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There are at least a few widely used methods of cooking burgers. If you asked around, I think it’s fair to say that grilling and pan-frying would be the two most popular methods, each with their respective advantages. It’s also fair to say that using a sous vide immersion circulator is probably not a particularly popular way to cook a burger. In this brief article, I’m going to explain how you can utilize sous vide to cook burgers and some its benefits.
First, a bit of background on what sous vide is. Essentially, it is a method of cooking where food is vacuum-sealed and then submerged in heated water for a designated amount of time. For a long time, it was exclusively used by professionals in restaurants but recently has been gaining popularity among home cooks. I tend to use sous vide cooking to make steaks, eggs, and as the title of this article suggests, burgers.
Everyone loves burgers and everyone has their favorite way of cooking them. I tend to prefer thin patties that are quickly charred on a hot cast iron skillet. But every once in a while I want something different. Sometimes I’m in the mood for juicy burger thick enough to handle a medium-rare interior. That’s where I opt for sous vide.
Let me take you through the method of how it’s done, and then I’ll share what I think the benefits of using sous vide for burgers are.
Step 1: Form the patties. For sous vide burgers you want to form relatively thick patties, at least an inch. I usually use 6-7 ounces of meat and try to make them slightly larger than the buns as they will slightly shrink during the cooking process. Because the burgers are going to go into a bag, I recommend throwing them into the freezer to firm up so they keep their shape. I actually like to make a big batch to keep in the freezer. This way, I always have them ready to go when I want one.
Step 2: Get your water ready and bag the burgers. For me, the ideal water temperature is 135°F. That will give you a burger around a perfect medium-rare. If you prefer a more well done burger, just increase the temperature.
If you have a vacuum sealer, seal up your burgers. If not, don’t worry. You can use a freezer safe Ziplock bag, just get out as much of the air as possible.
Step 3: Cook the burgers. Place the bagged burgers in the water for 1 hour. If the burgers were frozen when you dropped them in, leave them in for an extra 30 minutes or so.
Step 4: Remove and sear. Take the burgers out of the water and remove them from the bags. Gently dry them with a paper towel and allow them to rest for several minutes. Season both sides generally with salt and pepper and quickly sear in a very hot pan or BBQ for no more than a minute per side. From this point on, assemble the burger as desired.
Click here for a full breakdown of my recipe
So you might be asking “why should I bother with all this?” Especially when a standard burger can be made start to finish in just a few minutes. I get it. It seems like quite the process if you’ve never done it and it does take a lot longer. However, if you break it down, it’s actually less time hands on. You can utilize the long cooking time to prepare the toppings and any other accompanying dishes.
For me, one of the biggest benefits is being able to cook a thick burger consistently from edge to edge. It’s comforting to know that it will come out the same every time. It also takes a load off if I’m cooking burgers for a crowd. There is no worry of over or under cooking anybody’s burger.
It also results in some of the juiciest burgers I have ever tasted. Having the ability to precisely dial in the temperature you want is something that even the greatest grill masters struggle with.
Like I said, there are different ways of cooking burgers and I’m not trying to convince you that sous vide is the only way you should do it, or that it’s the best way to cook a burger. I just wanted to share it as an option. If you consider yourself a burger lover, I highly recommend you trying out a sous vide burger if you get the chance.
If you aren’t familiar with sous vide cooking or want to learn more, there is a lot of information that can be found right here, on chowhound. If you have tried sous vide burgers, or end up trying them out, please share your thoughts below!