The Basic Burger

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Ok, so you want to make yourself a decent burger. Then this is what you need:

Meat. That’s about it. Minced beef is the main ingredient of a proper burger. Do not let people tell you that a burger needs egg in it to bind it, or flour in it to make it flowery.

If you want egg, fry an egg and put it on top of the burger, preferably with some bacon and cheese. And lots of burger sauce (recipe to follow).

So, meat is not enough, although you are 99% of the way there. This is what you do:

Take the minced meat and place in a bowl. Allow anywhere between 125 grams and a kilo for a burger (125 grams is approximately to 1/4 of a pound). Sprinkle a generous pinch of salt and ground black pepper. Add some other exotic spices, such as cumin, coriander, curry powder is good too, chilly powder if you like it hot, whatever you have in the cupboard really.

Now, I like to add a splash of Lea and Perrin’s Worcestershire Sauce, and a good helping of English beer (real ale). Pour the beer over, and watch all those spices fizz on the meat for a bit. Feel free to put your feet up, make a cup of tea, pour another beer. No need to rush into the the burger moulding phase.

Right, now mould the burger. The best way is to use your hands. It is messy, but much more rewarding. Take the meat and mould into a ball first and squeeze, this will cause some of the beer to be forced out, but it helps to bind the burger without the need for eggs, flour, wood glue or whatever else you may have been told to use in the past.

Now, cook it. I used to grill them under a grill, then I moved to frying them, as this kept them intact better, and now I have a cast iron griddle to cook them on. I still cook in vegetable oil, but I guess lard or some other animal fat would be pretty good. Try it, and if it is better, tell me, and I’ll sneak some into the house.

Okay, once cooked, all you need is a decent wholemeal bun (or white seseme seed if you are not being healthy like me) and some salad. Oh, I almost forgot, cheese. If you want cheese on it, there are several methods depending on how you are cooking it. If under a grill, just chuck the cheese on top at the end.

If in a frying pan or griddle, put the cheese on after turning. If you have a lid, then you can put the cheese on later and put the lid on to speed up the cheese melting process.

Finish the burger off with some burger sauce.

Serve with cold beer.

I link a photo of the most recent one I made. The best I have really.

This was originally published on Jul 23, 2006


  • That’s one fine looking burger, it’s making me hungry. I’m shocked that you had the self-discipline to photograph the burger before eating it. A picture of an empty plate with a few crumbs is what I was expecting to see.

  • Mmm. Burgers.Might I suggest that it should be served with spiral froes as well as beer?

  • I mean, of course, sporal fries, not sprial froes. Silly me.

  • Thankyou!! I am planning burgers tomorrow for the first time in a long while and now have some inspiration.

  • What flavour fairly cold powder? Chilli, Cayenne?

  • To the person that asked “What flavour fairly cold powder?” in 2009, sorry I did not reply. Just in case you are still waiting for a response, um, come again? Both chilli / cayenne is good though. I generally use “mixed spices” such as curry powders (but not ones with too much turmeric) to flavour my burgers. Just a hint, do not want to over do it.

  • Whilst i have only just found this blog – i am very pleased that someone else agrees that to make burgers – you really only need mince3 – toom nay people make there burgers dry and not nice by adding eggs and alsorts of ingredients. The only comment i would add is that a burger press makes light work of the shaping and forming of the homemade burger – but that of course is not essential.

  • Hi Scott, those presses look handy. A friend brought one to a burger cook off once, his burgers were bigger than mine. But, I do like to mould them with my hands. That’s real cooking.

    If you want to send me some to review then just say so.

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