- I tried following burger recipes from three celebrity chefs – Alton Brown, Bobby Flay, and Ina Garten.
- Each burger was easy to make, especially Flay’s, which only called for one kind of meat.
- Brown’s recipe seemed complicated at first, but following it was easier than I thought it’d be.
- In the end, all of these burgers were delicious, but the one I made from Garten’s recipe was a little better than the others.
- My main takeaway is that the secret to a great burger is using ground chuck and ground sirloin.
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In an attempt to find the best one out there, I tried burger recipes from three celebrity chefs: Ina Garten, Alton Brown, and Bobby Flay.
Read on for how these burger recipes stacked up.
First I decided to grind my own meat for all three recipes.
Grinding meat looked fun and – more importantly – surprisingly easy. Plus Brown’s recipe specifically called for it.
After skimming an article on the subject, I borrowed my parents’ food processor and cubed the sirloin into smallish chunks that were just over an inch big.
Then I put them on a metal baking sheet covered with parchment paper and froze that and the food-processor blade for about 30 minutes.
A few pulses in the food processor was all it took to get a great consistency.
Supposedly, freezing the meat makes it easier to work with, but I might’ve frozen it for too long.
In his recipe, Brown said it would only take about 10 second-long pulses to get the meat ground properly, but it took me closer to 30 to get the sirloin steak to the texture his had.
Notably, though, his recipe said nothing about chilling the meat before grinding it.
I also prepared a batch of ground chuck, this time freezing the meat for only 10 minutes. It turned out much better– give or take 10 pulses, just like Brown’s recipe said.
Brown’s recipe only required three ingredients.
I love Brown. He’s probably the only Food Network host who is legitimately funny to me, and the way he mixes science into the cooking process is a joy to watch.
But knowing his knack for complex recipes, I was a bit nervous about making his burger, which contains chuck and sirloin.
Although it seemed simple, with a name like Burger of the Gods, this recipe had a lot to live up to.
His recipe was easy, but very precise.
In the video that accompanied the recipe, Brown was precise (cryptically so) that the burgers should each be 5 ounces.
I don’t own a scale – I don’t believe in them – so I simply prayed that eyeballing my measurements would be accurate enough.
Other than that, this is a straightforward recipe. I just mixed the meats with a little salt in a small bowl then I formed a patty.
I was dubious that this recipe didn’t require any pepper. But if there’s one person I trust to cook using only one kind of seasoning, it’s Brown.
Bobby Flay’s recipe only called for one kind of meat
Considering Flay owns a chain of burger-focused restaurants – Bobby’s Burger Palace – I had high hopes. But Flay’s recipe is called Perfect Burger, which made me sceptical.
The recipe only asks for one kind of meat (chuck), plus salt and pepper. It sounds good, but not perfect. Maybe “classic” would have been more appropriate in the name.
Though larger than the one I made using Brown’s recipe, this burger didn’t seem perfect to me.
This one was the easiest to make – though we’re splitting hairs at this point. Neither recipe has been that difficult to follow.
I was able to slap it together in under a minute, which I’m assuming is how long it took for Flay to come up with the name.
This burger was a little larger than the Brown’s Burger of the Gods (6 ounces instead of 5).
I was happy to see pepper in the ingredient list, but I didn’t have any of the freshly ground kind he called for because, despite my Italian surname, I don’t live in an Italian restaurant.
Garten’s recipe required the most ingredients, but it sounded pretty fun.
I’m quite a fan of Garten, so I was pretty excited to try her recipe.
One of the things I love about the Barefoot Contessa is that she throws parties and cooks for others (most notably for her husband, Jeffrey, who I once almost dressed up as for Halloween).
Garten calls this her Real Hamburgers recipe, which sounded nice and simple. I was most excited about this burger because it has the largest ingredient list – egg, steak sauce, two kinds of meat, and seasoning.
My first attempt at Garten’s burger was a bit of a fail.
This recipe is designed to make 12 hamburgers, but I didn’t need to make that many.
I was so concerned about correctly cutting down the amount of meat I needed that I neglected to reduce how much steak sauce I added. I also used the entire egg instead of just the yolk.
It was just too much sauce, so I decided to redo this burger for my final review, though my initial fail is pictured in a few of the group photos below.
Take two of Garten’s burger went much better.
When I correctly followed directions, this was the most fun to make.
The written recipe said to mix the sirloin, chuck, egg, steak sauce, salt, and pepper with a fork, but Garten’s video said to use your hands. Guess which one I followed?
After combining the mixture with my hands, I just formed the result into a patty and threw it on the grill over high heat.
This recipe was more difficult than the others, but it was still pretty easy once I managed to get the correct ingredient ratios.
Cooking these burgers was easy.
These were the three burgers before cooking – note how dark my initial Garten burger attempt (top) was.
I like my burgers rare, so I cooked all three for the least amount of time possible. Brown suggested four minutes on each side for medium-rare – Flay and Garten said three.
Flay’s recipe is the only one that asked for a specific kind of oil, canola oil, which I didn’t have. Since canola oil is technically a type of vegetable oil, I just used standard vegetable oil. For the other burgers, I used a little bit of butter.
When cooking burgers, the best tip I have is: Don’t squish a burger with the spatula while cooking. Brown also made sure to mention this in his recipe.
I also decided to cut up some lettuce, tomato, and red onion.
None of the recipes called for these fixings, but I decided it would be absurd to review a plain hamburger.
Flay’s recipe listed cheese as an option, but I declined.
I think Flay needs to change his definition of perfect.
This was a decent burger, but not a perfect one.
Had I not added any fixings, this would have been a somewhat bland burger. Though the meat was spot-on medium-rare, I still felt like it lacked flavour.
In my opinion, salt and pepper are a base – they shouldn’t be the stars of a recipe.
Brown is onto something by using two kinds of meat.
It looks like I have some scientific eyeballs because this burger was great and turned out pretty close to perfect.
I also think part of this burger’s success was that I cooked it in butter, which was my own decision. For the record, I would have also cooked Flay’s burger in butter had he not specified using oil.
Using two types of meat was a great idea, and the flavours blended nicely. The salt brought out the meat’s flavour well, something Brown talked about in his recipe video.
This just had more life than the still-good Flay burger.
Garten’s secret ingredient is devious and delicious.
Even when following the instructions exactly, the sugar in the burger still burns a little. Even so, this was one swee- looking patty.
On my first try, the sauce overpowered the meat, and the sugar in the steak sauce burned. The redo (pictured) looked much better going on the grill and was easier to shape.
It tasted delicious – even if I could’ve used a dash more steak sauce, which I needed to focus on to notice. The egg yolk also added a certain fluff to the burger that was comforting, but somewhat subtle.
Overall, Garten’s recipe was the best.
I enjoyed the Garten burger the most, and it was the most fun to make, which should count for something.
Still, I’d say that if you’re stuck without steak sauce and an egg, making Brown’s burger isn’t going to be a bad consolation prize.
And I think the real secret to a good burger seems to be using sirloin and chuck at the same time. As Garten mentioned when sharing her recipe, sirloin adds a “dry,” robust flavour.
Although it wasn’t my top pick, even the burger I made using Flay’s recipe was enjoyable to eat.
Maybe instead of attempting to find a perfect burger, it’s time for me to acknowledge that burgers themselves are just perfect.