America’s Test Kitchen Burger Recipe

Let America’s test kitchen develop the best burger-making technology. It starts with freshly ground meat. I have never tried grinding my own meat as I don’t have a meat grinder, but this recipe doesn’t require one! All you need is a food processor. Meat and butter cubes are frozen before they are “rice-like” pulsed in a processor. I was amazed at how simple and straightforward this method really is. Because the meat is frozen it doesn’t get rubbery and stick to the sides of the processor. I was hesitant to season the burgers with that much salt, but the dimensions of ATK are a breeze.

My dad and I tossed these burgers on the grill for five minutes and they cooked through. If you’re more of a medium-rare fan, I’d even recommend cooking them for three to four minutes. “You can always throw a burger back on the grill,” advised my father wisely.

The taste of this burger is unbeatable. The butter will keep the meat moist while the outside is charred, and salt and pepper are really all you need to bring out the flavor of the beef. We dressed up in the classic way with ketchup, cucumber, tomatoes and lettuce on a sesame bun, but the topping combinations are unlimited. I definitely plan to make this my favorite burger recipe!

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– Additional coverage from Lauren Harano


Why This Recipe Works: Pre-ground feed patties are simple, but we were looking for a charred crust, rich meaty flavor, and a juicy interior that is hard to come by with ground beef from the supermarket. This is because when processing ground beef, sticky proteins are pulled out during processing, creating a dense texture in the burger. To avoid this, we ground our own meat and switched from Chuck to sirloin steak tips, which have less connective tissue and just the right amount of fat. We frozen the meat for easier grinding and added butter for flavor and richness. We also frozen the patties after shaping them to make sure they had developed a perfect outer crust in their centers by the time they were thawed. We cooked the burgers over a super fast fire for great char and flavor.

This recipe requires freezing the meat twice for a total of 1 hour 5 minutes to 1 hour 20 minutes before grilling. When stirring salt and pepper into the minced meat and shaping the patties, be careful not to overwork the meat, otherwise the burgers will become dense. Sirloin steak tips are also sold as flap meat. Serve the burgers with your favorite toppings or one of our grilled vegetable toppings. If you’re making a grilled vegetable topping, prepare the topping while the patties are in the freezer and grill the vegetables before grilling the burgers. Finish the topping while the burgers rest. You can also roast the buns on the grill while the burgers rest.

America's test kitchen burger recipe


  1. 1 1/2 pound sirloin steak tips, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
    4 tablespoons of unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
    Kosher salt and pepper
    1 (13 x 9 inch) disposable aluminum pan (if using charcoal)
    4 hamburger buns


  1. Put pieces of beef and butter in one layer on a large plate. Freeze until the meat is very firm and hard on the edges but still pliable, about 35 minutes.
  2. Put a quarter of the meat and a quarter of the butter cubes in the food processor and mince until finely ground into pieces of grains of rice (about 1/32 of an inch), 15 to 20 legumes, beef is evenly ground. Transfer meat to rimmed baking sheet. Repeat grinding in three batches with remaining meat and butter. Spread the mixture on the sheet and examine it carefully. Discard long strands of cartilage or large pieces of hard meat, fat or butter.
  3. Sprinkle 3/4 teaspoon salt and a teaspoon pepper over the meat and mix carefully with a fork. Divide the meat into four portions. Working one serving at a time, tossing it lightly from hand to hand to form a ball, then gently flatten it into a 3/4-inch-thick pie. Press down on the center of the patties with your fingertips to create a 1/4 inch deep indentation. Transfer the patties to a platter and freeze for 30 to 45 minutes.
  4. For a charcoal grill: Use a skewer to pierce 12 holes in the bottom of the disposable pan. Open the lower vent fully and place the disposable pan in the center of the grill. Light, large chimney starters two-thirds filled with charcoal briquettes (four liters). When the top coals are partially covered with ash, pour them into a disposable pan. Set up the grate, cover it and open the ventilation hole fully. Let the grill get hot for about five minutes.
  5. For a gas grill: Turn all burners to high, cover the grill and heat it for about 15 minutes until it is hot. Let all burners up.
  6. Clean and oil the cooking grate. Generously season one side of the patties with salt and pepper. Use a spatula to turn the patties over and season the other side. Place the burgers on the grill (directly over the coals if using charcoal) and cook without pressing for four to seven minutes until they are brown and the meat easily peeled off the grill. Turn the burgers over and continue grilling until they are brown on the second side and the meat is four to seven minutes longer at 125 degrees (for medium-rare) or 130 degrees (for medium-rare).
  7. Put the burgers on the plate and let rest for five minutes. Serve on bread rolls.


Main Course Category, Beef Cuisine North American Yield 4 Burgers

Image source: POPSUGAR Photography / Anna Monette Roberts

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