How to Pan Fry a Restaurant Style Hamburger
Perfect Pub/Restaurant Style Burgers
Cooking the perfect pub or restaurant-style burger at home is easy—it doesn't even require a grill. With a delicious, crunchy crust and the perfect interior temperature, pan-cooking burgers is a quick way to make this favorite dish. Pan cooked burgers are also ideal for singles or couples -- who really wants to fire up the grill for just one or two burgers? For as little as under 10 minutes of cooking time, these burgers can be a weeknight meal.
Gourmet burgers are very popular these days, and many restaurants have added deluxe options to the menu. These deluxe burgers, however, usually come with a deluxe price tag, too. By using this recipe for a restaurant burger, you can enjoy the same great tastes at home without the hefty price tag. Give it a try—you may never want to use your grill again.
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How to Choose Hamburger Meat and Other Tips
When you're making hamburgers, it's important to always purchase the most high-quality meat available. While it's more expensive, it's worth it (and still costs less than ordering a gourmet burger at a restaurant). Here are some things you should keep in mind:
- Grass-fed beef. If at all possible, always purchase grass-fed beef. It isn't all hype -- grass-fed meat really does taste better, and it's better for you. Cattle are meant to eat grass, not grain. Grain fed-cattle are unhealthy and produce less nutritious meat. In fact, many of the "bad" things about red meat are really due to the product of grain feed. Grass-fed beef actually has less fat, fewer calories, more vitamin E, and significantly greater quantities of omega-3 fatty acids than grain-fed, feedlot beef.
- Store-made burgers. I've also experimented with less expensive ground beef (I'm talking about you, log of beef in a plastic tube). However, it doesn't hold together well for pan-cooked burgers. Store-made burgers are superior for pan cooking because they are made in molds, which creates a very uniform burger. The uniform diameter and thickness of the burger allows for even cooking. This ensures a burger is evenly cooked to temperature.
- Cooking multiple burgers. If you cook multiple burgers, this also means that all those burgers should be done at the same time. This ensures that the wait time for that one larger burger to finish cooking is eliminated and avoided.
- Shopping at the store. To ensure the meat is high quality and will stick together in the pan, shop for burgers at a high-end grocery store in your area.
- Garnishes/toppings. The store will not only have a variety of tasty burgers, but come with traditional toppings like bacon, cheddar, Parmesan, blue cheese, and more already mixed in with the meat. This gives the burger an amazing, all-around flavor -- instead of bacon in some bites, you can have bacon in every bite! If you do make your own burgers, I highly recommend you try mixing some shredded cheese in with the meat.
- Handling meat. If you do make your own hamburgers, make sure to handle the meat as little as possible and mix ingredients with a spoon to minimize hand-to-meat contact. The heat from your hands can actually cause the fat to start melting and makes the meat more dense, which can lead to the dreaded "hockey puck burger."
- Uniformity. Make the burger as evenly thick and wide as possible or, better yet, use a home burger mold. For only a few dollars, you can create uniform, professional-looking hamburgers time after time.
What You'll Need
First and foremost, pan-cooked burgers require a frying pan or skillet. If at all possible, use a pan without a nonstick coating. This recipe doesn't work as well in a coated pan because the exterior doesn't develop the nice, crunchy layer this recipe is designed to produce. Other additional ingredients and equipment needed are:
- Ground meat
- 1 tablespoon butter per burger
- A pastry brush or regular spoon
- A sturdy spatula
- A cereal bowl (optional)
- Buns, condiments, toppings, etc.
How to Pan Cook Burgers, Step-by-Step
- Melt approximately 1 tablespoon of butter per burger. You probably won't use a whole tablespoon on each one, but this will give you a little leeway, as pastry brushes tend to take up some of the butter. You can either use the stove or microwave to melt your butter. Note: Keep mind that butter melts very quickly. So, always start with a low heat setting or just a few seconds in the microwave. It's better to wait a few extra seconds or turn the microwave back on rather than to deal with hot, exploding butter!
- While the butter is melting, pre-heat your skillet. Depending on your stove and pan, use medium or medium-high heat. Water should sizzle when it hits the pan.
- Brush or spoon a liberal coating of butter on each side of the burger.
- Place the burger in the pan. You should hear it sizzle immediately. If you don't, the pan is too cool and you need to raise the temperature setting. Don't flip, touch, poke, or prod the burger. Let it sizzle away for 3-4 minutes.
- After those 3-4 minutes have passed, you should notice the burger looks, literally, half cooked -- the bottom of the burger's edge should look cooked, while the top half should still look raw. Use a rigid spatula to carefully flip the burger. You basically want to scrape the bottom of the pan as you push the spatula under the burger. This removes the desirable crust from the pan and keeps it attached to the meat.
- Allow the burger to cook an additional 2-3 minutes. Use an instant read thermometer to measure the burger's internal temperature, or use the simple hand testing technique demonstrated in the video. If you're not absolutely certain you trust your burger meat, go ahead and cook it to a safe 160 degrees Fahrenheit. If you are confident your meat is freshly ground and high-quality, you can opt for a medium-rare burger and a lower temperature -- but, always make sure to cook the meat to at least 140 degrees.
- When the burger is done, carefully scrape the pan, again, to ensure that the crust stays on the burger. If you want, you can also place the burger on a paper towel to absorb some of the grease. If you do, however, be prepared to lose some of that tasty crust.
- For a cheese burger, place the cheese on top of the hot burger and cover it with a small bowl, such as a cereal bowl. Allow the burger to rest for a couple of minutes while the residual heat melts the cheese.
- Place your burger on a bun along with your favorite toppings and condiments, and enjoy!
Pan-Frying a Burger, Step by StepClick thumbnail to view full-size
Tasty Burger Ideas
- Black and Blue
- Cheddar, Bacon, and Ranch (add powdered ranch to the meat)
- Smoked Gouda
How to Pan Cook a Burger
While it may seem too good to be true, this recipe really does allow you to create perfect restaurant-style burgers with a delicious crunchy exterior, all in under 10 minutes. Obviously burgers aren't a health food, but sometimes you just want to and deserve to relax and indulge a little. Since this doesn't require a grill, this method is perfect for hot or cold weather, those who don't own a grill, and those who simply would prefer not to deal with the hassle of heating and cleaning a grill for a simple weeknight meal.
I hope you have the chance to try this recipe soon!