Juicy, mouthwatering, hamburgers are a warm weather staple that taste perfect right off the grill. Everyone can benefit from having a tried-and-true burger recipe in his or her repertoire when entertaining a backyard full of guests or enjoying a cozy weeknight meal with the family. 

Many things constitute a great burger, including flavorful meat, the right ratio of fat content, a crispy roll or bun, and fresh, cold toppings and condiments. That’s all guaranteed and more in this recipe for “The Great American Hamburger and Cheeseburger” from “Mastering the Grill: The Owner’s Manual for Outdoor Cooking” (Chronicle Books), by Andrew Schloss & David Joachim.

The Great American Hamburger and Cheeseburger

Makes 6 servings


2 pounds ground beef chuck, 85 % lean

5 tablespoons ice-cold water

1 teaspoon ketchup

1⁄2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Oil for coating grill grate

12 slices good-quality American, provolone, or cheddar cheese (optional)

6 hamburger buns, split


1. Heat the grill to 425 F for gas or achieve light ash for charcoal or light ash for wood. 

2. Using your hands, mix the beef, water, ketchup, and pepper in a bowl until well blended; do not overmix. Using a light touch, form into 6 patties no more than 1 inch thick. Refrigerate the burgers until the grill is ready.

3. Brush the grill grate and coat it with oil. Put the burgers on the grill, cover and cook for 7 minutes, flipping after about 4 minutes, for medium-done (150 F, slightly pink). Add a minute per side for well-done (160 F).

4. If you are making cheeseburgers, put 2 slices of cheese on each burger 1 minute before the burgers are going to be done.

5. To toast the buns, put them cut-sides down directly over the fire for the last minute of cooking.

6. If serving the burgers directly from the grill, serve on the buns. If the burgers will sit, even for a few minutes, keep the buns and the burgers separate until just before eating.

The best garnishes for burgers are the classics: a slice of ripe beefsteak tomato, a mound of sautéed onions, a leaf of romaine lettuce, a dollop of coleslaw, or a few slices of dill pickles.

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