana EggheadIndiana Egghead Posts: 26
edited 6:25PM in EggHead Forum
I'm a relatively newcomer to the BGE, as I've only had my large egg for just over 3 weeks now. I've cooked approximately 20 times on it mostly successful, but some less-than-successful times, too. My question is this: what is the secret to making great hamburgers? Is there a thickness range to stay in? I had some beautiful looking handmade patties approx. 1" thick recently and used the cast iron grate for the classic grill marks, right? Wrong. I ended up with burgers that shrunk to roughly half their original size but yet puffed up in thickness(?) and for the most part were way overdone on the outside before the inside. They were edible, but nonetheless a huge dissapointment. I had the temp approx. 550 degrees as per the cooking video on the BGE website. Flipped after about 5-7 min. and continued for 5-7 min. on the other side. Any help or suggestions would be appreciated! :)


  • Carolina QCarolina Q Posts: 13,001
    Well, my take on burgers (and dogs) is that eggers tend to make it too complicated. How did you cook burgers before you had an egg? Light the charcoal, let it get hot and throw the burgers on. Flip 'em after a bit. The egg does things other cookers can only dream of, but we're talkin' burgers here. In the end, the egg is just a grill, no?

    Oh, and welcome to the madhouse! :laugh:

    I hate it when I go to the kitchen for food and all I find are ingredients!


    Central Connecticut 

  • Couple of questions...

    Did you use a burger press or were they hand formed?
    Did you make a little dimple in the center of the burger with your thumb?

    My thoughts...

    Hand form the patties with as little pressure as possible. This keeps the "crumb" loose and makes the burger tender.

    Make the burger about 20% larger than you intend to eat - allowing for shrinkage. Remember that lean burger shrinks less than fatty burger. Shoot for something with around 18% fat.

    Make the burger twice as thick as you want - thin burgers dry out very quickly and make it difficult to get that pink center - simply because there is less mass to work with.

    In the center of a hand formed burger, make a dimple with your thumb about 1/4" to 3/8" deep. This prevents or at least minimizes the swelling and keeps them mostly flat.

    Sounds like your temps were great - allow that cast iron to heat up well for those grill marks.

    Cook them for equal time on each side and melt cheese on the second flip back to the original side.

    Dont press down with a spatula to squeeze out any juice - leave it in the burger.

    Just my .02, but good luck!
  • BacchusBacchus Posts: 6,019
    You can prevent the swelling on the center by thumbing a depression into it before cooking to compensate.
    IMO, grilling over very high heat is the key to good burgers on the BGE. The dripping grease can cause an unpleasant taste if burger exposed to it to long. And I like a charred outer crust on mine. But that's just me.
  • Photo EggPhoto Egg Posts: 7,904
    All great tips above.
    Also, try not to cook to time. It's only a guide. Cook to internal temp or "feel".
    If 550 is to hot back off a little on your cooker or let your burgers rest on the counter in the house for 30 minutes before you toss them on. This will also help them cook a little more even. Mash the center area a little thinner to cut down the bubble.
    I like to sear and then raise the grid to finish.
    You will find a good system that works for you.
    20 cooks in 3 weeks is jamming...
    Thank you,

    Galveston Texas
  • Thanks for the great suggestions. I've never heard of the dimple in the middle thing, so I will give it a try next time! Happy grillin' :cheer:
  • skihornskihorn Posts: 600
    Not much to add on the burger advice but using a raised grid has helped me. That way the fire can have expanded to the whole grill for even cooking yet not be absurdly hot for the burgers.

    The main reason I posted was to say "good job doing 20 cooks in your first three weeks!" You got hooked right away.

    Welome aboard!
    League City, TX
  • Thanks for the tips and the compliments! It's not hard to hit 20 times when you cook breakfast, lunch and dinner on the BGE. I especially like fixing Sunday brunch on the egg. Bisquits on the egg are no comparison to oven baked. Take the bisquits and add a small pork loin sliced nickel thin,a fried egg and some orange marmalade and you're in business. Great way to start the Lord's day! ;)
  • A couple interesting options you have on the egg.
    You can low and slow smoke a hamburger with your favorite rub. Cook at 225 and check the internal temp at 45 minutes. Hamburger will be very tender and have a terrific smoke flavor. It will have no crust or char.
    Or you can go the other way and (recommended spider and griddle) put a cast iron grid on at high heat use thin hamburgers and get a real char. They can cook in two minuets per side.
    Or you can cook the same way you did on whatever you cooked on before for a traditional hamburger.

    My current favorite is smoked. Thin hot and fast sliders on Kings buns is number two.
    I don't think i have made a regular hamburger in a year.
  • BobSBobS Posts: 2,485
    I cook mine, direct, on a raised grid at +/- 400 F.

    I want the burgers to look browned, but I do not think serious grill marks are all that important.

    I cook them 6-8 mins on the first side and then make a decision about how long to leave them for the second time. I usually do not measure temp, I just test the feel (firmness) of the meat.
  • Thanks Willie for the "low & slow" tip. I really never thought of that for a burger. That sounds like a winner for one day yet this week. I knew I could count on fellow Eggheads to come up with the answers. Even though I'm a "newbie" on the BGE, I love cooking on it. I fixed a pork roast and a slab of baby back ribs tonight with Jack Daniels wine barrel chips and the ribs were fall-off-the-bone delicious! The roast was excellent, too. I recently gave away, literally, a Char Broil stainless steel gas grill that I paid $500 for two summers ago. I kinda hated to see it go ($$$), but since I've become an Egghead I haven't missed it one bit! Thanks to everyone that responded to my post! :)
  • davehempdavehemp Posts: 109
    I run my Egg to 550-650 and use a well pre-heated cast iron grate upside down (flat side up), flip after 2-2.5 minutes, then cook another 2-2.5 minutes, and if I'm worried about doneness, sometimes I will flip once more for one minute, and rest for a minute or 2 before building finished burger ... I use 10 oz. burgers and they are nicely marked and crispy on the outside and med. rare inside.
  • fishlessmanfishlessman Posts: 23,009
    theres alot of heat retention in the cast iron grill, ive found you can use less heat with it and get the same sear/ char as the regular grill at higher heats, maybe back the heat down a little with the castiron, especially it the exterior is over charred and the middle is undercooked.
  • You can see my pics post from yesterday for photos.
    My family likes med- to well-done burgers. I use 80-85% lean ground chuck made into a patty only 1/2" thick and about 2" bigger than the bun. I season both sides with Lawry's season salt.

    Cook on low grid at about 550° for only 2-3 minutes then flip.

    Sauce the grilled side and cook about 2 minutes.

    Put the buns on a raised grid and put cheese on the burgers and then shut the egg down. Pull after 1-2 minutes.

    Start to finish in less than 10 minutes and the juice will run down your arms from a "well" done burger.
  • PhilsGrillPhilsGrill Posts: 2,256
    Along with all the advice, get a burger press.

    Smashes meat perfect in concentric circles so they don't puff up.

    About 7 bucks at the grocery store.
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