Is there a more iconic American food than a cheeseburger? Our collective love for this backyard barbecue staple knows no bounds. From picnics to summer holidays, diners to drive-thrus, cookouts to charming roadside stands, cheeseburgers are everywhere (and we don’t have any problems with that)! Easy to prepare at home, cheeseburgers are a guaranteed slam dunk with the whole family and an easy meal to pull together as everyone settles into back-to-school routines.
The simple combination of melted cheese on top of a perfectly charred burger is one of life’s small pleasures. And it’s that delicious duo that enjoys the spotlight on National Cheeseburger Day, which takes place this month on September 17. Ready to get in on the cheeseburger fun? Here are seven ways to celebrate with a burger meal:
1. Fire Up the Grill
The smoky essence from cooking on the grill is perhaps the most traditional way to enjoy a burger meal! Whether you prefer charcoal or propane, be sure to start with a clean, oiled grill (clean the grates before heating) and cold burger patties that are well seasoned with salt and pepper. Let the grill preheat to about 450°F.
For the best results, grill your burgers over medium-high heat for two to three minutes on each side until an internal thermometer reads 160°F. Resist the urge to press down on the patties with your spatula, as that will squeeze the juices out! About a minute before the burgers are done, top them with cheese for ideal meltiness. Finally, let the burgers rest for about one minute after coming off the grill.
2. Review Your Ratios
Most ground beef is a ratio of fat to lean, and this information is listed right on the packaging. The gold standard for grilled burgers is 80 percent fat to 20 percent lean. Any leaner, and you risk the meat drying out on the grill.
3. Perfect Your Patties
You can season the ground beef however you wish — a simple blend of salt and pepper works great, but some burger meal recipes also call for other ingredients, like garlic or onion powder, paprika and brown sugar.
No matter what mix-ins you add, be sure not to overwork the meat. Mix it gently until everything is just incorporated and then stop. Overworked beef can be tough and the patties tend to crumble and fall apart.
Gently form the patties, about 1 inch thick and just slightly larger than the buns you want to use, then place them on a plate or sheet pan and keep them refrigerated until you’re ready to cook them. Classic patty sizes range from a quarter-pound (four ounces) to half-pound (eight ounces). Feel free to use a digital scale to weigh out your patties or just eyeball it. Of course, if you prefer sliders, make the patties smaller, and adjust the cooking time as well.
Some burger fans follow a “dimpling” method, where an indentation is made in the center of the pattie to prevent it from puffing up during cooking. To try this, use your thumb or the back of a spoon to gently make a medium-sized depression in the center of the patty. It’s that simple!
4. Get Creative With Cheeses and Toppings
American and cheddar cheese are most commonly used to make cheeseburgers because they melt so nicely. But, there is no limit to the other cheeses, condiments and toppings you can add! Here are some of our favorite combinations:
- Swiss cheese + mushrooms + ranch dressing
- Blue cheese + mushrooms + pickled onions + Dijon mustard
- Gouda cheese + spicy pickles + beer mustard
- Pepper jack cheese + avocado + pickled jalapenos + spicy mayonnaise
- Feta cheese + tomatoes + cucumber yogurt sauce
- White cheddar cheese + grilled onions + fried egg + ketchup
- Mozzarella cheese + pepperoni + tomato sauce (a pizza burger!)
For bread options, try classic potato burger buns, brioche buns, pretzel buns or even gluten-free buns! If you’re dressing your cheeseburgers with Mediterranean flavors, try pita bread instead, or for a breakfast burger meal, an English muffin or bagel.
5. Get Adventurous With Beef Alternatives
Beef burgers may be the standard, but there are plenty of other options to explore for anyone not eating red meat. The past few years have seen a massive increase in the number of plant-based options. Some of these vegetarian burgers are soy- or wheat-based, while others incorporate more vegetables and grains. For instance, black bean burgers or even fresh portabella mushrooms.
Turkey burgers also make a tasty alternative to beef — again, you’ll want to choose a higher fat ratio, such as 85/15 or 90/10, for fuller flavor and a more enjoyable texture. Ground chicken, salmon and tuna can also make delicious burger patties!
6. Make a Splash with a Smashed Burger
If you don’t have a grill or prefer a diner-style burger, try a smashed burger! Instead of cooking the patties on hot grill grates over a live fire, smashed burgers are made on a griddle or cast-iron skillet. Many prefer this method because it’s faster (you don’t have to wait for the grill to heat up) and a little easier. The hot surface captures all of the meat’s juices, making it much harder to overcook. Plus, the thinner patties have lots of contact with the heat, making for tasty, crunchy, caramelized edges. Yum!
To try it, preheat a skillet or pan over high heat, then melt a pat of butter across the surface. Form your ground beef into 4-ounce balls and place each one on the skillet or pan, allowing it to cook for a minute or two. Then, place a small piece of parchment paper on each ball, and using a spatula or a burger press, literally smash each patty down into the surface. Sprinkle salt and pepper on each burger, and cook them for a minute or two. Then, flip the patties and add cheese. Your smashed burger meal should be done once the cheese is melted!
7. Serve up Cheeseburger Spin-Offs
The flavors in a cheeseburger are so recognizable that they can transfer over into all kinds of other fun recipes. Give some of these a try as you get ready to celebrate National Cheeseburger Day:
- For a portable snack or quick meal, try cheeseburger biscuit cups.
- For a cozy, gluten-free option, try cheeseburger soup.
- Cheeseburger egg rolls and bacon cheeseburger meatballs make great game day appetizers.
- An oozy skillet cheeseburger pasta dish is the definition of comfort food.
- For something sweet, a cheeseburger ice cream cake is a show-stopping, decadent creation.
No matter what kind of cheeseburgers you crave, you’ll find everything you need to cook up a batch for your burger meal at your neighborhood Food Lion! Don’t miss our weekly flyer to find exceptional values and great deals on ingredients to complete your cheeseburger feast.