Tailgate burger tricks

Sep 5, 2011 at 10:08 p.m. ET

A juicy, tasty burger is the cornerstone of a successful tailgate party. Follow these foolproof tricks for a perfect burger every time.

Woman getting hamburger from tailgate


It should go without saying that the best-tasting burger begins with fresh, high-quality beef. Don't make the mistake of relying on pre-made frozen patties. To get that unbelievably juicy burger, start with ground chuck, ground sirloin or good ground beef with 20 percent fat.


Make sure your meat is securely wrapped before placing it in an insulated cooler and packing with ice. Proper food storage mandates that your meat remains at 40 F or below. The meat should be fresh and cold when you prepare it for the grill.

be gentle

Don't overwork your meat, either. Use a gentle hand with your patties. The less you handle them, the juicier they'll be. Also, don't pack your patties too tightly. This can cause your burger to dry out and become tough. Keep the patty loose.

Don't squeeze... indent

We've all seen people take a spatula to a burger while it's on the grill and squeeze it in an attempt to flatten the patty. Do not, under any circumstances, squeeze your burgers. It does not flatten them; all it does is squeeze out the moisture, leaving you with a dry, tasteless burger. Combat bloated burgers by making a small indentation in the center of your burger with your thumb as you form the patty.


Resist the temptation to flip burgers repeatedly. Flipping only once will help maintain maximum juiciness. Allow the first side to cook fully before flipping. You'll know the first side is done when the juices that come to the top are clear.


Wait until right before your burger is done before adding any glaze. Most glazes contain sugar, which burns easily over high heat.


Your burger is now grilled to perfection, but don't rush to taste your creation. Let the meat rest for a couple of minutes to allow the juices to redistribute evenly. Once you've allowed your burger to rest, nestle it into a soft, fresh bun, dress it with condiments and other toppings, and enjoy your masterpiece.

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