It just feels good to press down on a burger with a spatula—maybe because we need something to do with our hands while everyone else stands around waiting for dinner. But resist the urge! Pressing sends all of the juiciness of a burger through the grill grates, and that can mean 1. flare-ups (yikes), and 2. dry burgers. There’s one exception: when you’re making smash burgers. The goal of smash burgers is to make as much contact with a super-hot griddle or skillet as possible in a short amount of time to get a maximally caramelized crust—and “smashing” down with a spatula is how you get there. And you can definitely make smash burgers on the grill! Just heat a cast iron skillet on your grill grates.
#5: Know how to tell your burger is done.
The way to know your burger is definitely done is to bring an instant-read meat thermometer out to the grill. You’re looking for about 145°F for medium-rare, or 160°F for well-done. But you can also learn what your perfect burger feels like: Medium-rare burgers should barely spring back when you gently press them in the middle; well-done burgers will be springier, and rarer burgers will be quite soft in the middle. Or you can watch the juices: The more red, the more rare; once they turn pink, you’ve got the elusive medium, and once clear or gray, you’ve reached well-done.
#6: Add cheese!
We all know the best burgers are the cheesiest ones. Biting into a juicy burger with a gooey layer of cheese on top is pure delight. Pick a sliced cheese that melts beautifully, like cheddar or Swiss—we like Sargento® Creamery Sliced Natural Cheddar Cheese or Sargento® Creamery Sliced Baby Swiss Natural Cheese, because of the smooth melt and added real cream. Wait until your burgers are just done to your liking, then move to a cooler part of the grill, add a slice or two on top of each burger, and cover the grill for a moment to help the cheese melt quickly without overcooking the burger.
#7: Toast the buns.
A warm, lightly toasted bun makes a great burger ethereal. Luckily, it’s the easiest tip in the book. Split the buns, then place cut-side down over the grill grates for just a few moments, until golden at the edges—this can go really fast, so keep an eye on them. Remove the buns to a plate and cover loosely with aluminum foil to keep them warm until it’s time to assemble and serve the burgers.
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