Why Restaurant Burgers Taste Better Than Yours

If you've ever tried to cook a burger in your home kitchen or on the grill, the results may have been hit or miss. Maybe it turned out perfectly cooked inside, but it was totally flavorless. Or maybe the outside had a nice char and salty flavor, but the inside was overcooked. But when you go to one of the 101 best burger spots in America, the patty is beautifully cooked on the inside, satisfyingly charred on the outside and packed with beefy flavor. What gives?

Restaurant Secrets Every Home Cook Should Know

As it turns out, it's all about the kitchen tools.

Most top-notch burger places use a flat-top griddle to cook their burgers. These griddles are set at a consistent temperature, one that allows the burgers to get a sear while cooking evenly on the inside, locking in the juices. The patties are also often pressed into the griddle right after they hit the grill and then scraped off with a sharp spatula so that all of the crust comes with it.

Most great burger chefs can tell when a burger is cooked just by pressing on it, and they melt cheese on top by covering the patty with a bowl and squirting some water underneath, creating steam — kind of like this stovetop TikTok hack.

How can you replicate this at home? It's hard, but if you have a heavy-duty cast-iron pan and a good spatula (as well as a functional hood for proper smoke ventilation), you've got the right tools for the job. Practice makes perfect, but if you'd rather just eat your burgers at a restaurant, find out here where to get the best burger in your state.