There are 5 levels of burger doneness, from rare to well-done. The government recommendation is to always cook burgers to be well-done, or 160 degrees. However, many restaurant patrons may want their burgers cooked for just a few minutes to get a perfectly rare burger. If you do decide to cook burgers to customers’ desired temperatures, make sure that you have a warning on your menu about the potential dangers of undercooked meats.
Budget Branders works with independently owned and operated restaurants, food trucks, coffee shops, and other food service businesses throughout the United States. We offer a full line of high-quality promotional products (like custom wax paper to wrap burgers in or custom paper bags for to-go meals), each of which can be printed with your restaurant’s name and logo. Reach out to our branding team today for a quote on the disposable products that you need for your business.
Why Getting the Right Burger Temperature Is So Important
Almost any food can harbor dangerous bacteria. Common harmful bacteria such as Salmonella, Escherichia coli (STECs), Campylobacter jejuni, Listeria monocytogenes, and Staphylococcus aureus are often found in meats. With ground meat – such as ground beef (with beef fat added) typically used to make hamburgers – the risk of contamination is higher. Instead of the bacteria simply being on the surface, as it would be on a steak, it gets mixed throughout the meat when it is ground.
For this reason, the USDA recommends cooking ground meat to a minimum internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit. This is the equivalent of a “well done” burger, with no pink in the center.
Of course, many people find a well-done burger to be tough and dry. They may prefer a burger that is cooked to medium rare or rare for optimal juiciness and beefiness. For these burger aficionados, the potential safety risk is a fair trade-off for a more delicious burger.
Many restaurants offer burgers at various temperatures. Typically, if a restaurant cooks a burger to a diner’s preferred doneness, they will include a warning on their menu. It may read something like: “Consuming raw or undercooked meats, poultry, seafood, shellfish or eggs may increase your risk of foodborne illness.” In fact, some places – like New York City – require this warning to be on restaurant menus.
If you are committed to only cooking burgers to the full 160-degree temperature – as many fast food restaurants like In ‘n Out do – then there are some practices you can follow to ensure that your burgers aren’t dried out or chewy. This includes steps such as:
- Using freshly ground beef that has a fat content of at least 20%
- Keeping the meat very cold until it goes on the grill or griddle
- Not overworking your ground meat
- Not salting your meat until the patties are formed
- Add a divot in the middle for even cooking
- Avoid pressing down on the patties as they cook
- Use a thermometer to make sure that you aren’t overcooking
Your chef may also have other tips that can make for a moist, tasty burger – even if it is cooked to the USDA recommended temp of 160 degrees.
Burger Doneness: Temps and Times for a Perfect Burger
Burger Temperature Chart
|Preparation Level||Internal Temperature||Cook Time|
|Rare||115-125°F||4 minutes or less|
|Medium Rare||130-135°F||5 minutes|
A rare burger is red or raw in the middle, with a soft and tender texture. It is cooked to 120 to 125 degrees – or a lower temp for an even more rare burger known as a blue rare burger (115 to 120 degrees). A rare or blue rare burger is cooked for 4 minutes or less.
Medium rare burgers are pink and warm in the center, with a slightly firm texture. They are cooked to 130 to 135 degrees. Typically, these burgers take about 5 minutes to cook.
Medium burgers are still pink in the center but start to get drier in the center. They have a firm and springy texture. They are cooked to 140 to 145 degrees for 6 to 7 minutes.
A medium-well burger will be grayish-pink in the center with a firm texture. It is cooked to 150 to 155 degrees. It usually takes 7 to 8 minutes to cook a burger to medium well.
A well-done burger is completely gray, with no pink inside and a very firm texture. It is cooked to 160 degrees or higher, in accordance with USDA guidelines. These burgers take 8 to 9 minutes to cook.
Timing the cooking of your burgers is a good way to determine doneness. However, the best method is to use a meat thermometer to check for internal temperature. You can insert the thermometer’s probe into the thickest part of the burger, ideally close to the center and away from a heated surface like the grill’s surface. The reading will give you a more accurate picture of just how “done” your burger is.
Once the burgers are cooked to the desired temperature, they should be allowed to rest for approximately 5 minutes. This gives the meat an opportunity to reabsorb some of its juiciness, which can reduce the potential for it to become dried out and flavorless. However, cooked hamburgers should sit out at room temperature for less than 2 hours, and at 90 degrees or higher for less than an hour. Letting the burgers sit out any longer could allow for the rapid growth of dangerous bacteria and pathogens.
Serve Up Great Burgers with Budget Branders
At Budget Branders, we are proud to partner with small-to-medium-sized businesses – including burger joints – across the U.S. We only sell the highest high-quality disposable products, including custom coffee cups, custom plastic cups, custom coffee sleeves, custom plastic stadium cups, custom ripple cups, custom soup bowls, custom ice cream bowls, custom sandwich bags, and more. Each of our products can be custom printed and are available in quantities that make sense for smaller restaurants and food trucks.
If you’re considering using branded disposable products in your restaurant, we can help. To learn more or to request a quote, contact us today by pressing the live chat button, or sending us a message online.