Top 7 Hamburger Grilling Mistakes

By Global Master Chef Karl Guggenmos

A hamburger served in a bun with all the fixings is a universal food. You can find one in almost any part of the world. They also cut across socio-economic lines: billions of dollars have been and are being made everywhere on this juicy, shredded ground patty of beef –  from simple fast food places to fine dining establishments.

Where did it all start?

Shredded beef was first recorded by historians to be eaten by the Tartars of Russia, a group of tribal horseman, who placed the beef strips under their saddle and ate it mostly raw out in the “Steppe”.  We know this today as Steak Tartar. Later on it was cooked.

The idea of the hamburger was brought to the seaport city of Hamburg in Germany by sailors, in the 19th century. It’s also believed, that in its original form, no bread was used, only the beef, chopped onions and seasoning.

The Big Debate

Now you may ask, how did the hamburger make it to the United States? Some claim by a German butcher during a World’s fair.  Maybe true, maybe not.

The hamburger, as we know it today, bun and all, was likely first served by a Danish immigrant named Louis Lassen in New Haven, Connecticut.

There are those that claim, however, that the hamburger sandwich concept was introduced by the founder of the White Castle restaurant in a small town in Texas. The truth: we may never know for sure. What I do know for sure is that growing up in Germany we enjoyed “Fleishpflanzerl” — translation, meat patty. It is made from ground beef, pork and veal and sometimes even chicken or turkey, enhanced with breadcrumbs or stale bread soaked in milk, eggs, onions seasonings and herbs. Fleishpflanzerl is served on a hard roll with mustard, potato salad and maybe even a cold beer. The best ones can be found at most butcher shops in any German city.

In fact, hamburgers on the grill will be a main dish on most Labor Day BBQ menus next week. While you are planning and preparing for the big day, there are a few cautions to consider when it comes to grilling burgers.

Here are 7 Grilling Mistakes to Avoid:

  1. Don’t make your hamburgers too thin, or they will cook too fast and get dry.
  2. When cooking on a skillet, don’t ever cover the skillet. This will create steam inside the skillet and you will have a “boiled” burger not a grilled one.
  3. Don’t EVER press down on the burger with your spatula when cooking it. You will press the juiciness right out and you have a dry, leathery burger.
  4. Don’t turn the burger over and over, allow for even cooking.
  5. Don’t place the burger on a cold skillet or on a cold grill.
  6. Don’t over season the burger meat and be especially careful with salt, as it draws out the moisture from the meat.
  7. Don’t season your meat too early for the same reason. No more than 1 hour before cooking.


And remember, if you can, it is always best to choose grass-fed meat.


Wishing you and yours a wonderful Labor Day weekend!


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