How to Cook a Hamburger in a Frying Pan

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Cooking hamburgers indoors is quick, easy, and delicious! Using high heat and a cast iron skillet, you can make a mouth-watering, juicy burger with an optimal crispy texture on the outside. No matter the weather, you can cook hamburgers in a frying pan on the stove top any time of year. Add your favorite seasonal toppings and sauces to create a unique and delicious burger that can be enjoyed by everyone. All you need is a skillet (preferably cast iron for the best crispy texture and char flavor), some oil, and your favorite type of ground meat. These tips will ensure you end up with a perfectly-cooked burger, each and every time.

How to cook a hamburger in a frying pan
How to cook a hamburger in a frying pan (Image: Julia Mueller)
Ingredients for cooking a burger
Ingredients for cooking a burger (Image: Julia Mueller)

Things You'll Need

  • 1 pound ground meat such as beef, turkey, or bison*
  • 3 tablespoons canola or olive oil
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 to 4 slices cheese
  • 2 to 4 burger buns, toasted
  • Spinach, tomato, red onion, avocado, pesto sauce for serving

Tip

  • If using lean ground turkey or chicken, add 2 tablespoons of oil to the meat in order to help it hold together.

Step 1: Heat Oil in a Skillet

Place a cast iron or non-stick skillet on your stove top. Add enough oil to generously coat the surface and heat to medium-high.

Heat a skillet with oil
Heat a skillet with oil (Image: Julia Mueller)

Step 2: Form Burger Patties

While the skillet is heating, form burger patties. To do so, remove the ground meat from its packaging and place it in a mixing bowl. Sprinkle in the sea salt, along with your favorite seasonings, or dried or fresh herbs. Massage the meat with your hands to incorporate the salt.

Divide the meat into two to four portions - for 1/2-pound burgers, divide the meat in half, for 1/3-pound burgers, divide the meat into thirds, etc. Form a ball out of one portion of the meat.

Make burger patties
Make burger patties (Image: Julia Mueller)

Press the meat into a disc, making sure it has uniform thickness throughout so that it cooks evenly.

Make sure burger patties are even thickness
Make sure burger patties are even thickness (Image: Julia Mueller)

Repeat for the remaining meat, and place patties on a plate while skillet continues to heat the rest of the way.

Tip

  • During the cooking process, the center of the burgers will bow out and become thicker in the center. To avoid this, press the center of the patties down so that they appear lower than the sides of the patty.

place patties on a plate
place patties on a plate (Image: Julia Mueller)

Test the skillet by carefully flicking water onto the surface. If the oil sizzles and pops, it is ready for cooking.

Step 3: Cook the Burgers

Carefully place the burger patties on the hot skillet, giving them at least 1 inch of space between for even cooking.

Cook the burgers on hot skillet
Cook the burgers on hot skillet (Image: Julia Mueller)

Tip

  • To avoid fat and oil splatter, place a fine mesh splatter screen over the skillet.

For beef, bison or lamb, cook 3 minutes, or until the first side is browned and crispy. Carefully flip and cook another 3 minutes. Continue cooking and flipping every one to two minutes, until burgers reach desired doneness. For medium-rare burgers, cook burgers a total of 6 minutes. For medium, 7 to 8, and for well-done burgers, 9 to 10 minutes total. For turkey or chicken burgers, cook burgers for 5 minutes on each side, then continue flipping and cooking 1 minute per side until cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes total.

Flip and cook until desired doneness
Flip and cook until desired doneness (Image: Julia Mueller)

Step 4: Add Cheese

If making cheeseburgers, add the cheese after you've finished flipping the meat. If the cheese doesn't melt all the way, you can cover the pan with a lid until melted.

Add cheese for cheeseburgers
Add cheese for cheeseburgers (Image: Julia Mueller)

Step 5: Let Burgers Rest

In order to avoid soggy bun syndrome, transfer burgers to a plate or cutting board and allow them to sit 2 to 5 minutes before serving. This allows the juices to flow on the plate rather than the the bun. If you aren't concerned about the bun getting soggy, serve immediately.

Allow burgers to rest
Allow burgers to rest (Image: Julia Mueller)

Step 6: Top and Serve

Serve burgers on toasted buns along with your favorite toppings, such as tomatoes, red onion, mixed greens, avocado, and pesto sauce.

Add your favorite toppings and serve
Add your favorite toppings and serve (Image: Julia Mueller)

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