You only need 3 ingredients to make this simple burger recipe (no breadcrumbs!). No mess, no fuss! Just a secret & important tips…
Camping calls for simple recipes, but rest assured, simple doesn’t equal tasteless! In fact, less is more when it comes to a good classic burger.
Sure, you can pack the meat with garlic powder, onion salt, and other spices, but all you really need is salt and pepper.
Normally, our recipe posts are short and to the point. But for a simple burger, you need to know the secret! The REAL SECRET to a good burger is not the amount of ingredients but the quality of meat and how you cook it.
So, we will share our quick tips for choosing and not ruining high-quality beef. Then you can see the easy recipe at the bottom. If you already know the secret and tips, hit the Jump to Recipe button below.
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It’s All About the Meat!
THE SECRET behind delicious, juicy burgers is high-quality ground meat. Thankfully, ground beef is one of the most affordable beef options, and it only takes a few extra dollars to buy quality.
Those few extra dollars are nothing compared to the money you’d spend on excessive spices.
We usually opt for ground chuck. It’s a step above standard ground beef, but its price tag is still as palatable as the meat. If you want to splurge a bit more, you can mix the ground chuck with ground sirloin.
Mmm Mmm, that’s good, too!
As health-minded as we are, we do indulge a bit and don’t go too lean. We’ve found that meat with 15 to 20% is best for homemade burger patties (80-85% lean beef). You just can’t beat the flavorful juiciness that natural fat supplies.
Of course, you can opt for leaner ground beef or even ground turkey burgers, especially if you eat burgers often. But for special occasions, like Memorial Day and 4th of July, we indulge in juicy beef burgers.
Freshness is also key! If at all possible, use fresh (not frozen) ground beef. If you need to freeze it for the road trip, still buy fresh and package it in the freezer when you get home from the grocery store.
The “Secret” Summary
So, in summary, for this simple hamburger recipe, we recommend:
- Ground Chuck
- Fresh, Not Frozen
- 80-85% Lean Beef
But you can’t just have good quality meat; you must know how to cook it. So, let us give you some quick tips that will MAKE ALL THE DIFFERENCE with a simple burger.
Must-Know Tips for a Good Simple Burger
Since this recipe is simplicity at its finest, cooking it properly is paramount. The most important thing is to handle the hamburger patties as little as possible, both on and off the grill. If you don’t overwork them, you won’t need bread crumbs!
So, real quick, here are some must-know tips. (BTW, many of these tips apply to Grilled Turkey Burgers, too.)
How to Prep Homemade Burgers (& NOT Overwork Them)
Grab your meat, shape the patties, press a small dent in the middle, season the top, and that’s it. Don’t mix the seasoning inside the meat because you’ll overwork it. The dimple keeps the meat from puffing up in the middle while cooking.
No Breadcrumbs Trick: Keep the Patties Cool
A burger patty stays together better if it’s cold. So, you shouldn’t need breadcrumbs in your burger if you quickly prep the patties and cook them immediately.
So, don’t let your patties sit out before cooking them. Unlike slow-cook meats, you don’t want them at room temperature before you start cooking.
Don’t Press the Patties!
DO NOT press down on the patty when cooking! Pressing down squishes out all the juices you want in your mouth, not at the bottom of the grill. (It also causes flare-ups!)
When to Flip Burgers
Don’t fuss over the patties! Try to flip as little as possible. One flip is ideal, but minimize flips if you accidentally flip too early.
If you flip too soon or too often, your patty will likely fall apart. Plus, you’ll lose juicy goodness with every flip.
A good trick is only to flip the burger once you see liquid pooling on the uncooked side. Then keep it on the second side for about the same amount of time. Actual cook time depends on your preferred doneness.
Add a slice of cheese, if desired, 1-2 minutes before removing.
How to Tell If a Burger Is Done
You can use a meat thermometer to check for doneness using the below temps:
- Rare (red): 120 °F
- Medium-Rare (very pink): 130 °F
- Medium (pink): 140 °F
- Medium-Well (brownish pink): 150 °F
- Well (brown): 160 °F (USDA recommended*)
*The USDA recommends a safe minimum internal temperature of 160 °F because it’s a fool-proof way to kill ALL salmonella. However, most campers (like us) don’t like their burgers well done. If that’s you, buying fresh, quality meat is all the more important.
But there’s a great trick to tell the doneness without having to pierce the patty…
The Doneness Palm Test
A popular “finger test” is used for steaks, but the palm test works better for burgers. The level of squishiness of different parts of your palm correlates with the level of doneness in your burger. When poked, your burger should feel the same as the correlating part of your palm.
Hold your palm facing up, fingers outstretched. Compare your meat’s squishiness to the following:
- Rare (red): bottom corner of your palm opposite your thumb
- Medium-Rare (very pink): bottom corner of your palm next to your thumb
- Medium (pink): right beneath & between your pointer and middle finger
- Medium-Well (brownish pink): right under your pinky finger
- Well (brown): the middle of your palm (USDA recommended*)
Ready for Simplicity at Its Finest?
(By the way, if you end up with leftover patties or ground beef, try out this Leftover Hamburger Patties Casserole.)
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