I have been obsessed with burgers lately — partly because I’m so busy! I’ve been buying pre-formed frozen patties, and throwing them on the grill for 10 minutes, and bam! Dinner’s ready!
If you like the sounds of an easy 10-minute dinner on a busy summer day, read on for all of our tips on grill temperature and timing for your preferred level of doneness!
For the perfect burger, aim for a grill temperature of around 400-450 degrees. My grill often gets as hot as 500 degrees, which creates an amazing sear — but there’s also a heightened risk of your burger burning or accidentally becoming overcooked.
While some new-age, high-tech grills allow you to set a specific temperature that it will maintain, most don’t! Typically my grill reaches 400-450 degrees on “medium-high”, but it’s important to keep a close eye on it as the grease from the burger can catch on fire and rapidly increase the heat within the grill.
Many charcoal grills (and even some cheaper gas grills) don’t have a built-in temperature gauge. Luckily, there are lots of affordable grill thermometers that you can buy separately (starting at around $10 on Amazon). You can also use an oven thermometer if you have one, as long as it can withstand the high heat of your grill.
So you set the grill to 400-450 degrees — but what is the ideal temperature of the burgers themselves? Here’s a breakdown based on the type of burger you may be cooking:
The USDA recommends cooking ground meats (including ground pork) to an internal temperature of 160 degrees.
However, many people, especially with beef burgers, prefer to cook burgers medium-rare or medium, which don’t meet the USDA’s temperature recommendations. Here are the required internal temperatures for the most common levels of doneness for grilled burgers:
Poultry like turkey and chicken burgers should always be cooked to 165 degrees (per the USDA). Very few people intentionally eat undercooked chicken or turkey, so don’t make the mistake of thinking that your turkey burger will taste better cooked rare!
The internal temperature for veggie burgers depends on the ingredients it’s made from, and your personal preference. If you are using pre-made patties, it likely provides directions on the packaging including the ideal temperature range. If your veggie burger contains any raw ingredients, especially ingredients like raw eggs, you will want to cook it to an internal temperature of about 160 degrees.
Some of the best burgers I’ve ever tasted had finely chopped raw bacon incorporated into other ground meats (ground beef or ground pork). Typically, bacon should be cooked to at least 145 degrees.
Grilled burgers are a super easy pick for hot summer days, and with meat, poultry, and vegetarian/vegan options, they will please any crowd.
Portobello burger (vegetarian, easy to adapt for vegan)
Grilled garlic sage chicken thighs
Grilled corn with blue cheese and basil butter