"I’ve always been obsessed with making a perfect hamburger — there’s nothing more American than a burger," says Michael Symon, Iron Chef, co-host of The Chew, and chef/owner of B-Spot Burger chain, now with six locations in the Midwest, plus three more opening later this year.
Symon’s a true burger guru—a trait that runs in his family.
"My grandfather and dad both make a good burger but since I even when I was a kid, I always wanted to make them a little better," he says. Elevate your homemade burger from ordinary to extraordinary with Symon’s top burger grilling tips, then come back to the blog tomorrow for the recipe for his ridiculous "Fun Guy" Mushroom, Onion and Blue Cheese Burger.
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Michael Symon’s Burger Commandments
Burger Commandment #1: Thou Will Get Your Butcher to Grind Your Meat
"I like a 1:1:1 ratio of short rib, sirloin, and brisket that’s coarsely ground because I think it tastes more like a steak. The finer the grind, the more you’re trying to hide the meat."
Burger Commandment #2: Thou Will Remember That Size Does Matter
"The perfect burger is 5 to 6 ounces. I like a little thicker, pub-style burger as opposed to a diner-style burger because I like to be able to order my burger by temperature."
Burger Commandment #3: Thou Will Not Pack the Burger Tightly
"A lot of people make the mistake of packing the burger really tightly but you want to form it until it just holds together."
Burger Commandment #4: Thou Will Season the Outside of the Burger Only
"Keep it simple: use only salt and pepper and don’t season the inside of the burger. You’re going to need more salt than you instinctively think. There’s nothing wrong with salting the meat right before putting it on the grill, but what makes a burger extra juicy is when you season it ahead of time, giving it a minimum of two hours or a maximum of 12 hours."
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Burger Commandment #5: Thou Will Do “The Thumb Press”
"Make an indentation in the middle of your burger with your thumb to keep your burger from shrinking up. This is my grandpa’s method that I moved into my arsenal."
Burger Commandment #6: Thou Will Never EVER Press Down On The Patty with Your Spatula
"You’ll make all the juices run out and you want to keep them in there."
Burger Commandment #7: Thou Will Flip Only Once
"I use my Spidey senses to know when it’s time to flip the burger, but there’s nothing wrong with using a meat thermometer. Order your burger the way that you’d order a steak. If you’re over a medium-high heat and have control over your flames, for a medium-rare burger, it’s time to flip in about three to five minutes. If you’re making a rare burger, it needs two minutes per side. One of the biggest mistakes that cooks and young chefs make is moving their protein too much. The char is a really important part of the flavor. If I get a burger that doesn’t have that great caramelization, I’m not happy."
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Burger Commandment #8: Thou Will Always Make Sure Your Cheese Is 100 Percent Melted
"There’s nothing worse than getting cold cheese that just sits there on top of your burger. The cheese is the burger’s co-host. Put the cheese on top of the burger while it’s on the grill, spray it with meat drippings if you have some, then cover it with a pot lid until the steam melts the cheese. I love a burger topped with Danish blue cheese, especially."
Burger Commandment #9: Thou Will Butter Your Buns
"To me the bun is every bit as important as the burger and the cheese. The ratio between bun and burger needs to be just right and the bun needs to be soft—I don’t like a hard bun. Use a potato, challah or brioche roll, butter it, then place it on the grill."
Burger Commandment #10: Thou Will Remember That Toppings Don’t Always Go On Top
"Tomato always goes on top of the burger and lettuce needs to always be underneath so it can catch some of the juices from going through the bun."