Grilling Burgers: Chemistry, Correct Food Temperatures and Cooking Tips

correct food temperatures

Food thermometers are important for safe grilling.

Grilling burgers is a favorite summertime activity. Before you put those burgers on the grill, have a food thermometer and know the correct food temperatures. Then you can safely grill to perfection. Check the temperatures of the burgers before pulling them off of the grill. Here are some fun chemistry facts about grilling burgers, a list of correct temperatures to ensure you safely grill your burgers, and a few cooking tips. Happy grilling!

Chemistry of grilling burgers

  • Myoglobin = protein + heme (iron), Myoglobin makes the meat red.
  • Grilling sizzle is the water molecules burning off.
  • Myoglobin proteins denature (change shape) during grilling.
  • Maillard reactions create color and flavor of foods; especially meats. Heating amino acids and carbohydrates (sugars) turns meats a rich brown color and imparts rich flavors.
  • Browning occurs on grills or pans at about 250 ºF

Correct food temperatures for burgers

  • Rare 120 ºF to 125 ºF
  • Medium 130 ºF to 150 ºF
  • Well Done 160 ºF or more

Food safety states that bacteria is destroyed at temperatures above 140 ºF. Use a food thermometer to ensure all food is grilled to a safe temperature.

Burger cooking tips

  1. Cooking ground meat releases water. Add ice cold water to burger meat before cooking to keep moist.
  2. Avoid flipping or pressing meat on the grill after the first 30 to 60 seconds to retain moisture and juicy.
  3. Form burgers with a divot or dimple in the center – cooking causes edges to retract and the divot allows for a flat patty.

Grilling burgers infographic

Here is a handy infographic with all of the above information, so you can have a quick reference guide for grilling burgers to the correct food temperatures.

food temperatures

Need a food thermometer?

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