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How to Pan Fry a Restaurant Style Hamburger

Updated on March 16, 2016
Perfectly pan cooked restaurant style burger
Perfectly pan cooked restaurant style burger | Source

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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.

Tasty Burger Ideas

  • Black and Blue
  • Cheddar, Bacon, and Ranch (add powdered ranch to the meat)
  • Smoked Gouda
  • Parmesan

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.

Equipment Needed for Pan Cooked Burgers

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:

  • 1 T butter per burger
  • A pastry brush or regular spoon
  • A sturdy spatula
  • A cereal bowl (optional)
  • Buns, condiments, toppings, etc.



Get that pan preheating! It needs to be nice and hot.
Get that pan preheating! It needs to be nice and hot. | Source

How to Pan Cook a Burger

How to Pan Cook Burgers, Step-By-Step

  1. 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!
  2. 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.
  3. Brush or spoon a liberal coating of butter on each side of the burger.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Place your burger on a bun along with your favorite toppings and condiments, and enjoy!

Pan-Frying a Burger, Step by Step

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Melting butterMelted butterSpread melted butter on the burgerSizzling burger - can you see the cooked line along the bottom? It is a greyish brown instead of red.Tasty crust on the burgerMake sure to prepare your plate and bowl ahead of time so you're not rushing at the last second.Cooked burgerPlace cheese on burgerCover burger with a bowlWhat an easy way to melt cheese!
Melting butter
Melting butter | Source
Melted butter
Melted butter | Source
Spread melted butter on the burger
Spread melted butter on the burger | Source
Sizzling burger - can you see the cooked line along the bottom? It is a greyish brown instead of red.
Sizzling burger - can you see the cooked line along the bottom? It is a greyish brown instead of red. | Source
Tasty crust on the burger
Tasty crust on the burger | Source
Make sure to prepare your plate and bowl ahead of time so you're not rushing at the last second.
Make sure to prepare your plate and bowl ahead of time so you're not rushing at the last second. | Source
Cooked burger
Cooked burger | Source
Place cheese on burger
Place cheese on burger | Source
Cover burger with a bowl
Cover burger with a bowl | Source
What an easy way to melt cheese!
What an easy way to melt cheese! | Source
Perfectly pan cooked burger
Perfectly pan cooked burger | Source

Weeknight Burgers

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!

Source

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    • jcsteele profile image

      Jelena 2 years ago from Florida

      Your recipes look delicious i am defiently going to give one of them a try.

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 2 years ago from Hawaii

      Thanks, Claudia and Rachel! Yep, they are super easy to make inside. Maybe a little too easy...

    • Rachel L Alba profile image

      Rachel L Alba 2 years ago from Every Day Cooking and Baking

      Reading this hub made me extra hungry for a burger. I always loves hamburgers even as a child. I don't know why I didn't think to continue making them all winter. But after reading your hub, I definitely will. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and recipes.

      Blessings.

    • Claudia Mathews profile image

      Claudia Mathews 2 years ago

      Definitely going to try this. Delicious!

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 2 years ago from Hawaii

      Butter has a lower smoke point than oil, which is why people don't usually think to use it. I've found butter really helps give that nice, crunchy exterior, though, and sticks to the meat better/imparts more of a "smoky" taste. Thanks for stopping in!

    • mandination profile image

      Amanda W 2 years ago from Pittsburgh

      There's some really great tips here. I learned to cook burgers from my mom, and it definitely wasn't her specialty. I've always wanted to learn to do it better, and this guide was a huge help.

      I don't know why, but I never would have thought to use butter instead of oil. I think this really makes a big difference.

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 3 years ago from Hawaii

      That's probably healthier, but hey. I don't eat most things that are 'bad for me,' so I guess it's okay to indulge every once in a while!

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 3 years ago from Hawaii

      One of these days I'll live somewhere with a convenient grill, but until then I think this is the way to go! I'm glad you agree and like them pan fried, too. =)

    • Wednesday-Elf profile image

      Wednesday-Elf 3 years ago from Savannah, Georgia

      I almost always pan-fry my burgers (unless I get the opportunity to have them on the grill at my brother's house...LOL). I think the secret is the higher heat -- makes them crispy on the outside the way I like them. Now you've made me hungry.... for a burger! :)

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 3 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      i buy ready made burgers and an fried without oil or butter

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 3 years ago from Hawaii

      Awesome! Thank you so much for sharing my recipe! I need to go find your hub and check it out.

    • Melinda Longoria profile image

      Melinda Longoria, MSM 3 years ago from Garland, Texas

      Natashalh, this has to be the perfect burger recipe! I shared your recipe on my hubpage Skillet Recipes for Tailgating or Camping. Thank you for posting these helpful tips. Hope you have a wonderful weekend. Sincerely, Mel

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 3 years ago from Hawaii

      These burgers are so tasty! I hope y'all enjoy and thanks for stopping by.

    • EatCookReview profile image

      Chantele and Julie 3 years ago from Wales

      Great tips thanks! This is something my hubby will be pleased to know!

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      Absolutely! There's no substitute. =)

    • carrie Lee Night profile image

      Kept private 4 years ago from Northeast United States

      Yummy.... Thank you for this great hub :) Gotta love the real butter.

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      Awesome!! I know the feeling quite well (since I don't own a grill, either). Thanks for stopping by and I hope you enjoy!

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 4 years ago from Washington State, USA

      We don't own a grill so when we get that 'gotta-have-a-burger' craving we eat out. Now we won't have to. Thanks for clearly-written instructions and for the information on how to select the best beef for making burgers at home.

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      I hope you enjoy! I totally sometimes get that burger craving, too. Thanks for stopping by and sharing!

    • xmags profile image

      Xeng 4 years ago from Philippines

      Ohh la la. I've been craving burgers recently and I think this hub just intensified my craving. Good job! I might make some burgers tonight. *drool* voted up and sharing. :)

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      The butter is what gives them the delicious crust! I hope you enjoy and thanks for stopping in.

    • profile image

      Deb Welch 4 years ago

      Sounds good - I will try your recipe. I have always pan fried burgers but never with butter in the pan or cheese in the mixture. Thanks.

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      It tastes so much better! I'm glad you enjoyed this recipe. I haven't had a burger, home cooked or at a restaurant, in a couple of months now. No wonder I'm craving one!

    • iguidenetwork profile image

      iguidenetwork 4 years ago from Austin, TX

      Thanks for your recipe! I'm a burger and fries guy, but I haven't even cooked a burger at home. Your recipe sounds really good, and thanks for recommending us the grass-fed beef. :)

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      Yeah...I don't like the fries that go along with burgers (I just personally have never liked fries), but I never feel guilty about eating a burger, and I only ever eat real butter! Thanks or stopping in =)

    • Billrrrr profile image

      Bill Russo 4 years ago from Cape Cod

      Actually they may be health food.

      I don't have any science (other than observational evidence) to support it, but I have tried several eating regimens: One where rice was my main food, another where fish was the prime palate pick, and a third featuring a regimen of one burger per day.

      I found that the burger binge plan resulted in the best overall health - I felt better, had more energy, slept better and had significantly better bathroom results!

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      Mmm, yes! Cast iron is great! The butter really makes a difference, too.

    • azrestoexp profile image

      Arizona's Restoration Experts, LLC 4 years ago

      Informative hub. Will give basting with butter a try. Love burgers and fry in a cast iron skillet for a perfect sear and crust. Voted up.

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      Thank you!! I hope you love them as much as I do!

    • MPG Narratives profile image

      Marie Giunta 4 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      Have to make this soon, my teenagers will LOVE them. Great looking hub, voted up and useful.

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      It probably would work and be delicious! I think this would work really well with black bean burgers.

    • epbooks profile image

      Elizabeth Parker 4 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      Yum! I am a vegetarian, but I'm sure this same technique would work w/ veggie burgers. I'll indulge one night and make this. I'm sure it'll be delicious!

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      Thank you!!

    • talfonso profile image

      talfonso 4 years ago from Tampa Bay, FL

      Sounds like a good recipe! I tried a gourmet burger before and it was sinfully good. SINFULLY GOOD! And I'm sharing this Hub because it's also SINFULLY GOOD!

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      Isn't it? I'm so glad you enjoyed this hub!

    • profile image

      Ashton 4 years ago

      I had never heard of this method until today! I have tried a lot of pan fried burgers and they were always good but this is my new favorite. The crust on the burger is perfect.

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 5 years ago from Hawaii

      You could probably use either regular butter or clarified butter.

      Thanks for stopping by!

    • ptrg777 profile image

      Peter 5 years ago from New York

      More convenient and simple. I prefer the sear on a cast iron pan or flat top burger...sometimes the grill can burn the burger if it's too hot. And the butter is an interesting addition....does it matter if it's pure butter or clarified? Good hub! Thanks!

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 5 years ago from Hawaii

      It is more convenient in some ways, but I haven't used a coated pan in a couple of years now. I have a little more clean up, but the food is so much better! Thanks for stoing by and I hope you enjoy.

    • HendrikDB profile image

      HendrikDB 5 years ago

      I will definitely try it - I always use a coated pan, will stop it.

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 5 years ago from Hawaii

      Thanks, CyberShelly! I appreciate the votes and rating. It took me about 7 years of trying to really figure indoor burgers out. I've eaten some pretty not so good messes that were supposed to be burgers!

    • CyberShelley profile image

      Shelley Watson 5 years ago

      Thanks Natasha, this is a great recipe for a quick Sunday night bite. You have given me some ideas here as to why my home made burgers are not so great. Now I can fix it! Up, interesting, useful and 5*

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 5 years ago from Hawaii

      Cast iron is the best! It spreads the heat out perfectly. Sometimes nothing beats a genuine, grilled burger, but other times the weather just won't cooperate!

    • xstatic profile image

      Jim Higgins 5 years ago from Eugene, Oregon

      We love burgers, I make the patties ahead and freeze them. We usually grill them, but I now want to get a cast iron skillet and try this. Sounds great!

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 5 years ago from Hawaii

      Thank you! Burgers are delicious. It looks like I may have burgers again tonight. Yum!

    • Deborah Brooks profile image

      Deborah Brooks Langford 5 years ago from Brownsville,TX

      I love a good burger with good meat.. thanks for this great recipe . I will share it on Facebook.

      Debbie

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 5 years ago from Hawaii

      They are super awesome (I think). Thanks for stopping by!

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 5 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      These sound like awesome burgers. Now I am hungry!

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 5 years ago from Hawaii

      Thanks for stopping by and for the votes. On Sunday afternoons, my favorite place to buy burgers has them half off. I think I may have to cook up burgers again very soon!

    • Movie Master profile image

      Movie Master 5 years ago from United Kingdom

      I agree with Billybuc, this is a recipe to get excited about!

      This is so well written, I could almost taste and smell the burgers....

      I will certainly be trying the recipe, many thanks and voted up

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 5 years ago from Hawaii

      You know, you could take the grinder plate out of the grinder and use it to make sausages. You can make all sorts of delicious combinations of sausages at home! It's especially good if you or anyone in your house has food sensitivities because you can control everythng that goes in them.

      Thanks for stopping by and I hope you get that burger mold!

    • toomuchmint profile image

      toomuchmint 5 years ago

      Voted useful and awesome! You're totally right about the ease of cooking store-bought burgers. I picked up a few on sale, and the difference in ease of use was astounding. No mess, quick and easy cooking, awesome taste. Best of all, they're pretty much the same price as the ground beef.

      A hamburger press is now on my Christmas wish-list. :-) I have a meat grinder, but the grind is uneven. A burger press would make uneven meat into uniform patties and produce a better burger overall.

      Thanks for sharing!

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 5 years ago from Hawaii

      Thanks for stopping by, Just Ask Susan. Pan cooked burgers are fantastic for cooler weather - why wait for summer to enjoy such a tasty treat? I hope you like the results of this cooking method!

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Your burgers look great, I can almost smell them from here. I often will make them in a frying pan in the colder months and will try some of your tips that you've included in your hub next time I pan fry them.

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 5 years ago from Hawaii

      I love grilled burgers, but I haven't always owned a grill. I had to find a way to make burgers, anyway! It's crazy how much most places charge for a good burger "these days." Thanks for stopping by, randomcreative!

    • randomcreative profile image

      Rose Clearfield 5 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Great article! We usually make burgers on the grill, but it is always great to have some tips for pan burgers, too.

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 5 years ago from Hawaii

      Thank you! They are super delicious - I hope you give them a try!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      You have activated my craving for a really juicy burger. Wow, does yours look so good! I think it's the method that makes a difference, I think it's the butter you mentioned. OK, I can hear it sizzling from here!

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 5 years ago from Hawaii

      That butter makes all the difference in the world! Thanks for stopping by.

    • jellygator profile image

      jellygator 5 years ago from USA

      Yum! We have a fast food joint called Custer's here in KC that sells "Butter Burgers" made like this. They're delicious.

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 5 years ago from Hawaii

      Grass fed beef tastes so much better, and it's actually better for you, too. Grass fed beef has a similar omega-3 content to seafood. That gave me an idea - maybe I should talk about this in the hub. Thank you! And thanks for sharing.

    • Melis Ann profile image

      Melis Ann 5 years ago from Mom On A Health Hunt

      Great tips on pan frying burgers! What a great idea. Like you said, not health food, but there really isn't anything wrong with an occasional grass-fed beef burger or even a turkey burger! Sharing this great info.

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 5 years ago from Hawaii

      Thanks! I really enjoyed eating it after taking the photos.

    • fjohn profile image

      fjohn 5 years ago from india

      its yummy......... great hub natashalh

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 5 years ago from Hawaii

      Thank you!

    • twinstimes2 profile image

      Karen Lackey 5 years ago from Ohio

      This reminds me of my childhood. My Mom always made pan fried burgers before my Dad began mastering the grill. Great job, Natasha!

    • Natashalh profile image
      Author

      Natasha 5 years ago from Hawaii

      Excellent! I'm glad you like it, billybuc. When I learned how to do this about a year ago, I kind of went crazy and ate burgers all the time because they're so delicious.

      Wilderness - I hope you try it and enjoy! Thanks for stopping by.

    • wilderness profile image

      Dan Harmon 5 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      Now you've done it! It will have to be hamburgers tomorrow!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Finally, a recipe I can get excited about! You might as well just change the title to "Bill's Recipe."

      Great job Natasha; have a great weekend!