Top chefs were grilled about the best way to cook a burger.

By Melissa Locker
July 21, 2021
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Cookouts are a fixture of Southern summers (and tailgating parties). Grilling is such a no-brainer of summertime dinner parties that the question isn't whether or not you're firing up the barbecue, but whether you want lime-grilled chicken, lemon-grilled salmon, Cajun shrimp kabobs, classic hot dogs, or the all-time favorite burger. There is nothing better than a grilled smashed burger with bacon and cheese except, maybe, a ranch turkey burger right off the barbecue. Grilled burgers are a summer treat right up there with likes of ice cold watermelon slices. Well, someone is trying to rain on our parade, suggesting that burgers should never be cooked on the grill.

This culinary blasphemy comes from Bloomberg, which spoke to three top chefs who all say hamburgers should never go on the grill. Instead, they should be cooked on a griddle or heavy duty pan. It's not that they hate summer fun or don't want to sweat over a hot grill on a sultry August evening. Rather, they claim that burgers just taste better when they are cooked on a griddle or in a cast-iron skillet.

These chefs argue that the problem with grilling is the grill itself. The fat melts off the burger and all that beef fat drips down into the coals or gas and doesn't stay in the meat. "When burgers are seared on a flat top, or in a cast-iron pan, that fat renders out and becomes a cooking medium and helps form a really nice beefy crust," the South's own Gray Brooks, chef and owner of Littler, Pizzeria Toro, and Jack Tar & the Colonel's Daughter in Durham, North Carolina, told Bloomberg.

While saying you should never grill a burger is an insult to summer, the chef's argument does make some sense. Instead of grilling a burger, Brooks suggests throwing a cast-iron griddle on the grill to keep the spirit of grilling alive while helping the burger reach its full beef-fat potential. He also recommends grilling the onions as "a great way to still get the smoky grill flavor on the burger." It's something to consider the next time you're planning on whipping up a batch of burgers. That said, if they tell us not to grill corn, we're writing a note to their mothers.