Burger Time
February 25, 2008 9:51 AM   Subscribe

Help me find new burger recipes.

I've been obsessed with hamburgers lately. I'd love to perfect my burger-making technique AND increase the variety of my burger repertoire. What's your best burger?

As a basic guideline, I generally prefer classic simplicity to baroque complexity (i.e. a burger stuffed with foie gras, truffles and precious gems is maybe a bit much), but I have an open mind and no detail is too niggling to work on perfecting.

Is it best to grind a mixture of chuck and sirloin? Brisket? Round? Something else entirely? Should I use 1T of Worcestershire sauce per pound or 2T? What else can I use to flavor my burgers?

Also, extra bonus points if you can help me find a recipe (long since lost) that I used to have for bacon cheeseburgers in which minced bacon and grated cheese were mixed in with the beef as part of the patty itself....
posted by dersins to Food & Drink (26 answers total) 46 users marked this as a favorite
Did you ever try adding dried soup mix to your burger? For example, try adding a packet of Lipton's Onion Soup to the mix.
posted by poppo at 10:07 AM on February 25, 2008

I'm a big fan of The Minimalist, and he has several burger recipes up. Check out this one, for example.
posted by atomly at 10:09 AM on February 25, 2008

Alton Brown's Burger of the Gods is simply chuck, sirloin, and kosher salt. (I might throw in a little pepper as well.)

Your lost recipe sounds like an inside-out burger.
posted by Iridic at 10:19 AM on February 25, 2008

Adding fresh thyme to burgers is so delicious that even thinking about it makes me hungry. Fresh thyme and a little black pepper, and onto the grill - that's it, no other flavorings.
posted by rtha at 10:20 AM on February 25, 2008

How about a Jucy Lucy?
posted by the dief at 10:29 AM on February 25, 2008

This is the best burger I've ever had. It sounds Fancy (Grilled California Avocado BLT Burgers with Caramelized Chipotle Onions), but there's a reason it won the Food Network's Build-a-Better-Burger cookoff.
posted by kidsleepy at 10:30 AM on February 25, 2008

My burger (a bit on the gourmet side): Prime beef combination of chuck and sirloin to about 22% fat. Add egg, smoked paprika, cumin, fresh minced thyme and italian parseley. I usually don't add sauces though I've seen it done. Sometimes I go crazy and I throw in either chopped partially precooked bacon or a bit of spicey sausage -- I know that's veering dangerously toward meatball but I add just enough of this stuff to add a subtle flavor enhancement.

I like to cook to medium-rare on a grill, then top it with cheese (I like a combo of gruyere and good blue) and finish it to medium and melt the cheese with a few minutes in the oven. Put it on a bed of arugula, top with well caramelized onions/shallots and the best fresh buns you can find.
posted by drpynchon at 10:32 AM on February 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

You should check out Heston Blumenthals tv episode on the perfect burger if you can find it
posted by twistedonion at 10:38 AM on February 25, 2008

When I was on a similar quest a couple years ago I stumbled upon the recipe for the Best Hamburger Ever. Who am I to argue? Adds a lot of extra flavor that you usually don't find in a standard hamburger.
posted by The Gooch at 10:53 AM on February 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

As far as homemade burgers, I've had luck with the recipe Alton Brown gave in an episode of Good Eats (transcript). It calls for half sirloin and half chuck, and the advice to "grind" your own in a food processor if you don't have a grinder has worked out very well for me. He's a bit of a purist, and I'm not, so occasionally I'll add garlic, and once I added apple (I have no idea where this idea came from, but it worked out pretty well).

The best burger I've ever eaten from a restaurant was called a "Kobe Beef Burger", but after talking with the owner of the restaurant, I learned that it was actually made with an American-Kobe hybrid, which is why it only cost $8 (with shoestring fries and cole slaw). I was not expecting much from it and I only bought it on a whim, but it turned out to be really good. Kobe beef is not lean, so the burger was very juicy, but it didn't taste greasy to me. "Buttery" is the best word I can think of to describe the flavor of the fat. In any case, it was otherwise a very simple burger with grilled onions, cheese (I don't remember what kind), a little brown mustard, and I think some mayonnaise (probably just to keep the bottom bun from getting soggy). The owner said that the first time they tried to cook one, it fell through the grill because it wouldn't stick together when the beef was raw. Instead of adding something to make it stick together, they froze the patties and put them on the grill while still mostly solid. I would never have expected this to work, but the results were hard to argue with.
posted by ErWenn at 10:57 AM on February 25, 2008

For those who are interested, that burger I ate was at a restaurant called Grilled Expedition, and there are two in the Phoenix valley. I had a Kobe burger one other place for more than twice as much money and it wasn't even half as good.
posted by ErWenn at 10:59 AM on February 25, 2008

Sutter Home runs the Build a Better Burger contest, and they have a colossal database of recipes called the BurgerBase. Loads of recipes there.

I entered a local version of this and won, but Sutter Home didn't call me up for the national competition. I figured that using their crappy wine would improve my chances, so I did a reduction sauce to add to the meat mixture:

1 airplane bottle of Sutter Home cabernet
1/2 red onion, sliced into rings 1/4 inch thick
2 whole garlic cloves
Glug of honey

Simmer until reduced by half (or even thicker, if you like it that way)

The best and unexpected bonus to the reduction was the onions: they were pickle-y, wine-y onions that were really, really good on the burger. I wholeheartedly recommend them.
posted by Atom12 at 11:05 AM on February 25, 2008 [3 favorites]


Lamb is far too rich to be used all on its own. You should only use about a quarter to a half as much lamb as you do beef. (So, I guess it's really a lambeeburger, but that doesn't have as great a ring to it). I would put some of your favorite herbs and spices into the meaty mix, as well.

The burger will come out so juicy and succulent (with that delicious, delicious lamb flavor) that you won't need many condiments. In fact, other than the spices you put in the meat, you will probably want to put as little as possible on it.

Honestly, it is an absolutely fantastic burger.
posted by Ms. Saint at 11:13 AM on February 25, 2008

I was intrigued by twistedonions comment, so here is Blumenthal's perfect burger recipe.

Personally, I find good beef, grind it (i've been meaning to try the alton brown 3 meat mixture for a while).

The three best toppings for any beef dish: Bacon, Bleu Cheese, Jalapaneos.

Maybe some carmelized onions also.
posted by mrzarquon at 11:17 AM on February 25, 2008 [2 favorites]

Food Network has a new show, Ultimate Recipe Showdown. The latest episode was burgers. (scroll down for links to the recipes)
posted by clh at 11:53 AM on February 25, 2008

Blueberries. Mash them up with your ground meat before cooking. Makes for a subtly sweet burger, which is brought out more if you're making cheesebuurgers. Also, a cool thing about blueberryburgers is they taste just as good re-heated.

Plus, you can say your burger is high in anti-oxidants.
posted by not_on_display at 11:54 AM on February 25, 2008

I highly recommend you find and use ground buffalo instead of beef. It is healthier and tastier! Why Buffalo?

I like to fry up some chopped onions and mix them into the burger.

Leave the meat out to sit at room temperature for 15 or 20 minutes before cooking. Then pull the burger off the heat a short time before it is as done as you want it to be, let the cooked burgers sit for up to 5 minutes before eating. They will finish cooking but won't end up dry.
posted by J-Garr at 12:13 PM on February 25, 2008

If you're generous in your interpretation of "burger", here's mine. Vegan and raw:

2 stalks celery
1/4 cup yellow onion, chopped
1/2 cup red bell peppers, chopped
1 tsp sea salt
2 tsp oregano
1 cup sunflower seeds, ground
1/2 cup flax seeds, ground
1/2 cup water

Put everything except the water in a large bowl. Mix well. Add water as needed. Form four equal sized balls and flatten into burger patties.
posted by dobbs at 2:08 PM on February 25, 2008

1. Do you have a patty-stacker? I can't recommend it highly-enough. Quickly and easily makes burgers of a uniform shape and size.

2. My favorite personally is simple, just hamburger, a few tablespoons of red wine vinegar and a teaspoon or so of dried sweet basil, (plus S & P of course) my wife goes nutso for these burgers.
posted by Cosine at 2:18 PM on February 25, 2008

one more thing, I do NOT put onion in my burger, on it is fine but in it... YUCK.
posted by Cosine at 2:19 PM on February 25, 2008

I like chuck OK, but I find it a little fatty and prefer to go with top round. To really take it over the top, I trim the fat from the top round and replace it weight-for-weight with smoked bacon, then grind twice to make sure it's well mixed. A little garlic in the grind is good too, and I really like the smoked sea salt and peppercorn mix at my local grocery. A dash of tamari and worcestershire is nice to replace salt with, and helps keep the burgers juicy.

Technique is important too. Use a hot fire, relatively thin and even burgers, and don't overcook.

Funny you asked this, because that's exactly what I'm having for dinner tonight.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 2:26 PM on February 25, 2008

The Gooch: "When I was on a similar quest a couple years ago I stumbled upon the recipe for the Best Hamburger Ever. Who am I to argue? Adds a lot of extra flavor that you usually don't find in a standard hamburger."

That recipe sounds like it's coming from someone who is new to the whole "making your own food" thing. The fact that their username is "UnivStudent" does nothing to dispel the impression. It's an abomination, IMO.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 2:29 PM on February 25, 2008

A pat of butter in the middle of your burger.
posted by 4Lnqvv at 4:22 PM on February 25, 2008

This recipe for "Southeast Asian Style Burgers" (revisionists take note: I recall it being published as Thai Turkey Burgers") appeared in Gourmet in 1998 and has been a staple in my house ever since. The burgers are totally awesome - great combination of flavors and the pickles taste very nice on top, but ketchup works just as well.
posted by plinth at 6:59 PM on February 25, 2008

Oh man, definitely going to try some of these. I was experimenting tonight--sauteed diced onion & green pepper with black pepper and chili powder before mixing it with the beef. Delicious, but didn't hold together very well.

The holy grail of burgers is my dad's--huge beef and onion burger stuffed with seasoned lentils. With the lentils pre-cooked, the meat browns through quickly because it's a relatively thin layer, and the fat soaks the lentils...mmMMMMM. I haven't been able to figure out how he does it without everything falling apart, though.
posted by hippugeek at 8:25 PM on February 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


the trick is to use bread crumbs to soften the consistency and make things hold together a bit better. I generally use three-quarters of a cup to two pounds of meat, and the stuff I add (usually raw onion and green peppers, maybe a clove of garlic and some Worcestershire sauce). It might begin to cross the line between "burger" and "grilled, flattened meatball," but I don't particularly care.

And, if you're doing lamburgers, I highly recommend some chevre and sliced roasted red peppers on top . . . delicious.
posted by thecaddy at 9:26 PM on February 25, 2008

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