Classic Grilled Burgers

It’s questionable whether or not you need a recipe for grilled burgers. Half the time, I’m tossing seasonings and herbs into the beef willy-nilly, and each burger cookout manages to taste a bit different. However, below is my go-to recipe for tried-and-true classic grilled burgers. The recipe is simple – you can adjust the seasonings depending on what you like (BBQ sauce can be subbed for the A-1, regular table salt for the seasoned salt, etc.), but more than a recipe, a fantastic burger relies on a few extra tips that I swear by:

1) Great buns. I almost always make my hamburger buns from this roll recipe, shaping them into larger rounds and pressing them down slightly before they rise so they aren’t overly rounded on top (plus I can make a bunch at a time and freeze them for later use). They are ferociously delicious. However, you don’t have to go the homemade route – just make sure you get a bun that has flavor and won’t disintegrate under the weight of your mighty meat. A good burger needs a great bun.

2) Toasty buns. I don’t know why it makes that much of a difference, but I’m telling you, a lightly buttered, toasted bun skyrockets a good burger to out-of-this-world. I butter the inside of the buns and slap them on the grill a minute or two before the burgers are finished cooking. Yummmmm.

3) H2O. It may sound strange but adding a little water to your ground beef mixture makes a difference. I saw Paula Deen do it once and that lady knows what she’s talkin’ about.

4) Don’t go lean. It’s tempting to buy the leanest beef you can find. I’m supportive of that. Usually. But not with burgers. A juicy, tasty burger is all the better for ground beef with a little more fat in the mix. I recommend about 15-20%. I know that is grossing some of you out and I apologize. It’s just the truth, man.

5) Remember raw meat is trendy. Overcooked burgers mean tough, dry burgers. Even if you don’t like pink in the center of yours, judge the time just right and pull the burger off a little earlier than you think. It will continue cooking slightly off the heat so try not to grill it too long. I like my burgers with the slightest, and I mean slightest, hint of pink in the center. With a 1/2-inch patty, I usually grill it about 6-7 minutes per side.

6) Size it right. Form the burger patties at least 1/4-inch larger than the size of the bun you’ll be using. The burgers will shrink while cooking and forming them bigger than the bun will ensure you don’t need to steal your child’s burger to fill up your bun.

What To ServeSweet Potato Fries or Jo Jo Wedges
Chips and Guacamole Salad
Sliced fruit

Classic Grilled Burgers

Yield: Makes anywhere from 5-8 burgers, depending on how big you make them

Classic Grilled Burgers


  • 2 pounds ground beef (preferably not extra lean)
  • 2 teaspoons seasoned salt
  • 2 tablespoons A-1 sauce
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup room temperature water


  1. In a medium bowl, mix all the ingredients together until well combined. Form the beef into patties about 1/2-inch thick and about 1/4-inch larger in diameter than the buns you’ll be using. Refrigerate the patties until ready to grill.
  2. Cook the burgers on a preheated grill over medium-high heat until the burgers are cooked to your liking (I like mine with the barest hint of pink in the center and usually grill for about 6 minutes per side). The last two minutes of grilling, butter the inside of the bun and slap it on the grill to toast while the burgers finish cooking.


Blue Cheese Burger Variation: After the beef and other ingredients have been mixed, add in about 2 ounces of crumbled blue cheese. Mix gently to combine and then form into patties.

Rosemary Burger Variation: Add 3-4 sprigs fresh rosemary (slide the leaves off the stalk, discard the stalk and coarsely chop the rosemary) to the ingredients and mix to combine with the beef.

Recipe Source: My Kitchen Cafe

31 Responses to Classic Grilled Burgers

  1. Britany says:

    Do you have a favorite brand of seasoned salt? Great hamburger tips, thanks!

  2. elizabeth says:

    hey mel, jus wanted a say that I did your classic grilled burgers tonite, and I have to tell you they were awesome . my 10 yr old asked if there were more burgers she never eats anyway, im not surprised by how good they were, as with all your recipes ive tried turned out perfect every time I guess that’s why I keep coming back .!!!!! thanks so much mel for all your true recipes your awesome as well-

  3. Nicole says:

    I finally made the homemade buns tonight, they were so so much better than store-bought and really not as much work as I thought they would be. Hurray, thanks again!!

  4. Multimeg says:

    I invited 6 families over to celebrate my husband’s birthday last night. I made your homemade buns, a stunning array of burgers; regular, blue cheese and rosemary (even 1 turkey rosemary), and a mountain of gooey delicious s’mores bars for dessert. Sangria, Mint Limeade, candles, kids, the grill going – it was simply amazing. Thanks for making me look good! You never fail to help me out when I really need it. Thank you!!!

  5. Patti says:

    I made these today. Absolute deliciousness.

  6. Belisa says:

    I made these burgers last night and they were a hit. I liked the water instead of using an egg. They were perfect in taste and I would def do it again. I have 6 patties leftover in the freezer for another meal. I used 3 lbs so adjusted recipe accordinly and made 4 burgers last night. Can’t wait for leftover lunch! Thx so much for the recipe.

  7. Cynthia says:

    I’m excited to try your french bread roll recipe to make hamburger buns for an upcoming BBQ. I’m wondering how big to make the hamburger buns. Do you have a feel for about how many ounces of dough I should use per bun? Are your hamburger buns generally bigger than the rolls you make from the same recipe?

    I used your pasta salad and pulled pork recipes at a recent family reunion and everyone raved about them. I don’t think that I will ever buy store bought BBQ sauce again after using your homemade version. I’m hooked on your blog! Thanks for sharing.

    • Mel says:

      Cynthia – when I am really accurate and weighing these, I make the hamburger buns between 3 and 3 1/2 ounces each. Yes, the buns are slightly bigger than the rolls I make for this recipe. I shape the hamburger dough balls into rounds the same way I do the rolls, but then I press them down just slightly before the rise so they aren’t quite as domed as the rolls. I hope that helps!

  8. Bonny says:

    Just wanted to let you know, I made these last night and my husband said it was the best burger he’s ever had! SCORE!!! Thanks for the recipe!

  9. Alicia says:

    Made these this weekend (with the homemade rolls!) and they were a hit! I don’t think I’ve ever made a more flavorful burger. Our guests loved them, too. The rolls were a bit dense, but I’ve never made french bread before, so I don’t know if they turned out well or not. But I didn’t get any complaints! Thanks! We’ll definitely be making these again!

  10. Bri says:

    Can I sub bbq sauce for A-1? Or is there an A-1 sauce without corn syrup? We are going to make these this week and I’m excited!

    • Mel says:

      Hi Bri – there are other brands of steak sauce that may be HFCS free. My husband is an avid A-1 fan and sadly it is one of the last remaining items in my refrigerator with corn syrup. Oh well. We aren’t drinking it by the gallon so I guess we are ok. But I have seen other brands, some organic, that are preservative/HFCS free.

  11. Katherine says:

    I made these the other day and they were fabulous! I had never heard of adding water but they were perfect!!

  12. Kim F. says:

    Delish! Can’t go wrong with a big juicy burger! Another tip i know of with burgers is never overwork the meat. ( hubby mae some last week that were pretty much inedible, shhhh don’t tell him, LOL)

  13. SJ says:

    Thanks for these tips, I tried this tonight and the burgers worked out great.

  14. Lynda says:

    These are great tips for the perfect burger. I add water to the meat also, and it does produce a moister burger, as does the A-1 or BBQ sauce. Yours looks quite yummy!

  15. grace says:

    wonderful tips, mel. lucky for me, i always have great buns at the ready…(get it? get it?) 🙂
    and hooray for a-1 sauce.

  16. CaSaundra says:

    Nothing better then a grilled burger–especially in the summer. Great tips!

  17. StephenC says:

    I don’t think I can go the route of homemade buns, but your catalog of tips and tricks is excellent. I like to make burgers from whole pieces of meat that I grind myself using grinding attachment on my mixer. I think I’m going to blog about that. I’ll put a link in it to this page.

  18. Sadie says:

    I know you probably get a million awards and don’t have time to respond to them, but I left you a little award on my blog because I think you are phenomenal. I have tried many recipes from your site, and they’ve all been outrageously delicious. Thanks for having such an awesome recipe blog.

  19. Barbara says:

    I’ve never heard of adding water, Mel. And I loved some of the tips given in your comments. Bloggers are the best, aren’t they?

  20. Memoria says:

    I like the addition of the A-1 sauce. I, too, make my own buns; it is truly the best way. Thanks for sharing this tips and a great recipe!

  21. Stacie D. says:

    Thanks for this timely recipe and great tips…burgers are the menu this weekend!

  22. Kim in MD says:

    The perfect burger…what great tips, and just in time for the 4th of July holiday! I have never heard of adding water to the burger mixture. I will have to try that! Sometimes when I use ground bison or elk (both are red meats that are leaner than white meat chicken), I add a little olive oil to the mixture. I know I am adding fat, but it is heart healthy olive oil, and it keeps the burgers so juicy! I use a little oil if I am using ground chicken or turkey, too.

    Two of my favorite burger tips are from Cook’s Illustrated – 1. Press a thumb size indentation into your formed burger patties. This prevents the burger from getting that rounded shape when as it cooks. When the burgers puff up like that, people tend to press/flatten the burgers with a spatula. 2. Don’t press/flatten your burgers, as you will press all of the natural juices out the burger (and end up with a hard, dry hockey puck)!

    Wow, Melanie…you make your own hamburger buns? When on earth do you find the time? I have never made them from scratch (but I keep saying I am going to make your bun recipe), but I totally agree about buttering and toasting the bun. It is the difference between a good burger and an AMAZING burger!

    Oh- I love A-1 sauce on my burgers, too! No ketchup for this girl…are you the long lost twin I have been searching for all my life? 😉

    • Mel says:

      Kim – you are brilliant! I forgot to add the “don’t press on the burger)” tip to my list. That’s a big one! Thanks for including those tips. By the way, glad you are an A-1 girl, too. We must be sisters from a past life or something. 🙂

  23. Brenda says:

    I’m making burgers tonight and didn’t know about adding water to the mixture. Interesting, I’m going to try it! And I completely agree with you about not buying the leanest beef. Burgers are supposed to be juicy!

  24. Tricia says:

    I got some ground bison at the farmer’s market yesterday. This looked very, very lean to me. I added seasonings and finely chopped onion (so even my onion-hater didn’t notice). I made little patties, about 3 ounces each. I didn’t use a great bun, but I did set the bun on top of the patty to steam it up for the last minute or two. I agree that using raw buns (untoasted or unsteamed) leads to a disappointing burger.

    These were some really good burgers, and I managed to not overcook them, so they weren’t dried out.

    I wanted to share because I got rave reviews from my husband (who often forgets to say what a great cook I am because I’m not) and my onion hater. Plus, I really liked them, too. I think you might have fun experimenting with ground bison because it was really flavorful, moist, and I think they were just as good as higher fat ground beef burgers (not that I’m a fat hater because I’m not!) Thanks for sharing your recipe. I never would have thought to add water to burgers. I’m curious to try that.

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