In the summertime, I like nothing more than grilling some burgers outside with friends and family, but you shouldn’t have to wait for warmer weather to get your burger fix in.
These stovetop burgers can be made any time of the year, and I love them so much that I crave them even when the grill is an option!
The Best Stovetop Burgers
These burgers are very different from my standard grilled burger. When I grill a burger, I keep the patties thicker and really let the grill do its thing. These stovetop burgers are closer to what many Americans think of as a fast food burger, except the absolute best version of that!
The signature quality of these burgers is a thinner patty that cooks in a ripping hot skillet in just a few minutes. You can do either a double burger or a single (I make the singles slightly thicker), and obviously you need cheese.
The resulting burger is pretty close to many popular fast casual burger joints (think In-N-Out or Smashburger), but you can make it at home!
How to Make Even-Sized Patties
To make sure you get evenly-sized patties, I recommend actually weighing the ground beef. Ultimately, it’s up to you what size you make the patties, but here are my rough guidelines:
- If I’m making a single burger, the smallest I’ll go on my patty is four ounces (think quarter pounder). Usually, I’ll add a bit to that just to make the burger a bit thicker, so I shoot for a five- to six-ounce patty if I’m making a single.
- If I’m making a double cheeseburger, I’ll go the opposite direction. I shoot for two very thin three-ounce patties. When sandwiched together with cheese, it isn't much more beef than a single patty, but has a much different texture. Because of the thin patties and double cheese layer, it feels much more substantial when taking a bite.
How to Cook Stovetop Burgers
The trick to making these burgers is that you actually don’t shape the patties until the beef is cooking. That keeps the beef mixture light and not too compressed. It also makes for easier prep.
Once you have your beef portions weighed out (you can eyeball them if you want—but I’m a stickler for weighing them), set a large cast iron pan over medium-high heat and let it get hot. Add a drizzle of oil and then add the beef portions one at a time.
As soon as the beef hits the pan and starts to sizzle, cover it with a piece of foil and press it down with a second smaller pan or skillet to flatten it out. Once your burger is pressed, you can remove the foil and move on to the next one! You want an even, thin patty that ideally is larger than your bun, because the patty will shrink a good amount as it cooks.
Repeat with all your patties. You can probably fit four patties in one skillet at a time. Once all your patties are pressed, season them liberally with salt and pepper, and a bit of garlic powder, if you like.
Smaller double-sized patties will need to cook for two minutes, while larger, single-sized patties need to cook for three to four minutes. Then flip them and cheese them, and they will be ready for the table in another two to three minutes of cooking.
The Secret Sauce
I love a good burger sauce, and this one is about as good as it gets. You don’t need to overcomplicate this. It’s mayo, ketchup, and relish. Stir it up, and slather it.
Most people, in my experience, don’t use enough sauce. It should be messy!
Stovetop Burger Variations
I think this burger is pretty great in its classic form, but if you wanted to experiment, there is nothing wrong with that.
You could add bacon, mushrooms, or caramelized onions, or experiment with other cheeses. For my money, American cheese is as good as it gets on a burger like this, though!
More Tips for the Best Stovetop Burgers
- After you've cooked the burgers, turn the burner to low heat, and place the insides of the split buns on the pan. The buns will warm up, and the insides will crisp up and get some additional flavor from the burger fat left in the pan.
- The 8-packs of burger buns sold in the bread aisle can be flimsy and fall apart with juicy, saucy hamburgers like this. Unless you know of a brand that's hardy, head to the bakery department and buy well-made potato rolls, brioche buns, or kaiser rolls.
- There's no shame in using American cheese on a cheeseburger. It melts well and adds creaminess, but feel free use cheddar, blue cheese, pepper Jack, Swiss, or other meltable cheese of your choice instead.
The Best Pans for Stovetop Burgers
A cast iron skillet is ideal for cooking burgers on the stove, but if you don't have one, you can use one of these other frying pans.
- A stainless steel skillet
- A grill pan
- A carbon steel pan
- A nonstick pan (the burgers will not as brown on the outside if you use nonstick)
More Great Burgers to Try!
- Smashburger Recipe
- Grilled Beef and Mushroom Burgers
- Spicy Grilled Turkey Burger with Coleslaw
- Chipotle Burger
- Blue Cheese Burgers
Stovetop Double-Stack Cheeseburgers
- For the easy burger sauce:
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons ketchup
- 1 tablespoon pickle relish
- For the burgers:
- 20 to 24 ounces ground beef (90/10)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, optional
- 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
- 4 to 8 slices American cheese
- 4 hamburger buns
- Fresh lettuce
- Tomato slices
- Red onion slices
Make the burger sauce:
Stir together the burger sauce ingredients, and adjust the flavors to your liking. Some people like more ketchup or more relish.
Make the burger patties:
Measure out ground beef into eight 3-ounce patties (for double cheeseburgers) or four 5- to 6-ounce patties (for single burgers). Some people even prefer a single, thin 4-ounce patty.
Be gentle with the ground beef. Keep it in loose balls for now. Season the outside of the balls with salt and pepper.
Add the patties to the pan and press:
Preheat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add a drizzle of olive oil. Add the beef balls one at a time, pressing each one by covering it with foil and pressing down to flatten with a second small pan or skillet. Try to get the patty as even as possible. For double burgers, you are looking for a very thin patty. For single burgers, shoot for about 1/3-inch thick patty.
Repeat with pressing each of the patties in the pan, reusing the same piece of foil.
Cook the patties:
Cook patties for 2 minutes for the thinner double patties, or 3 to 4 minutes for the thicker single patties. Flip, top with cheese, and cook until the cheese is melted, another 2 to 3 minutes.
The patties will shrink a bit as they cook. It’s okay to press on them a bit with your spatula to reshape them slightly, but try to keep a light touch, or you will push out all the juices.
Assemble the burgers:
When your burger patties are cooked through and the cheese is very melted, smear the bottom bun with 1 to 2 tablespoons of burger sauce and top with lettuce. Add your burger patty (or patties) and top with sliced tomato and red onion.