Easy Stovetop Burgers

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Stovetop burgers ready in just 25 minutes! The key to super tender burgers is selecting the right type of ground beef and not overworking the patties. A quick sear in a hot skillet ensures a golden-brown crust with juicy centers.

Stovetop burger with cheese, pickles, tomatoes, and onions on a plate with fries

Perfect burgers every time!

I’m going to show you how to make delicious juicy burgers on the stovetop. It’s a quick and satisfying homemade meal that lets you skip the drive-thru window. Ground beef is an affordable and versatile source of protein that can be easily enhanced with simple seasonings that kids and adults will love.

The trick to a foolproof burger recipe is how you prepare the patties. The way the meat is formed before it hits the hot sizzling pan is just as important as how long it cooks. It’s best to minimally work the ground beef enough to just create a circular shape. Perfection is not key, and being rough around the edges is actually a good thing.

ground beef formed into burger patties

Choosing the right beef

Your local market typically offers various types of ground beef. I prefer ground chuck which comes from the shoulder portion of the cow and is packed with beefy flavor. It has just the right ratio of 80% lean meat to 20% fat for juicy burger patties. If you’re looking for a leaner option, try ground sirloin, which is 90% lean meat and less fat content.

Forming the patties

In order to prevent the dreaded dry and tough hockey pucks, you need to gently form the patties. When you over mix the beef, roll it into a ball, and then smash it down into a flat disc actually causes the meat to contract too much when it cooks. No one likes those excessively shrunken, hard, and chewy patties.

Instead, divide the meat into 4 equal portions and leave them on the cutting board or plate. Use your hands to flatten and form them into ½-inch thick patties. It’s okay to have some cracked, jagged edges. This process reduces the amount of handling and yields more tender burger bites.

seasoned burger patty cooking in a cast iron skillet

Seasoning the meat

I like to keep it simple and generously season both sides of the meat with kosher salt and pepper. There’s plenty of surface area for the salt to get stuck in the grooves of the ground beef to season the center as it cooks. Feel free to add more of your favorite spices like garlic powder, onion powder, or paprika. You can even add Worcestershire sauce to increase the umami flavor, just don’t overmix the beef!

spatula flipping over a burger patty cooking on the stovetop

Cooking burgers on the stovetop

I find that a cast iron skillet or nonstick pan makes the best pan-fried burgers. But if you have a grill pan, that works too. Heat the pan over medium-high heat, add the oil and once nice and hot carefully add the patties in the pan.

Cook the burgers until a deep golden crust forms, about 3 minutes. Flip and cook for about 3 minutes more or until the desired doneness is reached. Now is the time to melt the cheese on top, until it hugs the patty.

Nailing the right internal temperature

Use an instant-read thermometer and place the probe into the center of the patty to check the internal temperature. Make sure to let the patties rest for about 5 minutes to allow for carryover cooking. Use the guide in the recipe notes section below for the recommended temperatures after resting.

cheese melting over a burger patty cooking in a skillet

Burger size

You’ll notice that the size of the patties shrinks down. This is because the fat melts and the muscle fibers contract when heated, creating a tighter, more compact meat structure. About a 20 to 25% loss in volume is normal. Note that the more you mix the beef, the closer the fibers come to each other which causes more shrinkage and makes the texture tougher.

This recipe makes ¼ pound burgers, about 3-inches in diameter after cooking. If you have larger burger buns that you would like to fill, increase the patty weight to between ⅓ to ½ a pound. Alternatively, you can flatten them more to about ¼-inch thick, however, the burgers will be closer to medium to well done instead of medium-rare.

Don’t forget the toppings!

  • Add Cheese: Cheddar (mild or sharp), swiss, American, gouda, provolone
  • Vegetables/Fruit: Lettuce, tomato, onions, pickles, avocado, sprouts
  • Meat: Bacon
  • Condiments: Mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup, barbecue sauce

Adding toppings to two open-faced burgers on a sheet try

Don’t overwork the ground beef

When beef is ground down and mixed, sticky soluble proteins in the muscle fibers are released. This causes the proteins to stick together and creates a rubbery texture when cooked. If you further blend the meat at home, overmixing can create more sticking and a tougher texture. Make sure to lightly mix if you’re adding more seasoning before shaping.

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Stovetop Burgers

Stovetop burgers ready in just 15 minutes! The key to super tender burgers is selecting the right type of ground beef and not overworking the patties.
Pin Print Review
3.67 from 6 votes
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Total Time25 mins
Servings 4 servings
Course Entree
Cuisine American

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground beef, 80% lean ground chuck
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, for seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper, for seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 4 slices cheddar cheese, (optional)
  • 4 hamburger buns, about 4-inch wide

Instructions 

  • Without mixing the ground beef, portion into 4 even-sized mounds, about 1/4 pound per patty.
  • Gently form each patty into rounds, keep the patty on the plate and just form the sides into a circle, it’s okay if the edges are jagged.
  • Press each patty down to a ½-inch thickness, by about 4-inches wide.
  • Generously season each side with salt and pepper.
  • Heat a 12-inch cast iron skillet or nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the oil to the pan, once hot add the patties.
  • Cook until the surface is browned, about 3 minutes. Flip and cook until the desired doneness is reached, about 2 to 5 minutes. See notes for doneness temperatures.
  • If using cheese, add to the patties about 2 minutes before reaching the desired doneness and allow it to melt on top.
  • Transfer burger patties to a plate and rest for 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Toast the burger buns, then add the patties and desired toppings.

Notes

  • Doneness: Stop cooking about 5 degrees before the desired doneness temperature.
    • Medium-rare: 125-130ºF / 51-54ºC (pink with a hint of red in center)
    • Medium: 135-140ºF / 57-60ºC (light pink center)
    • Medium-well: 145-150ºF / 62-66ºC (brown with a hint of pink in center)
    • Well done: 150-160ºF / 66-71ºC (brown center)
  • Topping Suggestions: Lettuce, tomato, pickle, onion, avocado, mayonnaise, ketchup, and mustard.
  • 90% ground sirloin can be used for a leaner burger.

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Nutrition Facts
Stovetop Burgers
Amount Per Serving
Calories 425 Calories from Fat 234
% Daily Value*
Fat 26g40%
Saturated Fat 11g55%
Cholesterol 81mg27%
Sodium 872mg36%
Potassium 361mg10%
Carbohydrates 22g7%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 3g3%
Protein 24g48%
Vitamin C 1mg1%
Calcium 95mg10%
Iron 4mg22%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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6 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Shannon Nembach says

    OMG, I am guilty of beating up my patties before I cook them! I never could figure out how come they always turned out like hockey pucks. Thanks for the tip!

  2. Marilynne W. says

    Jessica, I made your stovetop burgers last night and they were wonderful! Thanks for the not overworking your beef tip!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Hi Ronald- I bought the hamburger buns from a local artisan bakery. However, my family loves brioches buns, whole wheat or sesame seeds are good too! Don’t buy the ones that are too wide.

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