How Long to Grill Burgers

From rare to well-done, here's how long you should plan on grilling that burger to get it just how you want.

Burgers steaming on the grill

Mike Lang

It took me a long time to know how to accurately grill a hamburger to please every family member. I like my hamburgers medium with a little pink in the center, but my kids want them well done. Either I’d put my kids’ burgers in the microwave or I’d eat a slightly disappointing hamburger. Neither was a great option!

Once I learned the different temperatures associated with each level of doneness, as well as the approximate timing for each, grilling hamburgers became as stress-free (and delicious!) as I always hoped.

Understanding the Levels of Doneness for Hamburger Patties

  • Rare has an internal temperature of 125°F and is completely pink throughout the burger.
  • Medium-rare has an internal temperature of 135°F and is just slight brown inside near the crust of the burger.
  • Medium has an internal temperature of 145°F and a center that is slightly pink while the rest of the meat inside is brown
  • Well-done has an internal temperature of 160 °F and is completely browned throughout the inside.

The USDA recommends cooking ground beef to an internal temperature of 160 °F to ensure you’ve killed any harmful bacteria.

Melting cheese on burger with buns on grill
Nick Evans

How Long to Cook a Burger on the Grill

The size of the burger patty and the temperature of the grill affect the amount of minutes a hamburger takes to reach the sought-after temperature, so keep in mind that these are estimates!

The times below are based on a one-inch thick patty that is four inches in diameter and grilled at 450° to 500°F.

  • For a rare burger, cook for 2 minutes per side for 4 minutes total.
  • For a medium-rare burger, cook for 2 minutes and thirty seconds per side for 5 minutes total.
  • For a medium burger, cook for 3 to 3 1/2 minutes per side for 6 to 7 minutes total.
  • For a well-done burger, cook for 4 to 4 1/2 minutes per side for 8 to 9 minutes total.

How to Check a Burger’s Internal Temperature

The most accurate way to check a burger’s doneness is by using an instant read thermometer inserted into the side of the patty. A thermometer inserted in the top of the patty isn’t as accurate because it’s difficult to ensure the sensor is reading the coldest (middle!) part of the patty. Inserting it directly into the side takes the guesswork out.

Another way to tell if the burger is done: Follow the finger test to get a basic idea of how cooked the patty is. A patty cooked to medium has some resistance while a well-done patty feels firm.

And don’t forget to let those burgers rest! Once the burgers have been pulled off the grill, set them on a plate and let rest for a minute to allow the internal juices to redistribute throughout the patty.