For Perfect Burgers, Match The Patty Size To Your Cooking Method

Juicy burgers are delicious no matter how they're served, especially when sitting in the sun at a cookout or picnic this summer. You might like a thin patty on a lettuce wrap or a thick cheeseburger on a potato bun. No matter what your go-to recipe is, the trick to making the perfect burger starts with the patty size.

That's right, the destiny of your burger is decided as soon as you form the patty — depending on your cooking method. You might think you have your burger recipe down to a science, but it's essential to vary the patty sizes depending on whether you're firing the grill or heating a pan on your stovetop.

Alvin Cailan, chef of The Usual in New York City, said in an interview with HuffPost that when it comes to grilling a burger, they prefer "a 6-8 ounce patty, so the exterior is nice and seared and the interior is perfectly pink and juicy." For pan-seared burgers, Cailan states that a 7-ounce patty is best because "it holds well to the high heat and is hard to overcook because of its thickness."

The best size for grilling

If you're firing up the grill for your burgers, the best option is to make thicker patties. That's because you want your burgers to be thick enough to get that delicious grilled taste on the outside without drying out on the inside. Typically, a 6-ounce burger with a 3/4-inch thickness is an ideal patty size for grilling for the perfect sear.

You should make your patties the same size so you know how long to keep the burgers on the grill, depending on your preferred temperature. Weighing out the meat when forming your patties is the best way to get this done, but you can eyeball it if you don't have a food scale. For a medium burger, you should leave it on the grill for seven to eight minutes, and flip it half way through its cooking time. If a well-done burger is your thing, leave it on the grill for a total of 10 minutes.

Even if you prefer a well-done burger, you still want thicker patties so they stay as juicy as possible during the grilling process. Thinner patties might grill faster, but there is also the risk you'll be left with a dry burger. 

The best size for the stovetop

Are you avoiding the sun and cooking your burgers in a pan? If so, your best option is to form patties that are around 7 to 8 ounces each. When creating your patties, be sure they are no more than about 1 inch thick to ensure your burgers will cook properly while staying juicy in the pan.

When you form your patties for the stovetop, gently press your thumb in the center to make an indent. This will help the burger retain its shape during cooking because beef leaks juices and shrinks in size. It's worth noting this trick also works when grilling but can help out much more when cooking in a pan since the burgers will be marinating in the juices as they cook in a pan. For a pan-seared burger, you should have a nicely cooked medium meal in about seven to eight minutes as well.