11 Tips From Guy Fieri For Making The Best Burgers

If the burger in and of itself is a quintessential part of American life, Guy Fieri's version is a cutting-edge iteration of the classic. The TV personality has long gained fame for challenging the limits of what we consider "acceptable" in the kitchen: Cue his apple pie hotdog. And, luckily, Fieri's hamburger recipes are no less unique. At his Las Vegas restaurant, Guy Fieri's Vegas Kitchen, the celebrity chef has offered fun fare, including a bacon mac 'n' cheese burger and a ringer burger that's topped with a massive fried onion ring. He even started his own line of signature sauces, allowing his fans to smother their burgers in BBQ-flavored goodness from the comfort of their own homes.  

Because Fieri's burgers are so iconic, it can feel intimidating to try to replicate them at home. However, as Fieri once put it on his Instagram, "Don't be afraid to make mistakes. If you're cooking and not making mistakes, you're not playing outside your safety zone." And, luckily, to prevent you from making tons of mistakes, Fieri has been pretty open about the tricks that he uses to make a mouth-watering burger. From his controversial preference for American cheese to his ideas for vegan burgers that actually taste good, Fieri's burger-making tips are likely to give you truly spectacular results. 

1. Fieri prefers ground meat that is 80-20

The first step to making the perfect burger starts at the grocery store, and, like other chefs of his caliber, Guy Fieri has some very specific preferences when it comes to selecting ingredients. While supermarkets generally offer several different ground beef options, Fieri says to steer clear of the options labeled "90-10," meaning that they are composed of 90% lean meat and 10% fat. In an exclusive interview with the Daily Meal, Fieri explained, "I get sad when people go 90-10." The reason for the TV personality's reactions toward this blend pertains to the texture of low-fat burgers: "What they end up doing is making a dry burger that they then fortify with a bunch of mayonnaise or some other type of fat."

Therefore, instead of preparing a round of low-fat hamburgers, Guy Fieri says to indulge in a blend that is 80% lean meat and 20% fat — especially if you are looking to make Game Day sliders. He also recommends checking to see which cuts are included in your ground beef, noting that he enjoys the fattiness of chuck short rib. "I'm a chuck short rib," Fieri divulged. "I like to get some good-quality fat in there. Hands down, I would have to start with the chuck brisket short rib mix; that would be my favorite." 

2. Guy Fieri says to always prep your burgers

Before you even touch the grill, Guy Fieri suggests prepping your burger ingredients. As the celebrity chef revealed in an interview with Insider, this means slicing your buns, coating them with butter, and lining them up on a tray so they're ready to serve. It also involves cutting up your vegetables so that these healthier items are ready to use as toppings. In his conversation with Insider, Fieri recommended that home cooks shred their lettuce, rather than chop it. He also shared some tips for ensuring that the rest of your toppings will fit over your patties:  "Slice your tomato and cut those white onions so thin that they only have one side." 

While all this preparation may seem like a lot of work, it will actually speed up your overall cooking process. Professional chefs like Fieri often engage in kitchen prep — or "mise en place" — to organize their workspaces in such a way that it's harder for them to waste time searching for a missing ingredient or reaching for the wrong vegetable. By taking a few minutes to follow Guy Fieri's kitchen prep tips, you'll probably end up spending less time in the kitchen. After all, his burger-making method consumes only ten minutes  in total, making your trip to "Flavortown" a fast one. 

3. Be sure to season the meat

When it comes to cuts of steer, burger-friendly varieties, such as ground chuck, aren't exactly known for being as fancy as, say, a filet mignon. Even so, that doesn't mean that you shouldn't put in the effort to properly season your burger patties. And Guy Fieri seems to agree. According to a burger recipe that the celebrity chef shared on the Carnival Cruise website, home cooks should start their seasoning process by properly shaping their meat. Per Fieri, the best way to begin is by dividing your ground beef into burger-sized portions and then shaping each of these portions into a ball. Only when the meat is properly shaped should you go ahead and season it with salt.

Interestingly, however, Fieri doesn't recommend using just any old salt to season your burger. Per his Carnival Cruise blog post, Fieri advises that you reach for the Kosher salt. And, while this nugget of insight might seem oddly specific, it's actually backed by scientific evidence. According to Bon Appétit, Kosher salt has larger crystals than table salt, making it easier for red meat to draw the salt into its exterior layers. This not only adds flavor to your burger, but it also dries out the outside just enough to give your burger a beautiful charred look when it hits the griddle. While Fieri doesn't specify how much Koser salt to use, a general rule of thumb is to add 3/4 teaspoon per pound of beef.

4. Guy Fieri cooks his burger over high heat

Once your burger meat is perfectly seasoned, it's time to throw it on the heat — literally. In his interview with Insider, Guy Fieri revealed that the key to making a delicious burger is cooking it at a high temperature. Because of this, the celebrity chef recommended preparing your patty "on the hottest griddle or cast iron pan you can get." The reason for this tip is that Fieri likes his burgers with a brown crunchy exterior — which he referred to in the interview as "all that delicious caramelization."

Fascinatingly, though, science has another term for this phrase: The Maillard reaction. According to Mosa Meat, the Maillard reaction takes place when amino acids, carbohydrates, and air come into contact and catalyze a chemical reaction. This process is what causes meat to take on that gorgeous dark color as it cooks. However, a high temperature is an essential element to the Maillard reaction; if your griddle hasn't reached somewhere between 140 and 160 degrees, the chemical process won't take place, and your burger won't char. 

To give your burger that nice color that Guy Fieri loves so much, the celebrity chef says to grab one of your seasoned balls of meat. Then, as he told Insider, you can throw it on the heat and subsequently squish it down with a spatula. Stop squishing when your patty reaches the desired thickness — about 1/2 inch. The result should be appealing to the eye.

5. Melt the cheese with water and a bowl

The perfect cheeseburger is not easy to make, especially when it comes to melting the cheese. Many home cooks struggle with this task, as it is challenging to make sure that both the cheese and the meat cook to the ideal point. Some folks wait until they have already pulled their burgers from the griddle to add this delicious topping — but this strategy often results in a hard, semi-melted cheese layer. Others yet add the cheese to the patties while they are still cooking. However, this method can cause your meat to dry out while you are waiting for the cheese to reach the desired consistency.

To avoid this problem and make a perfectly-cooked patty with a gooey layer of cheese on top, Guy Fieri suggests using a special trick. As the TV personality explained during an interview with Insider, you can squirt a bit of water around your burger patty while it's cooking on the griddle. This will create some steam. Then, throw some cheese over your patty and cover the whole setup with a metal bowl. This will allow the steam to rise and melt the cheese without drying out your meat. As Fieri told Insider, "That steam will melt your cheese before you overcook your burger."

6. Choose American cheese

While Fieri's metal bowl technique is an essential part of making his signature cheeseburger, it's not the only thing you can do to make the perfect melt. In an interview with Insider, Guy Fieri also explained that choosing the right ingredients is key to getting that gooey layer of cheese that people love so much. According to the chef, American cheese "melts really well," or at least better than its alternatives. Because of this, Fieri recommends using American cheese on your burgers. 

Interestingly, there is a method to Fieri's madness. In terms of composition, cheese is a combination of fats and water, which are bound together by proteins. When exposed to slightly warmer temperatures — for example, 90 degrees — the fats in the cheese begin to melt, leaving you with a stretchier result. However, when those temperatures rise higher to, say, 150 degrees, the proteins in the cheese fall apart enough that the dairy product turns into liquid. 

American cheeses are unique, as they are not created in the traditional, European way, but are rather chemically manufactured. They have even more water in them than popular old-school cheeses, like Swiss cheese or Manchego. Plus, their recipe includes plenty of chemical salt, which keeps the proteins from binding too tightly. As a result, American cheeses melt way more quickly and at much lower temperatures than the alternatives, making them the ideal topping for an extra-gooey cheeseburger. 

7. Guy Fieri suggests using brioche buns

American cheese is not the only secret ingredient that makes Guy Fieri's burgers so much better than your average home-cooked fare. The celebrity chef also uses brioche buns to elevate his burgers above the rest. As one journalist for Insider wrote of Fieri's burger recipe, "I loved the brioche bun as a base. It carried the burger — and all of its fixings — really well, and added a little more depth of flavor to every bite with that hint of signature sweetness."

The reason that brioche buns taste so good could pertain to their components. Unlike regular bread, brioche contains sugar and butter — ingredients that, while caloric, are extremely flavorful. Because they were traditionally used in desserts, brioche buns are perfect for burgers that have a slight twinge of sweetness. Whether you are making a Fieri burger or a sweet corn black bean burger, serving your creation on a brioche bun can take you straight to "Flavortown."

However, simply using one of these sweet buns isn't enough to do things the Fieri way. To prepare your brioche bun properly, the celebrity chef suggests cooking it on the griddle. In a cooking demonstration for Carnival Cruises (via Ark Travel Group on YouTube), Fieri explained exactly how to prepare your bun: "Brush it with a little butter. Toast the bun on both sides." 

8. Veggies burgers should be full of grains

Just because Guy Fieri makes a mean meat burger doesn't mean that he leaves his veggie burgers on the back burner. On the contrary, the "Mayor of Flavortown" has his own unique technique for making the most delicious veggie burgers. In an interview with Food & Wine, Fieri revealed that he isn't a huge fan of store-bought vegan burgers. "Most veggie patties suck — that's a culinary term," he opined. Instead, Guy Fieri told the outlet that he likes to make his own patties using grains as a base, instead of beans. Fieri even went so far as to specify which grain he believes works particularly well: "Quinoa is my baby — quinoa hot, quinoa cold. So nutty, has a little pop."

If quinoa burners aren't exactly your thing, fear not! Guy Fieri has more vegan-friendly burger suggestions. In an exclusive with the Daily Meal, Fieri divulged another excellent replacement for ground beef: Soy chorizo. When asked what to use in vegetarian sliders, Fieri replied, "That soy chorizo, you've got to give that a shot ... I don't want to call them "meat substitutes" or whatever, but it's one of the best go-to's." Apparently, the reason that Fieri loves this ingredient so much is its quality. As he told us in his interview, "Quality ingredients will always prevail."

9. Substitute cheese with nuts in dairy-free burgers

Guy Fieri may make a delicious vegan burger, but he doesn't necessarily use typical vegan ingredients as toppings. Rather than reaching for store-bought vegan cheese, Guy Fieri suggests making your own cheese substitute using nuts and nutritional yeast. In his interview with the Daily Meal, Fieri revealed that a few simple ingredients can make a delicious gooey sauce that can mimic American cheese. "Nutritional yeast and cashews — raw cashews — and veg stock will make you some nacho cheese that will blow your mind. Look it up. Everybody's got a recipe about how they like to do it," he shared. 

Apparently, Fieri has also been known to add spices to his vegan cheese concoctions. As he told Food & Wine you can flavor your vegan cheeseburger toppings with a wide variety of spices. Some of Fieri's favorites included onion powder and garlic powder, both of which can add a healthy dose of flavor to your recipe. He also divulged that turmeric and cayenne can make interesting additions to your vegan cheeses as well, as they both provide a splash of color to the final result. 

10. Guy Fieri uses plenty of toppings

Regardless of whether you are making a veggie patty or a traditional ground chuck hamburger, Guy Fieri believes that you should top off your creation with some fixings. As the celebrity chef told Food & Wine, "You don't ask for Metallica with less Lars, it's that acid and tang and pickle." Of course, Fieri has recommended different toppings for different types of patties. When it comes to vegan burgers, Fieri suggests using plenty of charred veggies. He also told Food & Wine to try adding some garlic to the buns: "Cut off the tops of the garlic cloves, steam, then puree them with olive oil, and kiss both sides of the bun with it."

Meanwhile, Fieri says that hamburgers require toppings that add a touch of acidity. In a video that he made for Carnival Cruises (via Ark Travel Group on YouTube), Fieri explained: "We hit it with ... thin-sliced pickles. You need that acid from the pickles and also from the super thin sliced onions." The celebrity chef expressed that other great hamburger toppings included fresh tomato and shredded iceberg lettuce. For a more elaborate result, you could even replicate Fieri's "Ringer Burger" by plopping a fried onion ring on the top.

11. It's all about the sauce

While charred veggies and acidic toppings all go well with burgers, Guy Fieri likes to add one more ingredient to his patties: Sauce. And, it goes without saying that the "Mayor of Flavortown" does not recommend that you use just any old sauce. Fieri is famous for using Donkey Sauce to top off his burgers. This blend of mayo, roasted garlic, mustard, Worchester sauce, and seasoning can add a rich and flavorful finishing touch to your perfect burger. 

The best part of Fieri's Donkey Sauce is that its creator has already dreamed up a vegan version. As Fieri revealed in his interview with Food & Wine, it's pretty simple to whip up an egg-free, dairy-free sauce — thanks to a few key substitutes. With the help of store-bought vegan mayo and a fish-free brand of Worchester sauce, you can create a vegan Donkey Sauce that tastes just like the original.

When it comes to actually adding the Donkey Sauce to your burger, Guy Fieri doesn't seem to want you to overdo it. In the blog post that he wrote for Carnival Cruises, Fieri advised using just two tablespoons of this creation per portion. That being said, Fieri doesn't want you to spare any enthusiasm about applying that portion of sauce to your burger. As he wrote in his instructions, "Smear Donkey Sauce on the sliced side of both bun halves."