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Well-Done Grilled Hamburgers

A hamburger and watermelon on a black plate.

(note: this post contains some pictures of raw hamburger, so if that sort of thing squicks you out, you should probably stop right here.)

I put this meal on my menu plan so regularly, I thought it might be nice to actually have the recipe on my blog so that I can link to it.

I found this recipe on Cook’s Illustrated’s website (the only site I pay for…it’s sooo worth it. Lurvity-lurve Cook’s, I do!) a number of years ago, and I’ve been faithfully using it ever since.

Cook’s developed the recipe to turn out burgers that remain juicy even when they’re well done. Since none of us here at Chez Frugal Girl are big fans of rare burgers, this is perfect for us.

grilled hamburger in a bun.

If you’ve been grilling pre-formed, frozen patties, I don’t think you’ll ever want to go back once you try this. It’s not hard to make your own burgers, and you’ll know exactly what went into them.

The food wizards at Cook’s found that making a panade out of bread and milk was key to keeping the burgers juicy (you probably use a panade when you make meatloaf or meatballs).

But first:

Heat your grill

Burgers cook better on a grill that is thoroughly heated, and I usually find that mine is perfectly heated by the time I’ve mixed up and shaped the burgers (of course, if you have a charcoal grill, you’ll probably need to start it earlier).

Make the panade

Tear up enough white bread to make 1/2 cup (I’ve used sandwich bread, French bread, and leftover buns with equal success. Just be sure to remove the crusts.) and pour in 2 tablespoons of whole milk (I have used milk with a lower fat content and the burgers were fine).

Mush it all together with a fork to make a homogenous mixture.

A panade mixture in a measuring cup.

Next, stir in the salt, pepper, crushed garlic, and steak sauce. This will make a sort of disgusting-looking mixture which will make your burgers very much the opposite of disgusting.

Panade for hamburger meat.

Add the panade mixture to your ground beef.

 Mix until the panade is evenly distributed (I like to use a fork for this).

Raw hamburger meat in a bowl.

Cook’s recommends using 80% lean ground chuck.

I use beef that comes from the cows that graze here:

A green field with cows grazing.

So I haven’t the faintest idea what the lean/fat percent is. Whatever the balance, it’s super duper good beef. Local beef makes good burgers, people.

Shape your meat into patties

The original recipe calls for making 4 patties, but since some of us (Sonia and Zoe) prefer slider-sized burgers, I make six patties of varying sizes.

Uncooked hamburger patties.

Before you put the burgers on, scrape the grill clean, dip a small wad of paper towels into some vegetable oil, and run them over the grill grates (using tongs, of course).

(I didn’t come up with that idea…Cook’s did. It does seem to help keep the burgers from sticking, though, so I recommend it.)

Hamburger patties on a gas grill grate.

Cook the burgers

Do 2-4 minutes on the first side, them flip them and cook for another 3-4 minutes.

Serve on buns with desired toppings (I’ve recently discovered that avocado slices make a very delightful burger topping).

A burger in a bun with lettuce, tomato, and onion.

Well-Done Grilled Hamburgers

printable version

1/2 cup chopped or torn white bread (remove crusts)
2 tablespoons whole milk
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
2 teaspoons steak sauce (I use Aldi’s brand)
1 1/2 pounds 80% lean ground chuck

(before you start, turn your grill on so that it has 15 minutes to heat)

1. Place bread pieces in a bowl, and pour the milk over the bread. Using a fork, mash the bread and milk together to make a smooth paste. Add salt, pepper, garlic, and steak sauce, and mix until smooth.

2. Add ground beef to the bread/milk mixture, and gently combine, using a fork.

3. Shape the beef into patties.

4. Using tongs, dip a wad of paper towels into a small amount of vegetable oil, and run them over the grill grate.

5. Place burgers on grill. Cook for 2-4 minutes on the first side, flip, and cook for an additional 3-4 minutes, or until burgers reach desired doneness.

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Thursday 30th of July 2020

Kristen - these have been my go-to hamburgers for years now! Not sure why I never thought of this before, but have you ever made these in advance and frozen them for a later time? Just wondering if they would hold up well in the freezer or if it would change the taste at all?


Thursday 30th of July 2020

Yes! I've done this, and haven't noticed an appreciable difference.

Maybe if I did a true side by side, I'd notice a slight change?

I think this would be best to do with ground beef that you haven't previously frozen; just get it from the store, make the burgers, and then freeze them. Too much thawing and freezing and thawing and freezing might make your results not as good.


Sunday 5th of July 2020

This weekend I tried your recipe and I think it ups the burger a bit having them seasoned before cooking. We purchased a box of frozen 8 oz 80/20 burger patties. 8 oz. is a bit too much for me. So I thawed it, mix the seasoning in and made us 2 4 oz burgers. Perfect solution.


Friday 9th of August 2019

These are SO GOOD! I live alone and used to portion out patties from plain burger, individually wrap and freeze them, then when I'm in the mood for a burger, thaw, fry or grill one. That method had worked well for me for years. I decided to use this recipe. I don't regret it a bit. They are tender, juicy and flavorful. Thank you for sharing the recipe.


Friday 9th of August 2019

So glad it's working out for you! And yeah, burgers are a great thing to freeze for future use. So easy to grab exactly how many you need.


Friday 5th of April 2019

Most amazing burgers I have ever made. Thank you so much for this tip!

I have followed a few of your recipes and they ALL turn out awesome.

Sarah De Diego

Friday 9th of June 2017

I always add a bunch of quick oats to my mix but I never add milk or mix it up first. I'm going to do that next time (egg instead) as it will probably bind everything better (part of the reason why I do it, the other is to stretch the meat further and add an extra grain to the meal).

Besos Sarah.

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