Cooking a couple of burgers or 20 burgers to feed a crowd is a piece of cake—it’s probably the easiest food item to cook on a grill. However, I’m often faced with the big challenge of keeping burgers warm and moist after grilling.
But after several attempts at various tips and tricks, I bring you the lowdown on how to keep burgers warm and moist after grilling, and the things you need for fresh-tasting burgers long after you’ve taken them off the grill.
There are several ways to keep burgers warm and moist after grilling including using a preheated aluminum tray, adding the cooked burgers to a slow cooker, and then storing the burgers inside.
Pro tip: Mix one to two tablespoons of mayo per pound of ground meat to keep the burgers moist and juicy when grilling and cook them thoroughly. You can also grind up a strip or two of bacon (fatty ends) and add them to the beef to keep the burgers moist and make them extra-tasty.
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5 Ways to Keep Burgers Moist After Grilling
1. Place the Burgers in Your Oven
Your oven comes with various heat settings, so set the appliance to the lowest possible heat setting or “warm” setting.
Depending on the number of burgers you’re cooking, you may have to set one or more aluminum trays on the bottom rack of the oven.
Place each batch of burgers on the aluminum tray as you take them off the grill, and cover each tray with aluminum foil to keep them moist after grilling.
This residual heat should keep the burgers moist and warm for roughly 15 minutes to 20 minutes after grilling.
Make sure you transfer the burgers directly from the grill to the aluminum tray (s), and don’t put them on a separate plate first as they will cool down quickly.
If it’s cold outside, you can put the burgers into an insulated pot, before transferring them to a preheated oven.
2. Try a Burger Bath
When you hear the term burger bath, the first thought that probably crops up in your mind is dipping your burgers in a bowl of water, but that’s definitely not what it implies.
You need two things for a burger bath—a disposable aluminum pan, and a cup of beef broth. If you don’t have beef broth, you can use beer instead for a burger bath.
Fill the aluminum pan to about 1/2 inch of beef broth or beer, and then place the pan over indirect heat.
You don’t want to get the pan too hot as doing so will cause the beef broth or liquid to evaporate, and the burgers to overcook.
As the burgers rest in the liquid, they will stay both moist and warm. Plus, the broth or beer will impart more flavor to the burgers.
Refrain from leaving the burgers in the liquid for more than 30 minutes because they may turn mushy.
3. Use a Slow Cooker
I’ve never considered using my slow cooker to keep burgers moist and warm, but it works like a charm.
Once all the burgers have finished cooking, remove them from the heat and place them in the slow cooker.
You can stack the burgers on top of each other, but be gentle or else they may fall apart. Do not stack the burgers if you’ve added cheese over them, because the burgers will stick to each other and leave you with a big mess to clean up in the slow cooker.
After you’ve loaded the slow cooker with the burgers, plug in the appliance, set the temperature between 125 degrees and 150 degrees, or set it on the “warm” option.
It may be tempting to set the temperature to high, but doing so will overcook them, so they will most likely be dry when you serve the burgers.
Adding to this, do not leave the burgers in the slow cookers for too long, but half-hour to an hour should be fine. Remember, a slow cooker isn’t an appliance to keep food items warm, but cooks food items on slowly.
4. Keep Burgers Warm and Moist in a Toaster Oven
You can use a toaster oven instead of an oven to keep burgers warm and moist. But, just like most of the methods above, make sure you set the appliance at the lowest setting or you risk overcooking the burgers.
5. Pull the Burgers Off the Grill Early
Another great idea to keep burgers warm and moist after grilling is to pull them off the grill before their done.
The doneness temperature of burgers is 160°F, so remove the burgers from the grill when they are just shy of this temperature, and they’ll be fully cooked when they hit the table.
5 Burger Mistakes to Avoid to Keep Burgers Moist
1. Buying Pre-Formed Patties
It’s tempting, isn’t it? Buying pre-made burgers from the store, and just tossing them on your grill. But putting in a little effort into choosing the right cuts of meat and making your own burger patties goes a long way.
Readymade burgers aren’t always made from the highest quality meat and don’t contain the right amount of fat and flavor.
The right ground beef mixture consists of 75% ground chuck, 15% ground brisket, and 10% ground short rib.
This ground beef mixture not only translates to more flavor but ensures a good amount of fat to keep burgers moist when grilling and after you pull them off the grill.
2. Cooking Cold Meat
If you’re in a hurry to cook burgers straight out of the fridge or freezer, stop because the patties will take longer to cook, and will come out medium to medium-well done.
Be patient, and let the meat reach room temperature first, before tossing the burgers on the grill. This will do two things—prevent less shock to the meat, and cook them to the right doneness, so can remove them in time right before they’re fully done to keep them warm for longer.
3. Using a Binder
This is one of the mistakes I made as a novice griller—mixing biners such as eggs and breadcrumbs with my burger meat in an effort to hold it together.
Using a binder creates meatloaf rather than a burger, make patties only with meat and seasoning. Binders also cook and cool at different temperatures than the meat, so your burgers may not stay warm for a longer period after taking them off the grill.
4. Forming Uneven Patties
Did you create nice, juicy patties, but they burnt after cooking them? Great chances are that they weren’t even when forming them. You can create burger patties in any shape you’d like, but what matters is the thickness.
Your burgers will not cook properly if they aren’t uniform, and will get cold faster due to the uneven cooking. To avoid this, it’s best to use a burger press to flatten the patties.
5. Overcooking the Burgers
Take note that the burgers will keep cooking once you take them off the heat, which is why I mentioned earlier to take them off early to keep them warm and moist when served.
It’s easy to get distracted and forget about the cooking process, but pay attention and check the temperature with a meat thermometer.
Cooking burgers may seem like a piece of cake, but keeping them moist and warm takes a little bit of expertise. It all starts with the mixture, so the first thing to do is keep the mixture cold at room temperature before grilling.
When making the patties, don’t overwork the meat, but form them to the right thickness. And most importantly, take the burgers off the grill earlier, because the residual heat will keep them warm and fully cook them right in time to be served.