How to build the perfect burger
There’s an art to assembling burgers. Too much sauce or an ill-placed tomato, and you’ll find the patty slipping around. Use the wrong type of bread, and you’ll have a crumbly burger by the end that’s hard to eat.
But nothing beats a perfectly assembled burger. With every bite, you get succulent meat, fresh crunchy lettuce, sweet tomato and the tangiest burger sauce. We’re getting hungry just thinking about it.
Best burger buns
Let’s get this out the way: you can’t use sliced bread for a burger. That takes it into the realms of a patty melt (minced beef, onions and cheese between two thick slices of white bread) or a slightly fancy toastie.
For burgers, you need buns.
Brioche buns are popular right now, favoured by a lot of burger restaurants. Brioche rolls are sweeter than other types of bread because they contain butter. However, it’s also a very soft bread, so it’s important to make sure the burger isn’t too moist or the bread will become soggy.
Sesame buns are another excellent option if you prefer your bread with a savoury flavour. Sesame rolls are light and airy, often with thick bases that can withstand chunky patties.
You could also try ciabatta rolls for extra crunch. Base your bun selection on the thickness of your patty. The thicker the patty, the sturdier the bun.
Whatever bread you choose, the secret to getting it to hold together is toasting it first. You only want to toast the inside of the bun so the outside remains fluffy. Just cut the bun in half and heat up a griddle pan or frying pan on a low heat. Put the bun cut side down and leave it for a couple of minutes until it’s lightly toasted.
Homemade burger sauce is incredibly easy to make yourself. All you need is 3tbsp mayo, 2tbsp ketchup, 1tsbp american mustard and some finely chopped gherkins, pickles or cornichons. Mix it all together and voila! Homemade burger (or hotdog) sauce.
BBQ sauce, just ketchup or just mustard are also all delicious condiments to have with your burger.
Whatever sauce you choose, spread a thin layer on the toasted side of each bun. This adds a good kick of flavour but ensures your patty and bun won’t slip around while you eat.
The burger patty is arguably what makes or breaks the whole burger. There’s plenty of fantastic ready-to-cook pattys or you can have a go at making your own, with our delicious quick and easy patty recipe.
For ready-to-cook pattys, the secret to slightly crispy edges is gently flattening the patty with the palm of your hand or a burger press.
If grilled beef isn’t your speed, succulent pulled pork, fried chicken or a portobello mushroom.
Cheese can transform the flavour of your burger. A strong blue cheese adds a sweetly tangy taste while a smoked cheese really complements the meaty flavour of your patty. Cheddar is strong and melts well so you get flavour and texture in one go.
Whatever cheese you choose needs to melt easy. Classic american sliced cheese makes a great burger topping because it melts while keeping a relatively square shape.
To get your cheese extra melted, put the cheese on top of the patty while it’s still cooking in the pan.
If you’re having a portobello burger, halloumi or feta make for a delicious accompaniment.
There are three classic burger toppings: lettuce, onion and tomato.
Red onion has a stronger and different flavour than white onion. The sharp taste is a delicious contrast to the sweetness of the cheese and tomato.
Iceberg lettuce stays crisp on a hot burger and adds a satisfying crunch. To prevent the lettuce from becoming slippery, cut or shred it into small pieces and layer these on top of the cheese.
Tomato adds sweetness and juice to the burger. The perfect tomato should be thinly sliced to prevent the juice from causing the patty to slip around.
Then there’s optional extras like gherkins or pickles, crispy bacon, avocado and a fried egg.
How to assemble a burger
So what’s the best way to assemble a burger?
- Lightly toasted burger buns
- A thin spread of burger sauce on the bottom (or each) bun
- Burger patty with melted cheese
- Gherkins (optional)
- Finish with veggies - onion, lettuce and tomato in that order.
This order makes sure you get a gorgeous mix of flavours but the burger retains its shape, making it easy to eat.
Once you’ve mastered the basics of building the perfect burger, you can experiment with your favourite toppings and cheese to find your signature burger.