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I love where I live. With Sonoma’s breathtaking beauty among her rolling hills, picturesque vineyards, and the close-knit community I am blessed to call home, it's easy to say I love what I do. As a real estate professional and food writer, Sonoma Dish endeavors to share with you my enthusiasm for living the wine country lifestyle.



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  • Writer's picture Therese Nugent

The Secret To the Best Beef Burgers

The carnivore in all of us loves the aroma of beef burgers on the grill. Widely hailed as America’s favorite food, the tastiest hamburger not only consists of the perfect mixture of freshly ground beef, but a mysterious seasoning agent. Worcestershire Sauce. (Pronunciation: Wuss. Terr. Sherr.) The highly guarded recipe of this curious condiment is reported to be a fermented concoction of vinegar, onion, garlic, molasses, and anchovies. Tasting tangy and savory, sweet and salty, the sauce adds a unique umami flavor to whatever it seasons.

For the best burgers, purchase best-quality freshly ground “100% beef chuck” labeled “80% lean.” Hundreds of backyard barbecue trials have proven eighty per cent lean beef makes for the tastiest and juiciest burgers. Along with the secret sauce, minced onion and a dollop of Dijon mustard magically season the meat. Liberal shakes of salt and pepper are necessary, too.

A light hand is best when forming the patties. Loosely shape the meat into rounds (try not to pack the meat) and “dimple” the top for consistent cooking throughout. A note about technique: when grilling, turn the burgers only once, when the juices appear on the surface and the patties lose their grip on the grill. Resist pressing the patties with a spatula so as not to express the juices or the fat. Remember, you want that fat for the moistest and juiciest burgers. Fire up the grill and enjoy!


The Best Beef Burgers

Serves 4

1 ½ pounds 100% ground beef chuck

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

2 teaspoons Dijon-style mustard

2 tablespoons minced onion

¾ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

4 hamburger buns, split

Cheddar cheese slices

sliced beefsteak tomatoes

sliced white onion

torn lettuce leaves

mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard

1. In a large mixing bowl, break up the ground beef with your fingers. Add the Worcestershire sauce, mustard, minced onion, salt and pepper and toss lightly with your hands to distribute the seasonings. Divide the meat into 4 equal portions (6 ounces each).

2. With cupped hands, toss a portion of meat back and forth to form a loose ball. Pat lightly to flatten to a ½-inch thick patty. Using your fingertips, gently poke the patties to create a pocked surface. Repeat with the remaining portions of meat.

3. Heat the grill to high. Place the patties on the hottest part of the grill and sear until browned. Transfer the patties to a medium-high heat area on the grill and continue to cook, turning once, until the desired doneness, 4 minutes per side for medium.

4. If serving with cheese, place a slice on top of the burger for the last 2 minutes of cooking. For the last minute of cooking, toast the buns, cut side down, if desired. To serve, place a patty on a bun and garnish with accompaniments. Serve hot.


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