It’s almost that time of year where people will be revving up for cookouts and barbecues. Break out the grills and prep those patties for delicious home-grilled burgers. Burgers are great because you can make them any way you want to.
You can add ketchup and mustard. You can add onions, pickles, and cheese. You can eat your burger with or without a bun. You can even use different types of meats like bison, turkey, and chicken or you can make them using no meat with some sort of substitute.
Burgers can be grilled to certain doneness based on your preferences.
How do you know how long to grill a burger to get the doneness you so desire? In general, it’s recommended to cook a burger on the grill for between 2 to 6 minutes per side, depending on how well done you want your burger.
Grill times vary based on doneness levels, such as rare or well done, but there are standard suggestions across the board to help you know an approximate cook time. Different grill times also apply to various types of burgers, such as beef, turkey, chicken, bison, and veggie burgers.
In this guide, we have prepared some charts to help pinpoint your cooking time and give you a simple reference to help you grill your burgers to perfection. We will cover fresh and frozen burgers as well as some other types of meats to be sure you have all of the information you could possibly need.
Keep reading to learn perfect grill time measurements and more about grilling the perfect burgers.
Before you do though, take the guessing out of grilling, and get a quality digital thermometer. I recently picked up this one from Amazon and am totally obsessed with it.
Burger Grill Times Reference Charts
To keep it simple, we have several different charts to share with you. We think it’s important to cover the essentials of multiple burger types. We will give you some background information as we go so you know how to set your grill up to perfect the timing!
Let’s start with the basics. A beef burger.
Fresh Beef Burger Grill Times
Understand that there could be some variables that might affect your cook times. For instance, your patty may be 1/2 an inch thick or it may be 3/4-inch thick.
For the purpose of keeping it simple, we are going to share with you the following chart based on patties that measure 3/4-inch in thickness based on common information for the best burgers. This makes each burger approximately 6 oz.
The USDA recommends cooking beef to a minimum internal temperature of 145 degrees. The times provided below are based on using high heat on your grill.
|Doneness||First Side Time||Second Side Time|
|Rare||2 minutes||3 minutes|
|Medium-Rare||3 minutes||4 minutes|
|Medium||3 minutes||5 minutes|
|Medium-Well||4 minutes||5 minutes|
|Well Done||4 minutes||6 minutes|
It may seem a little odd that you don’t cook the burger the exact amount of time on each side. We’ve found that the reduced time on the first side helps maintain the natural juices of the burger to bring you the best overall flavor in the end.
However, if this concerns you, you can split your time evenly for similar results. Just be sure to use the total amount of time to get the desired level of doneness. For example, for a well-done burger, you need a total of 10 minutes. You could do 5 minutes on each side.
Grilling to the perfect temperature is much easier if you have a quality grill thermometer like this one.
Frozen Beef Burger Grill Times
When it comes to grilling frozen meat, you should expect that the process will take a bit longer. When you’re grilling fresh beef burgers, you only flip them once halfway through. The process is a bit different with frozen burgers.
It’s quite easy to grill frozen burgers but it’s a bit more challenging to nail down an exact time for grill time. Additionally, when you’re grilling frozen burgers you’re going to flip them every 3-5 minutes rather than just once in the middle.
Here’s a reference chart with grill time suggestions.
|Doneness||First Flip||Second Flip||Third Flip||Fourth Flip||Total Time|
|Rare||4 minutes||4 minutes||3 minutes||4 minutes||15 minutes|
|Medium-Rare||4 minutes||4 minutes||3 minutes||5 minutes||16 minutes|
|Medium||5 minutes||5 minutes||3 minutes||5 minutes||18 minutes|
|Medium-Well||5 minutes||5 minutes||4 minutes||5 minutes||19 minutes|
|Well Done||5 minutes||5 minutes||4 minutes||6 minutes||20 minutes|
Again, the timing is somewhat of a science. You can break up these times as long as you end up with the same amount of total time. You should also test the internal temperature to ensure that your burger is cooked to a safe temperature prior to consumption. I use this grill thermometer I found on Amazon.
Turkey Burger Grill Times
Working with meats other than beef takes a bit more understanding. When you make burgers that are turkey, chicken, bison or other types of meat there is really only one temperature to cook too.
When you cook with turkey, the meat should always be cooked to well done for health and safety reasons. The recommended internal temperature for turkey is 165 degrees.
Here is a cooking chart for turkey burgers.
|Turkey Burgers||First Side Time||Second Side Time|
|Fresh||5 minutes||4-5 minutes|
|Frozen||8 minutes||7 minutes|
When cooking turkey burgers, a great indicator for your flip time is when grill marks have begun to form on the side directly on the grill at that time. Again, be sure to test the internal temperature. With turkey burgers, well done is the only safe way to serve them.
Chicken Burgers Grill Time
Another great lean option is a chicken burger. Grilling is the only way to go when you use a meat besides beef because it brings out the flavor.
Chicken burgers are made with ground chicken meat. Most of the time egg and bread crumbs are often used to help hold the patty together and shape it. Chicken patties are flattened to be fairly thin as they tend to puff up as they are cooking.
Again, when you make chicken burgers it’s important that you cook them to well done. The recommended internal temperature for safe consumption is 165 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the USDA.
Chicken is one of those meats that you never want to undercook as it can cause illness, food poisoning, and other issues.
Here are your cook times for chicken burgers.
|Chicken Burgers||First Side Time||Second Side Time|
|Fresh||5 minutes||4-5 minutes|
|Frozen||8 minutes||7 minutes|
You will notice that chicken burgers cook time is exactly the same as turkey burgers. This is because they are made with similar forms of meat and cooked to the same internal temperature of 165 degrees.
Bison Burgers Grill Time
Have you tried bison burgers? Bison meat is incredibly lean and it makes some of the best burgers available. It’s not gamey in flavor but rather rich in flavor. This meat is low fat and has a lot to offer through protein and omega 3 acids.
Using bison instead of beef is a great way to provide some additional health benefits to your burger. When it comes to making bison burgers, the recommended doneness is rare to medium because this is where the best flavor occurs.
Here are some recommended grill times for bison burgers.
|Doneness||First Side Time||Second Side Time|
|Rare||4 minutes||5 minutes|
|Medium-Rare||5 minutes||5 minutes|
|Medium||5 minutes||6 minutes|
|Well Done||6 minutes||6 minutes|
For the best flavor, it’s recommended that you cook your bison burgers between rare and medium doneness. Temperature recommendations for safe consumption recommend that your center be between 140 and 160 degrees. Rare will be 140 while medium and well done will be 160+.
We think it’s only fair to touch on a burger that does not solely rely on meat for great flavor. Have you tried veggie burgers? They’re flavorful and nutritious and they provide a great option for someone who doesn’t eat meat or limits the amount of meat they consume.
Veggie burgers are usually a mixture of vegetables with another filler. Veggie burgers can have a variety of ingredients that might include things like soybeans, tofu, grains, mushrooms, seeds, and nuts. You can find any number of recipes for making your own veggie burgers.
Veggie burgers are healthy and packed with nutrients like fiber, protein, various vitamins and more. They also have little to no cholesterol and very little saturated fat.
Here are your grill times for veggie burgers.
|Veggie Burgers||First Side Time||Second Side Time|
|Fresh||5 minutes||7 minutes|
|Frozen||7 minutes||8 minutes|
Veggie burgers do not necessarily have to reach a specific temperature as your meat does. You just want them to be cooked to perfection and to have great flavor without falling apart. Don’t flip veggie burgers more than once as they can fall apart easily.
Tips for Grilling the Perfect Burger
Now that we’ve covered the best grill times, we should talk about things that you can do to turn your burgers into the perfect burger.
There are a lot of small steps you can take to ensure you get the most delicious burger from your efforts.
One of the most important tools you’ll need though is a quality grill thermometer to make sure you grill your burgers to the perfect temperature. I use this one.
Some of the things that could affect your burger flavor are listed below.
- Natural juices
- Flip times
- Shape, Sizing, and Miscellaneous
Some say grilled burgers are best on charcoal while others prefer gas grills. We say, it really doesn’t matter as long as you get all of the other important elements just right for grilling your burger.
Let’s cover some of the most important tips that you should know to ensure your burger turns out delicious.
Let’s be real here, you can season your burger however you want to. You can add onions to your burger mix and get that extra flavor in there. The great thing about grilling is less is more when it comes to seasoning.
You don’t need a lot of seasoning because the grill is going to bring out the natural flavors of the meat. We recommend some light salt and pepper. You might also want to add some “season-all” or seasoned salt for a little added flavor boost.
Remember, you can season your burger with all of your favorite seasonings but don’t feel as though you have to cover your burger in a ton of seasoning for good flavor. Keep it light and let the grill do the work for pulling flavor to the forefront of your burger.
Let The Burger Juices Do the Work
We touched on this briefly in the seasoning section but we want to give it more attention. The truth is, a grilled burger has a lot of natural juices and those juices are what really give your burger some delicious flavor and character that you simply can’t beat.
Pro Tip: Do NOT press down on your cooking burgers with your spatula. Simply let them cook.
The key is to let those natural juices stay inside the burger as much as possible. When you press down on them, it eliminates the internal juices completely and takes away from the savory, juicy flavor. It might also cause your burgers to be dry by the time they are done cooking.
If you’re going to add cheese to your burger, there is a certain art to doing so. First of all, you can always just add cheese when you’re putting the burger together but what’s the fun in that? The best way to add cheese to a burger is to put the cheese on the last couple minutes of grill time and let it melt over the burger.
If you haven’t tried this with your burger yet, you need to put it on your to-do list ASAP! There is just something to be said about that ooey, gooey melted cheese on top of a freshly grilled burger. It’s so delicious!
Some people even mix cheese into their patties, which is another delicious way to enjoy a cheesy burger.
If you are adding cheese to your burger, the best way to do is when your burger has 1-2 minutes of cooking time remaining. Let that cheese melt while the burger is grilling for its final 2 minutes and you won’t be sorry!
Of course, your burger will be delicious with or without cheese. But if you do use cheese, this is the proper way to do so. We’re quite sure you will thank us later.
The flip times are nearly down to a science. When you’re grilling a burger, you don’t want to flip it over multiple times. Instead, you want to let one side fully cook, flip it once, and let it finish cooking.
The only exception to this rule is when you are working with a frozen ground beef burger. You will flip 4 times. The first to put it on the grill. The 3rd and 4th for the actual burger cooking. The initial portion of time is to get the burger thawed out and cooking. You can look at this as a two-part process.
The best results come when you let the burgers cook without excessively handling them. Mind your cook times and flip accordingly. Don’t flip them over and over and over again.
Turn Up the Heat!
Some people think that you should cook burgers slowly and surely. And you totally can, particularly if you are using a smoker or a pellet-style grill.
If you’re grilling burgers, the best way to grill them is to turn up the heat. The key to the best juicy burger with the best flavor is to use high heat. It doesn’t matter if you’re grilling with charcoal or grilling with gas – get the heat nice and hot.
Let your grill heat up before you put those burgers on it. Let it get nice and hot.
If you’re measuring your grill temperature, the best temperature is in the range of 325 to 350 degrees. If you’re using a gas grill, you can typically set an approximate temperature. Otherwise, turn the heat to medium-high and let it warm up.
If you’re working with a charcoal grill, it’s hard to control the temperature but you want to be sure you let your charcoal warm up appropriately. The signal that your charcoal is ready for the burgers is when it glows a bright orange and starts to ash over.
You can keep a meat thermometer close by to check the internal temperature of your meat and ensure it’s cooked to what it should be.
The thing to take away from this is heat up the grill. Do not make a rookie mistake and flop your burgers on a cold grill.
Shape, Sizing, and Miscellaneous Tips
There are a lot of random things you should know that could come in handy when you’re trying to grill the very best burgers.
For instance, the best way to keep your burgers from shrinking or bulging or losing their shape too much is to make an indention in the center of your patty. You can use your thumb or a spoon to press the center of the patty in slightly. This quick tip keeps your burgers much close to the size and shape you create them in.
The most common patty size for a delicious burger is about 3/4-inch thick. Another common size is 1/2-inch. You can make a great burger that is 4-6 ounces in a 3/4-inch patty. If you go much smaller than that, the patties will be quite thin and not as juicy.
Here are some common mistakes people make that take away from the delight of their grilled burger:
- Relying on time to ensure the burger is just right. The timing is a general guide but a thermometer is for the final results.
- Dampen your hands with water to avoid the meat sticking to your fingers
- Don’t over handle the meat! Even while you’re forming patties you want to do it quickly and not overwork the meat. The same goes for cooking (flipping) the burgers.
- Stay away from pre-made patties if you can, they’re just not as fresh.
- Choose meat with the right makeup. Too lean and you risk losing flavor.
- Shape the patties larger than you think you need (to account for potential shrinkage).
- Pre-heat the grill – never skip this step.
- Do not press the patties as they cook.
We covered a few of these items in more detail but they’re still important to know. Many of these are considered rookie mistakes and doing just one of these could potentially significantly downgrade the flavor of your burger.
Grilling the perfect burger is not necessarily hard. There are just certain things that you should understand and be aware of in order to have the best burger in the end.
Remember we provide this information as a general guide. Everyone has different preferences and desires when it comes to the outcome. Feel free to use these tips but to also adjust and adapt things to meet your own wishes in the end.
We hope that you find this guide to grill times and grilling the perfect burgers to be a valuable resource. There are a lot of things to know in order to end up with the perfect burger in the end.
We invite you to take a look at the following question and answer section. There are some common questions that could provide additional information for you.
How Long Would an 8 Ounce Beef Burger Cook?
8 ounces makes a rather large burger but it is not uncommon. The cook times would raise slightly because there is more meat.
You should plan on a total of 10 minutes to get to medium-rare with additional 2-3 minutes for well done. Cook a minimum of 4 minutes on the first side.
Is It Better to Thaw Frozen Burgers?
Regardless of the meat type, you can choose whether you want to thaw your meat or grill it frozen. You don’t have to thaw the meat as it cooks just fine frozen. There are some that would say defrosting the meat gives you juicier burgers.
Should I Spray the Grill with Cooking Spray?
If you pre-heat your grill appropriately, you probably won’t need the cooking spray. However, some say that cooking spray makes the flavors better. If you decide to use cooking spray, spray it before you heat the grill.
Up Next: 9 Best Burger Presses Of 2021