Every summer millions of men will serve dry, tasteless beef patties cooked over fiery infernos more reminiscent of hell than any professional culinary tool. Many of these men don’t mean to do harm, but simply don’t know how to do any better. With these simple tips you can take yourself out of this number and become one of the few, the proud, the men who can actually grill a hamburger.

First things first, before you dirty your hands with sauces, eggs, meat, and god forbid vegetables, you need to have a clean grill. While gas is easier, charcoal will always leave a better flavor in the meat. No matter what fuel you’re using be sure to let your grill pre-heat. This is a crucial step in eliminating hot spots in a charcoal grill, and in providing those perfect grill marks every backyard burger should have.

Plain and simple, beef makes the best hamburgers. Ground turkey is a naturally leaner meat. But that fat is also much of your moisture that will be left in the burger, and then ooze onto the bun, and then inevitably be licked off of your fingers. Grilling hamburgers shouldn’t be an everyday event so splurge on something with a 80/20 ratio of meat to fat. If you’re really going all out find a nice chuck roast and have your butcher custom grind it. While mixing the meat add a little Worcesterchire sauce, onion and or garlic powder, and if the meat is too loose an egg to bind it up. Make sure the meat is well mixed but don’t beat the hell out of it. This is also important to remember when you are forming your patties. You want consistent patties with but you don’t want to squeeze them too tight and ruin the texture of the meat. A pro tip is to indent your patties in the middle with your thumb. This will stop them from becoming UFO shaped on the grill.

One of the biggest problems most men run into when cooking burgers is simply not paying attention and over cooking them.  Just because your guests don’t want to eat raw ground beef doesn’t mean they would rather eat a charred disc that could have been a delicious meal. Avoid this by not letting your grill get too hot and by NOT OVER FLIPPING YOUR BURGERS. We’ve all seen it on TV, some young stud grilling burgers flipping them in the air and pressing down on them to get flame ups. This guy is serving burgers you shouldn’t feed to your dog. Your burger should be flipped once, that’s all that’s enough. Maybe hit them with some seasonings salt on each side (once on the raw side once you’ve added the burger and once after flipping) but that’s it. Leave it alone. All that liquid coming out and causing flame ups should be oozing into the bun and the cheese.

So if you haven’t messed with it then you should have an amazing burger at this point. This burger is like a car with a formula 1 engine and a strong chassis. But the toppings are what take it from a utility machine to a super exotic luxury. Obviously cheese is a factor. The traditional is American because of its excellent melting powers, but cheddar can also top a great burger. Lettuce, pickle, onion, mayo, etc are all acceptable, and bacon is always welcome to the party. Remember that the goal of any great burger should be to enhance the flavor of the meat, so don’t go crazy with mango relishes or habanero ketchup. They aren’t necessary because you have just made a great backyard hamburger.

-Winston Carter