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No matter if you are grilling beef burgers or meatless burgers (like portobello mushroom burgers), the toppings you choose are what can really level up the deliciousness. You can take an ordinary burger to extraordinary in just a few seconds. 

So, if your idea of burger toppings only consists of lettuce, tomato, onions, and the traditional condiments, it’s time to start thinking outside the box.

There are dozens of creative ideas for burger toppings that you can try today. From savory flavors to a mix of sweet and salty, there is plenty to choose from to have something for everyone’s tastes. Here are a few great options:


Tomato, Mozzarella, & Basil

The ingredients in the simple Italian salad known as a Caprese salad actually make for great burger toppings as well. This is especially true if you’re doing portobello burgers. Though it’s great with beef as well. For this combination of toppings make sure to use thick slices of beefsteak tomato and slices of fresh mozzarella for best results. Also, you can marinate the tomato in balsamic vinegar, oil, and salt, and pepper, or use a balsamic glaze directly over the toppings on the burger.


Pesto Mayo & Swiss Cheese

The Italian word for “to crush” is pesto, so use your favorite method to crush pine nuts, basil, garlic, olive oil, and Parmesan cheese. Then, mix with mayo and you’ve got a tangy condiment to spread before you top your burger with Swiss cheese, slices of avocado, and some red leaf lettuce for more vibrant color.


pesto mayo | ideas for burger toppings | burger toppings
Source: A Spicy Perspective


Grilled Pineapple, Teriyaki Sauce, & Bell Peppers

Grill some pineapple rings and red or green peppers. As those are browning, mix mayo with a bit of teriyaki sauce, and layer it all on a burger with thick slices of tomato and red onions. You just created a salty-sweet crunchiness that will wow your guests.


Salisbury Ribeye Steak-Style with Caramelized Onions

When prepping your burger meat, add some beef bouillon to the meat for a savory, umami-packed taste. Then, simply top your burgers with caramelized onions and a Worcestershire mayo for a Salisbury steak-style. This makes for an easy and delicious combo.


Sweet Onion Chili Sauce

Mix up your favorite burger mix, adding fresh herbs you prefer. Then saute some onions, red chili, and cinnamon to make a sauce. Top your burger with this sweet and spicy topping and your guests will be asking for your secret recipe!


Roasted Red Peppers & Feta Cheese

Roast some red peppers and get ready for a mouthful of delightful surprise! The surprise is the addition of tangy feta cheese. If you can get sheep’s milk feta, the texture is creamier. Top burgers with the red peppers and the feta and finish off with a garnish of parsley or arugula lettuce.


roasted peppers on burger | ideas for burger toppings | burger toppings
Source: Caitlin’s Cooking and More


Sriracha & Bacon Burger

Sriracha has made a huge splash on the culinary scene since the 1980s. It is a bright red hot sauce made from red chili peppers, garlic, vinegar, salt, and sugar. Rather than just heat, though, sriracha has a touch of sweetness, too. And it makes for a great addition to burgers. You can mix the sauce right into the burger meat before cooking and then add a piece of bacon on top of each burger, with a large dollop of sriracha before serving. Get ready for the rave reviews!


Mac and Cheese

Why not? Mac and Cheese makes everything better! Rather than eat it by itself the next time you cook burgers on the grill, try this. Make the burgers a bit smaller than normal, especially if you’re having lots of guests. Then, build your burger stack with lettuce, the burger, a thick slice of tomato, and a spoonful of mac and cheese. It’s creamy and filling, and no one will go home hungry.


Maple Syrup (or Peanut Butter) with Bacon

Sometimes you just have to leap into an idea like this when it comes to ideas for burger toppings! Maple syrup isn’t just for breakfast and you know everyone loves the thick, sweet texture. So, add a tablespoon or so to the top of each burger along with a strip of bacon, and enjoy! (How could you go wrong with this?) But if that’s too sweet, try peanut butter. The peanut butter will melt from the heat of the burger and satisfies that craving for creamy, salty thickness. You can add bacon to this also or just go with the peanut butter by itself.


peanut butter burger | ideas for burger toppings | burger toppings
Source: Parade


Hummus & Cucumber

If you or your guests want to maintain some nod to healthy eating, hummus is made from protein-packed chickpea and sesame tahini. You can make your own (it’s easy to make with a blender) and simply add a dollop of store-bought hummus to the top of your juicy burgers. You will feel like you’re in a cafe in the Mediterranean!


Southwestern Style 

There is no easier way to make your burgers gourmet than by adding some spice with seasonings like garlic, paprika, and chili powder. Add it to the meat; add it on top. Then top with your favorite salsa, some crispy tortilla chips, and pepper jack cheese. It’s a Southwestern feast, for sure.


Don’t Be Afraid to Think Outside the Box for Burger Toppings

There’s a whole other world of burger toppings ideas besides just the plain old lettuce, tomato, onion combo. Don’t be afraid to try things that may seem out of the ordinary. Combine several different flavor profiles. As you can see above, there are a lot of great combinations of toppings that will give you a totally different burger than you may have had before.

Do you have a favorite combination of burger toppings? Have you recently tried one of the combinations we mentioned above? If so, leave us a comment below. We want to hear from you!

If you want to step your backyard cooking game up and impress your friends and family, check out the BBQ Champs Academy Backyard BBQ Cooking Classes today! In these virtual classes, you can learn step-by-step straight from the pros how to cook a variety of grilling favorites.

And if you are ready to try your hand at in-depth competition smoking and grilling techniques for a variety of BBQ favorites, grab your All-Access pass now! In these first-of-their-kind virtual classes, you’ll join some of the top competition Pitmasters and Grillmasters and learn how to cook competition-caliber meat step-by-step.

Make sure to also Subscribe to the BBQ Champs Academy YouTube channel to stay on top of all the latest insider info and BBQ news!

When it comes to your backyard cooking, there’s one thing that will always go well with summertime, the upcoming Labor Day holiday, and the return of football -- hamburgers! This easy grilled meal option has been a fan favorite for a long time and, when cooked properly, will have people coming back for more.

If you are wondering how to grill a perfect burger, we’ve got you covered. The last thing you want to do is end up feeding charred hockey pucks to your family and friends. So, we went to our champion Grillmasters and got the inside scoop. 

To ensure you cook juicy and flavorful hamburgers, just follow these pro tips below:


#1 - Start With the Right Beef

To answer the question of how to grill hamburgers like the pros, you have to start from the base. The cut and quality of meat you are starting with will always have a huge impact on the flavor and texture of your final result. 

So, when you are going to be grilling hamburgers, it’s important to go with ground chuck, which is cut from the shoulder, versus ground round, which is taken from the rump. Chuck will range between 15 and 20 percent fat, making your burgers more juicy and tender. Also, make sure you are getting at least USDA Choice (Prime is even better) and avoid Select.

Your local butcher is the best place to get fresh ground chuck.


#2 - Be Careful Not to Over-Season

You do not want to salt the burgers before you form them into patties. This will dissolve muscle proteins and dry out the meat too much. The best thing is to liberally season the patties with a simple mix of salt and pepper just before going on the grill. You don’t want to go crazy with a bunch of additional seasonings and overpower the delicious taste of the beef itself.


#3 - Don’t Mix the Meat Too Much

This is one often overlooked tip for how to grill a perfect burger and is crucial to ensuring you end up with a good final result. The fat and collagen are what helps keep the meat juicy and tender. So, if you overwork the meat by mixing it too much, you’ll break down the muscle fibers and collagen too much. This will highly increase the chances of your burgers drying out and being way tougher in texture than you were aiming for.

The less you handle the meat the better. So, mix it just enough to evenly work any seasonings in (onion, etc.) and form the patties.


how to grill a perfect burger | how to grill hamburgers | tips for grilling hamburgers
Source: CopyKat - Stephanie Manly


#4 - Aim For the Ideal Thickness

You want to make sure you are forming the patties the right size. Ideally, the thickness of the raw patty is 1 inch. If you go thicker, then the exterior can start to burn and ruin the flavor before the center is done cooking. Go thinner and you greatly increase the risk of the burgers quickly overcooking and drying out. Staying right at 1 inch will give you the delicious caramelized exterior crust and a juicy interior.


#5 - Keep Them Level

While grilling, burgers can start to puff up in the middle and become rounded at the top, making it awkward when it comes time to put toppings on. A good tip to avoid this is to make a slight indentation in the top of each patty with your thumb or the back of a spoon before they go on the grill. Then, if the center pushes up while cooking, the top of each burger will still be level and you’ll keep it from breaking.


#6 - Start With Cold Ground Beef

Some cuts of meat cook better when you let them sit at room temperature for a little bit first. But burgers are NOT one of those things. The best burgers will be put on the grill straight out of the fridge. This will allow a nice caramelized crust to develop on the exterior while cooking the interior to the desired Medium temperature.


#7 - Cook on a Clean Grill

Even if it’s been a while since you cooked on the grill, don’t make a rookie mistake of cooking burgers on a grill that’s not clean. Cooking on a dirty grill can cause uneven cooking since it can impede heat transfer, taint the flavor of your burgers, and even cause flare-ups that end up over-charring the meat. So, make sure your grill is properly cleaned first.

(Check out our article on natural homemade grill cleaner!)


clean your grill for hamburgers | how to grill a perfect burger | how to grill hamburgers
Source: Clarke Clean


#8 - Use a Two-Zone Cooking Method

By setting up your grill in a two-zone setup, with a direct heat side and an indirect heat side, you’ll have the flexibility and ideal heat control to properly grill hamburgers. You can start your burgers on the direct heat side near the fuel source and get a nice crust on the outside. Then, you can move them to the indirect heat side when they start to develop too much color too quickly and can safely finish cooking away from the direct heat.

A two-zone grill setup will also give you room to move burgers away from the direct heat if a flare-up does occur.


#9 - Keep the Grill at the Right Temperature

To grill a perfect burger, you want to keep the grill’s temperature at medium-low to medium heat, which is usually between 275 and 300 degrees Fahrenheit. If you go much higher than that, you risk the exterior of your burgers burning before the inside has reached the desired temperature. 


#10 - Don’t Keep Flipping

Be careful not to go crazy with the flipping. You want the burgers to cook evenly and to the proper doneness (160 degrees Fahrenheit according to the USDA). So, the perfect burger will only be flipped once and only when it’s actually ready. Close that grill lid and let them cook. 

Burgers are ready to flip when you can easily slide the edge of a spatula underneath them and lift the edge gently. If the meat is still sticking to the grate, let them cook a little longer and then try again.

Also, make sure not to use the spatula to flatten the burger. This will squeeze all the juices out and dry out your burgers.


how to grill a perfect burger | how to grill hamburgers | tips for grilling hamburgers
Source: Robb Report


#11 - Serve the Burgers Right Away

Unlike steaks or some other meats that are smoked low and slow, you don’t want to let burgers sit for long after they come off the grill. Because the meat is ground and not intact muscle, if they sit too long, all the juice will run out and leave you with an overly dry burger. So, serve them up as soon as they are done cooking.


#12 - Cook to Temperature

If you are wondering how long to grill hamburgers for, the important thing to know is that you should be cooking to temperature and not by time. Get out your meat thermometer and insert it into the burger horizontally (you should definitely have a thermometer if you are going to be doing any serious backyard cooking!). 

Remember, you want to cook ground beef until it reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit. This will give you delicious, juicy burgers without being overcooked.


You Can Master Grilling Pro-Caliber Hamburgers

By following these tips for grilling hamburgers that we covered above, you can be confident in knowing how to grill a perfect burger every time. Give yourself plenty of time for proper preparation, make sure you have everything you need outside, and enjoy the process. Don’t be afraid to get creative with toppings too! 

Have you discovered another tip for how to grill hamburgers that we didn’t cover above? Plan on grilling hamburgers soon? Leave a comment below. We want to hear all about it!


To level up your backyard cooking game and become the king or queen of your street, check out our Championship Backyard Cooking Classes here at BBQ Champs Academy today! You’ll learn straight from the barbecue pros step-by-step how to cook a variety of grilling favorites.

If you are ready to dive into competition smoking and grilling techniques, in-depth insider BBQ tips, and more, get your All-Access pass now! Join our Champion Grillmasters and Pitmasters in their one-of-kind online BBQ classes and master smoking and grilling a variety of different meats.

Make sure to also subscribe to the BBQ Champs Academy YouTube channel and stay up to date on all the latest insider info and news straight from the BBQ pros!

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