The Perfect Charcoal Grilled Burger…Any Way!

eat at joe's, how to charcoal grill a burger, little life bytes, karen morreale When making a burger it’s important to know that you cannot use lean ground beef. It just doesn’t work. Make sure that your ground beef is a nice 80/20…that’s 80% meat and 20% fat. That way, providing you don’t overcook it, it will be nice and juicy, and gooood! Now comes your dilemna. You can use direct heat/indirect heat split with your charcoal (see Charcoal Grilling 101) or have a spray bottle of water handy. Since your burger has 20% fat it will drip some and cause flare ups. If you use the split version you’ll have to move your meat from direct to indirect heat as the flare ups happen. The spray bottle version will probably be easier…just spray the coals, not your burger.

Make the patties:

I like my burgers thick so it’s easier to get the nice pink center. You may want yours done more, but I don’t know why : ) If you do like a more well done burger, I recommend making a thinner patty. Once you’ve sculpted your meat into the patty you prefer, stick your thumb right into the center to create a crevice. This will keep your burger from plumping up too much while it’s cooking. For the purpose of this article, we will be using the spray bottle method.

Don’t forget to Season:

Season your meat! An adequate amount of salt, a couple of turns of cracked pepper and even a little garlic powder is nice. Remember, you have to almost over season your burger because you are charcoal grilling. The fire will burn off a lot of the deliciousness as it cooks. No one likes a bland burger!

Let’s Get Grilling!

Once your charcoal has been burning down for required 20-40 minutes it’s time to place your burgers on the grill. How exciting! Depending on how you like your burger cooked is how long it should cook…also take into consideration how thick or thin it is. Obviously, thinner burgers cook faster. The good news is you have a 20% fat back up, so it will most likely be juicy. Here’s a loose time reference:

Well Done – a thinner burger, (about an inch thick) Approximately 5 minutes for the first side, and about 6 more minutes on the other side. Then the last minute or two is when you’ll add your toppings…cheese, shrooms, bacon, etc. (I personally prefer my toppings to go between the meat and the cheese. The cheese holds the toppings on the burger!) Once your cheese is placed on your toppings, close the lid (don’t forget to leave your vents open) and they should be perfectly done in about a minute.

Medium Well- thicker (about 1 1/4″ – 1 1/2″) Exactly the same as well done but cook your burger 4 minutes on the first side, and 5 minutes on the second side.

Medium Rare- Also the same as medium well but cook your burger 3 1/2 minutes on the first side and 4 1/2 minutes on the second side.

Rare- Just show it to the fire…then eat it  : ) Caveman.

Once your burger is done the way you like it, do not forget to let it rest for 5 minutes before you place it on your bun. The juices will redistribute into your burger and not make your bun all pink and soggy. No one likes soggy buns!

Between Two Pieces of Bun:

There are so many kinds of buns out there, but you want your bun to stand up to the burger, and still be soft. Brioche is my favorite! And, get creative with your favorite toppings! Sauteed mushrooms, carmelized onions, bacon or whatever you like. Oh, and do I really need to remind you not to put the cold toppings like lettuce and tomato on the burger while it’s cooking? Just the hot ones.


Let’s build a fire!







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