How to Grill the Perfect Burger on Gas, Charcoal or Pellet Grills

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Get ready to fire up the grill and impress your guests with perfectly grilled burgers. From lighting the coals to adding the last slice of cheese, our expert guide will lead you through how to grill delicious burgers. Your backyard BBQ just got a whole lot tastier.  

Three people are grilling hamburger patties on a charcoal grill. One person holds a spatula, flipping a patty. The scene takes place outdoors in a grassy area.

Grilling burgers is as quintessential to summer as fireworks, baseball, and beach vacations. We may love the crust you get with cast iron on an amazing burger, but there’s something about a flame-kissed patty that makes mouths water. 

Whether you’re hosting a backyard cookout or just whipping up dinner, there is nothing quite like a juicy burger from the grill. And here’s how to master that. 

Choose the Meat

When it comes to great burger recipes, choosing the right ground meat is the key. Look for high-quality ground beef but don’t skimp on the fat. A 80/20 lean to fat ratio or higher fat is essential. This will ensure that your burgers stay juicy and are loaded with flavor when flame-kissed on the grill. 

To make sure your ground beef is fresh, start by checking the color—it should be bright red on the outside. If it’s looking brownish, it might be going bad. Give it a sniff too; fresh ground beef has a neutral smell, while a sour or funky odor is a bad sign.

Feel the texture as well; it should be firm and crumbly, not slimy or sticky. Finally, keep it fresh by storing it in the fridge at 40 F (4 C) or below, as recommended by the USDA, and use it within a day or two, or freeze it if you need to keep it longer. 

The same goes for different types of meat, like ground turkey, chicken or even lamb. Whether grinding your own hamburger or using store-bought, be sure to add a little fat into the ratio so that things can stand up to the heat. If you’re on a budget, I recommend buying cheap cuts of beef and doing your own grinding at home.

“When grilling up burgers, don’t just get creative with your toppings. Experiment with different meat blends. Ground beef is usually made with ground chuck, but you can ask your butcher to grind up any cut of beef. Mix in ground short ribs, ribeye or brisket for added richness and juiciness.“ 

— Christie Vanover, champion pitmaster of GirlscanGrill.com
Two people shape raw burger patties by hand on a wooden cutting board, preparing ingredients for burgers, which include lettuce, red onion, and a burger bun.

Make the Patties 

Once you have the ground beef, it’s time to make the patties. A tip here is to work with a gentle hand. Divide the meat into even portions and then gently form each into patties. It is crucial not to overwork the meat, as it can make tough burgers. 

Season the outside of the patties with a hint of salt and allow them to chill in the refrigerator to firm up while you prepare the grill. If you want a subtle saltiness and a boost in minerals, try using gourmet salt.

What if you want a more flavorful patty? Personally, I think a bit of salt is enough to enhance that rich flavor of good beef, but if you want the meat to pack flavor by itself, try other seasonings like:

Chilling is a step to never skip as it helps the burgers from falling apart when transferred to the grill. Chill your burger patties in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before grilling. Use a covered container or wrap them tightly in plastic wrap to keep them fresh and prevent any contamination.

You can also freeze the individual patties at this point and store them in the freezer for up to three months. Par-freeze them first on a parchment-lined baking sheet before stacking them with sheets of wax or parchment paper in between each. 

A person is grilling steaks on a barbecue grill. Steam is rising from the steaks, and three people can be seen in the background, one holding a drink and the other two sitting.

Prep the Grill

When you’re ready to grill the burgers, be sure to give yourself enough time to prep the grill so it’s ready. Cooking over a grill that isn’t ready can ruin your burger. Allow for about 30 minutes for the grill to prep and preheat it. Get more tips in this charcoal grilling guide.  

Always start with a clean grill for the best results. Use a charcoal chimney for the easiest way to ignite charcoal with no lighter fluid. Then prepare the grill for a two-zone fire by stacking your lit charcoal to one side of the grill. 

If you’re cooking on a gas grill, set up the grill by igniting two or three burners to create a cooler zone and a hotter zone. For a pellet grill, set up your grill for the sear setting. Make sure your hopper is filled with pellets so there is no chance of it running out while you’re grilling the burgers.

With any grill, close the lid and allow the grill to preheat for 15 minutes before cooking anything. And, if you’re using a griddle, make sure your Blackstone grill is cleaned and ready to go by oiling the surface and preheating as well. 

Cook the Burgers 

When the grill is preheated, it’s time to cook the burgers! Unlike smoked hamburgers, traditional burgers are cooked hot and fast for that signature char-grilled flavor. Place the grills over the hot side of the grill, and cook them for about four to five minutes on each side, flipping them once for even cooking. 

Pro tip: One of the best grill tools you can have is a wide, high-quality spatula. Make sure it’s the right head size so you don’t accidentally destroy that patty while flipping it over, and choose a stainless steel one so it won’t rust.

If you’re cooking frozen burger patties, you may need to cook them longer, about 15 to 20 minutes, for them to be cooked completely through. According to the USDA, burgers should be cooked to 160 F, and the best way to tell if they are done is to use a digital meat thermometer.

The USDA also doesn’t recommend eating raw or undercooked ground beef because it can have dangerous bacteria, so you might want to steer clear of a medium rare burger. Always cook your burger patties all the way through to be safe.

If flare-ups occur, carefully transfer the burgers to the indirect heat side, or the cooler side of the grill with a long spatula. Time the burgers so you can add the cheese for the last minute to melt while toasting the buns.  

Assemble the Burgers 

Once your burgers are cooked to perfection, it’s time to assemble them. Start by toasting your buns on the grill; this will help the sauce or condiments not to soak through the fresh bun. If you want your burger to have less carbs, try swapping your regular buns for these 2-ingredient buns instead.

Then pile on your burger patty and any toppings you desire. Classic burger toppings include lettuce, tomato, onion, cheese, and pickles, but feel free to get creative with your toppings and add zucchini butter too.  

Burgers are best served fresh off the grill. Have all of your side dishes ready to go so there’s no delay for your hungry family or friends. Here are some awesome sides you can add to the table:

Close-up of a person holding a plate with three cheeseburgers being placed on buns using skewers at an outdoor gathering.

Tips for Success

I consider making the perfect burger an art, and it takes some practice to make the patties juicy, flavorful, and cooked just right. Take your burgers to the next level with these simple tips. 

  • Go for ground beef made from cuts with a nice lean-to-fat ratio. I recommend the chuck, round, sirloin, or brisket. 
  • Be sure to shape the patties slightly larger than the buns, as they will shrink a little when cooking. Aim for a size that’s about 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick and slightly larger in diameter than the buns you’re using.
  • Don’t press down on your burgers while grilling them. It can cause the juices to be squeezed out of the patties, drying them out. 
  • Add flavor to your burgers by using wood chips. To add wood chips to a charcoal grill, place the chips directly on the coals. Wait until the flames have died down before adding your burgers to avoid additional flare-ups. For a gas grill, use a smoker box of foil packets when smoking on a gas grill. For a pellet grill, you can also use a smoker box or a pellet tube right on the grill grates for additional smoke flavor.  
  • Always keep a squirt bottle on hand to lightly extinguish any flare-ups or simply close the lid to cut off the airflow to the fire.  
  • Try cooking your meat on a cast iron pan over the grill. This technique can help keep the juices inside the meat and may even help you get a better sear.

Master the Art of The Perfect Burger

Grilling burgers is a fun and delicious way to enjoy the great outdoors, no matter what grill you have. With these tips and tricks, you’ll be able to grill up perfect burgers every time. So fire up the grill, invite some friends over, and enjoy the summer with some delicious burgers!

Portions of this article first appeared on Food Drink Life.

Three people are grilling hamburger patties on a charcoal grill.

Grill the Perfect Burger on a Gas Grill

Grilling the perfect burger on a gas grill is easier than you think and can transform your cookouts into unforgettable feasts. With our tips and tricks, you'll achieve juicy, flavorful burgers every time, eliminating the frustration of dry or overcooked patties. Say goodbye to mediocre burgers and hello to delicious, mouthwatering perfection that will impress your family and friends.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 35 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes
Total Time 43 minutes
Course Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine American
Servings 4
Calories 244 kcal

Equipment

  • 1 Gas grill

Ingredients
  

Instructions
 

  • Divide the ground beef into 4 (4-ounce) portions and form into patties.
  • Season the outside of the patties with a sprinkle of salt and place in an air tight container in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to chill.
  • Set up the gas grill and preheat.
  • Place the grills over the hot side of the grill, and cook the burgers for about four to five minutes on each side, flipping them once for even cooking. 
  • Pop your buns on the grill and then assemble the burger with your favorite toppings.

Notes

What if you want a more flavorful patty? Personally, I think a bit of salt is enough, but if you want the meat to pack flavor by itself, try other seasonings like:
    • Worcestershire sauce
    • Dried herbs (thyme, rosemary, oregano)
Burgers are best served fresh off the grill. Have all of your side dishes ready to go so there’s no delay for your hungry family or friends. Here are some awesome sides you can add to the table:

Nutrition & Macros

Serving: 14 ounce burgerCalories: 244kcalProtein: 21gFat: 17gSaturated Fat: 7gSodium: 366mg

To obtain the most accurate representation of the nutritional information in a given recipe, please calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients and amounts used, using your preferred nutrition calculator. Under no circumstances shall the this website and the author be responsible for any loss or damage resulting for your reliance on the given nutritional information.

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