25 Chefs' Burger Secrets
Top creators of some of America's top burgers share their best tips.
1. "Hellmann's mayonnaise mixed with an equal amount of ketchup and some chopped pickles makes an excellent creamy and tangy sauce."
Geoffrey Zakarian, The Kitchen
2. "Grinding meat at home gives you total control over the fat-to-meat ratio. I like to season the meat eight to 24 hours before grinding, to allow the salt and spices to penetrate and enhance both flavor and texture."
Michael Symon, Burgers, Brew and 'Que
3. “Cook your burger like you cook a steak. Make sure the grill or griddle is screaming hot before adding the meat. You'll get serious caramelization, resulting in a nice crust."
Josh Capon, Bowery Meat Company, New York City
4. "My favorite way to cook a burger is on a griddle. You get a great sear, and it can sizzle in its own fat, unlike grilling over a flame, where all the juices run out onto the charcoal."
Amanda Freitag, Chopped
5. "Quit making burgers that I have to unhinge my jaw to eat! Like everything else, the simpler and more thoughtful the burger, the better it is going to be."
John Currence, City Grocery, Oxford, Miss.
6. "If you put cheese on your burger, think about buying an artisanal cheese. For our Frenchie burger we use Morbier, a cow's-milk cheese from Franche-Comté; for the Yankee burger, a sharp Vermont cheddar."
Daniel Boulud, DBGB, New York City
7. "Use a flavored fat to toast your bun: After your burger is cooked to your liking, let it rest. Leave the heat on and allow the juices in the pan to caramelize. Rub the buns in the burger fat and cook until golden brown."
Jennifer Puccio, Marlowe Burger, San Francisco
8. “Some chefs will say this is crazy, but you can make a burger juicier and moister by dipping the patty in ice water for about 30 seconds. No longer than that! Then immediately put it on the grill."
Laurent Tourondel, LT Burger, Sag Harbor, NY
9. “Fat is flavor. At the NoMad Bar, we use a ratio of 75 percent dry-aged beef to 25 percent fat."
James Kent, NoMad, New York City
10. “Substitute 20 to 30 percent of meat with ground diced mushrooms. They add umami to a burger, and most people don't even notice."
Richard Blais, Guy's Grocery Games
11. “We use a fresh Pat LaFrieda steakhouse-style short rib–chuck blend. The fattiness in the short ribs locks flavor and moisture into the patty."
Chris and Andrew Ikeda, Lake & Irving, Minneapolis
12. "If it's burger night, go to your butcher and have him grind you some meat. To avoid a long line at the counter, call ahead of time."
Guy Fieri, Guy's Grocery Games
13. "Never buy the pre-ground beef the butcher has on display. This is usually the outer layer of trim the butcher removes from the steaks, and it doesn't have much flavor."
Mark Rosati, Shake Shack, New York City
14. "Put all of your toppings on the bottom of your burger. This will keep everything contained when you take a bite."
Tim Love, Love Shack, Fort Worth, Texas
15. "The best burger is the classic drive-in burger with two patties, American cheese and a squishy bun, preferably a potato roll."
Sean Brock, Husk, Charleston, SC, and Nashville
16. "Balance flavors and textures: Serve cool, tangy pickles with a hot burger."
Marc Murphy, Chopped
17. "Fork out the dough for fancy pickles. We use Mama Lil's spicy Bread & Butter Pickles."
Gabriel Rucker, Little Bird Bistro, Portland, Ore.
18. "Burgers will shrink during grilling, so make the diameter of your patties about a half-inch larger than the buns for the perfect fit."
Bobby Flay, Beat Bobby Flay
19. "Season with salt in a circular motion for the most consistent coverage of the meat."
Linton Hopkins, Holman and Finch, Atlanta
20. "A lot of people come in asking for a burger made with expensive cuts of meat, but it won't make a tastier burger. We use and recommend prime chuck for its intense beefy flavor and excellent fat ratio."
Matt Mahoney, The Butcher Shop, Boston
21. "I'm a big fan of a little mustard to wake meat up. At the end of the cooking process, put a smear of smooth Dijon mustard on the top side of the burger and flip it over so the mustard melts into the meat. Cook for a few seconds and get that meat on a bun!"
Alex Guarnaschelli, Chopped
22. "Thin patties are where it's at! They make for a nice sear and more evenly seasoned meat."
Anne Gano, Au Cheval, Chicago
23. "When topping a burger, you want something creamy, crunchy and cheesy."
Michael Schwartz, The Cypress Room, Miami
24. “Splurge on the bread and slice it at a two-to-one ratio — top half at two, bottom half at one."
Dale Talde, Pork Slope, Brooklyn
25. "The rarer you want your burger, the higher the heat should be to get a good, proper crust."
Joe Labatt, Brave Horse Tavern, Seattle