Labor Day weekend is right around the corner and because Labor Day is one of the most popular cook out weekends of the year, we want to share some of our wisdom with you to help make the most of your long weekend. These tips will have everyone calling you the Grill Master!

Step 1. Be prepared!

When prepping for a cookout it is very important to have a plan. You should plan your menu, your cooking order, your layout, serving plans and seating areas. The more you can plan ahead the more enjoyable the event will be for you as well.  Of course, we all know that even the best laid plans fall apart easily, but if you can be prepared you will be successful.

Step 2. Know your meat blend.

You can’t just walk down the meat isle and grab the first pack of ground chuck you see. It took us years at River City Café to determine the best flavored combination that we serve today. We can save you some effort. The normal lean-to-fat rations you will see are 95/5, 90/10, 80/20, 70/30. When grilling a burger, you actually want something with a little more fat content. We recommend going the medium route. It adds more flavor to the burger. So grab a few pounds of the 80/20 and then grab everything else on your list.

Step 3. When seasoning, keep it simple!

Everyone likes their burgers dressed in a different way, so don’t overdo it with seasonings. If you are going to offer many different topping choices, we recommend seasoning with a small amount of salt and pepper, or maybe try blending a small about of Worcestershire sauce and garlic powder together and then mix it in with the meat.

Step 4: Make your own patties

While they don’t have to be perfect, there are ways to get consistent patties with items you already have in your home. No need to go buy a fancy burger press. Just use the lid from your peanut butter jar! A large peanut butter jar lid is perfect for a ½ pound burger. (Side note: you can then use the peanut butter to attempt to replicate our Peanut Butter Banana Burger) You can use whatever size lid you have to make any size burgers from large patties to sliders. Just make sure that when you form the patties you put a thumb sized indentation in the middle of the burger. This will stop the burger from puffing up in the middle. No one wants a bloated burger!

Step 5: Cooking Temperature

We recommend a 400F degree grill. Just like other thin mean cuts, like steak, it is always better to use a higher heat and then get the meat off the grill quickly. Now, while most people like a warm red center with their meat, we feel obligated to educate you on standard cooking temperatures. Rare is a cold red center. Medium rare is a cool red center. Medium is a warm red center. Medium Well is a hot pink center and Well Done has no pink. Your ½ inch patty should cook in 10-12 minutes. Or about 7 minutes on the first side and approximately 5 minutes on the opposite side.

Step 6: NEVER spatula squish

Everything leading up to this point has been about creating excellent flavored burgers. You can ruin that in one quick motion by smashing the burger with your spatula when it is on the grill. When the meat is heating up and cooking, the juices rush to the top and most people have a tendency to attempt to “squish” that juice back into the burger. Instead, you force all that flavor to fall into the bottom of your grill. What a waste!

Step 7: Know when to flip

The common rule is one flip. Always a flip with a spatula. NEVER stab a fork into it. The method is pretty simple. Heat your grill to 400F degrees and then place your burger onto the grill. After about 6 or 7 minutes you should notice juices starting to pool on the top of your burger. When this happens you will use your spatula to flip the burger, then put the spatula down! Do NOT squish that burger! Close the lid and wait about 5 or 6 minutes and then pull the burger off the grill.

Step 8: Let it rest

At this point, the smell will have everyone ready to immediately bite into the burgers you have worked so hard to create. However, do everyone a favor and make them wait for about 5 minutes. This will give the juices time to settle and redistribute within the burger instead of rushing out all over your guest’s plate.

Step 9: EAT

This one needs no explanation. You have prepared well, worked hard and now is the time to enjoy the fruits of your labor.

We hope you have enjoyed these tips and wish you the best Labor Day. Follow this and you will be rewarded with a wonderfully juicy hamburger that your guests will rave over.