Burger Seasoning

This all-purpose DIY hamburger seasoning is salty, sweet, spicy, and earthy, it's your new go-to burger rub.

Hamburger Seasoning outside in a glass jar.
Mike Lang

I love a good grilled hamburger. Come summer at my house they are in heavy rotation.

Easy to prepare and open to endless toppings, sauces, and spreads, there is always a new and exciting way to enjoy a hamburger. While toppings are important, burger success starts with the right seasoning for the meat. On its own, ground beef is pretty bland so it needs a good seasoning to make it stand out—this is exactly that.

You might think a bevy of toppings negates the need for highly seasoned meat. This is not true! First, I have some friends who skip all the toppings. I'm not judging, but they want just the grilled burger, so it's crucial to make sure your patties can stand on their own.

Second, and more importantly, the seasoning, especially with the addition of sugar, aids in the Maillard reaction, which is the chemical reaction resulting in the browning of meat. When your burgers form a crust that is where all of the flavor comes from and this DIY burger seasoning helps it along.

How to Make Homemade Hamburger Seasoning

This seasoning builds on the backbone of salt and pepper and is accentuated with granulated garlic, dark brown sugar, paprika, and cumin to give a sweet earthy punch.

Finally, for a little bit of subtle heat, I worked in ground cayenne and ground mustard. A little goes a long way, as I reminded myself during the testing process.

Hamburger Seasoning outside in a glass jar.
Mike Lang

How to Season Hamburgers

There are two schools of thought for seasoning the meat: In or On. Either will work, but I like to put the burger seasoning on the meat instead of working it in so it can create a crust while it grills. Not sure which way you want to go? Experiment! It's nice to have another reason to fire up the grill.

  • Burgers are best when seasoned just before hitting the grill.
  • I use 1 teaspoon of burger seasoning for every pound of meat.
  • I prefer to use a shaker to season the burgers, but thumb and fingertips, or even a gentle sprinkle from a small bowl, will work.
  • Season one side of patty then flip and season the other side of the patty.
  • Releasing the seasoning from about a foot in the air helps with even dispersion.

How to Store the Burger Seasoning

Using ingredients readily available in your pantry, this rub, sealed in an air-tight container and stored in the cupboard, easily keeps for 3 months. Also, the rub only yields 1/4 cup, which ensures your spices stay fresh. It's the hero of your summer cookouts, so vibrant ingredients are a must.

Hamburger patties set next to a jar of the best hamburger seasoning and a grill in the background.
Mike Lang

How to Use This Easy Hamburger Seasoning Blend

While great for burgers, this blend is fairly all-purpose and is a great seasoning base for beef, pork, and poultry. It's also a great blend that you can adjust with different spices and herbs.

For beef, you could up the paprika. For pork, the brown sugar for more sweetness. If you’re working with poultry, remove the cayenne and mustard and add some dried herbs like thyme or oregano.

No matter what direction you go, this rub is guaranteed to help bring season success to your grilling game. Crazy burger toppings are great, but the most essential ingredient is what you use to make a well-seasoned and grilled burger.

Burger Seasoning

Prep Time 5 mins
Total Time 5 mins
Servings 12 servings
Yield 1/4 cup seasoning

This recipe makes enough for a couple of burger batches. I use 1 teaspoon of seasoning per pound of hamburger meat.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons granulated garlic
  • 1 teaspoon dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground mustard

Method

  1. Make the burger seasoning:

    In a small bowl combine the salt, pepper, garlic, dark brown sugar, paprika, cumin, cayenne, and mustard.

  2. Store the burger seasoning:

    Place the burger seasoning in an air-tight container and keep stored in the cupboard, until you are ready to use. The burger seasoning will easily keep for 3 months.

  3. To use:

    Make patties. Sprinkle seasoning on the outside of the patties. It will form a caramelized flavor crust when it hits the grill. I use 1 teaspoon of seasoning for every pound of burger patties.