How to Make Hamburgers on the Grill, Stove, in the Oven and in an Air Fryer
You can make burgers any time of the year! Learn how to make hamburgers on the grill, on the stove, in the oven or in an air fryer for the juiciest patties you'll want to make over and over again.
Grill it, bake it, sear it on a skillet or air-fry it, then load on the fixins. Any way you flip it, the hamburger is the ultimate American sandwich. While a restaurant might be your go-to for a perfectly cooked burger, that doesn’t mean you have to leave your kitchen for an excellent burger.
We worked out four fool-proof cooking methods for how to make hamburgers; grilling, pan-frying, baking and air-frying. Keep reading to get the recipe and cooking instructions that will have you enjoying a freshly made burger all year round.
Bite into one of our top 10 best burger recipes for a guaranteed winner.
Pros and Cons for How to Cook Burgers
While each of these cooking methods will give you a delicious and juicy burger, there are some benefits and downsides to each that you should keep in mind.
Grilling: Whether you’re using a charcoal or gas grill, grilling will impart a smoky flavor into your burgers. While this flavor and the sear you get from the grill grates are irresistible, the time it takes for your grill to heat, especially a charcoal grill, can be a deterrent when you and your family are hungry on a weeknight. Plus, rain and cold weather can make grilling implausible.
Pan-frying: If you’re looking for a rich-tasting, perfectly seared burger, using a skillet to cook your burger is the best bet. While you won’t get the smoky flavor of a grill, a pan-fried burger will have a lot of caramelization and a better beef flavor from the direct heat of a skillet. With this flavor comes the fried beef smell that will likely fill your kitchen while you’re cooking.
Baking: What a baked burger doesn’t have in smoke or caramelization, it does make up in weeknight ease. Rather than dirty the grill or another pan, you can cook your burger and sides in the oven, all at once in less than a half-hour. How easy is that?
Air-Frying: Air-frying is the quickest and easiest method of the four. Since air fryers cook at a consistent temperature and pressure, your air-fried burgers will turn out the same every time. While they won’t get the richness or smokiness of pan-frying and grilling, air-fried burgers will get a bit of crispness around the sides.
How to Make Hamburgers, 4 Ways
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When it comes to the patty itself, the simplest recipe most definitely can be the best. These deliciously easy hamburgers from Taste of Home’s Deputy Editor, James Schend, are just about the best burgers you’ll ever have. Their straightforward seasonings and delicately formed patties make them tender, moist and really highlight all that beefy goodness.
The more fat there is in the ground beef, the better the patty will be. We recommend an 80/20 ratio for the best blend. That way, your burgers will turn out nice and juicy, rather than like a hockey puck. Here are some more tips on which ground beef is best for burgers from James.
For Every Method
Whether you choose to cook outside or cook inside, these are the ingredients and prep steps you’ll need to get sizzlin’.
- 1-1/3 pounds ground beef
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 4 hamburger buns, split and toasted
- Optional toppings: Lettuce leaves, sliced tomato, sliced onion, bacon and mayonnaise
- Large bowl
- Meat thermometer
Yield: 4 burgers
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Step 1: Shape the Patties
Preheat your grill, oven or air fryer, and give your hands a good wash with soap and hot water.
Grab a big bowl and add the ground beef to break it up a bit, being careful not to over work it. Divide the meat into four even portions by marking an “x” in the meat, as pictured above. If you want to get more exact, place a piece of plastic wrap over a kitchen scale and weigh each portion of meat (they should each be ¼ of a pound).
Get your hands a little wet with cold water to prevent sticking, pick up a portion of ground beef and roll it gently into a ball. Then, carefully flatten the ball into about a 1-inch thick patty, pess a slight divot in the middle of the patty and place it on a clean plate. The divot will help prevent the burger from shriveling while it cooks. Also, you don’t have to squeeze or press the patties; they’ll hold together! Repeat with the remaining three sections of beef.
Cover the burgers and place them in the fridge until your grill, oven, skillet or air fryer has come up to temperature. Before your burgers are cooked, you’ll want to keep them as cold as possible (without freezing, that is) to help preserve the fat. When the cold fat is exposed to the high heat of your cooking method, it’ll form delicious flavor pockets and give you a great sear.
Editor’s Tip: You might be wondering why the salt and pepper weren’t added before the patties were formed. Trust us! Since salt draws moisture out of the burgers, we want to wait until just before the burgers are cooked to add the salt and pepper. Check out these other tips for cooking a juicy burger.
How to Cook Hamburgers
On the Grill
Step 1: Preheat and Form the Patties
Preheat your gas or charcoal grill to medium-high heat, double-checking that your grill grates are clean. Then, form the hamburger patties and place them in the refrigerator, as mentioned above.
Step 2: Cook the Burgers
Once your grill has gotten up to temperature, remove the patties from the fridge and liberally salt and pepper each side.
Then, carefully place them on the grill and let the burgers cook for 3-5 minutes per side, depending on how well done you want the burgers to be. If you want cheeseburgers, add a slice of your favorite cheese to the burgers in the last minute of cooking and cover with the grill lid to help it melt.
Editor’s tip: Don’t use a spatula to flatten the burgers while cooking, you’ll squeeze out all of the juices. Avoid these other common mistakes when grilling burgers.
Step 3: Check the Temperature
The only sure-fire way to grill a burger to the perfect doneness is to use a meat thermometer. The USDA recommends that all burgers be cooked to 160°F, or well-done, for food safety, but at-home cooks can adjust the doneness to their preferences; 135°F for medium-rare, 140°F for medium and 145°F for medium-well. Take a look at our complete guide to cooking temperatures, from beef to fish and reheating.
Step 4: Let Them Rest
When the burgers are cooked to temperature, remove them from the grill and place them on a plate or serving platter. Cover them with a piece of tented aluminum foil (so it doesn’t stick to the cheese) and leave them alone for 5 minutes. Now’s the perfect time to get the buns and fixins ready. When time’s up, load on the toppings and dig in.
On the Stove
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Step 1: Form the Patties
Form the patties as detailed above, but press a doughnut-like hole in the middle of each burger, instead of a divot. Since pan-fried burgers take a lot of direct heat, this promotes air-flow and cooks the burger more evenly. It’s one of our favorite burger tips from a former restaurant chef. Then cover and place the burgers in the fridge.
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Step 2: Heat the Skillet and Cook
Grab a cast-iron skillet and heat it to medium-high heat. When the skillet is almost smoking, add and swirl a bit of butter to the skillet to prevent burning, salt and pepper both sides of the burgers and add them to the skillet.
Cook the burgers for 3-5 minutes on each side, adding a slice of cheese to the burgers in the last minute of cooking, if desired. Check the temperature of the burgers with a meat thermometer to make sure they’re not under or overcooked.
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Step 3: Rest and Top
Remove the cooked burgers from the skillet and place them on a plate while you toast your buns on the hot skillet. Top the buns with your burgers and condiments of your choice and dig in. Can you guess what the most popular burger topping in America is?
In the Oven
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For those of you who prefer baking over searing, learning how to cook burgers in the oven is easy!
Step 1: Prepare the Oven, Patties and Sheet Pan
First, preheat your oven to 350°F. Then, shape your patties according to the all-methods instructions. Lightly grease a baking sheet with butter or oil.
Step 2: Bake
Once your oven is preheated, season the patties with salt and pepper and place them on the greased baking sheet, making sure there is plenty of room between them.
Bake the burgers for 10 minutes, flip them, then bake for an additional 5-10 minutes, pulling the burgers out of the oven when they reach your desired temperature, according to a meat thermometer.
Step 3: Toast & Top
When your burgers are done, remove them from the baking sheet and let them rest for a few minutes on a plate. Meanwhile, toast your buns, if you’d like, on a skillet.
In the Air Fryer
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Step 1: Preheat and Form Patties
First, preheat your air fryer to 350°F, then shape and refrigerate your burger patties, as instructed above.
Editor’s Tip: New to air fryers? Check out our complete air fryer guide, which includes tips, reviews and recipes.
Step 2: Air-Fry
When the air fryer comes up to temperature, remove the patties from the fridge and salt and pepper each side.
Place the patties on the air fryer basket, making sure they aren’t overlapping, and air-fry for 5 minutes. Open the air fryer drawer, flip the burger and air-fry them for an additional 3-5 minutes, or until a meat thermometer reads your desired doneness temperature.
Editor’s Tip: If you have a smaller air fryer basket, you might have to cook the burgers in batches.
Step 2: Add Cheese
Once the burgers are done, remove them from the basket and place them on a clean plate to rest. For those who want a cheeseburger, add a slice of cheese and tent with foil for a few minutes.
While the burgers are resting, air-fry sides, toast the buns and get your condiments ready. Then, assemble your dinner plates and serve this easy weeknight meal.