There’s a BBQ happening at your house. Crap. You’re in charge of making perfect backyard barbecue food for OTHER PEOPLE. Do you panic and realize you don’t know how to make a good burger? Grab the extra lean ground beef at the grocery store? Or maybe you run straight to the frozen aisle and grab those frozen patties? Burger patties are burger patties…right?! Keep reading to find out how to make a simple, stress free, and delicious basic burger. I even have tips on how to make those frozen patties taste homemade. You’ll want to send a big old shout out to Harmons Grocery for sponsoring this post and inspiring me to teach you how to make a burger.


1. It’s All About The Beef


Look for ground beef (or ground chuck) that has an 80/20 fat percentage. This means it has 80% lean meat, 20% fat. Try to avoid 85% or 90% extra lean beef. It always says the fat percentage right on the package. 

I choose to get my ground beef from Harmons Grocery. They grind all of their beef in store so you know it is as fresh as can be!


Fat makes your burger stick together better! Lean ground beef burgers tend to fall apart easier. If you are pan searing your burger, the fat will “melt” out of the burger into the pan and help form a nice crust on your burger. Plus, the fat just makes it taste better.



2. The Seasonings


Salt & Pepper.

That’s all you need. Of course you can put other seasoning in your meat if you want to experiment, but for a deliciously basic burger, salt and pepper go a long way.

For the salt, you can use regular table salt, garlic salt, or any other kind of seasoning salt. I tend to use half regular salt half garlic salt.


I tend to use 1 tsp pepper and 2 tsp salt per 2 lbs (more or less) ground beef.


Right before you are going to cook up the burgers (you don’t want the salt to sit in the meat very long or you will get dry burgers) GENTLY mix the salt into the beef.

Use a fork or your hands to lightly toss the beef/salt/pepper mixture together. Over-mixing causes tough burgers.


3. Forming The Patty


Divide the ground beef into how many burgers you want to make (generally 4-6 burgers per 2 lbs of ground beef). Gently form into a ball, softly smash into a disc, and press an indent into the middle. Work gently to avoid creating a tough burger. The indentation helps the burger cook evenly.


Divide ground beef into mounds depending on how many burgers you want to make (generally 8 smash burgers for 2 lbs). You don’t need to form these into discs before cooking them.



4. How To Grill Your Burgers


Grilling your burgers is one of the most popular ways to make burgers. It is easy to do, doesn’t heat up your house in the summer, and you get a nice smoky feel from the flames. It is also a great way to cook up a lot of burgers at once. 


  1. Preheat that grill on medium/high heat.
  2. Place the burgers on the grill and cook 3-5 minutes.
  3. Flip the burgers and cook 3-5 minutes more depending on how done and how big you want your burgers.
  4. To check burger doneness you can 1) cut into it or 2) use a thermometer.
    • Temperature should read at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
  5. Let burgers rest 1-2 minutes before serving.


5. How To Pan Sear Your Burgers – The Traditional Way


Pan searing is a great option if you don’t have a grill, or if you want a nice crust on your burger. The only warning I have for this, is that you can’t cook too many burgers at once. If you are trying to cook a lot of burgers, this may not be the best option.


  1. Preheat a skillet (preferably cast iron or stainless steel).
  2. Place in a small amount (about 1 tsp) of canola oil.
  3. Place 2 burger patties onto the pan.
  4. Cook the first side for about 3-4 minutes.
  5. Flip the burger and cook about for another 3-4 minutes.
  6. To check burger doneness you can 1) cut into it or 2) use a thermometer.
    • Temperature should read at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
  7. Let burgers rest 3-5 minutes before serving.

*Letting the burgers rest allows the juices in the burger to get absorbed, therefore creating a nice juicy burger.


6. How To Pan Sear Your Burgers – The Smash Method


Smash Burgers! This is a way to make those popular, super thin, hamburger patties. You also get to avoid the step of getting your hands super dirty and forming the patties into perfect discs.


  1. Preheat a skillet (preferably cast iron or stainless steel).
  2. Place in a small amount (about 1 tsp) of canola oil.
  3. Place one or two mounds of ground beef in the pan.
  4. Smash flat with a spatula (you can use a wooden spoon  to help you press down on the spatula)
  5. Cook the first side for about 1-2 minutes, until the patty gets a nice crust.
  6. Flip the burger and cook about 1 minute longer. 


7. How To Make Frozen Patties Taste Good


Salt & Pepper. Always salt and pepper. Spread the patties out on a baking sheet or parchment paper, and sprinkle on some salt and pepper. Flip the patties over and repeat the sprinkling process.

Follow the directions on the packages on how to cook the patties. Some require you to thaw the patties, others say it’s okay to cook them directly frozen. Either way – salt and pepper!!

For an added flavor element, you can brush (or spoon or spread) barbecue sauce onto the patties as they are cooking. No one will ever know they were store bought frozen patties.

As a side note, if you choose to go the frozen route, please find all beef patties and preferable the 80/20 ratio. Harmons has their own brand of frozen patties and they happen to be ground and frozen in store! So you know exactly where they came from and that they are as fresh…as frozen patties can be. They are the only ones I’ll use!



8. Toppings and Buns


First things first, get all your toppings prepared BEFORE you cook the burgers. Cooking burgers doesn’t take very long and usually requires your attention so you won’t have time to prep the toppings. Just get all those delicious toppings and set them aside when you cook the burgers.

There are no rules for toppings. I will not judge you when it comes to the toppings you place on your burgers. Your burger is a sacred place and I will do nothing to stand in your way.


Cheeeeeeese. If you are taking those patties from hamburger to cheeseburger, I suggest doing so after the first flip (this goes for either grilled, seared or smashed). Just make sure you don’t flip the burger back over or all that cheesy goodness will get stuck to the grill or pan. To assist the cheese in melting to the ultimate melty-ness, close the grill lid or cover your pan with a grill. Cheesey perfection.


A bun can actually make or break a burger. Okay, maybe not that extreme. But a bun can take a basic burger from “this is delicious”, to “OMG this is the most delicious burger you need to tell me all of your secrets”. If there is a burger joint by you and you just LOVE their buns, see if they sell them! A lot of times they do. My new favorite option for burger buns, are challah (sounds like ‘holla’) rolls from Harmons. Seriously though, try challah rolls for your hamburger buns – please. It’s amazing. But if you are strolling through the bread aisle staring at all the buns and you have no idea where to start I have a few suggestions. 1. Potato buns are fantastic and sturdy options. 2. Buns that have flavoring like onion rolls or anything cheesy will up your burger flavor game. 3. My favorite generic burger bun brand is Dunford. However, you can experiment with burger buns as much as you’d like until you find your very favorite!

Las but not least, if you have time, toast those buns! Those lightly toasted buns will give your burger extra strength and help it from falling apart into a (glorious) disaster.




How To Make A Burger - Easy Burger Recipe

Print Recipe


  • 2 lbs Ground Beef *
  • 1 tsp Pepper
  • 2 tsp Salt **
  • Your favorite burger buns and toppings


  • In a large mixing bowl, gently combine the beef, pepper, and salt. 
  • Gently form into burger patties. (About 4-6 for grilled or seared and about 8 for smashed).
  • Grill, or sear your burger patties to perfection (methods are found in the post above!)
  • Serve with your favorite buns and toppings.


*Harmons Grocery has the best and most fresh ground beef!
**You can use regular table salt, garlic salt, or other seasoning salt. Or a mixture! (I use 1 tsp table salt and 1 tsp garlic salt).
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