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Learning how long it takes to cook hamburgers on the grill for many is a process of trial and error. We recently realized that when we posted our homemade hamburger recipes we neglected to include the important tips for grilling the perfect hamburger. So, this post will help you learn cooking times, how hot the grill should be for grilling hamburgers, and how to know when hamburgers are done on the grill.
To begin, you naturally need to have your grill fired up and ready to go. If you are gas grilling or if you are charcoal grill you will want to make sure that you have taken the necessary measures to prepare and light the grill safely.
Hamburgers can be cooked on medium to medium high heat if you are able to control the temperature of your grill with a thermostat. If you are using charcoal, you’ll want to use about 2 pounds of briquettes and allow them to burn for about 15 minutes or until the charcoal is mostly ashed over and there are no more visible flames, though the coals should be glowing red. You will want to make sure that the grilling surface and grate are clean and some people prefer to lightly spray the cooking surface with cooking oil BEFORE lighting the grill to prevent it from sticking. However, with our foolproof method below, you won’t need to worry about it nearly as much!
The first key to grilling hamburgers is to make sure that you have made the patties not too thick and to poke a small hole in the middle of them. A general rule of thumb is that the patties not be anymore than 1/2 inch thick – the thicker they are the longer they will take to grill and the higher your risk of having a burnt outside edge will be. Poking a small hole in the middle of the patty with your finger to give the burgers a doughnut shape will ensure that they cook in the middle all the way through – and don’t worry, that hole will disappear before you’re done grilling them!
Here is an example below of what your patties will look like:
You’ll notice that the hamburger patties are on a metal tray. This metal tray is the second secret to great grilling success. If you use an aluminum pie plate or other shallow baking pan like this, it will dramatically reduce flames and flare-ups from the grease dripping down onto the hot coals. You can find these available at most grocery stores and retailers for a low cost and can wash and reuse them as long as they are not rusted or unsafe for cooking on.
Arrange the burgers on the aluminum tray so that none of them are overlapping one another (the picture above is from before we grilled them – about half of them were removed and frozen so we could cook them up for another time!) You’ll then want to place this tray on the grate of the grill and close the lid, especially if it is colder or windy out. (In hot temperature days it won’t matter quite as much, though it will reduce the cooking time and help the burgers cook throughout.)
Let the burgers cook like that for about 4-6 minutes, or until the bottom edges are browning and you notice that the holes in the center are starting to close up. Then you’ll want to flip them and then cook again for another 4-6 minutes with the grill lid closed.
Now, you’re probably thinking to yourself, wait a minute! I want them to have those cute little grill marks! I want them to have that flavor from the charcoal! Well, to do that, all you need to do is wait until they are about 90% done and then remove them from the aluminum tray and place them straight on the grill for about a minute each side. Since they are mostly cooked all of the way, you won’t have to worry about them crumbling or falling apart and can go ahead and press down on them to get those grill marks.
If you like melted cheese on your burgers, after you’ve flipped them on the grate you can either continue letting them stay there and place the cheese on them and allow it to melt for another minute or so, or you can place the cooked patties back on the aluminum tray and let them cook that way while you wait for the cheese to melt. (Really depends on how high the temperature of the grill is and if you are worried about family and friends you are cooking for who won’t eat a slightly charred hamburger!)
Remove the hamburgers from the grill and then enjoy with all of your favorite toppings and condiments! A hamburger should be grilled to 165 degrees if you are using a meat thermometer to judge if they are done or not.
If you have any questions on how long to cook hamburgers on the grill or different techniques you recommend, we’d love to hear about them in the comments below.