I usually make my hamburgers at home by putting a little oil in a pan and then just placing the patty in it on medium heat for 10-15 minutes.

Inevitably, while the meat ends up about medium rare, there's a semi-burned layer along the bottom, where it's browned and crusty. I always have to pick this off and I'm finally sick of it.

What am I doing wrong?

  • What type of oil are you using? Some oils burn at lower temps, so if you're using something like olive oil, that could be causing the issue.
    – Catija
    Commented Jan 30, 2015 at 1:03
  • I have indeed been using olive oil, but just now I did it with no oil at all, to test that, and still got a browned crust (albeit not as thick). Commented Jan 30, 2015 at 1:06
  • Depending on the pan (are you using nonstick? or cast iron?), you'll probably still want to use some sort of oil. I would recommend the high smoke point of something like canola oil or soybean oil.
    – Catija
    Commented Jan 30, 2015 at 1:14
  • 1
    It sounds like your patty is pretty thick. If it's because you have too long a duration of direct heat contact in order to cook to medium-rare, you could remove the patties from the pan once you have achieved desired browning, and put it in an oven to finish the cooking to medium-rare.
    – Ming
    Commented Jan 30, 2015 at 2:03
  • Are you flipping the burger?
    – Ross Ridge
    Commented Jan 30, 2015 at 3:27

5 Answers 5


Make sure you flip it reasonably frequently; that'll actually make it come up to temperature faster inside, so the outside won't have as long to burn.

Also make sure you haven't made your patties excessively thick. 10-15 minutes on medium sounds like a fairly long time for normal sized burgers, so possibly yours are on the thick side. If you do really want thick patties, you're probably better off using a more gentle cooking method like the oven for some of the time. You can bake until nearly done, then sear to finish, or start with a sear then bake til done.

Beyond that, if it's burning on the outside before it's done on the inside, the normal fix is to simply reduce the heat, so you cook more slowly, giving the heat time to reach the center without burning the outside. But at 10-15 minutes already, maybe you don't want to go much slower!


I like using a cast iron skillet under the broiler...like this: https://cooking.stackexchange.com/a/15457/6279

It will caramelize the outer layer of the meat without burning it...


Hamburgers can be cooked by the same method as steaks; if you have an oven safe pan, basically bake and sear or sear and bake; the former is a bit easier since flipping a mostly-uncooked hamburger can be very difficult.

Basic instructions: Place hamburgers on cast-iron or other oven-safe pan. Bake for 5-10 minutes (length depends on thickness) at 350-400°F. Remove from oven, place on stove over high heat; flip after 20 or so seconds (depending on how much of a sear you like) and then after the second 20 or so seconds remove to plate.

This is basically the reverse of the method in the first section here. SeriousEats also recommends this method at the bottom of this article, although they recommend in a very low temperature oven - I've not tried that before (but may want to this weekend!).

Incidentally, if you are looking to simply improve your burger experience overall, Serious Eats' Ten Tips to Better Burgers is a good place to start, or just start reading Burger Lab articles. They're outstanding, and usually very doable without being very strong in technique.


You could use a low temperature water bath (sous vide). Cook your burgers 56 - 60 c (depending on desired doneness), 1.5 to as much as 6 hours. Remove from bag. Put whatever sear you want on it, because the burger will be cooked.

  • 1
    I'm all for sous vide cooking, but unless you're at a restaurant or cooking for a large number it seems overkill (given the time it takes)... I rarely want to eat hamburgers 1.5 hours after beginning cooking them :) But then again the 225 oven is around 25 minutes so perhaps it's worth it to try this as well.
    – Joe M
    Commented Jan 30, 2015 at 22:26
  • @JoeM Not overkill if you prepare burgers, sous vide, chill, wrap individually and freeze. Then, all you need to do is thaw and sear.
    – moscafj
    Commented Jan 31, 2015 at 13:38

I use 80/20 beef for my burgers and don't have to use any oil in the cast iron pan. Cooking it on a medium heat. Kinda go by sight so couldn't tell you how long until you flip them but I don't have the issue of it being burned on the outside. I like my burgers medium as well. I do think that the fat percentage does make a difference and the type of pan you use. I know this probably isn't very helpful.

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