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How To Grill The World's Best Cheeseburger

Step one: Turn on your favorite playlist and drink a beer.

This is chef Matt Jennings. He is a man you should trust when it comes to food, and he is going to show you how to grill a cheeseburger.

Here are the tools you will need:

Here are the ingredients you will need:

For the special sauce:


Sour cream

Apple cider vinegar

Prepared horseradish


Dijon mustard

For the burgers:

Iceberg lettuce

Spanish onion

Cabot extra-sharp cheddar cheese

Ground chuck

Martin's Sandwich Potato Rolls (or any hamburger buns)

Beer (optional)

(There are exact quantities for all the ingredients in the full recipe at the end of this post.)

For your burger meat, buy ground chuck beef that's a bright, pinkish red color. That means it's super fresh.


Your version of a sick playlist might be different. This is Chef's "Perfect Cheeseburger Playlist." it could be essential to your burger success.



Before you start handling raw meat, wash your hands.

Divide your meat into equal portions based on the number of burgers you're going to make.

Throw the balls of portioned beef against the cutting board, twice on each side, to get any air bubbles out.

But no more than twice on each side. Try not to leave too much fat on your cutting board — scrape it off and put it back on the burger.

Shape each patty loosely by rotating it in your hands using a light touch.

Then use your fingers to create a dimple in the middle, just on one side.

Season each patty liberally with salt on both sides.

Yes, this much salt.

Then season with freshly ground black pepper on both sides.

Put all of your seasoned patties on a tray or baking sheet, and put the tray in the fridge.


Get a grill chimney here for $14.99. It's totally worth it, and is something you'll use forever. It allows you to easily light / heat the coals without using lighter fluid (a.k.a. poison).

Crumple a sheet of newspaper and put it in the bottom of the grill chimney.

Put the chimney on the BOTTOM rack of your grill and pour in a layer of coals, a second layer of crumpled newspaper, and a second layer of coals.

Now, start the chimney by using a lighter or igniter to light the bottom layer of newspaper.



The SPECIAL SAUCE ingredients are:

Just put 'em in a bowl and mix 'em up.

Keep mixing until everything is combined.


Slice one medium Spanish onion super thin.

Use your hands to tear a head of iceberg lettuce into big pieces.

Slice a block of Cabot Extra Sharp Cheddar (the best) into relatively thin (about 1/4-inch) slices.


By now, your coals should be almost ready. When they're ready, they look like this:

Dump the hot coals out of the chimney onto ONE SIDE of the grill.

Only put them on one side of the grill.

Put the grill grate on top and let it sit for a couple of minutes to get REALLY hot.

Put your hand over the grate: If you cannot keep your hand there for more than 3 seconds, that means the grill is hot enough to put your burgers on.

Lay four patties down on the hot side of the grill and DO NOT TOUCH THEM.

PRO TIP: Drinking beer suppresses the urge to touch your burgers.

After 3 minutes, use a grill spatula to ROTATE (NOT FLIP) your burgers 1/4 turn.

When you rotate them, the burgers should look cooked on the underside, but still raw on top. This rotations is all about aesthetics — creating that criss-cross hatch mark look — and not actually essential.

One minute later, flip your burgers.

Let them cook for 3 more minutes. They will be almost medium rare.

Use this hand test to learn what medium-rare feels like.

Move your burgers to the cooler part of the grill, then top them with cheese.

At this point you can put your second batch of raw patties over the hot side of the grill.

Cover the grill and continue to grill so the cheese melts over the first batch.

Once you've moved your second batch to the cool side of the grill, toast your buns on the hot side for 30 seconds.


Spread a big spoonful of special sauce on the bottom half of each bun.

Lay your perfectly grilled cheeseburger on the saucy bun, garnish with a piece of lettuce and a few slices of onion, and top with perfectly squishy, lightly toasted potato bun.


Perfect Grilled Cheeseburgers with Special Sauce

Recipe by Matt Jennings

Makes 8 burgers


For burgers:

4 pounds freshly ground beef chuck, about 20 percent fat

kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

8 potato sandwich rolls

1 medium spanish onion, thinly sliced

1 small head iceberg lettuce, torn into large leaves

8 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese, sliced 1/4-inch thick

For special sauce:

3 tablespoons mayonnaise

3 tablespoons ketchup

1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon sour cream

1/2 tablespoon prepared horseradish

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar


Shape patties:

1. Divide the ground chuck into 8 portions. (Each will weight about 1/2 pound.)

2. Take each portion and throw it against a cutting board from 8-12 inches above, once or twice on each side, to get rid of air and make a denser patty. Then shape each portion into large patties, about 4-inches in diameter and 1 1/2-inches thick, by rotating it in your hand using a light touch. Use your fingers to create a dimple (about 1/2-inch deep) in the middle of each patty, just on one side.

3. When your patties are formed, season them liberally with salt and pepper on both sides, lay them on a baking sheet or tray, and refrigerate them. You can season the meat as far as two hours in advance of grilling them, but no more.

Prepare your charcoal grill:

Pack 1-2 sheets of newspaper into the bottom of a grill chimney, then fill the chimney 1/2 of the way with coals (preferably charcoal briquettes), add another sheet of newspaper on top of the coals, then add another layer of coals to reach almost the top of the chimney. Light the newspaper under the chimney and set it on the bottom rack of the grill. Let the briquettes heat until all but the ones at the top are white, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare your special sauce and toppings.

Make special sauce:

Add all sauce ingredients to a medium mixing bowl and stir everything together to combine. Transfer sauce into a smaller serving bowl and refrigerate.

Grill burgers:

1. When your sauce is made, patties are formed, and coals are hot, dump the coals out of the chimney onto the bottom grill rack and pile them on only one side of the grill. Don't spread them over the entire bottom of the grill, since you want some grill space that's a little bit cooler. Put the top grill grate on and let it get extremely hot, about 3-5 minutes. Use a grill brush to clean the grill as thoroughly as possible, to prevent the burgers from sticking. (If using a gas grill, preheat the grill to hot, leaving at least one of the gas burners off so that there is a cooler part of the grill.)

2. When the grill is clean and hot, place four patties down on the hot part of the grill. It's important not to crowd them (they shouldn't be touching), so you are going to work in batches of four. Let these four burgers cook for 3 minutes WITHOUT TOUCHING THEM, then use a grill spatula to rotate each patty 1/4 turn, or 90 degrees. (This 1/4 turn is mostly for looks — it is what creates the criss-cross hatch marks, and it isn't essential. Note that you're not flipping the burgers, you're just rotating them.) Let the burgers cook for 1 minute more, then flip them with the grill spatula, still working only on the hot side of the grill. Let the burgers cook for 3 minutes more, then use the grill spatula to move the patties to the cooler part of the grill, and top them each with a few slices of cheese.

3. Put the other four raw patties on the hot side of the grill. Then cover the grill so the cheese will melt on the first batch, and cook about 1 minute. As soon as the cheese is melted, take the burgers off the grill and let them rest on a tray or plate. Keep cooking your second batch of burgers exactly the same way you did the first batch, using the cool side of the grill to melt the cheese.

4. Once the second batch has cheese on it, toast the buns over the coals on the hot side: Split them open and place them, split side down, on the hot side of the grill so that they heat and just start to toast, about 30 seconds.

5. Spread the bottom half of each toasted bun with about a tablespoon of special sauce, then top with a cheeseburger, a lettuce leaf, and a few slices of onion. Top with the remaining half of the bun, and serve immediately.