While it isn’t the most common way to cook a hamburger, a lot of people prefer their hamburgers cooked to medium-rare. It is close to the ‘meaty’ taste that you would get with typical meats. However, it is important that you cook a hamburger properly.
A medium-rare hamburger should be cooked to between 125F and 135F. On a grill, this should take between 3-5 minutes per side. A medium-rare hamburger is underneath minimum USDA guidelines for cooking ground meat. However, it should be safe if you take a few precautions.
On this page, we want to give you an overview of how to cook a medium-rare hamburger. We also want to give you a bit of advice on how you can cook a medium-rare hamburger safely.
Temperature Guide For Medium-Rare Hamburger
A medium-rare hamburger is a hamburger cooked to an internal temperature of 125F to 135F, although most people see a medium-rare as at least 130F.
When you have a medium-rare hamburger, the outside of the hamburger patty will be golden brown, much like your typical burger. However, the inside of the medium-rare hamburger will be slightly pinkish.
While it isn’t the preferred way of cooking a hamburger, because most people aim for well-done, there are some that enjoy their hamburgers medium-rare. A lot more of the juices will be locked into the burger. It is going to have a very meaty taste, almost like a steak would have.
Once you start to cook beyond 140F, the juices inside the meat will start to dry out. The closer a burger is cooked to 160F, the dryer the meat will become. This means that more sauces will need to be used in the burger, which completely ruins the point of cooking meat in the first place.
Why Cooking To Medium-Rare May Not Be Safe
According to the USDA, the minimum safe cooking temperature for ground meat is 160F. Your medium-rare hamburger is going to be below 160F.
The reason why 160F is the minimum is that that is when all of the bacteria that could potentially be inside the burger is killed off. It cannot harm you. So, if you aren’t cooking to 160F, then there is a danger of getting sick. The risk will be much higher for the young, elderly, and those who are pregnant.
More eagle-eyed chefs may notice that the 160F is higher than the minimum temperature for non-ground meat. For example, you can cook a steak at 145F and it will be perfectly safe. There is a reason for this.
Bacteria tends to sit on the outside of the meat. If you have cooked a steak to an internal temperature of 145F, then it is safe to say that the outside is more than 160F and that bacteria have been killed. However, ground meat is a bit different.
When you grind up your meat, everything gets mixed up. The outside bacteria is pushed into the ground meat mixture. This means that the bacteria that was hanging around on the outside is now inside the meat patty. So, you cannot be 100% sure that you are killing all the bacteria in the meat.
Read also: How Long To Cook Beef Ribs in Oven at 400?
This doesn’t necessarily mean that consuming a medium-rare burger is unsafe. It just means that it is a bit less safe than cooking it to an internal temperature of 160F.
Safety Tips For Cooking Burger To Medium-Rare Temperature
Firstly, we recommend that you do not serve a medium-rare burger to the following:
- The elderly
- Pregnant women
- Anybody who is sick
It is just because their immune systems are going to find it a lot harder to fight off any bacteria that may be in the burger.
Secondly, we recommend that you make every part of the burger yourself. This means grinding the meat yourself. Do not cook pre-prepared hamburgers to a medium-rare temperature. These are much, much more likely to have bacteria inside of them, and it becomes tough to cook away when you are only cooking to a medium-rare temperature.
That’s all there really is to it. We still can’t 100% guarantee that you are going to be cooking that meat to a safe temperature, but it should be safe enough to consume for the vast majority of people!
The Perfect Meat For a Medium-Rare Hamburger
Since you are grinding the meat yourself (hopefully), then make sure that the meat that you choose is of high quality. It doesn’t matter what meat you choose (although, we are going to assume that you purchase beef) as long as it conforms to the following:
- 85% lean meat
- 15% fat
- Premium quality cut.
When you are building your patties, make sure that the amount of fat and meat is roughly even across the patties. You don’t want to end up with an insanely fatty patty, or an incredibly lean one. Try to maintain that 85% to 15% ratio, although it may be a bit difficult.
You should only lightly salt and pepper the meat when you are building your patty. Don’t go overboard on any additional ingredients. Keeping that meat patty as pure as possible will create the best possible flavor.
How Do You Measure The Temperature of a Medium-Rare Hamburger?
If you want a medium-rare hamburger, then it is important that you cook it to the correct temperature. For this, you will need a cooking thermometer, preferably a digital one. You shouldn’t find it too tough to track down a meat thermometer, don’t worry too much about that.
What you should never do is cut the meat open to check the temperature. There are two reasons for this:
- You can’t tell the temperature of a medium-rare hamburger by looking at it. It is pink inside. It isn’t like a well-done hamburger.
- Once you cut the hamburger, all the juices will leak out. Even if you cook that hamburger to a medium-rare standard, then it is still going to be flavorless.
To measure the temperature of a hamburger, wait until near the end of the cooking period. Once you think the hamburger is almost done, grab the probe that came with the meat thermometer and put it in the middle of the burger. You want the end of the probe to be hovering around the dead center of the burger. If it isn’t, then you will be measuring the grill temperature or the top of the hamburger, not the inside of the burger.
You want the temperature to be a couple of F your designed temperature. This is because when the burger rests, then it will cook a couple of F more. So, if you are looking for a medium-rare of 135F, then that internal temperature can be 130F.
Do You Need To Rest a Hamburger Before Serving?
Yes. Like most meat, a burger should be rested before you serve it. You only need to rest the hamburger for around 5 minutes, on a plate, under foil. There are a few reasons for this.
- Once you remove the burger from the grill, it will keep cooking. You want to bring it up to the right temperature. We will discuss this more in the next section.
- The meat has to rest to let the juices flow out. If you put the meat in the bun right away, the bun will absorb the juice. Basically, you get a soggy bun.
While the burger is resting, prepare the rest of the burger i.e. your bun, salad, etc. That five minutes will be over before you know it.
How To Cook The Perfect Medium-Rare Burger
We aren’t going to tell you how to make a burger here.
As you know by now, the only way to safely cook to a medium-rare temperature is to grind the meat and make the burger patty yourself. If you aren’t doing that, then the meat should always be cooked to a well-done temperature of 160F.
You should also remember that grills can vary slightly. We can only ‘guess’ how long you should be cooking your meat patty. Once you get familiar with your grill, then things should be a little bit easier.
We are also going to have you cook the meat patty to the upper end of the medium-rare level. This is because we want that meat to be as safe as possible for you to consume.
You will need:
- Your burger patties
- A meat thermometer
- Your grill
- Resting plate
- Aluminum foil
- A tool to flip the burgers.
Step 1: Heating Your Grill
In an ideal world, your grill will be preheated to around 400F. This is the perfect temperature for cooking burgers. Unfortunately, it is not always going to be possible to hit that temperature spot-on. However, if you can get as close to it as possible, that’s great.
We certainly wouldn’t recommend cooking your burgers at anything less than 400F.
Step 2: Preparing The Grill
Once the grill has heated, oil the area where the burgers will be. It doesn’t need to be much oil. The only reason why you are adding oil is to prevent the burgers from sticking. Nothing else.
Step 3: Cooking The Burgers
As soon as you have oiled the grill, it is time to cook the burgers. You should be cooking for between 3-5 minutes on each side.
We recommend that you cook for around 5 minutes. It is going to get you closer to your desired temperature.
It is important that you do not flip early. Do not flip that burger before 5 minutes have passed. If you flip the burger too early, then you ruin everything.
This should give us a total cooking time of 10 minutes.
Step 4: Checking The Temperatures
After ten minutes, use your meat thermometer probe to check the internal temperature of the hamburger.
Ideally, you want that temperature to be 132F. If it isn’t, then cook for another minute or so and then test the temperature. You do not have to flip the burger again.
It is important that you do not test the temperature before you have hit the desired cooking time. If you check too often, then the juices will flow out. Your burger will be ruined.
If you are struggling to hit the temperature after 11 minutes of cooking, then adjust your cooking times for future burgers. Remember, your goal is to work with your grill on coming up with the right cooking temperature for a burger. It could be as low as 3 minutes per side and, in rare cases, 8 minutes per side.
Step 5: Resting The Burgers
Once your burger is cooked, remove it from the grill and put it on a plate. Lightly cover with aluminum foil. This will rest the burger.
After five minutes, your burger should be ready to serve!
While it isn’t ideal to cook a burger to medium-rare, you can do so if you make the burgers yourself. This includes grinding the meat. The ideal temperature for a medium-rare burger is 130F to 135F. You can go as low as 125F, but this is not advised as it would be unsafe.
How long to cook a burger medium-Rare?
This will depend on the temperature you are cooking it. In most cases, it should take around 6-10 minutes to cook a burger medium-rare. Your aim is for an internal temperature of 130F to 135F.
Is 145 degrees safe for a burger?
The minimum safe temperature for any meat is 160F. This means that a 145F burger would not meet USDA guidelines. However, if prepared properly, it should be safe to eat.
What is the perfect temp for burgers?
Between 155F and 160F is the perfect temperature for burgers. 160F is the only way to know that the burgers are properly cooked. There shouldn’t be too much flavor loss cooking to 160F.
Is It good to eat medium-rare burgers?
It is OK if you prepare the burgers yourself, including grinding the meat. However, it is not recommended to cook store-bought burgers to a medium-rare temperature.