Hamburgers are a staple of any good BBQ, but you don't need it to be grilling season to enjoy the delight of a homemade burger. That's because you can make juicy hamburgers in the oven (or on the stove or with an indoor grill, for that matter!).
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While you may love the ambiance and chargrilled taste outdoor grilling offers, baked hamburgers tend to be juicier and more tender. Some say baked burgers taste better because the oven allows heat to be evenly distributed.
Frying burgers tends to keep the oil and grease near the meat, so some of it gets absorbed, making the patty less healthy.
Baking burgers, on the other hand, allows some fat to drain out of the patty without diminishing the flavor. By adding a few extras before baking, you can enhance the flavor and stretch the meat to make more patties.
In his book, Burger Bar: Build Your Own Ultimate Burgers, renowned chef Hubert Keller recommends using ground beef that is no more than 85 percent lean to ensure that your burgers are juicy. If you choose to use leaner beef, keep the meat as moist as possible by adding sautéed mushrooms or onions or a bit of olive oil or mayonnaise.
One key to a tasty homemade burger is keeping the patties flat while cooking. If you're not careful, while the hamburgers cook, the juices can cause the ground beef to expand and lead to the top of the burger forming a dome shape.
You want to avoid this dome shape for two reasons: Flat tops ensure even cooking throughout the burger, and the shape also allows you to pile on toppings without fear of them sliding off the patty and onto your lap.
Here's everything you need to know about cooking hamburgers and cheeseburgers in the oven. These techniques will ensure your homemade burgers come out flat, hot, juicy and delicious.
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5 Steps to the Perfect Oven-Baked Hamburger
Things You'll Need
Nonstick cooking spray
1/4 lb. ground beef — individual burgers tend to range from 4 ounces (a quarter pound) to 6 ounces
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 cup green pepper, diced
1/4 cup onion, diced
The list above is only a beginner's suggestion for cooking and seasoning your burger. Some of the other most popular additions to a burger, after salt and pepper, are chopped onion and garlic powder. You can get creative with ingredients like chili powder, assorted salts, steak sauce, cheeses, breadcrumbs and Worcestershire sauce.
Step 1: Preheat and Prep
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray a baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.
You'll want to place the pan in the oven, once pre-heated, for five minutes before cooking the burgers. Heating the pan before the patty touches it will sear the patty quickly, locking in the juices.
Gather all your ingredients (see the list above) and wash your hands.
If you refrigerate your ground beef or patties for later use, keep them at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below and be sure to use them within two days, according to the USDA.
Never leave ground beef out at room temperature for more than two hours. Doing so can risk the development of microbes like salmonella and E. coli, per the USDA.
Step 2: Shape Your Burger Patties
Be sure to add any seasonings before mixing to limit the amount of interaction you have with the beef. When you overwork ground beef, it can produce tough hamburgers.
Lightly fold the meat to incorporate the seasonings without making the mixture dense. While there are plenty of combinations to choose from, a basic recipe combines 1/4 pound of ground beef, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper (keep scrolling for more suggestions).
Mix together and form a ball about the size of a golf ball.
Next, flatten the ball into a patty less than 1/2 inch thick. A thinner patty reduces the chances of overcooking the meat or drying out its exterior.
Most hamburgers shrink up to 25 percent during cooking, so shape the ground burger into a patty slightly larger than the bun, but no more than 3/4 inch thick.
Use your fingers to press in on the sides so that the patty is an even height from the center to the edges. Then, use your thumb or knuckles to make a deep indentation in the center of the patty (this will help prevent the dome shape you want to avoid).
Some burger-lovers recommend adding breadcrumbs to the mixture, which will help you make more patties and add a nice texture. Start with 1/4 cup seasoned breadcrumbs for every pound of ground beef, adding more as needed.
Step 3: Bake the Burgers in the Oven
Carefully remove the now-hot baking pan from the oven with oven mitts and place the patties on top of the pan.
How long you'll need to bake hamburgers in the oven typically ranges from 10 to 20 minutes and depends on the thickness of the patties. Start by setting the timer for five minutes.
Step 4: Flip and Add Toppings
After five minutes, juices should start to appear on the surface of the patty. This is a good indication that the inside of the patty is being cooked. If you don't see any juices, return the burgers to the oven for a few minutes, and keep a close watch.
Once the juices appear, pull the pan out of the oven with oven mitts. Flip the patty with cooking tongs and add your veggie toppings, like 1/4 cup each of diced green pepper and chopped onion to the surface of the patty. Don't add the cheese just yet, as it will likely burn.
In his Perfect Burger recipe, celebrity chef Bobby Flay writes that you should only flip your burgers once during the cooking process. Flipping them too many times can cause the burger to fall apart and dry out.
Flay also warns against pressing down on your burger with a spatula, as this will cause the juices to run out, resulting in a dry burger.
Step 5: Bake and Check the Temperature
After you flip your patty, put the hamburger back in the oven. Bake for an additional five to 12 minutes, or until the interior of the patty is no longer pink and is cooked to your liking.
Stick a meat thermometer into the center of the patty. Make sure it reads a minimum internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit, since undercooked ground beef can harbor bacteria that may make you ill. Test the internal temperature of your hamburgers at the thickest point for the most accurate results.
How to Cook Cheeseburgers in the Oven
Because cheeseburgers are just regular burgers with an added melty layer, you can follow all of the steps listed above. Add the cheese to the top of a patty just two minutes before it's done — you can be precise by using the meat thermometer and adding the cheese when it reads 158 degrees Fahrenheit.
Use a different cheese on top of your burgers to add exciting flavor. For example, Colby jack cheese will complement the taste of shredded cheddar.
How to Finish Grilled Burgers in the Oven
You might also use the oven to finish burgers that start on the grill. The heated grate will help create a sear on the meat that some people love.
To go from grill to oven, start by turning the grill on before you're ready to cook so that it can come to temperature and preheat the metal grate. You'll also want to preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
Brush a light layer of oil on the surface of the patty before placing it on the grate to help prevent it from sticking, or brush the grill grate with a minimal amount of oil as an alternative.
Place the patties on the grill and leave them for two to three minutes to create a sear. Flip the burgers and wait two to three minutes for the opposite side to sear.
Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil, then place a baking rack on top. Place the seared burgers on the baking rack. Cook the burgers in the oven for eight or nine minutes for medium-rare, 10 to 11 minutes for medium or up to 15 minutes for well-done meat.
Remember: Ground beef should reach a minimum of 160 degrees Fahrenheit for food safety.
Tips for Juicy Homemade Burgers in the Oven
- The most common types of beef used for hamburgers are ground chuck, ground sirloin, ground round and ground beef with varying percentages of fat, according to Consumer Reports. All of these options can be purchased from your local grocery.
- While meat with less fat content will make for a healthier burger, the higher the fat content, the more heat the meat will be able to withstand, and the juicier your burger will be.
- Mix in 1 to 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise (or full-fat Greek yogurt) before you make the patties.
- Grind up a strip or two of bacon to add into the mixture, or add a tablespoon of bacon fat.
- Place a few ice cubes or a pat of butter in the middle of the patty before baking.
- Sear the burger for two to three minutes before putting the burgers in the oven.
- Try using ground turkey instead. Just make sure it's cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
Creative and Easy Hamburger Recipes
Sure, you can stick with your basic homemade hamburger — it's a classic for a reason! But if you're looking to expand your hamburger repertoire, here are a few more ideas you may want to try.
- USDA: "Ground Beef and Food Safety"
- Burger Bar: Build Your Own Ultimate Burgers
- Food Network: "Perfect Burger Recipe by Bobby Flay"
- Consumer Reports: "Ground beef terms explained"
- startcooking.com; How to Buy and Store Hamburger Meat; Kathy Maister
- USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service: Ground Beef and Food Safety