It is always tempting to bite into a piping-hot and juicy burger, whether it is summer or winter. However, the best cooks often falter when cooking burgers all the way through without scorching and drying out the meat.
To cook burgers all the way through, you must start cooking them on medium-high or high heat and then lower the heat to medium after you have cooked both sides for a few minutes. You must cook each side of the burger for 2-5 minutes or more if the meat is frozen or the patty is thick.
Knowing how to cook burgers all the way through ensures that you have a sumptuous treat that is also safe to eat. The trick to cooking a burger evenly without burning it is to keep an eye on the clock hands, watch how the patty changes colors over the heat, and check the temperature inside the meat patty. I will explain how to cook a burger on the grill and the pan, check its temperature without a thermometer and fix an undercooked burger.
How To Fully Cook a Burger on the Inside
The perfect burger is fully cooked on the inside and not burned on the outside. The trick is to make the heat spread quickly and evenly through the patty so that the outside does not get burned.
Below are the steps of thoroughly cooking a burger on the inside:
- Make a slight indentation at the center of the patty. This prevents the patty from puffing up and spreads the heat evenly during the heating process. If you plan to cook the burger on a skillet, make a donut hole at the center to help the heat spread evenly.
- Begin cooking at medium-high or high heat. Cooking at medium-high or high heat makes the outside crispy and locks in the juices.
- Cook the patty on each side. Depending on its thickness, cook the patty on each side for 2-5 minutes or till the outside takes a deep brown color.
- Lower the heat to medium. Lowering the heat ensures the inside continues to cook without burning it.
- Turn the patty back to the first side and cook for about five minutes.
- Turn the burger to the second side and cook for 3-5 minutes.
- Feel the center and check the temperature. Insert the thermometer only when the center feels firm. A burger is fully cooked on the inside if the temperature reaches 160°F (71°C).
How Long Should It Take To Cook a Burger All the Way Through?
It should take about 8-12 minutes to cook a burger all the way through. The time depends on the thickness of the patty, the degree of doneness you desire, and the type of meat you use. Frozen meat takes longer to cook.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a burger that is pink on the inside can be well-cooked and safe to eat. You should always check the temperature on the inside of the burger and ensure that it is 160°F (71°C) throughout before removing it from the heat.
How Do You Cook Thick Burgers All the Way Through?
To cook thick burgers all the way through, you should grill each side of the patty for at least three minutes. You should cook the burgers slowly on medium-high heat to prevent the outside from getting charred while ensuring the inside is cooked thoroughly.
Cook Times for Burgers With Different Thicknesses
The cooking time for the perfect burger depends on the thickness of the patty, the desired doneness, and the kind of meat you use. For instance, thicker patties take longer to cook. Beef burgers take longer to cook than leaner meats.
Cooking times also vary depending on whether the meat is fresh or frozen. This table of grill times of fresh beef burgers can show you how long to grill your burgers with different thicknesses.
But, if you want to quickly learn how long to cook a burger, here’s how to do it:
- Starting at ½” (1.3 cm) thick, cook your burgers for at least 4 minutes for a rare burger, and add one minute (up to 8 minutes) for each level of doneness you want.
- For ¾” (2 cm) burgers, start at 6 minutes for a rare burger and work your way up to 10 minutes for a well-done burger.
- If your burgers are 1” (2.5 cm thick), start at 8 minutes for a rare burger and work your way up to 12 minutes for a well-done burger.
Below are some additional pointers for cooking burgers:
- Always check the burger a few minutes earlier than what the table in the link above suggests to ensure it does not burn.
- Add a few minutes more to the above cooking times when the meat is frozen.
- Leaner meats like chicken, turkey, and bison need less time to cook.
- Check the temperature of the burger before you remove it from the grill.
- To keep your burgers moist, mix lean meat with fatty meat in a 50-50 ratio. The fat keeps the burger juicy while the lean keeps it “chewy.”
- Never turn your burgers more than once to keep them from getting dry and overcooked. Cook until they browned halfway up the burger, then turn and cover.
How To Grill Burgers All the Way Through
You can use a gas grill or charcoal grill for cooking burgers. Here’s how to grill burgers all the way through:
- While preparing your patties, make a deep depression at the center.
- Sprinkle salt and pepper on the outside of the patty.
- Heat a gas grill to high or heat charcoals till they glow bright orange and start to ash over.
- Brush the patty with oil.
- Brush the grill with oil.
- Grill the patty for 3-5 minutes or till it turns golden brown and slightly charred on one side.
- Flip the patty.
- Grill it for 4-5 minutes or till it turns golden brown and lightly charred on the second side.
- Ensure that the temperature inside the patty is 160°F (71°C) throughout before removing it from the heat.
Here’s a video by YouTube user Art of Manliness where a chef demonstrates how to grill a burger:
How To Pan Cook Burgers All the Way Through
You can cook burgers on the stove-top in a frying pan or a cast-iron skillet. Knowing how to cook burgers indoors lets you enjoy your favorite food whenever you want to.
Below are the steps of pan-cooking a fresh burger all the way through:
- Season the burger on both sides with salt and pepper.
- Heat the pan or the skillet.
- Melt 1 tbsp (14.3 grams) of butter or drizzle oil over medium heat.
- Place the patty in the pan and cook for 3-5 minutes till it turns golden brown and lightly charred.
- Flip the patty.
- Cook the patty for another 3-5 minutes till it turns golden brown or the juices run clear.
- Check the temperature on the inside and make sure it is 160°F (71°C) throughout before removing the patty from the heat.
You should cook the burger for 5-6 minutes on each side if you use frozen meat. Here’s a video on YouTube by a cooking guide on how to cook a juicy burger on the stove-top:
How To Fix Undercooked Burgers
Undercooked burgers can contain harmful pathogens like Salmonella and E. coli, which can cause life-threatening complications like severe diarrhea and affect the blood and kidneys in vulnerable populations like the elderly and young children.
It is easier to fix undercooked burgers than overcooked ones. But you need to be careful that you don’t dry or scorch the meat.
Here’s how you can fix an undercooked burger:
- Place the meat patty in an oiled roasting pan or oven.
- Drizzle the patty with some stock, water, or sauce.
- Cover it with aluminum foil.
- Bake it at 400°F (204°C) until it is cooked.
Here’s what you need to remember. Poultry is fully cooked when its internal temperature is 165°F (74°C), while pork is thoroughly cooked when the internal temperature is 135°F (57°C).
If you have a food thermometer, you can check with it to ensure the burger is fully cooked.
How To Tell When a Burger Is Done Without Thermometer
A thermometer is the best way to tell if your burger is done. But what if there isn’t a thermometer on hand when cooking? Or maybe you don’t want to poke the probe into the burger and release all its juices.
Here’s a touch test to check if a burger is done. Touch the patty, and:
- It’s raw if it feels like the fleshy pad of your palm below the thumb.
- The meat is rare if it feels like the fleshy part of your index finger when you touch it with your thumb.
- The meat is medium-rare if it feels like the fleshy part of the middle finger when you touch it with your thumb.
- The meat is medium if it feels like the fleshy part of your ring finger when you touch it with your thumb.
- The burger is well done if it feels like the fleshy part of your pinky finger when you touch it with your thumb.
Some chefs use a cake tester to determine if a burger is done. Here’s how you can perform this test:
- Insert the tester through the middle of the patty at an angle.
- Wait for a second.
- Touch the tester with your wrist.
- If the tester is cold, the burger is raw.
- The burger is medium-rare if the tester is warm and close to your body temperature.
- If the tester feels hot, the burger is well done.
It takes about 12-15 minutes to cook a burger all the way through without burning it. However, the time varies depending on the thickness of the patty, the degree of doneness you desire, the type of meat you are using, and whether the meat is fresh or frozen. Use your discretion.
Whether you grill a burger or cook it on the stove-top, always check the temperature before removing it from the heat. You can use a thermometer or gauge it from how the patty feels to the touch.