How to Season a Beef Burger

Making the tastiest hamburger starts with a well-seasoned patty! Here's when and how to season a burger for the best results.

A hamburger patty being seasoned with salt and pepper.
Lori Rice

You may be tempted to skip seasoning a hamburger patty because you know it will soon be topped with an assortment of condiments and eaten between a bun, but we encourage you to resist that temptation!

A hamburger is only as good as the sum of its parts, and the beef patty is the star of the show. Give it the respect it deserves and season it properly before you cook it!

The Best Burger Seasoning is Kosher Salt

As with all meats, coarse salt, or kosher salt, is the best bet for seasoning ground beef. The large granules allow for the most control and deliver on the promise of enhancing the flavor of the final burger. Plan for about 3/4 teaspoon coarse salt per pound of ground beef.

Freshly ground pepper adds extra body and is an ideal accompaniment to beef. Use about 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper per pound of ground beef.

You can also use minced garlic, minced onion, and Worcestershire sauce to amp up the seasoning, but they’re not strictly necessary for a tasty burger.

A burger patty on a parchment lined baking sheet to show the best way to season a burger.
Lori Rice

When to Season Burgers

There are two different ways to season a burger:

  • Before you form patties: This method calls for adding any and all seasonings before you form the ground beef into patties. The advantage of this method is that it allows for additional mix-ins, such as minced garlic and onion. To do this, sprinkle the seasonings and add-ins evenly over the ground beef and gently mix with your hands to combine. Work quickly to avoid overworking and warming the beef, which can lead to crumbly burgers.
  • After you form patties: In this case, add salt and pepper after you’ve formed the patties. This method is the most straightforward: form the beef into patties, then sprinkle both sides of the patty with salt and pepper right before grilling.

Either method works, so feel free to try both and see which one works best for you. But remember! Salt draws moisture out of meat as it sits. Whatever method you choose, make sure you form the patties immediately and then grill them soon after. Keep them cold in the fridge while the grill heats up.

Other Ways to Season Burgers

Looking to go beyond salt and pepper? Try unconventional additions like shredded cheese, chopped fresh herbs, dried herbs like rosemary or oregano, or citrus zest. (Senior Editor Summer Miller loves lemon zest in her burgers!)

If the mix is too dry, add a dollop of mayonnaise or plain yogurt to add moisture; if the mix is too wet, toss in some breadcrumbs to soak up excess moisture and add texture to a hamburger patty. Seasoned salt is also another easy way to change up the flavor.

If you’re afraid of a crumbly hamburger, you can add an egg to the beef mixture, but usually using a lean-to-fat percentage of 80/20 eliminates the need for any extra binding.

The options for seasoning burgers are endless, but at the same time, an excellent hamburger requires little more than good quality ground beef, salt, pepper, and the flavor that comes from searing on a hot grill.