How to Make Sure Your Hamburger Is Cooked in the Middle

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Bite into a hard, dry hamburger, and you might as well be eating a hockey puck -- there's no flavor left in the meat, and it's all but impossible to chew. But the fine line between a well-cooked burger and an unappetizing disk of overcooked meat makes it challenging to turn out a juicy burger that's also safe to eat. Heat kills surface bacteria, allowing you to serve whole cuts at rare or medium-rare temperatures without fear of E. coli or salmonella. When cuts get ground, any bacteria present on the surface spreads through the meat, so you must cook hamburgers to a higher internal temperature. to kill all of the bacteria.

Step 1

Make a small depression in the center of the patties with your thumb, which prevents swelling and allows the burgers to heat evenly throughout.

Step 2

Start cooking the hamburgers on medium-high or high heat -- this allows you to achieve a crispy outside and lock in the juices.

Step 3

Cook the burgers for 2 to 5 minutes on each side or until you achieve dark brown color.

Step 4

Lower the temperature to medium and flip the burgers back to the first side; a lower temperature cooks the inside without burning the outside. Cook the burgers for about 5 more minutes, then flip them to the second side to cook for an additional 3 to 5 minutes. It takes 12 to 15 minutes total to cook a burger to well done.

Step 5

Insert a meat thermometer into the center of each burger. Remove the burgers from the heat when the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees Fahrenheit, the USDA guideline for well-done ground meat. Wait until the center feels firm before inserting the thermometer. The probe hole allows juices to escape, which can result in dry burgers if you test the temperature too early or too frequently.

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