How to Make the Perfect Hamburger at Home

Source: Micki Seibel, March 2013

Source: Micki Seibel, March 2013

Everyone thinks they already know how to make a great hamburger. For some reason, though, hamburgers always taste better when made in a restaurant (the sit down and be waited on kind, not the fast-food kind). I guess we’re not as good at this simple American classic as we thought.

This recipe to make a great hamburger takes a little extra effort because you are going to grind your own beef, but the results are well worth it. Pay special attention to the “How Not to Screw it Up” section to avoid the common pitfalls almost everyone makes when cooking hamburgers.)

Cook Time

Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Ready in: 
Yields: Serves 3 Hamburgers


  • 1/2 lb sirloin beef, (a.k.a “round”)
  • 1/2 lb chuck beef
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • your favorite cheese, sliced (optional)
  • your favorite hamburger buns or butter lettuce to make it bread or gluten-free


  1. Cut chuck and sirloin into one inch cubes.
  2. Add the chuck to the food processor. Pulse 10 times. Remove.
  3. Add the sirloin to the food processor. Pulse 10 times. Remove.
  4. Mix the two grinds together.
  5. Add salt and divide into 5 ounce patties.
  6. Heat a pan for 2-3 minutes over medium-high heat. You know you have the right temperature in the pan when the drops of water dance on the surface (see the video below).
  7. Cook 4 minutes and flip. Do NOT touch the burger patty during those 4 minutes! After 4 minutes, flip.
  8. Cook 4 minutes on the second side. Again, do NOT touch, press, or in any way manipulate the patties. Just leave them be.
  9. Toast the bun and place the patty. If you are using cheese, place the cheese slice on top of the patty.

How To Know When The Pan is The Perfect Temperature

How Not to Screw it Up

  1. Don’t try to get skimpy on the fat content and just get sirloin (or get lazy and get the 93% lean beef already ground). First of all, fat = flavor. You want a flavorful burger, you’re going to need the fat content of the chuck beef. Besides, research shows that it’s not the fat in food that makes you fat. You need a little fat to help digest the protein. (If it’s the cholesterol you’re worried about, you shouldn’t be making this recipe anyway, so if you are, don’t stop with the chuck.)
  2. Pulse the food processor exactly 10 times. 6 times = steak tartare. More than 10 is way too fine.
  3. Getting the heat of the pan correct is the key to success with this recipe. Give the pan a good 2-3 minutes to get hot before you put patty to pan. The only way to know that you have the temperature right it to splash a few drops of water on the pan. The drops should dance around the pan without evaporating into steam right away.
  4. Only flip the burgers once, and NEVER, EVER press them down with the spatula. Oy! People, you press out all of the juicy goodness! Just put them in the pan, set a timer for 4 minutes and walk away. Just….walk. Don’t touch. Flip. Set the timer and keep walking.
  5. If you are making these into cheeseburgers, I strongly suggest adding the cheese as soon as the patty comes off the pan (and NOT while the patty is IN the pan). The cheese will melt from the heat of the patty. It will disintegrate in the heat of pan. Who wants oily, disintegrated cheese? Mildly melted is perfect.