Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Hamburgers: Size Matters

Are you firing up your grill for this Fourth of July weekend?

If so you aren't alone. Based on 2010 sales of Kingsford Charcoal, the #1 charcoal manufacturer in the USA, Independence Day is the busiest grilling day of the year:

Independence Day – 40,914,710 pounds
Memorial Day – 40,783,128 pounds
Labor Day – 29,327,990 pounds

A lot of those grills will be seeing the basics like hamburgers and when it comes to hamburgers,


The size of your hamburger patty has as much to do with the final burger as your ingredients do. Size affects
  • the texture of the burger, 
  • how long it takes to cook, and 
  • the taste of the burger. 
So which size of patty is right?  That is still up to you and your preferences. Here are my thoughts about some of the usual sizes.
Yes, I actually made 5 different sized patties...sigh, I need help!
First, I like to weigh out my portions. It keeps your sizes consistent which is important for similar cooking times. It's hard to tell the difference between these two without the scale, isn't it? 

2 ounce patty
Perfect for making slider style or mini-burgers. Other than that, I almost never use this size.

3 ounce patty
If you like small, thin patties, these are the ones for you. These are the size I would use either for making a double patty burger (double cheese, Big Mac) or for making a Jucy Lucy where you put a piece of cheese between two 3 oz patties and seal them together. These grill quickly but they are so thin they can be difficult to handle without falling apart. These cook in 3-4 minutes per side at 450f.

Quarter pound patty
To me, this is a good “standard size” burger that properly fits the bun. It gives a good balance between the chargrilled outer texture and the juicy, meaty interior. These cook right at 4 minutes per side at 450f.

Third pound patty
This is what you want when you want a thick, juicy burger. You end up with a burger that leans towards a more beefy interior and proportionately less chargrilled surface, so you definitely need quality meat for these. These cook at 4 ½ to 5 minutes per side at 450f.   Be sure to temp check your burgers at this thickness.

6 ounce patties and larger
I call these “meatloaf burgers” because the balance of chargrilled meat and inside meat is out of whack, making the texture “meatloafy”. Plus when I see people make these behemoths, they usually throw everything but the kitchen sink into the mixture. It's also harder to cook these properly without burning the exterior. The exception would be if you get them rolled out as thin as other burgers and then served on a larger bun. Then you are getting the burger texture, just more of it.

If you need some burger ideas for this weekend, here are a few easy ones from
Photo courtesy of

So what is your favorite sized burger?   What is the biggest burger you have ever eaten?