04/04/2014 11:33 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

How to Make an Incredible Burger, According to 6 Meat-Masters


Have you ever gone to a restaurant, had an amazing burger, and then tried to replicate it at home only to have disastrous results? That's what you get for trying. But in the spirit of spreading knowledge and leveling the playing field for meat aficionados everywhere, we consulted six burger experts to see how they prepare their burgers when no one's watching.

Spoiler alert: invest in a cast-iron pan. Also, research Maillard reactions.


Find a butcher. Buy a steak.

"Use high-quality, fresh-ground steak with 20 to 30 percent fat content. Either grind it yourself using a food processor, or ask your local butcher to grind it for you. Then, pack your meat lightly into patties. Flip it once and be gentle! Season with salt and pepper right before cooking and add any additional seasonings or sauces after it's finished. At home, I just put cheese and pickles on my burger!" -- Adam Fleischman, founder of Umami Burger

Cast-iron pans and mustard make all the difference

"Use a cast-iron pan at home or grill during the summer at the beach. As much as I love my Bash Burger and the caramelized onion-bacon jam, I prefer a perfect slice of tomato, crisp lettuce, pickles, a thin slice of red onion, and shaved pickles. Also, a little mayo and ketchup on the bun and -- as always -- a smear of Dijon while the burger is cooking. Sometimes, it's fun to set up a burger bar with different buns, cheeses, and assorted toppings and let everyone create their own masterpiece! Most importantly: Have a good time, because that's what burgers are all about!" -- Josh Capon, executive chef at Burger & Barrel & Lure Fishbar and a three-time Burger Bash winner

More: These are the 33 best burgers in the entire country


Seriously, get a cast-iron pan (and rendered beef fat)

"My secret is a cast-iron pan, salt, and tallow-rendered beef fat. Be sure to season the patty with plenty of salt, then cook the burger in the rendered beef fat. When making a burger at home, I love bacon, blue cheese, or... my real fat kid-style is covered in chili and queso." -- Dale Talde, executive chef at Pork Slope & Talde and a Top Chef All-Star competitor

There's more tips from some of the country's best burger chefs, including what to do with leftover oil, how fish sauce can help, and how fixins are critically important -- it's all in the full story on!

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