How Do I Barbecue Hamburgers?

Malysa Stratton Louk

There are many ways to barbecue hamburgers and really no one right or wrong way. You can use purchased pre-formed patties or use fresh ground beef, customized for personal taste. Cooking on a grill typically occurs outside with a charcoal or propane gas grill during warm, summer months. Indoor electric grills are available and designed to simulate barbecuing when outdoor grilling is not possible. To barbecue hamburgers, simply prepare the beef, heat the grill and start cooking.

A cheeseburger.
A cheeseburger.

Whether you choose to barbecue hamburgers on a charcoal grill or gas grill, the process is relatively the same. You first have to preheat the grill. For charcoal grills, you should light the coals and allow them to burn until they are ashy white — a sign of their heat — before grilling. For gas grills, you simply turn on the gas and light the grill according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Once the grill is lighted, you should turn the heat up to between medium and high and close the lid, allowing it to preheat while you prepare the hamburgers.

Hamburgers are often grilled outdoors.
Hamburgers are often grilled outdoors.

Pre-formed beef patties provide a fast and convenient way to barbecue hamburgers, especially when you are in a hurry or cooking for a large a group. They require no preparation and are placed directly on the grill, even if they are frozen. You can add salt, pepper and other seasoning for more flavor. You should place the patties on the grill and cook them until they are done halfway through and browned on one side. AT this point, you can flip the hamburger over and continue grilling until they are cooked through.

Outdoor cooking typically occurs on a grill.
Outdoor cooking typically occurs on a grill.

Using fresh ground beef to barbecue hamburgers involves more preparation work but often produces a better burger that is fully customizable. Different items can be added and mixed into the ground beef, including chopped onions and garlic, shredded bell peppers, sliced mushrooms, herbs and spices, barbecue or soy sauce. This simply requires mixing the addition into the ground beef and then forming patties in the size you prefer. Fresh burgers are grilled much the same way as pre-formed and frozen burgers. Cheese slices can be placed on top of the patties and allowed to melt toward the end of the cooking time if you would like cheeseburgers.

The length of time required for thoroughly cooking the hamburgers varies based on the type of grill used, how hot the grill is, the thickness or size of the burgers and the desired doneness. If you want to barbecue hamburgers using fresh ground beef for a large group, you can pre-make the patties the day before, separate patty layers with waxed paper, cover and refrigerate them. You also can wrap prepared patties individually and freeze them for convenience, rather than purchasing pre-formed or frozen patties, and barbecue hamburgers any time without additional preparation.

Juicy grilled burgers are a perennial favorite at Fourth of July celebrations.
Juicy grilled burgers are a perennial favorite at Fourth of July celebrations.

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Discussion Comments


Investing in a meat thermometer is never a bad idea. You should grill burgers to an internal temperature of at least 140 degrees Fahrenheit for safety. No one wants a visit from Salmonella!

You can usually pick up a decent digital thermometer for under $10 at the local discount store. They're not expensive and they're a great investment if you cook meat.

The only add-ins I like for hamburgers for grilling are onions and bleu cheese or feta cheese. I don't do that much, but if I really want a luxuriously decadent burger, then adding feta cheese is the way to go, for me. I also like a slice of grilled pineapple on my burgers.


One good tip to remember is to make an indentation in the patty with your thumb. This helps keep the burger from swelling too much.

I also think minimum seasoning is best when grilling a burger. Either just a little salt and pepper, or maybe some seasoned salt is usually enough. You want to taste the grilled flavor of the meat, and lighter seasoning is the way to do it, in my opinion. You can always have some kind of fancy sauce as a condiment on the side, if you want more flavor, or something different.

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