While the debate on which method is best for cooking burgers may be at a standstill, there’s one thing for sure – the burger temperature needs to be just right. The correct burger temp means serving your BBQ guests a delicious burger patty that won’t be charred or have uncooked meat.
Keeping your burger temperature correct signifies that you’ll serve safe-to-eat meat. We’ve gathered a complete guide on the ideal temp to grill burgers, grinding burger meat, and risks to avoid when cooking ground beef.
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Grilled Hamburger Temperature Guide
Regardless of which meat type you choose for your burgers, the USDA dictates that 160°F on a meat thermometer should be the minimum internal temperature for ground meat. This mandate applies to pork, beef, veal, and lamb. As a note, poultry is in a separate category for internal temperature. Poultry should be at 165°F or higher to be safe to eat.
Steak is not included in the above minimal temperatures, as it goes by its own rules. Bacteria likes to live on the outside of the steak and other varieties of meat. When you cook the steak, the outside bacteria get killed as it sits on the heat.
Ground meat mixes the meat’s exterior with the meat’s interior, so it has bacteria spread throughout. Because of this, it’s necessary to cook ground meat at a higher temperature.
Temperature Guidelines for Burger Doneness
If you grind your own burger meat, it is safer, and you can cook your burgers at a lower desired temperature (more on this in the next section). When cooking homemade, ground-in-house burgers, you can adhere to the burger temperature chart section below to help gauge burger doneness.
Under 125°F (Rare): While you can eat steaks at this temperature, eating a rare burger with raw meat is unsafe.
130°F-135°F (Medium-Rare): While you can eat burgers at this burger done temp, it’s not ideal unless you’re extra cautious and take the correct steps.
140°F-145°F (Medium): This medium burger temp will leave your burgers a light pink in the center. It’s the best temp to grill burgers, leaving you with a juicy, delicious burger.
150°F – 155°F (Medium-Well): When your patties reach this hamburger meat temp, they will start drying out. There should still be a slight pink color in the middle.
160°F to 165°F (Well-Done): Burgers are typically overcooked and very dry at this temperature. Unfortunately, store-bought ground meat needs to be cooked to 160°F to consume safely. If you have a few extra minutes, you can pasteurize ground beef for 12 minutes at 140°F using the sous vide method to kill the internal bacteria. This option will leave you with a juicier burger that’s safe to eat.
Grinding Your Own Meat for Hamburgers, Is it Safer?
Surprisingly, it is safer to grind meat at home than to purchase meat from the store. When buying ground meat from the store, it’s challenging to tell how long it’s been sitting on the refrigerator shelf. You also have no idea what type of cut is in the ground meat. It can be a gamble with how juicy the burgers turn out.
By purchasing meat at the store (like a steak) and grinding it at home, you can alter the type of meat used, the fat content, and its flavor. Since you’re moving the meat from the grinder to the grill a few minutes later, there is not sufficient time for bacteria to grow. Because of this, you can enjoy grilling burgers and eating them cooked at lower temps.
Grinding Your Own Meat for a Hamburger
As mentioned, there are a few additional benefits to grinding your own meat for a burger; these include:
Creating Your Own Meat Blend
By grinding meat at home, you get to be the boss! You can decide if you want only beef, beef, and pork, or perhaps elk and beef.
Freshness and Guaranteed Quality of Meat
Knowing that you ground the meat recently and the cut of meat you’re purchasing ensures the burgers are up to your standards every time.
It may seem like buying meat and then grinding it would be more costly. However, ground meat typically has a higher price tag as it takes extra time for the butcher to create each batch. A marked-up price accounts for the time and labor of grinding the beef.
How to Avoid Risks When Cooking Ground Beef?
You can do a few additional things to ensure your meat is safe to eat; see below for details.
Keep Meat Properly Refrigerated
Meat needs to stay below 40°F so that it does not grow bacteria. Don’t leave the meat out on the counter for hours, as it will keep the ground beef at an unsafe temperature.
Check out our article on How to Tell if Ground Beef is Bad for more information.
Cook Beef to the Proper Temperature
Check the temperature guide above to ensure you properly cook your burgers.
Don’t Keep Raw Ground Beef in the Fridge for Too Long
Even keeping ground beef refrigerated at the correct temperature for too long can cause your ground beef to go bad. Use refrigerated ground beef within two days or freeze it.
Best Way to Cook a Burger
Don’t serve your guests an unseasoned, charred, yet undercooked burger from a regular grill! Instead, cook your burger on a pellet grill. Start by adding your wood pellets of choice, then preheat the grill to 225°F. Cook the patties for about 25 minutes to get a delicious smoky flavor.
Remove the burgers, preheat to 450°F, and cook the burgers to add a nice sear to the outside. The burgers are ready when they reach the correct internal temperature after they sear on high heat (450°F).
Want an even tastier burger? Learn 9 Tips for Smoking Burgers.
Tips for Grilled Burger
Grab your favorite cut of meat from the store, grind it, and fire up the grill! Your loved ones will thank you for making unbelievably juicy grilled burgers.