Last week, while scrolling through emails on my phone, I came across a subject heading from Tasting Table that gave me pause: Never Grill a Burger Again.

And then an unsettling image flashed through my head: me, hovering over a sauté pan, flipping burgers in my 100-degree kitchen as my guests reveled outside.

Did I dare make this vision a reality? How could I not? I’ve always considered burgers one of the hardest things to get right, and this post offered a path to burger domination. I followed the tutorial nearly to a T, and Ben, completely unaware of the experiments I had been conducting, declared it the best burger he’s ever eaten.

How to Make A Great Burger

  1. Sear burgers (as opposed to grill) in a heavy-bottomed pan to prevent fat from being lost, which leads to “a dried-out patty with a charred exterior.” Cooking the patty in fat helps keep the patties juicy.
  2. Use cold meat as opposed to room temperature to create a good sear.
  3. Tasting Table (and others) suggest using a mix of sirloin, chuck, and short rib. I can’t ever find the energy to go through this effort. I buy grass-fed beef and look for 20% fat.  
  4. Make a sauce: the recipe included below is a mixture of pantry staples (mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup, minced pickles, cayenne and cornichons), a combination that is so much greater than the sum of its parts.
  5. Quick pickle some onions: thinly slice onions and macerated them in vinegar. These, I find, to be essential. Recipe below.
  6. Season aggressively with salt and pepper, use a neutral flavored oil, don’t overcook — depending on the size and thickness of your patties, the timing will vary and may take some trial and error to get right. For patties about an inch thick weighing five to six ounces each, four minutes a side over medium-high heat has become my magic formula for producing medium-rare burgers.
  7. Make brioche buns: This recipe is no-knead, foolproof, and delicious: The Best No-Knead Brioche Buns
red onion
Two simple burger condiments: the sauce, a mixture of pantry staples, a combination that is so much greater than the sum of its parts, and the onions, thinly sliced briefly macerated in vinegar. These are essential. //
Hardwick grass-fed beef
seasoned with salt and pepper
cooking the burger
burger, resting
halved potato bun
sauced buns
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Secret Sauce & Quick-Pickled Onions

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Source: Tasting Table


For the Secret Sauce: 

  • ⅓ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped bread-and-butter pickles or cornichons
  • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ⅛ teaspoon sweet paprika or smoked

For the Quick-Pickled Onions

  • ½ red onion, thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • Salt


  1. To make the secret sauce: In a small mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and stir until blended. Put the sauce in the refrigerator until ready to use.
  2. To make the quick-pickled onions: In a small mixing bowl, combine the onions and vinegar. Season with salt and allow the onions to macerate until they have softened, about 15 minutes. Set aside until ready to use.
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Category: Condiment
  • Cuisine: American