The Classic Cheeseburger You Will Crave on Labor Day

The heat is definitely on when it’s Labor Day and you’re throwing the party. But you can handle those hungry guests — no problem with this juicy and classic cheeseburger, done in five quick steps! Pass the spatula — you’ve got this.

What you’ll need for 4 burgers:

  • 1.5 pounds ground chuck beef (contains 20% fat)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Corn, canola, grapeseed or vegetable oil
  • 4 burger buns
  • Any toppings you like (such as lettuce, tomato, onion, mayo and ketchup)
  • 4 slices Monterey Jack or white American cheese

how to make the perfect burger

Step 1: Add the ground beef to a bowl and season with as much salt and pepper as you like.

how to make the perfect burger

 

how to make the perfect burger

Step 2: Using a knife, section the beef into 4 equal portions. Then take each quarter of meat and using your hand and the counter (or another hard surface like a cutting board), shape the beef into patties until the meat holds together. (Be careful not to overwork the meat beyond that, or you’ll be chewing gummy burgers.) Next, using your thumb, make an indentation in the center of the patty to prevent the middle of burger from swelling, so the patties can cook evenly.

Transfer the patties to a plate, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until you are ready to grill and serve them. (Tip: Chilling your patties is key to getting that perfect sear, since you’re putting cold meat on a super hot grill.)

how to make the perfect burger

Step 3: Fire up your grill (if cooking outdoors instead of indoors on your stove) and prep your toppings: slice the tomatoes and onions, and tear out four small pieces of lettuce.

how to make the perfect burger

how to make the perfect burger

Step 4 (when using a grill): Clean and oil your grill (see below for how-to advice). Grill the chilled patties until golden brown and slightly charred, about 3 to 5 minutes (3 minutes for medium doneness and 5 minutes for medium well). Don’t press down on the burger, or its delicious juice will run out.

Flip the patties (only flip once to not risk losing that juice!), and after about 2 minutes, add a slice of cheese to the top of each burger. Add the buns to the grill. Cover the hood to melt the cheese, and cook for an additional 1 to 2 minutes.

how to make the perfect burger

Step 4 (when using a stove): If you’ve got a cast iron pan, use it! (It holds heat to sear better.) Got a cast iron grill pan (pictured above)? Even better for grill marks. If you don’t have either, no worries, just use a stainless steel pan.

Heat about 1 tablespoon of oil (canola, corn, grapeseed or vegetable) in the pan over high heat. Cook the patties until golden brown and slightly charred for about 3 to 5 minutes (3 minutes for medium doneness and 5 minutes for medium well). Flip the burgers and after about 2 minutes, add a slice of cheese to the top of each burger. To melt the cheese, loosely cover the burgers while in the pan with foil (this is called tenting) for 1 to 2 minutes. If there’s room in the grill pan, you can add the buns to toast. If not, just pop them in the toaster.

how to make the perfect burger

Step 5: Serve the cheeseburgers in the toasted buns with your fave toppings!

How to clean and oil your grill:

  1. Turn the grill on high, close the lid and wait about 15 minutes. Uncover and scrape the residue off of the grate with a grill brush until the bars are smooth.
  2. Cover for about another five minute to let the residue burn off.
  3. Lightly oil a clean rag with canola, corn, grapeseed or vegetable oil, drape the oiled rag over the brush, and run the rag over the grate a few times until it glistens.

All photography by Karen Biton-Cohen

More from The Nest:

Instant Expert: Get a Grip on the Paring Knife

The 101: Seriously Good Sangria Made Simple

Instant Expert: Sriracha, Huh?