Worldwide icon-chevron-right 10 secrets to the perfect burger, according to chefs
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10 secrets to the perfect burger, according to chefs

Fire up the grill and grab a spatula – these burger hacks are coming in hot

By Morgan Olsen
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Grilling season is upon us, dear reader, and it's about damn time you learned how to make a perfect burger at home. We're talking about a flame-kissed patty that's juicy in the center, blanketed in cheese and piled high with all the right toppings. And can someone please pass the ketchup?

The perfect burger recipe takes finesse and practice, but luckily for you, we've got a panel of top chefs from around the world who are spilling their secrets. They cover a lot of ground, too – from the kind of meat you should buy and how you should season it to a cheese-melting trick we'll use forever more. Ready to get grilling? Sink your teeth into these chef-approved secrets to the perfect burger.

Craving more insider insight from the world's best chefs? You're in the right place. Talk to the Chef! is a weekly food series that taps into the minds of culinary leaders around the globe. The conversation changes just as often, and we'll chat with chefs about everything from podcasts and kitchen equipment to travel and trends.

How to make the best burger at home, according to top chefs

Burger
Burger
Photograph: Shutterstock

Reach for top-notch ingredients

‘My No. 1 secret for making the perfect burger is to ensure you have the perfect ingredients. The burger patty has to be made with a juicy blend of medium and lean meats, the bun either pretzel or brioche, and the cheese must be aged. I prefer my burger patties to be pressed for a smash burger and all dressed for a flavour bomb party.’—Chanthy Yen, founder of Touk and chef of Parliament Pub & Parlour in Montreal

Ground beef
Ground beef
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It’s all about the blend, baby

‘The burger blend is the most important element. What’s a burger if you can't taste the beef? The second most important thing is everything else. You could have a wagyu blend but underseason it, overcook it, use sub-par toppings and cheap bread and end up with something incredibly unappetizing. There isn’t one secret. Everything takes a lot of care.’—Luciana Giangrandi and Alex Meyer, chefs and co-owners of Boia De in Miami

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Switch to grass-fed

‘Extremely good grass-fed beef, from a breed that has plenty of marbled fat in it for flavour and great omega-3 oils, is the real secret. I try very hard to avoid all feedlot beef these days, as it is so dire for global warming and emissions and, not to mention, inhumane. Free-range, grass-fed beef is where it's at. You don’t need to eat it all the time, but you do need to make sure you know where its coming from – and you can taste it in the meat.’—Thomasina Miers, founder of Wahaca in London

Burger patties
Burger patties
Photograph: Shutterstock

Season your meat

‘Mix the ground beef with a delicious blend of garlic, onion, soy sauce and beef fat before forming the patty. It gives a very moist result, and the beef fat will enhance the beef flavour and also protect it from drying out.’—Agustin Ferrando Balbi, chef-founder of Andō in Hong Kong

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Burgers on the grill
Burgers on the grill
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Crank up the heat

‘Cook burgers using high heat – there’s no such thing as a slow-cooked burger… at least not a good one! Cooking with high heat sears the burger and locks in juices.’—Brian Jupiter, chef-owner of Ina Mae Tavern and Frontier in Chicago

Cheeseburger
Cheeseburger
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Make it melt

‘If you are using the grill, the best way to get the oozing, melty cheese is to put some hot water in a heat-safe pot and close the grill. The steam will give you that melting perfection without drying the edges.’—Marwa Alkhalaf, chef-director of Nutshell in London

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Cheeseburger
Cheeseburger
Photograph: Shutterstock

Butter me up

‘Without a doubt, butter. I know that sounds crazy, but butter is my secret weapon. It helps the good quality meat caramelize. Butter has an ability to really round out the beefy flavor and create a juicy and succulent burger.’Nyesha Arrington, Los Angeles-based chef and former Top Chef contestant

Burger
Burger
Photograph: Shutterstock

Don’t press

‘The secret to making the best burger is not to press the patty when cooking it. That releases all its juices. Instead, pinch the center so that when it’s cooking, it doesn’t puff too much.’—Cesar Zapata, chef of Phuc Yea and Pho Mo at Time Out Market in Miami

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Burger
Burger
Photograph: Shutterstock

Keep it simple

‘My No. 1 secret for making the perfect burger is getting the grill nice and hot and keeping the toppings fresh and simple. Don't try to pile everything you’re craving on one burger, because it will just be too many competing flavors. Oh, and if you love crunch, add chips to your burger – it's a game changer!’—Kathryn Ferries, sous chef at Stofa Restaurant in Ottawa

Switch it up

‘As a vegan, my secret is to skip the meat and use kidney beans, oat flour and veggies in the mix. It took me years to come up with the RHK burger and it is absolutely amazing.’—Heather Costa, chef-owner of Revolution Health Kitchen at Time Out Market in Boston

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