How To Customize Char Levels When Grilling Burgers For A Crowd

Acting as grillmaster at the company picnic or family barbecue is hard work, but it's a great way to show off your culinary prowess. You may already know how to choose the best ground beef, how to cook each burger to the correct level of doneness, and how to do some cool patty flips, but if you really want to impress a crowd, you should also learn how to customize the char level of each individual burger. The technique is fairly simple; it just takes a bit of planning.

Just as some people like their burgers well done while others prefer them rare, there are those who like the smoky, crispy effect that comes with charring and those that would rather avoid it. To make sure everyone is satisfied, follow the advice Joe Guerra, owner of gourmet seafood store Citarella, shared with Real Simple. "If you like your burgers with more of a char, cook them towards the center of the grill while the flame is high. For less char, you can wait until the flame dies down, or use the outside of the grill."

More flame will lead to more char

The technique of controlling char levels by placing your burgers closer to or further from the grill's flame works because at the end of the day, charring is basically just barely burning your food to create smoky flavors through caramelization. It stands to reason that the nearer a burger is to the fire, the more the flame will bless the patty with bits of charred goodness.

Since you'll be cooking and charring the burgers simultaneously, keep an eye on everything to make sure nothing burns to the point that it becomes inedible. If a patty looks like it's getting too much of a char but it's not done cooking, simply move it away from the center of the grill, or lower the heat overall. Also make sure you avoid some of the most common burger cooking mistakes, like making your patties too thick or too thin.

Presenting patties to guests with their preferred level of char will make you the hero of your next cookout. All it takes is a good grill, some time management, and a keen eye for when a burger has reached charred perfection.