Building The Perfect Burger

07/02/2012 06:21 pm ET | Updated Sep 01, 2012

Whether eaten in the backyard, at a linen-draped table, or behind the wheel of a car, our passion for the hamburger -- perhaps the greatest of American culinary inventions -- never dims. To help you celebrate this classic in all its glory this Independence Day, we've put together a guide to building the perfect burger: With endless variations of crunchy, gooey, and tangy-sweet toppings, numerous methods of preparation and seemingly infinite choices for meat and buns, the perfect burger is absolutely anything you want it to be. What's more, we've got 25 recipes for some of the finest burgers we've ever tasted.

Photo: Michael Kraus


Sometimes we crave lean burgers; other times, we want the handheld equivalent of a dry-aged steak. See our guide to hamburger meat in the gallery »


You can make a very tasty burger using nothing but salt and pepper, but adding other seasonings to ground beef opens up worlds of possibilities. See our favorite seasonings in the gallery »


There's an art to preparing a hamburger patty. Fortunately, it's one that can be reduced to a few straightforward guidelines. See how to make the perfect patty in the gallery »


From the smoky kiss of a backyard grill to the satisfying char imparted by a cast-iron skillet, here are the whys and hows behind our favorite techniques. See 4 foolproof burger cooking techniques »


Given the choice between a burger with cheese and one without, we go for the cheeseburger every time. Mild-tasting American cheese remains the most popular choice, but many other cheeses introduce interesting flavors and textures. See 9 great cheese options in the gallery »


There's almost no limit to what works well on top of a burger; countless foods, from buttery avocado to crunchy coleslaw, provide a pleasing contrast in taste or texture to the meat and the bun. See 18 tasty burger toppings in the gallery »


A delicious bun is central to the burger's appeal. From sesame seed buns to Kaiser rolls, the options are innumerable. See 9 bun and bread choices in the gallery »


The consistent flavors of store-bought condiments are often so familiar that deviating from a favorite brand can feel like a betrayal. However, these homemade condiment recipes reward disloyalty with tons of flavor and complexity, from spicy north African harissa to classic aioli. See 25 homemade condiment recipes in the gallery »


Need more inspiration? These 25 burger recipes span a range of delightful textures and flavors, from feta-topped lamb patties to Aussie burgers with the works. See 25 heavenly hamburger recipes in the gallery »