previous next

Recipe: How to Make a Hamburger

posted in Main Dishes by Kathy Maister
difficulty rating

The basis of a hamburger is, of course, the ground beef from which you make the “patties.”

In preparing the patties, I have tried all sorts of “add-ins” to mix with the beef – everything from dried onion soup mix, to eggs, to bacon fat, to grated cheese . The absolute best to add is…nothing at all! Why dilute that pure beefy taste?

When making your own hamburgers, start with 1 ¼ pounds of ground beef with 20% fat content. This will be enough for four big patties.

Normally I buy a lesser fat content, but for really tasty burgers, get the 20%.

(Using clean hands!) Divide the beef into four sections. Gently form each section into a round “patty” shape. It’s not necessary to tightly pack the beef into shape. In fact, you should try to handle the beef as little as possible.

Each patty should measure approximately ¾ inches thick and 4 ½ inches across.

Wrap the extra patties in plastic wrap and freeze them for next week’s dinner.

Before you start cooking the hamburgers, toast the cut side of the rolls. (Untoasted rolls get soggy very quickly.) Lay the rolls out on a baking sheet with sides and put them under the broiler.

It will only take a minute or two, so don’t do anything but stand there with pot holder in your hand, ready to remove the rolls from the oven. (They go from beautifully toasted to burnt in the blink of an eye. Then the smoke alarm goes off and ….you know the rest!)

Preheat your fry pan (on medium- high temperature) by putting a few drops of water in the pan. By the time they have evaporated, your pan will be hot.

Make sure the fry pan you are using is large enough to hold your hamburgers without squishing them together.

Cook the hamburgers (on medium-high) on one side then flip them once, and then cook them on the other side.

Cooking times on each side:

  • 3 minutes for RARE (caution-see note below!)
  • 4 minutes for MEDIUM
  • 5 minutes for WELL DONE

If you want to make a cheeseburger, place a slice of cheese on the flip side about 1 minute before the burgers are done cooking. The heat from the hamburgers will melt the cheese.

Serve your hamburgers with sliced tomatoes, lettuce, a dollop of mayonnaise and some salt and pepper.

Add some variation to your hamburger recipes thanks to this Tex-Mex cheeseburger video!




Rare, medium or well done Hamburgers?

The USDA recommends that you always cook hamburgers so that the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees which is well done.

A friend from Canada describes why:

“…one thing I’ve learned from working in the food service industry (McDonald’s in Canada, in my case) for over 15 years is that the only safe way to cook hamburgers is to make sure they are fully cooked, not rare. This eliminates the possibility of there being any harmful bacteria in the burger – in particular, E. coli.In fact, it is standard practice at McDonald’s in Canada to verify a safe internal temperature with the first run of the products from the grill, before anything gets served to the customers. In my area, the minimum safe temperature for cooked beef patties is 156 degrees F. It may vary in other locations – in some areas, the safe temperature is 160 degrees, for example.”

If you are new to startcooking, or are a regular visitor here, please consider subscribing for free.


marc said:

i think you left out how high the heat should be set for. i assume high or medium-high based upon your cooking times.

Kathy Maister said:

Thanks Mark! Good catch! The cooking times are based on medium-high heat.

BigFish said:

Thanks for the great advice. I like to add just a bit of water to my hamburgers when grilling along with season-all. This makes for a very tender burger will added taste without losing the beef flavor too much. Or try this.

Stephanie said:

I did this process and everyone at the table enjoyed it. Thanx for the advice!

Kathy Maister said:

Big Fish, the one thing I miss living in a city is being able to do some outdoor grilling! Nothing beats that flavor!

Stephanie, I’m so glad to hear it! Have you tried the Tex-Mex Burgers ? :)

Bria said:

That was great. Thank you so much! We will definately be cooking this soon..

Kathy Maister said:

Bria, you might want to have a look at my Tex-Mex Cheeseburger video as well. They too are delicious!

Adam said:

When I make burgers, I usually dip them in egg and add some salt and pepper, plus a bit of Worchestershire sauce. Of course, they tend to fall apart a bit, but darn if they aren’t super tasty!

Kathy Maister said:

Adam do you dip them in egg befroe frying them, or just add an egg before you make them into patties?

Adam said:

Kathy, I add egg before I form them into patties.

Dave said:

I’m a big (literally) enough beef lover to do it plain too, but I love the results of mixing in (mushing well with ultra-clean hands) garlic salt, pepper, and diced white onion while forming the patties. Grilling tip: I stopped accidentally making grilled meatballs out of what was supposed to be burgers by forming the patties as flat as possible and pressing ‘em flat while bbq’ing ‘em a coupla times.

Kathy Maister said:

Thanks Adam for the clarification! (Just making sure….) Your burgers sound really good!

Dave, there are many accidents/mistake that lead to a stroke of brilliance. (That’s why Ivory Soap floats!)

Nicole said:

this is my first time making cheeseburgers for me and my family and im kind of afraid of doing not the best cook…but these steps were clear enough im sure it should turn out good

Kathy Maister said:

Good Luck Nicole! There is a video here on Tex-Mex Cheese burgers that you might be interested in as well.

Ellano said:

My patties seem to shrink in diameter when i grill them, making them more round then flat.. how do i avoid this problem?? help.thanks

Kathy Maister said:

Ellano, start off with them flattened out a bit more. That should do the trick!

Polly said:

The only place I’ve tried burgers made of plain ground beef are the US. I’m not saying I didn’t like them, i LOVED them.

But this is how I like to make them at home: Ground beef, Ground pork,(if you put some ground soy meat too, not just beef and pork,  they’ll be extra soft and tasty), Bread dipped in milk, Black pepper, Salt, Finely chopped onion, An egg, Seasonings (I like working with Vegeta- it has dried carrot, parsnip, onions, celery, parsley leaves and other spices in it, so it gives it a wonderful aroma, a great finish touch). Something like Dave’s recipe, actually.

Kathy Maister said:

Hi Polly, thanks for all the great suggestions! I’ve never actually heard of Vegeta before??

Mike Lowe said:

great tip I made this today and they turned out great! on my stove though I had to cut the time a bit, for well done from 5 flip 5 to 5 flip 3. other then that it was great! I used garlic power and onion power and chilli power on both sides to tast. again thanks for the tip.

Jeffrey said:

Ahhh, the best burger is the basic burger. I’ve heard about adding the onions and egg but I have never tried it. Good instructions and easy to follow pictures too!

Joanne said:

Is there anyway to make hamburgers/cheese burgers ahead of time? We’re having a lunch time picnic at work but only have a microwave.

Kathy Maister said:

Thanks Everyone!

Joanne, the short answer is no. Why not try something other than hamburgers.

Here are some recipes that would be great for a picnic:

Chicken Salad with Wild Rice (and Avocado)
Salad Nicoise
Taco Salad (warm the meat in the microwave)
Pasta Salad
And everybody’s favorite, Deviled Eggs!

Camille said:

Yum Yum. I made them last night for a BBQ with friends and they went down a treat!

Gerald Dalere said:

do i have to use desame bread like the one in the picture on the top?

hardassray said:

Of all the suggestions on the board, one main ingredient seems to be missing. Tabasco sauce. My 12yr & 2 yr granddaughters love anything with Tabasco. Eggs, Pastas & of course ‘burgers. I put 2-3 drops in my cup in the morning before adding coffee. Gives day a whole new outlook!!

Kathy Maister said:

Tabasco Sauce and coffee! Whoa! That’s a first.
I like spicy but not hot.

(We had some Indian take-out this past weekend which was way too hot for me. To cool down the fire in my mouth I think I ate more yogurt than anything else!)

Maykijung Elmo said:

thanks for recipe

Jennifer Martin said:

The food looks so good!I’m looking at how to make a good hamburger.I like how you give such good illustrating with pictures to tell you what to do next.Thanks!!

Kathy Maister said:

Your Welcome! is all about learning the basics and always will be! Enjoy!

queshonya said:

i just found your website, and i think it’s great that someone finally put out great how to cook videos. thanks a billion

Kathy Maister said:

Welcome Queshonya! is all about learning the basics. I am delighted you found me – be sure to let me know if you have any questions!

Rachel said:

Hello! :) Adore the attitude and vibe of this spot…can’t believe I hadn’t found it before, perfect source for myself since I have only been attempting cooking for the past couple of years. I’m planning to make hamburgers for the first time tomorrow. Will try to return with questions/comments after this beginning step.

Thank you for keeping it simple!


Kathy Maister said:

Welcome Rachel and Good Luck!

Rachel said:

I thought I posted earlier but seem to have messed up. Wanted to say thank you for the inspiration and guidance. The burgers came out rather delicious :) I really like the toasted buns. I think my burger was the best of the bunch (Since it was the last one), it had the accumulated flavorings from the previous ones in the pan. Will work with that idea for the next time. Mostly cut onions with a few seasonings :)

Kathy Maister said:

Congratulations Rachel!
I do have a video on How to Cut an Onion just in case…


Randy said:

Thanks Kathy! Your instructions and videos are some of the best I can find! No one really showed me the proper way to cook, so My previous burgers either came out undercooked or overdone lol, but after this i made a batch of rather tasty burgers :)

Didn’t have all the ingredients ready on hand for the Tex-mex but will try them sometime, good day!

startcooking said:

That’s great Randy! Good luck developing your cooking skills!

jonatan said:

hi it alsome

Burn Belly Fat said:

Great post!

This burger is very easy to make :)

Thanks for the effort of sharing it with us!

Rocio said:

Thanks a lot! Now my mom will know how to cook hamburgers :-).

startcooking said:

Thanks everyone for the kudos!

Many recipes really over complicate making hamburgers by adding in too many extras. Just the plan beef (with a slice of cheese!) is my favorite.


Matty said:

Exellent, that will help me on my project

yorgo tannous said:

Thanks for showing me how to make hamburger.
With all my love and thanks!

dum dav said:

Great videos!

Kingsley said:

A hamburger! the absolute staple of picnics and barbecues! So often we forget that we needed to look up directions once ourselves. Thanks you!

More content