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Great Burger, But Chuck the Bun

Great Burger, But Chuck the Bun

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If you haven’t yet heard about Umami Burger, it’s a chic, but comfortable, high-brow burger concept by Adam Fleischman—four joints that focus on making burgers that emphasize umami. Supposedly, Fleischman’s goal was to recreate the “craving he gets for his two favorite burgers: the In-N-Out Double Double, and the Father’s Office burger.”

The Umami Burger patty is great. The loosely packed meat glistens, pink and juicy with flavor as if someone was perpetually basting the inside as it cooked. On the sloppy joe to burger scale, it’s squarely on the burger side, but just a few notches over in terms of ground meat cohesiveness. While the burger loses points for its bun (too dry), the eye-catching Parmesan tuile is a blast — it looks sharp, but breaks like soft cheese treacle when bitten. It’s also topped with Umami ketchup, roasted tomato, and shiitake mushroom.

Basic Hamburger Tips

If you're going to make a beef burger, your first decision takes place in the butcher or meat department. Your ground beef choices are usually chuck, round, and sirloin. Here is what you need to know to get the burger you desire:

    Chuck is your classic burger meat and is usually the most flavorful, simply because it has the most fat. Ground round is the leanest of the three, with sirloin in the middle range. Sirloin has a great flavor, but it is the most expensive.

Form the Perfect Hamburger Patties

Break the ground meat by hand into small pieces onto a large piece of waxed paper. Sprinkle with salt and black pepper to taste. Bring the meat together by hand, avoid kneading it, and don't worry if it sees loosely knit — this light touch keeps the meat from getting tough. Divide meat mixture into equal portions, then into balls by gently tossing from hand to hand. Gently form into 1-inch thick patties. Press the center each patty so it is slightly thinner than the edges. Burgers bulge when cooked — by forming the patties thinner in the center than around the edges, you end up with the model bun-ready shape after grilling.

Burgers are one food we suggest cooking until well-done. With a solid cut of meat, the bacteria are on the outside surface. This means a steak can be safely cooked to medium rare because the outside will reach a high enough heat to kill any harmful bacteria. Ground meat, however, has the bacteria spread throughout. To be safe, you should cook beef burgers to 160 degrees F and poultry burgers should always be cooked to 165 degrees F. Preferably, use a clean instant-read thermometer to check the internal temperature.

With raw meat, be careful to follow the usual food handling rules to avoid cross-contamination.

Recipe Summary

  • 1 cup milk
  • ½ cup water
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 4 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 (.25 ounce) package instant yeast
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 egg

In a small saucepan, heat milk, water and butter until very warm, 120 degrees F (50 degrees C).

In a large bowl, mix together 1 3/4 cup flour, yeast, sugar and salt. Mix milk mixture into flour mixture, and then mix in egg. Stir in the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, beating well after each addition. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes.

Divide dough into 12 equal pieces. Shape into smooth balls, and place on a greased baking sheet. Flatten slightly. Cover, and let rise for 30 to 35 minutes.

Bake at 400 degrees F (200 degrees C) for 10 to 12 minutes, or until golden brown.

For Hot Dog Buns: Shape each piece into a 6x4 inch rectangle. Starting with the longer side, roll up tightly, and pinch edges and ends to seal. Let rise about 20 to 25 minutes. Bake as above. These buns are pretty big. I usually make 16 instead of 12.

Recipe Summary

  • 1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast (such as Fleischmann's ActiveDry Yeast®)
  • 1 pound all-purpose flour, or as needed - divided
  • 1 cup warm water (105 degrees F/41 degrees C)
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 3 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seeds, or as needed

Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper.

Place yeast into bowl of a large stand mixer whisk in 1/2 cup flour and warm water until smooth. Let stand until mixture is foamy, 10 to 15 minutes.

Whisk 1 egg, melted butter, sugar, and salt thoroughly into yeast mixture. Add remaining flour (about 3 cups).

Fit a dough hook onto stand mixer and knead the dough on low speed until soft and sticky, 5 to 6 minutes. Scrape sides if needed. Poke and prod the dough with a silicone spatula if large amounts of dough stick to the spatula, add a little more flour.

Transfer dough onto a floured work surface dough will be sticky and elastic but not stick to your fingers. Form the dough lightly into a smooth, round shape, gently tucking loose ends underneath.

Wipe out stand mixer bowl, drizzle olive oil into the bowl, and turn dough over in the bowl several times to coat surface thinly with oil. Cover bowl with aluminum foil. Let dough rise in a warm place until doubled, about 2 hours.

Transfer dough to a floured work surface and pat to flatten bubbles and form into a slightly rounded rectangle of dough about 5x10 inches and about 1/2 inch thick. Dust dough lightly with flour if needed. Cut dough into 8 equal pieces. Form each piece into a round shape, gently tucking ends underneath as before.

Use your hands to gently pat and stretch the dough rounds into flat disc shapes about 1/2 inch thick. Arrange buns about 1/2 inch apart on prepared baking sheet. Dust buns very lightly with flour. Drape a piece of plastic wrap over the baking sheet (do not seal tightly). Let buns rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).

Beat 1 egg with milk in a small bowl, using a fork, until mixture is thoroughly combined. Very gently and lightly brush tops of buns with egg wash without deflating the risen dough. Sprinkle each bun with sesame seeds.

Bake in the preheated oven until lightly browned on top, 15 to 17 minutes. Buns will stick together slightly where they touch. Let cool completely, tear the buns apart, and slice in half crosswise to serve.

The Secret Ingredient for a Perfect Burger Isn't What You Think

Sriracha? Kimchi? Lovage? Fermented fish flakes? None of the above. A hyper-experimental cook learns the hard way.

Sriracha? Kimchi? Lovage? Fermented fish flakes? None of the above. A hyper-experimental cook learns the hard way.

I have a problem. I have a daughter, too, but she&aposs not the problem. The problem is, I am happiest in the kitchen when I&aposm going deep on some quest: studying the finer points of offal cookery, trying to make everything from pork kidneys to ox heart palatable, or testing my theory that a great cassoulet depends upon first butchering a pig and a lamb and a duck. This is a problem because my 11-year-old daughter, Hannah, passionately prefers familiar foods: spaghetti and meatballs, tomato soup with grilled cheese sandwiches. Most of all, that girl loves hamburgers—old-school, fast food burgers like the ones she gets in classic American burger joints courtesy of certain well-meaning people we might as well call grandparents.

In all fairness to myself, I had dreamed up family burger night as a loving concession, a way to offer the kid at least one meal a month she could feel good about. It should have been a growth opportunity, too𠅊 chance for me to learn that not every meal has to be a step forward on my personal journey. All I had to do was buy the buns, the preground chuck, some lettuce, pickles and ketchup, and then put aside my ego and make my child happy. But I couldn&apost stop myself from upping the ante, so I flipped through my Alice Waters cookbooks until I found a hamburger recipe, in the Chez Panisse Café Cookbook. California-meets-Provence, bistro-style, it called for toasted levain bread, grilled red onions, an obscure green herb called lovage that took weeks to find and cost a fortune, and nothing but Dijon mustard as a condiment. ("Sorry, kids," I found myself declaring, "no ketchup allowed.")

Hannah liked that burger fine, but I could tell it wasn&apost what she really wanted. So I pushed further toward what I mistook for excellence by adding garlicky aioli and then substituting the burger-patty instructions from Thomas Keller&aposs best-selling Ad Hoc at Home. The secret, he explained, was to begin with whole cuts of sirloin, brisket and chuck, cut the meat into big chunks, toss it with salt, and then grind twice before gently shaping the patties by hand. To that end, I bought a grinder attachment for my KitchenAid mixer and discovered that my daughter did not belong to the minuscule percentage of 11-year-old girls for whom the sight and sound of a working meat grinder whets the appetite.

I loved those Alice-meets-Keller burgers. I&aposd eat one right now. But I couldn&apost miss the worry in my daughter&aposs eyes, the fear that her father might never make a burger as good as the classic ones she ate at restaurants.

The next turning point came in a San Francisco stoner-Asian joint, Namu Gaji, where I had a sensational "Namu burger" on a soft white bun with spicy kimchi relish, aioli, and red onions glazed in balsamic vinegar and soy sauce. At home, I took the Asian-fusion impulse further, boosting my own aioli with Sriracha and fish sauce and mixing the beef with dried fermented fish flakes𠅊.k.a. katsuobushi, the ultimate umami-turbocharger. Then, in what I now consider the embarrassing nadir of my burger quest, I piled all of it right on top of the existing family sandwich—keeping the levain bread and the Dijon mustard—to create what turned out to be pretty much Hannah&aposs worst nightmare.

This time, however, it wasn&apost just the kid who felt empty inside. Taking a bite of my own gargantuan Alice/Keller/Korean burger, I suddenly realized that it bore almost no relationship to the classic American burgers that even I had loved throughout my own American life.

"Time for research," I told the wife. "Let&aposs hit a few burger joints, find out what the pros are doing."

She sent out queries on Facebook and Twitter, looking for recommendations. A pop-up called KronnerBurger rose to the top of the pile, so she made a reservation—just the two of us middle-aged married people squinting in the darkness of a seedy bar.

Chef Chris Kronner&aposs girlfriend, Ashley Hildreth, set down our trays, delivering burgers that I can only describe as pop-art masterpieces—the burgers Andy Warhol would&aposve created if he&aposd been working with Dairy Queen takeout instead of Campbell&aposs Soup cans. Not too big and not too small, Kronner&aposs burgers had simple white-bread buns with creamy white mayo, iceberg lettuce and red tomato and pickles, patties cooked rare. The visual aesthetic was old-school fast food—random burger joints in random little towns𠅋ut Kronner was a master chef, too, a veteran of San Francisco standbys like Slow Club and Bar Tartine. He wasn&apost playing around. (Kronner is opening a permanent KronnerBurger in Oakland, California, sometime this summer.) Each ingredient was a miracle of care and quality, combined in harmonious balance. My whole jaw slackened at the first bite. Every muscle in my mouth loosened as I chewed through a veritable clinic in advanced burgerology.

By the time I was done, I knew what my daughter had known all along: that the classic fast food hamburger is one of the world&aposs perfect things. Glory lies not in reinventing that form, but in embracing its humble constraint, making it as good as possible without altering its fundamental identity.

We took the kids to KronnerBurger. They found the bar scary. Hannah𠅏irstborn, rule-follower�manded to know if it was even legal for us to have brought children there. Then we ordered, and Hannah picked up her burger. This, her face seemed to say, this is what I&aposm talking about.

I called up Kronner and begged for his secrets, hoping to replicate his burgers at home. Then I drove across town to purchase the exact pain de mie buns Kronner claimed to use. I removed a quarter-inch slice from the middle of each to improve the bun-to-patty ratio, and I spread butter onto each cut side so that, when I set the halves on the griddle, the butter&aposs moisture would steam and softenthe bun&aposs interior while the cut surface browned. I tracked down Cabot Clothbound Cheddar and, per Kronner&aposs instructions, beat it into the mayo to create a covert cheeseburger effect. Red onions got sliced a quarter inch thick and then seared on only one side—never two—to create a sweet grilled flavor on one surface while leaving raw crunch on the other. I even pickled cucumbers from scratch, replicating Kronner&aposs brine with lots of vinegar and salt𠅋ut no water or sugar𠅏or a powerful acid-saline kick. As for the meat, it turned out that Kronner was blending dry-aged grass-fed chuck with short-rib fat, grinding exactly once and never pre-salting𠅌onvinced as he was that salt would break down cell walls during the grinding process, creating a dense meat-loaf quality.

Moments of beauty, in the weeks that followed:

Hannah saying, "You know, Dad, I would actually be happy with these burgers being our family burger forever."

Hannah, again: "And Dad, I&aposm totally over that well-done thing. If the meat&aposs really good, I actually like it pink now."

And even: "I&aposm done with ketchup and yellow mustard, Dad. I only put that stuff on a burger now if it&aposs a bad burger. It&aposs kind of my secret way of insulting a hamburger."

But, like I said, I have a problem and I have a daughter, and my daughter is not the problem. The problem is that I&aposm the kind of guy who, once he&aposs gotten a handle on the basic burger, can&apost help noticing the brioche smoked-potato bun recipe in bread genius Chad Robertson&aposs new book, Tartine BookNo. 3. And sure, making Robertson&aposs sourdough starter is a weeklong process followed by days of mixing, kneading and rising to produce what could be the finest hamburger buns ever baked𠅋ut that&aposs exactly the kind of trouble I can&apost stop looking for.

San Francisco writer Daniel Duane is a regular contributor to F&W.

A Lesson in Burgerology: How to Recognize the Four Archetypes

Pub Burger
So big and juicy you might need a knife and fork.
Patty: As big as a steak, weighing at least eight ounces.
Toppings: A mountain of extras, like raw or caramelized onions.
Cheese: Cheddar or your pick of upgrades, like Gruyère or blue.

Fast Food Burger
Americans seem hardwired to love it from childhood.
Patty: Thin and well-done.
Toppings: Lettuce, pickles.
Sauce: Mayo, ketchup or "secret" (usually a combo of mayo and ketchup).

Asian Burger
Turbocharged with fermented, umami-rich ingredients like miso and soy sauce.
Toppings: Pickled daikon radish, kimchi relish.
Sauce: Sriracha-spiked mayo.

Mediterranean Bistro Burger
No chlorine-white bun here may require a crash course in French bread terminology.
Toppings: A fancy green like lovage or arugula.
Sauce: Dijon mustard or aioli.
Bread: Levain or other crusty artisanal loaf baked in a wood-fired oven.

The little spice

The strawberry jam by itself is really sweet, so we are going to "cut it" a bit, but at the same time add something that will enhance the overall flavor. What we want to do is put some bite in this without taking the spice over the top and dominating the sweetness. A quarter teaspoon each of smoked paprika — for the smoky spicy flavor — and of garlic powder, is what we need.

If you like things with a lot of heat, you can go a bit crazy here and add a pinch of cayenne. Full disclosure I made two spice jams, but thought the cayenne took away from the dish a bit too much because the spice was omnipresent. But if you like it pretty hot, that's the way to go.

Recipe for The Smashed Motz Burger

I'm a traditionalist. When I'm off the road not doing “research,” I keep my burgers simple. I do not pile them high with avocado, tomatoes and foie gras smears. I don't even use lettuce or (gasp!) ketchup. For me, it's all about the beef -- any added topping must enhance, not detract from, the beefiness of my burger.

I reach burger perfection at home by keeping things very simple. Using 80/20 ground chuck is the key to great burgers and I usually grind my own. If you don't have a grinder, find a good butcher. My relationship with my butcher is closer than that of my neighbors.

Buns are important, too. I never over-think the vehicle that will carry my burger. The ratio of bun-to-burger is in essence what makes the burger a burger, so I always consider the parameters. The patty should always fit the bun, never too small and never too large. I always use simple, white, squishy store-bought buns, or soft potato rolls if available. Toasting buns in a pan with a little butter is a must.

8 White squishy buns (Arnold, Wonder, Martin's, etc.)

1 Vidalia onion, sliced paper-thin on a mandolin (onion slicer)

Place a well-seasoned cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. If the pan looks dry, add a tiny bit of canola or vegetable oil to lubricate and heat for a few minutes. Place your ground beef in a large mixing bowl. Do not add anything to the meat (that would be meatloaf). Using a salad or ice cream scooper (not your hands) grab a wad of beef a little larger than a golf ball and drop into the hot pan. Sprinkle liberally with salt then press flat with a very sturdy spatula with no holes. It is important that you press only once, into the shape of a patty, then leave it alone. Any more pressing will send precious juices out into the pan. Cook for approximately 1-minute and a half per side and you are done. It is that simple.

I like to sauté Vidalia onions to put on top and that's about it. Sometimes I also smash raw, thin-sliced onion in the patty at the beginning, a favorite of any burger joint in El Reno, OK.

George Motz is a well-traveled Emmy award-winning freelance filmmaker and photographer based in New York City. Over the past 18 years he has worked on numerous television commercials, feature films, music videos, promos and documentaries. 

Best Gourmet Burger Blend

Have you ever asked yourself what is the best gourmet burger blend? I’ve decided to share this recipe for you, because the burger blend is the most important step in making the best burgers. And the key is to protein to fat ratio.

If you master these recipes you will dominate grilling season.

Hello, Sarah here again with Cooking Frog Recipes. Today we are going to dig into the art of making a perfect patties. A fantastic burger starts with a the ideal patty. While a few of these burgers possess a particular blend of spices and meat, others have only superior ground beef. Here are a couple of tips for the very best gourmet burger recipes:

Use quality ground beef. Don’t overwork the meat, it can make it tough. Never push down on the patty as you are cooking it, you’ll press out all of the juices. Allow your burger to break before serving.

For us, the ideal burger is loaded with toppings, sauces and cheese, but in the event the patty is not impeccable, your burger won’t ever live up to its juicy, beefy, satisfying possible. But just enjoy the endless selection of toppings available to you, you will find wonderful variations worth researching in regards to selecting that cuts of beef to use when forming your patties. There is nothing wrong with throw, but adding other cuts can change the taste profile of your hamburger in ways you never imagined.

Best Gourmet Burger Blend

Ground Beef

When you have got the burger basics down and are looking to step your game up, home-ground steak is the thing to do. Grinding your own beef has many respects. Aside from providing you with bragging rights, home-ground beef comes with an indescribable freshness that will boost your burger’s succulence. The taste profiles of beef differ greatly from cut to cut once you get in the world of grinding and blending different cuts, then you’ll experience a new level of hamburger making that will blow your and your buddies minds.

Creating your own blend
No matter what cuts you mix and match, the secret to successful beef-grinding alchemy is to concoct a grind having an overall protein-to-fat ratio of 80/20. Provided that you keep this ratio, you can stick with a simple one-cut mill or get real complex and craft a grind of two, three, four, or five cuts — it is totally your call.

Chuck Beef

(80/20 ratio When Old-school butchers refer to”hamburg,” they are speaking of chuck, and even more especially, chuck roll. It’s as timeless as you can get, producing a high fat burger that comes across as succulent instead of greasy. Most ground beef — and burgers — come from the chuck, so this trimming is an obvious option. Hands down, it is our favorite cut to grind. At the supermarket, start looking for the slab labeled”chuck pot roast” Grind it up and you’ll instantly think hamburger .

Brisket Beef

(70/30) ratio: This blue-collar cut is popular for Its distinct flavor profile and high profile content will yield a rich hamburger with a humble meat-and-potatoes attitude.


(70/30) ratio: Another high-rise, this primal slab creates some real burger beauties. Our favorite rib cuts for grinding are beef rib, flanked, and ribeye cap.

Beef plate

(90/10) ratio: The plate is just beneath the ribs. This trimming yields both skirt and hanger steaks. All these are marginally tougher cuts with buttery yet tangy flavor profiles, much like the powerful malolactic notes of a tart, velvety red wine. The sophisticated flavors of this plate lend themselves nicely to a fancier burger night.

Short Loin

(85/15) ratio: Should you win the lottery (and suddenly feel as a ridiculous), we advocate sourcing our favorite cut from the short loin: a dry-aged New York strip steak. Dry aging produces an umami-packed profile that comes from an enzymatic breakdown of muscle. You simply can not find that flavor anywhere else. — and provides that buzz that Chinese takeout supplies with no cancer scare.) So if you’ve got money to burn and you’re on the lookout for a hamburger to give you some zip postal code, then this cut is right for you.


(93/7) ratio: Remember when London broil was cheap? We do. Back then, chefs were performing tasty things with flank, such as marinating, charring, and shaving it thin that the meat just melted in your mouth. Though the price of this cut has skyrocketed in the last ten decades, it’s still a worthwhile element on your burger blend.


(85/15) ratio: The sirloin can be challenging. There’s sirloin, tenderloin, top sirloin, and bottom sirloin. Flavors and marbling vary greatly throughout the sirloin area, so for burger-grinding functions, we suggest sticking to the bottom. Bottom sirloin is nicely marbled and packed with two of our favorite cuts, both for grilling and grinding: flap meat, also called steak tips (and typically only available on the East Coast) and tri-tip (usually only available on the West Coast).


(93/7) ratio: Cuts from the round are lean and cheap. They’re a fantastic go-to once you want to correct your protein-to-fat ratio. Typical cuts incorporate high round, bottom round, and eye around.


(96/4) ratio : The shank is cut out from either the hind shank or fore shank (or the calves and forearms). These muscles are continuously used, which gives them a beefy flavor but a tough consistency. Such tough cuts tend to be best for braising, but remember, a couple of grinds of the toughest meats will yield a tender, melt-in-your-mouth feel. We love the shank because it adds a rich and gelatinous beefiness for our burgers. Be sure to pair this thin cut with fattier cuts.


(85/15) ratio: Sometimes we simply love getting funky with our hamburger grinds. That’s where oxtail comes from. Like the shank, this cut is very tough and gelatinous. It’s also high in fat and low in price. Pick some tail up next time that you wish to try something a little different.

The Best Burger Patty Mixtures

What can you add into hamburger meat? Any ingredient that is wet enough to withstand some cook moment on high heat. Examples of items that won’t work: dry ingredients such as dried herbs or floor peanuts. These may top a burger, but they tend to form of incinerate, eliminate flavor or break up the patty when you attempt to cook them in with it. All these mix-ins may also use ground turkey and other beef substitutes, and can really enhance their flavors.

Ingredients for burger mixtures

1. Eggs

Adding An egg to every pound of beef improves both the consistency and the flavor, and keeps it from falling apart on the grill.

2. Bacon

Mix some chopped, uncooked bacon in along with your ground beef, create your patties and grill or stir it up together.

3. Onions

Instead of adding onions into the hamburger after it’s cooked, it is possible to chop them up and mix them into the patty. This also has the benefit of cooking the onions, which reduces any rankness. The best gourmet burgers are made with onions.

4. Breadcrumbs

Since your hamburger’s going to be served on a bun, bread wedges don’t add much in the flavor department. Their real function is to put in a bit of dryness to your beef mixture, which can be excellent when it’s paired with a moist ingredient. It’s also helpful as an extender.

5. Worcestershire sauce

This Classic sauce adds a great tang to beef, and increases the juiciness level, also. If you discover it is making your patties too wet to stick together well, throw in some bread crumbs.

6. Garlic

Chopped fresh garlic kneaded into steak patties is superb. You can also just sprinkle garlic powder with your meat to get a number of that garlic taste.

7. Cheese

Grate Some cheese — any kind you like — and then knead that into your own burger patties. The cheese and the beef taste each other since they cook, and you know how great beef and cheese taste together.

8. A.1. Sauce

Naturally, A-1 is great added into burger patties. Its texture is similar to that of barbecue sauce, and it becomes more subtle when used this way instead of being pumped across the patty later.

9. Peppers

Chop up bell or jalapeno peppers and Work them into your patties. Habaneros or poblanos will provide you a great deal of spice in each bite. Ortegas and bells could include a wonderful mild flavor.

10. Soy sauce

Do not waste your time with normal soy sauce. Eden Organic is traditionally brewed and obsolete , and that gives it more full-bodied flavor than other brands. It’s wonderfully salty and mellow.

11. Peanut butter for burger mixture

Yes, I am serious! Think beef satay — peanut butter provides a salty-sweet flavor to beef. This is great topped with diced green onions and a piece of pineapple.

12. Carrots

Shred some carrots and combine those into your hamburger mix. This makes for an odd but fascinating sweet flavor that most folks either love or despise. If you’re a carrot enthusiast, give it a try.

13. Hot sauce for burger mixture

Tobasco and similar sauces (my favorite is Tapatio) add a delicious touch to hamburger patties.

14. Sun dried tomatoes

Sun dried tomatoes hold up nicely under cooking and provide your burgers a slightly sweet, acidic flavor.

15. Sour Cream

Mix in some sour cream to present your burgers a richer taste with a slight tang.

16. Barbecue sauce

Whether you use a classic family recipe or store-bought, skillet cooks wonderfully into hamburger and becomes merely another note in the total taste. It’s very different from incorporating barbecue sauce into the burger after it is cooked.

Also if you have problems with allergies form eggs, or you don’t want to use breadcrumbs in your mixture, you can find a recipe for egg-free burger here.

Make your own burger mixture

It is possible to combine any of these ingredients together to make your own. Be free to experiment.

Beautiful Burger Buns

The following recipe created quite a stir when "Moomie" first posted it on our original online community. Baker after baker tried these buns and declared them THE BEST. Soft, vaguely sweet, and golden-yellow from the butter and egg, these simple buns are perfect for burgers (whether beef or plant-based), or any of your favorite sandwich fillings.


  • 3/4 to 1 cup (170g to 227g) water, lukewarm*
  • 2 tablespoons (28g) butter, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 1/2 cups (418g) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/4 cup (50g) sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons (8g) salt
  • 1 tablespoon instant yeast

*For best results (a smooth, slightly soft dough), use the smaller amount of water in summer (or in a humid environment), the greater amount in winter (or in a dry climate) and something in between the rest of the time.

  • 3 tablespoons (43g) butter, melted
  • 1 large egg white* whisked with 2 tablespoons cold water, optional
  • seeds of your choice, optional

*For added richness and color, add the yolk left over from separating the egg to the dough above.


Weigh your flour or measure it by gently spooning it into a cup, then sweeping off any excess.

To make the dough: Mix and knead all of the dough ingredients — by hand, mixer, or bread machine — to make a soft, smooth dough.

Cover the dough and let it rise until it's nearly doubled in bulk, about 1 to 2 hours.

To shape the buns: Gently deflate the dough and divide it into eight pieces (about 100g each) to make smaller or larger buns see "tips," below. Shape each piece into a ball.

Perfect your technique

Homemade hamburger buns

Flatten each dough ball with the palm of your hand until it's about 3" across.

Place the buns on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover and let rise until noticeably puffy, about an hour. Toward the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 375°F.

Brush the buns with about half of the melted butter. To make seeded buns see "tips," below.

To bake the buns: Bake the buns for 15 to 18 minutes, until golden. Remove them from the oven and brush with the remaining melted butter. This will give the buns a satiny, buttery crust.

Cool the buns on a rack. Use as a base for burgers (beef or plant-based) or any favorite sandwich filling.

Storage information: Store leftover buns, well-wrapped, at room temperature for several days freeze for longer storage.

Tips from our Bakers

For seeded buns, brush with the optional egg white/water mixture, instead of the melted butter it'll make the seeds adhere. Sprinkle with the seeds of your choice, and bake. For an extra-soft, buttery crust, brush seeded buns with melted butter post-bake.

To make these buns using our hamburger bun pan: Divide the dough into six pieces (about 128g each) and shape them into balls. Place the balls into the lightly greased wells of a hamburger bun pan, and gently press them with your hand to fill the bottom of the wells, or until they're about 3 1/2" to 4" wide. Proceed with the recipe as written.

Join King Arthur baker Martin Philip and his family as they bake Beautiful Burger Buns together, start to finish. (And turn the dough into mouth-watering cinnamon rolls!) Watch Martin Bakes at Home - Burger Buns & Cinnamon Rolls now.

The best way to grill a burger keeps it off the grate

Growing up in Philly and Michigan, I thought a hamburger was big and fat, the type my mom made, the kind (amped up in size and quality) made famous at the 21 Club in New York. My wife thought a hamburger was thin and crusty, the sort she ate at the Diamond Inn, a homey cafe in the small Central Texas town of Taylor, where she grew up.

My theory was this: The tall burger was emblematic of the verticality of New York (and urban America), while the flat burger represented the horizontalness of Texas (and rural America).

If there was anything to that theory, it has crumbled like a stale brioche bun by now. The thin, or smash, burger is everywhere, at In-N-Out Burger, Five Guys, Shake Shack and more. Its crispiness adds texture to the orb's juiciness. When patties are stacked one atop another as a double-meat double-cheese, it becomes a transporting experience. Yet the thick, a.k.a. tavern, burger remains a mainstay in pubs, back yards and high-end restaurants. The brawny sphere exudes enormous beefy taste and, unlike a smash burger, it can be cooked to medium-rare, giving it a deeply satisfying flavor profile.

Which is better, you ask? My answer: Why choose? When I recently gathered my wife and a couple of friends for burger taste tests, we liked both styles. The surprise is in the best method to produce them: a cast-iron skillet on a grill. This lets burgers of either variety cook in their own juices, leaving them fantastically moist, while allowing for some smoke to waft in.

But there's more to it than that. Here, drawing on my recent tests and a little help from experts, are tips to help you create the best burger you can, whichever style you prefer:

- Choose the right meat. The best burgers come from freshly ground meat. Either grind your own or ask a butcher to grind it for you. Whatever you do, don't buy packages labeled hamburger or ground beef. They can contain meat from any of the primal cuts of the animal, which means you have no idea what you're getting.

For a wow factor, go for a custom blend. Elias Taddesse, the former executive chef of the Michelin-starred Caviar Russe in New York, makes a great burger at Mélange at Wet Dog Tavern in Washington from a combination of equal parts brisket, short rib and beef shank. I like a combination of brisket, chuck and sirloin.

But great burgers can also be made from all chuck, which comes from the shoulder it's widely available and flavorful, with a good balance of meat (80 percent) and fat (20 percent). Fat is flavor, so if you choose packaged ground chuck, make sure it has at least 20 percent.

- Don't overwork it. That creates a dense burger. To optimize the juiciness, handle the meat just enough to barely form a patty.

Season the outside only. This keeps you from kneading the meat to spread the seasoning around. Use only salt and pepper, after forming the patties, to showcase the full flavor of beef. And season aggressively.

- Cook in a cast-iron skillet, even on the grill. It's the same reason that Taddesse and other burger-meisters cook on a flap top: You can control the patty better, and the juices don't drip through the grates. (Of course, you could also cook it on the stovetop. But it's summer. Use the grill to cook the rest of the meal and avoid heating up the kitchen.)

- Don't squash the patty. Constantly pressing on a burger while it's cooking releases too much of its juice. Don't do it - unless you are making a smash burger. Smash those once and only once, when you set the ball of meat onto the cooking surface. And then stop.

- Serve on a soft bun. To Michael McDearman, a judge for the World Burger Championship, the bun is the second-most important consideration after the choice of meat. "When you bite into the bun, you should not have to unhinge your jaw," he says. "It should have enough substance to hold what you put on [the burger]. It should complement. When I bite into it, I want to get every flavor of that bite." Shake Shack uses resilient, pillowy Martin's potato rolls. Just sayin'.

- Use whatever condiments you like. Take that, ketchup-haters. Also consider protecting your burger eating experience. Tommy Shive, the 2017 winner of the World Burger Championship, suggests placing lettuce on the bottom bun to keep it from getting soggy.

- Go American. If you love blue or Gouda or Swiss or cheddar on a burger, go for it. But if you haven't tried it, know that nothing melts all gooey onto and into the meat like American. No cheese is content to play a supporting role like American. No other cheese is called American, which means, by nomenclature alone, it is perfect for that most American of foods.

Perfect Tavern Cheeseburgers

Call these backyard burgers, pub burgers or whatever. They are thick - the kind we associate with cookouts and fine-dining establishments, and therefore they allow for the complex flavors that comes with a charred exterior and a pink-red medium-rare interior.

Ground chuck is a great go-to because it is flavorful and easily available. But if you want to experiment with blends, try a third each of trimmed fatty brisket, sirloin and ground chuck.

Because a cast-iron skillet will help keep the burger juices in the pan and helps with uniform cooking, that's what is used here. You can cook directly on the grates of a grill, though, and achieve excellent results. The cook time and directions are the same for both methods.

This recipe calls for flipping the burger only once. But if you are a flipper, you're in good company. Leading authority on the science of cooking J. Kenji López-Alt says flipping several times actually improves the overall result, albeit slightly. Total cook time for multi-flipping will be a little less (about 2 minutes) than for one flip. Whether you are cooking on the grate or in a pan, use the remainder of the grill's cooking surface to cook corn or other vegetables to go with your burgers.

If you want to toast the buns, do so before cooking the burgers. Otherwise, the timing can get tricky and you may end up burning the buns or the burgers or both.

From columnist Jim Shahin.


2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

4 hamburger buns, preferably potato buns

1 1/2 pounds ground chuck (80-20)

Condiments of your choice

4 iceberg or green leaf lettuce leaves (optional)

Coarse ground kosher salt (total of about 1 tablespoon)

Freshly ground black pepper (total of about 1 tablespoon)

1 teaspoon neutrally flavored oil, such as canola oil or grapeseed

4 slices white or yellow American cheese

Prepare a grill for direct heat. If using a gas grill, preheat to medium-high (450 degrees). If using a charcoal grill, light the charcoal or wood briquettes when the briquettes are ready, distribute them under the cooking area for direct heat. For a hot fire, you should be able to hold your hand about 6 inches above the coals for 3 or 4 seconds. Have a spray water bottle ready for taming any flames.

Place a large cast-iron skillet on the grates directly over the fire. Brush a little melted butter on the inside of the buns. Place them, buttered sides down, in the skillet or on the cooking grates to toast for 2 to 3 minutes total. (Turn them over and lightly brown the exteriors, if desired.) There's no need to clean the skillet before adding the oil to cook the burgers. Transfer the buns to a plate.

Divide the meat into 4 equal portions, then shape into patties that are 1 inch tall and 3 1/2 inches in diameter (between 5 and 6 ounces each).

If you want to dress the bottom buns with mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup or a special sauce, now's the time so that you can set the burger directly on the dressed bun. If you are using the lettuce leaves, place one on each bottom bun.

Generously season the patties with the salt and pepper on both sides. Use your thumb to make an indentation at the center of the burger (the resulting dimple will help prevent burger shrinkage).

Add the oil to the skillet once the oil shimmers, place the patties in the pan. Cook, uncovered, for 2 to 3 minutes, until the bottom of the meat caramelizes and becomes a little charred. Turn them over cook for 3 to 4 minutes.

Place a slice of cheese on each burger. Close the grill lid and cook for 1 to 2 minutes once the cheese is gooey, transfer each burger to a bottom bun.

Place the top buns on each burger serve right away.

Nutrition | Calories: 560 Total Fat: 33 g Saturated Fat: 14 g Cholesterol: 160 mg Sodium: 1390 mg Total Carbohydrates: 28 g Dietary Fiber: 3 g Sugars: 8 g Protein: 40 g.

Perfect Smash Cheeseburgers

2 double-patty portions or 4 single servings

Smash burgers have become all the rage in recent years. They're juicy. They cook quickly. And they achieve a wonderful crustiness. When placed one atop another (the popular double-meat), they are also super meaty. Ground chuck is a great go-to because it is flavorful and easily available. But if you want to experiment with blends, try a third each of trimmed fatty brisket, sirloin and ground chuck. So they get super crispy, each burger is 3 ounces. It assumes, too, that you'll make a double-meat (because they're amazing). However, a single-meat 3-ounce burger is terrific as well. And if you don't want your burger quite so crispy, make 4-ounce burgers from 1 pound of meat. The cooking times are the same.

Because it keeps the burger juices in the pan and helps with uniform cooking, a cast-iron skillet is used here. You can cook directly on the grates of a grill, though, and achieve excellent results. The cook time and directions are the same for both methods. The classic method is to smash the ball of meat once you place it in the skillet, but you can form the burger beforehand if you prefer. We've found that it's easier to preform when you're putting the meat directly on the grill, because sometimes the spatula will stick to the meat, which can become a hassle. Whether you are cooking on the grate or in a pan, use the remainder of the grill's cooking surface to cook corn or other vegetables to go with your burgers.

If you want to toast the buns, do so before cooking the burgers. Otherwise, the timing can get tricky and you may end up burning the buns or the burgers, or both.

From columnist Jim Shahin.


Condiments of your choice

12 ounces ground chuck (80-20)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

2 or 4 hamburger buns, preferably potato buns

4 iceberg or greenleaf lettuce leaves (optional)

1 teaspoon neutrally flavored oil, such as canola oil or grapeseed

Coarse ground kosher salt (about 1 tablespoon)

Freshly ground black pepper (about 1 tablespoon)

4 slices white or yellow American cheese

Prepare a grill for direct heat. If using a gas grill, preheat to high (500 degrees). If you are using a charcoal grill, light the charcoal or wood briquettes once the briquettes are ready, distribute them under the cooking area for direct heat. For a hot fire, you should be able to hold your hand about 6 inches above the coals for 3 or 4 seconds. Have a spray water bottle ready for taming any flames.

Set out your favorite condiments so you'll be ready to dress your burgers as soon as they come off the grill. Divide the meat into 4 equal portions shape into balls.

Place a large cast-iron skillet on the grates directly over the fire. Brush a little melted butter on the inside of the buns. Place them, buttered sides down, in the skillet or on the cooking grates to toast for 2 to 3 minutes total. (Turn them over and lightly brown the exteriors, if desired.) There's no need to clean the skillet before adding the oil to cook the burgers. Transfer the buns to a plate.

If you want to dress the bottom buns with mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup and/or a special sauce, now's the time so that you can set the burger directly on the dressed bun. If you are using the lettuce leaves, place one on each bottom bun.

Add the oil to the skillet once the oil shimmers, place the balls of meat in the pan and immediately mash them down with a heatproof spatula. Use half the salt and pepper to season the meat. Cook, uncovered, for 2 to 3 minutes, until the burgers crisp a little on the bottom, then turn them over and season with the remaining salt and pepper. Cook, uncovered, for 1 to 2 minutes, then lay a slice of cheese on each burger. Close the grill lid cook for about 1 minute, then, once the cheese is gooey, stack two cheese-topped burgers on each of 2 bottom buns (for double-meat portions) or place 1 burger on each of 4 bottom buns (for singles), then finish with the top buns.

Nutrition (based on a single-patty cheeseburger, with bun) | Calories: 410 Total Fat: 23 g Saturated Fat: 10 g Cholesterol: 110 mg Sodium: 1330 mg Total Carbohydrates: 28 g Dietary Fiber: 3 g Sugars: 8 g Protein: 25 g.

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