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Simple Instructions to Master the Skill of Broiling Hamburgers

Instructions for Broiling Hamburgers
Hamburger broiling is a great option for those who do not own grills. Moreover, it's the best way to enjoy the flavor of yummy barbecued hamburgers in the cold winter months, when outdoor barbecues are not possible!
Priya Johnson
Last Updated: Apr 16, 2018
Why Broil
Broiling and grilling are similar cooking techniques, with the only difference being the direction of heat source. In grilling, heat that cooks the meat is applied from below, whereas in broiling, the heat is applied from above the food. Now, the question arises, why broil?
  • Broiling is a faster way of cooking meat.
  • It preserves the natural juices in the meat.
  • It's a healthier way of cooking.
  • You can eat lovely burgers even if you don't own a grill.
  • It's great when you can't grill outdoors during the cold winters.
Broiling Hamburgers in an Oven
Preparing the Hamburger Patty
Before preparing the oven, prepare your hamburger patties.
  • For perfect hamburgers, don't use frozen hamburger meat, because the moisture present in it causes the patty to fall apart. Instead use fresh, coarsely-ground beef, containing at least 20 to 25% fat. Season with salt and pepper if you want the seasoning to blend uniformly. Some prefer to season the patties just before broiling. Do what suits your liking.
  • Don't handle the meat too much. Too much handling causes the hamburgers to become dense. This is because the warmth of your hands melts the fat in the meat, thereby, making the patty too dense. Work with the meat as gently as possible and shape it into a half to one-inch burger patty. While shaping the patty make sure the patty is slightly bigger than the bun, because it shrinks after broiling.
  • Gently make an indentation (depression) in the center of the patty, to prevent the sides from shrinking. Moreover, this prevents the patty from having a rounded top, thereby allowing you to stack the onion, tomato and lettuce onto it.
  • Place them gently on a plate and use cling film to cover the plate. Refrigerate for 15 minutes, so that the meat sets. However, if you still want to go ahead with frozen meat, thaw it. Many use eggs or bread crumbs then to bind thawed meat.
Preparing the Broiler Pan
  • A broiler pan typically contains a deep bottom-tray and a top-grated pan. The bottom tray is meant to collect all the dripping fat, while the top grated pan is meant to place the meat and the slits in it allow the grease to drip down.
  • For easy cleaning-up, line the bottom of the broiler pan with aluminum foil. The grease released falls into the foil and can be discarded easily. Also line the top with aluminum foil and then make some slits with a knife, for the grease to seep through. 
  • If you don't have a broiler pan, just take a regular baking tray and line it with aluminum foil. Then place an oven grate on top of it and place your hamburgers on the grate. You can also line the grate with foil to reduce cleaning up (however, make sure you make slits in the foil). 
  • Spray some cooking spray onto the foiled broiler pan. Place the hamburgers on the pan, with some space between them. You don't want them to stick to each other while broiling.
Adjusting the Height of the Oven Rack
  • In the broiling technique, you need to control the cooking process in two different ways. One is controlling the cooking time. The other is the adjusting the distance of the oven rack from the heating element. The broiler pan should be placed at such a distance, wherein the hamburger doesn't get charred from the outside and at the same time cooks well from the inside.
  • Broiling involves application of heat from above the food, thus, one has to adjust the distance between the heating coil and the meat being cooked. For this, place the broiler pan on the oven rack and check the distance between the meat and the heating coil. The distance should be about 4 to 5 inches. Any closer will cause the outer portion of the hamburger to char, with raw insides. 
  • If the top rack is too close, shift your broiler pan to the second rack. For rare hamburgers you can place the patty on the first shelf, however if you want them cooked all the way through, place them on the second shelf. It's always safer to keep the broiler pan on the second shelf, because it prevents the meat from charring before the inside cooks. Once your position is clear, take out the broiler pan and preheat the oven.
Preheating the Oven
  • Set the oven to the broil setting and allow it to preheat for 6 to 8 minutes, at the highest temperature. There is no need to preheat the broiler pan.
  • While the oven preheats, you can season your hamburgers with some salt and pepper, if you haven't already seasoned the meat. 
  • You don't need to brush them with oil, because the meat contains enough fat in it. Moreover, in broiling, the heat does all the cooking and not the oil, which is why this is a healthier cooking technique. Avoid using very lean meat, because it will result in dried-out burgers. 
  • When the oven is ready, place the broiler pan into the oven on the designated rack and broil for 4 minutes. There's often some confusion about leaving the oven door open or closed. It's best to refer to the oven manual for that. Once the 4 minutes are done, flip the hamburgers with a spatula or tong.
  • While broiling, the most important step is flipping the hamburgers, which has to be done carefully. Never use forks to flip, because it pierces the meat and creates an outlet for all the lovely juices to flow out.
  • Never squeeze your hamburgers with the tong or spatula, because this causes the juices to flow out, thereby resulting in dry hamburgers. For nice and juicy hamburgers, use a spatula to gently flip them.
Checking the Doneness
  • Once the other side is also done, it is time to check if the hamburgers are done. You can check the doneness manually, by the popular finger test method.
  • You can also use a meat thermometer to check the doneness. Stick it into the thickest part of the hamburger and check the temperature. 

How Much Should the Temperature be?
Rare (Red Center) 120-125o F
Medium Rare (Pink Center) 140o F
Well Done (Gray Center) 160-165o F

However, chefs do not recommend this method, because inserting the thermometer punctures the hamburger, causing the juices to flow out.
Minor Adjustments
  • If the temperature attained is as expected, remove them. If not, then keep them once again in the oven and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, as required. The exact time required to broil will vary depending on the size and thickness of the hamburger.
  • If the outside of the hamburger is nice and brown, but the inside still needs to cook, just place the broiler pan on the rack below and broil for another 2 minutes at a lower temperature. This allows the raw portion to get cooked, without charring the outside.
Finishing Touches
  • Your hamburgers are nice and ready. Take out the broiler pan carefully, without tipping it sideways, because the grease can fall out.
  • Carefully transfer the hamburgers to a plate. Place a piece of aluminum foil over the hamburgers. This allows the juice in the hamburgers to redistribute.
Depending on the thickness of your hamburger patties and the way you want your meat done, the time taken to broil hamburgers will vary. So perfecting broiling will have to be by a trial and error method, however, do not let this stop you from trying your hand at broiling. Give it a shot and you are sure to master the skill
Hamburger Recipe with Onion and Garlic
Hamburger Recipe with Onion and Garlic
  • 1 lb. hamburger meat
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 medium onion, sliced and broiled
  • 2 tbsp. tomato sauce
  • 1 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp. whole wheat flour
  • ½ tsp. salt and pepper
Preparation Procedure
In a mixing bowl, mix all the above-mentioned ingredients, except the wheat flour and broiled onions. Now carefully add the whole wheat flour. The function of the wheat flour is to bind the mixture together. Keep adding wheat flour till it just blends into the meat mixture. Using wet hands, make patties which are 3 inches in diameter and ¼" in thickness. Broil the patties for 10-12 minutes, as per your preference and garnish with broiled onion slices and a pinch of parsley.
Hamburger Recipe with Mustard
Hamburger Recipe with Mustard
  • 1 lb. hamburger meat
  • 1 cup soft bread crumbs
  • 1 cup tomato juice
  • 2 tbsp. freshly chopped onion
  • 1 tsp. prepared mustard
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ tsp. salt and black pepper
Preparation Procedure
In a mixing bowl, mix all the ingredients except the mustard. Divide the meat mixture into small portions and press them into patties. Carefully place the patty on a flat surface, and using your fingers, make a depression in the middle of the patty. This will prevent the patty from bulging at the center after broiling. (Don't worry it will not have a flattened appearance when it comes out of the oven). Now place the patties in a well-greased broiling pan. Make sure your broiling pan has been lined with foil, as this saves a lot of cleaning time. Apply some mustard sauce on the surface of the patties and broil away.
Hamburger Recipe with Fresh Herbs
Hamburger Recipe with Fresh Herbs
  • 1 lb. hamburger meat
  • ½ cup soft bread crumbs
  • 2 tbsp. freshly chopped onion
  • 2 tbsp. lime juice
  • 1 tbsp. freshly chopped rosemary
  • 1 tbsp. freshly chopped basil
  • ½ tsp. salt and black pepper
Preparation Procedure
If you are a lover of herbs, you are sure to love the flavor of these herbs in this hamburger. In a mixing bowl, mix all the above-mentioned ingredients thoroughly. Then divide the mixture into small portions and pat out medium-sized patties. Once all the patties are ready, with a slight depression in their center, place them in the oven to broil. You can also add an egg for binding. If you don't have fresh herbs you can also add dried herbs.
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