7 Surprising Ways to Better Your Burger Game This Summer

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There are two kinds of people in this world: those who make the burgers (hovering over an open flame, flipping each one with serious skill and taking all the credit) and those who devour them (with glee and zero regrets). For the former group of burger lovers, expanding your burger craft is what summer is all about. Turn on the grill and switch things up — we’ve got some surprising ways to better your burger game from here on out.

1: Reconsider your meat mix.

Your go-to, home-grilled burger might be made entirely of beef, but integrating another kind of meat for a more flavorful blend will have your next batch neck and neck with the pros’ patties. The Ultimate Backyard Burger (pictured above), for instance, calls for a blend of ground chuck, brisket and lamb for moist, juicy results.

2: Stuff it good.

Finishing off a burger with a good slice of cheese in the final moments on the grill works, but we often prefer Trisha Yearwood’s technique. She stuffs each patty with cheese and grills it to gooey, molten perfection for Cheese-Stuffed Burgers.

3: Up the elegance factor (sometimes).

Burger fare may be typically reserved to an atmosphere of plastic tablecloths, purchased squeeze-bottle condiments and more casual vibes, but that doesn’t mean they always have to be that way. Giada De Laurentiis’ Prosciutto Lamb Burgers come with an Italian twist, wrapped in prosciutto and topped with tomato and basil, and they are so sophisticated they don’t even need the bun.

4: Don’t let the bun be an afterthought.

The bun can make or break the burger — one that’s stale and unforgiving can overshadow your perfectly cooked act of greatness, while one that’s plush and doughy accentuates every last bite. Pin down the bun element before you buy the other ingredients, or be like Marc Murphy and make homemade buns with cheddar and black pepper.

5: Grill differently.

A well-executed burger may not need much more than a good char to reach perfection, but Bobby Flay’s Cedar Planked Burger one-ups the basic method. Cooking burgers over cedar planks imparts a complex, distinctive smokiness, proving the technique isn’t just for salmon any longer.

6: Feed a crowd the easy way.

Not all acts of burger greatness come to be with an open flame. In fact, the chefs in Food Network Kitchen redefined slider prep with an easy press-in-the-pan recipe, Beef Sliders for a Crowd. Because there’s no need to form and cook individual patties, it’s super-easy to crank out a ton of them all at once.

7: Hold the beef.

For those who think a good burger starts and ends with beef, hold it right there. Switching up what’s inside the bun allows for so much varying flavor and texture. We’ve got tons of non-beef burger recipes, with patties bearing veggies (like Guy Fieri’s loaded recipe), seafood and more — proof that great burgers don’t have to stick to their red-meat roots.

Check out more burger recipes from our friends in #SummerSoiree:

Feed Me Phoebe: Cauliflower Sweet Potato Burgers with Sriracha Aioli (Vegetarian Paleo)

Napa Farmhouse 1885: Six Hamburger Recipes To Get You Through Summer (Two Are Vegetarian!)

In Jennie’s Kitchen: Stuffed Cheeseburgers

Healthy Eats: Our Definitive Healthy-Burger List

Elephants and the Coconut Trees: Beet and Oats Vegan Burger

Creative Culinary: Beef Burger with Homemade Guinness Irish Stout Ketchup

Taste with the Eyes: Open-Faced Swiss Burger with Flower Salad

Devour: Meat Your Dream Burger with Our Grilling Personality Quiz