The One Thing Chefs Are Begging Home Cooks to Stop Doing When They Grill Burgers

Burgers on the grill

It's the beginning of prime grilling season again and the one thing that can be such a bummer is a burger that's just, well, not that good. Whether the issue is that it's dry, underseasoned or—the horror!—falling apart, a bad burger can really ruin dinnertime or your summer cookout.

To help home cooks avoid this bad burger fate, tips promising the best burger ever have been flying all over the internet, and one tip that has piqued our interest: putting an ice cube on top of your patty before grilling. TikTokers swear by it but chefs say this may not be the best way to get a prime, juicy burger at your BBQs. We dug in to see what's behind this trick and if you should try it or skip it.

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Does the Viral Ice Cube Burger Trick Really Work?

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Collin Saum, Principal Culinary Program Manager on the Culinary Team at Whole Foods Market, says that the ice cube tip, which is simply placing a cube on top of your meat before grilling, may actually do more harm than good.

“I have to disagree with the ice cube trick," Saum says. "The ice cube trick is essentially adding water and diluting the meat flavor from the burger. Also, water creates steam and prevents browning from happening, so when you flip the ice cube burger, you are creating steam and cooling the grill grates. You'll likely get some sticking and less browning.”

And Saum isn't the only person who doesn't approve of this trick. The one and only Gordon Ramsay had a few things to say when he saw someone trying the ice trick on TikTok. He stiched his response, which included some Ramsay-level gems. "No it doesn't make it juicy. It makes it bland," he yelled. When the creator squished the halved cooked burger to show how juicy it was inside, Ramsay really lost it. "It's like the Titanic," he said. "You've sunk the burger. Nooooooo!"

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Saum says something else that has been popular but gets a thumbs down from him is adding butter to your meat. He explains that since most burgers are made with 80/20 lean meat-to-fat ratio, when you add the butter, you’re adding more fat and unnecessary calories because the flavor of the beef will dominate the flavor of the butter.

"You can increase flavor & fat content by adding ground, uncooked bacon, but never butter as it will simply melt away into your plate or grill grates,” he says.

Related: 93 TikTok Recipes That Are Easy to Make and Actually Taste Good

4 Better Tips for Better Burgers

This grilling season, you might want to skip the viral tips and take some advice from Saum. Here's his advice for making a great burger at home.

  1. Start with room-temperature beef. Allowing burger meat to come up to temperature before cooking it is important because it takes the chill off of the meat, which helps the meat cook more evenly. Thirty minutes on the counter is perfect for burger meat to temper.

  2. Think about your cooking surface. Outdoor flattops like the Blackstone Griddle are great for burgers. Cooking burgers on a traditional grill means that the melted beef fat drips into the fire, creating char and other bad things, according to Saum. On a flattop, the burgers are seared and cooked in their own fat, which equals flavor without the bitter char. If you don't have a Blackstone Griddle but want to cook your burgers outside, you can also cook burgers in a cast iron skillet on your grill.

  3. Give it a rest. Similar to a steak, rest your burger on a covered tray when it comes off the grill for 5-10 minutes. This allows the juices to re-distribute within the burger, rather than trickle out of the burger on the first bite. "Trust me, it will still be warm," Saum says.

  4. Say cheese. Swapping standard American cheese for a truffle gouda, blue, or other type of specialty cheese is an easy way to make a burger extra special.

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