Easy skillet hamburgers rival the grill any day and you don’t have to get all smoky to pull it off.
Do you have time to grill on a weeknight? No? I don’t always either but that doesn’t mean you have to skip out on a great burger.
Use a heavy skillet, some good beef, and basic seasoning to make the doggone best skillet hamburgers your family has ever had.
What type of skillet is best?
When making hamburgers, it is important to use the right skillet.
Avoid anything that is too thin, as thin skillets run the risk of overheating and are thus more apt to yield a burnt product.
Should I use oil?
Avoid the urge to reach low heat oils (such as olive oil) that heat too quickly. They put you at risk of burning your burgers and when overheated, they release free radicals that … well … just aren’t good for you!
Butter is okay to use if you use it in conjunction with a high heat oil like avocado. It stabilizes it a bit and helps prevent smoking.
You can also use lard or ghee. All have a higher smoke point, allowing you to turn up the heat and get that crust you are looking for without releasing icky free radicals.
What about vegetable oil? While vegetable oil has a higher smoke point as well, it is inflammatory, so it’s best to avoid it!
How to keep burgers from sticking to the skillet
No one wants a burger stuck to their skillet. What a mess! To avoid this, it is important to preheat your pan properly, getting it to a high enough temperature so that it will start to sear your patty right away.
In addition, patience is a virtue, especially in this recipe! A surefire way to get a “stuck” burger is to try to flip your patty before a crust has formed.
Let it sit for several minutes and resist the temptation to move it around.
What type of beef is best?
Looking for a killer burger? Let’s start with killer ingredients! Local ingredients are always ideal, so look for locally raised beef at your market.
Some prefer grass-fed, some prefer grain-fed … it’s up to you! I really like grain fed beef if I’m honest and if you’re after flavor, grain fed really is delicious.
It is beneficial to select a relatively fatty beef, as it will yield a more flavorful, juicy patty. Try for a 70/30 ratio over 90/10, which will leave you with a dryer patty.
How long does it take to cook burgers in a skillet?
A dry, overcooked burger is an unfortunate thing so get your cook time right! Keep in mind that cook times will vary based on the size of your patty, but if you stick to a 4-inch patty that is roughly 1 inch in thickness, you will be fine and dandy with the following guidelines *:
- Rare: 2 minutes on either side
- Medium-rare: 2.5 minutes on either side
- Medium: 3-3.5 minutes on either side
- Well-done: 4-4.5 minutes on either side
* If you opt for a larger burger patty, adjust your cook time accordingly; more time for a larger patty and less for a smaller one. See our guidelines below for proper internal temperatures according to food safety regulations.
What temperature to cook the beef to
It is up to you to what level of doneness you would like your burger cooked. Please keep in mind that the USDA recommends cooking beef to an internal temperature of 160° F.
This ensures that all harmful bacteria are killed, lowering the risk of contracting E. coli, a bug that can cause severe illness. You may enjoy a burger that is cooked a tad less, which is totally fine. Just be safe.
Start with a quality product and handle your beef properly. Let’s go over the classic levels of “doneness” and their associated internal temperatures:
- Rare: 125° F
- Medium rare: 135° F
- Medium: 145° F
- Well done: 160° F
I like to gently press my burgers as they cook to feel for doneness. If the meat is soft and gives, it’s obviously very rare. If you press it and it’s firm and doesn’t give at all, that’s closer to well done.
Some people use the “nose, chin, forehead” rule. Medium feels like the end of your nose, medium well like your chin and well done like pressing on your forehead.
Hardly scientific, but it does make a decent guide.
How to fry hamburgers in a skillet step by step
Step 1: Use a good ground beef (I prefer locally grown) and add salt and pepper. Mix it in very gently or just sprinkle a bit on each patty after you’ve formed it. Make patties about 4 inches wide and an inch thick.
Step 2: Melt a tablespoon of butter and a tablespoon of flavorless oil like avocado or lard in a skillet over medium high until almost smoking. Add the patties and don’t touch them for several minutes while the under side forms a crust.
Step 3: Once a crust forms and you can flip them easily, turn the patties and let them cook to your desired level of doneness. Don’t smash them while they cook.
How to melt the cheese on a skillet burger
When adding cheese to your patty, you want it to melt. Place the cheese directly on top of the patty – 1 minute before your cook time is up and cover the pan with a lid, trapping the heat, until the cheese is melted.
Best buns for your burgers
While these burgers are awesome as is, it doesn’t really feel like a burger until you add the bun.
Feel free to purchase your favorite store-bought buns or if you’re low carb wrap your burger in lettuce.
If you have some extra time and energy, think about making your own! So satisfying. Here are a few of our favorite recipes:
- Burger Buns from Love and Lemons
- Bread Machine Buns from The Spruce Eats
- Ciabatta Bread by Baked by an Introvert…instead of shaping large loaves, just make small rolls instead! They make the perfect bun
Add the sides
Round out your burger with some of these classic (and not so classic) side dishes. We have linked a few recipes for your convenience.
- Classic Baked French Fries
- Air Fryer French Fries
- Air Fryer Sweet Potato Fries
- Air fryer onion rings
- Summer Salad
- Corn on the Cob
- Tater tots
- 1 10-12 inch heavy skillet
- In a medium bowl, add the ground beef and salt.
- Gently mix the salt into the ground beef or, alternately, shape the patties and sprinkle each patty with salt.
- Shape patties 4-4 ½ inches across and about ¾ inch thick. Set aside.
- Heat a 10-12 inch heavy skillet over medium high heat. Add the butter and oil and let the butter melt and the oil heat just until the butter is melted.
- Add the patties and let them sit undisturbed for 4 to 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium as needed.
- Check to see if your patties have formed agolden brown crust on the bottom. If not, leave them there another 2 minutes.
- Flip, cooking your hamburger patties to your desired internal temperature.
- To add cheese, lay the cheese on during the last minute or two of cooking and cover with a lid to melt. Serve warm on or off buns with your favorite toppings.