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Today, May 28th is National Hamburger Day—a day all about eating America’s favorite sandwich. The history of the hamburger is a surprisingly contentious one. Many affirm that the hamburger owes its origins to the city of Hamburg, while others argue that it’s an American invention. Whatever the true origins, hamburgers took off in popularity and they’re now an iconic part of American cuisine.
Whether you’re cooking burgers for a casual Sunday dinner or making them for a Memorial Day gathering, we’re here to help you take yours to the next level. From burgers topped with sizzling bacon and sweet BBQ sauce to burgers with fresh veggies and mayo, here are the tools you need to make the perfect burger for any occasion.
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A stand mixer with attachments
Sure, you can buy buns and patties from the grocery store if you're looking for a convenient, no-frills cooking experience. But if we're being honest, making a burger for National Hamburger Day is asking for frills. A stand mixer such as the KitchenAid Artisan 5-Quart is a trusty companion when it comes to making your own patties. Using the meat grinder attachment, you can make your own ground beef easily and season it to your liking. After that, swap the meat grinder attachment for the dough hook to knead your own bread for homemade buns.
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A Beyond Burger patty
If you're vegetarian, vegan or someone who is simply conscious about the sustainability of the meat industry, consider grilling a Beyond Burger for National Hamburger Day. Beyond is a plant-based substitute that mimics the texture, smell and taste of the real thing with extreme accuracy. Even people who eat real meat regularly and aren’t generally fans of meat substitutes tend to be fans of that from Beyond. Trust us, you’ll want to see what all the hubbub is about.
The transitional time between spring and summer is the perfect time to break out the grill. The smoky taste from charcoal grilling is sure to elevate your burgers. We recommend going with the Napoleon NK22K-LEG-2 which we found to be the best charcoal grill thanks to its even heat distribution, sturdiness and impressive cook surface which can fit up to 13 burgers. As for the charcoal itself, the best briquette is Kingsford, which is widely available and burns hotter than the competition. If you prefer the convenience of a gas grill, we recommend using the Weber Spirit II E-310 which boasts impressive heat and an even, perfect sear.
A non-grill option for indoors
Even if your home can’t accommodate a grill, you can still experience the delectable joy of homemade burgers. One way to grill indoors is by using a cast-iron skillet over a burner. Its incredible heat-retention will cook your burgers evenly and the enduring seasoning of the pan from consistent use will give your burgers even more flavor. The best cast-iron skillet we've tested is the 12-inch skillet offered by Lodge thanks to its light weight, affordable price and heat-retention that blew the competition away.
There’s also the option to use an indoor grill which requires minimal flipping to get a perfect texture on both sides. We found the Cuisinart Griddler Deluxe to be the best indoor grill. While expensive, it browns quickly, is easy to use and the plates can be popped out to go in the dishwasher.
A meat press
Smashed burgers, or ‘Smashburgers’ as popular food chains like to call them, use a technique of flattening the burgers to improve the flavor profile. If you want to make your own smashed burgers at home, you can do so easily with Cuisinart's meat pressing set. While all you really need is the press itself, the set comes with patty papers for easy clean-up and a straight-edge spatula for transporting and flipping your patties.
When cooking burgers, a spatula is a must. We found the Wusthof Gourmet Offset Slotted Spatula to be the best spatula because it slides under food easily, it's dishwasher-friendly and it has a sturdy handle. For a grilling spatula specifically, it doesn't get any better than the OXO Good Grips 16" Grilling Turner. It has a sharp, serrated edge for easy flipping and comes with the best tongs.
A meat thermometer
Whether you like your burgers well done or on the rarer side, having it cooked properly throughout is vital. The internal temperature for your burger will range from 120-125ºF for rare to 160-165ºF for well-done. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) deems any internal temperature below 160ºF to be unsafe for ground meat, but of course, many brave the risk for their ideal doneness. We found the ThermoWorks ThermoPop to be the best meat thermometer. This sleek thermometer measures meat temperature accurately and quickly.
Good knives are essential to prepare burger topping classics and sides like lettuce, tomatoes, onions and potatoes for fries. For all your burger prep needs, we recommend the Mercer Culinary Genesis 6-Piece Forged Knife Block Set. It’s our favorite knife set to buy on a budget. Despite its low price, it goes toe-to-toe with more expensive options in terms of performance and comes with a snazzy glass.
While you’re at it, you should probably invest in a cutting board for your burger prep. The Totally Bamboo Kauai Cutting Board is the best board because of its sustainability, durability and ease of cleaning. Not to mention, it's absolutely gorgeous.
An air fryer
For crispy yet healthy fries and perfectly toasted buns, consider using an air fryer. Thanks to the power of convection, you can make French fries without calorie-dense oils. If you want, you can even use leftover cheese from your burger to make melty cheese fries. We found the Ninja Speedi to be the best air fryer. Its intuitive controls make it easy to use and it cooks food quickly.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.
This article originally appeared on Reviewed: National Hamburger Day 2023: How to make burgers at home better