The ButterBurger Cooking Techniques You Should Be Recreating at Home

Your friends may start calling you a “grill master,” too.

PHOTOS COURTESY OF CULVER'S; DESIGN BY SAMANTHA SHIN

Culver’s has been perfecting their ButterBurgers for nearly four decades, so when you can’t order one from them directly (still the best move), you should take a few lessons from their grill masters for burgers you make at home. From utilizing fresh, butcher-quality beef, to achieving a perfect sear, to the importance of that lightly buttered bun, these notes from the pros will have your friends calling you a “grill master,” too.

Don’t go with frozen beef

There’s a misconception that all burger patties are somehow the same, and that tossing any old frozen joint on the grill is going to do just fine at your next cookout. But there’s a huge difference in taste between pre-made frozen patties and mixing up your own or leaning into what’s available fresh in the butcher case. That’s because frozen beef loses moisture during the freezing process, making for a drier burger, which won’t taste as good, no matter how perfect you get the sear.

Source cuts from your butcher

Instead of going with frozen patties, treat your burgers like a steak, just like Culver’s does, and look to your butcher to provide you with a fresh option. Some counters may make their own patties for you, but if not, look for a mix of sirloin, chuck, and plate and have the butcher grind them in store. These cuts are the same that Culver’s uses, thanks to their good marbling, which makes for enough fat to flavor the patty.

Get your pan extra hot

Nothing beats a grilled burger, but if you’re cooking indoors (or just don’t have a grill), a cast iron skillet or grill pan works, too. The real secret is getting it hot enough for a sear. If you’re cooking on the stove top, let the pan preheat on the stove for about five minutes, then toss a flick of water on it. If it sizzles up immediately, it’s ready for your burgers.

Press and sear your burger

Serious carnivores should invest in a grill press, as it’s especially useful for getting chicken skin crispy, making sure your steak is seared evenly, and getting the perfect crisp edge on your burgers. Applying a bit of pressure will make sure that every area of your meat is coming in contact with the pan or grill, which is key to an even sear. At Culver’s, they use a similar tool to press out burgers right on their grill top. Once the patty is pressed, don’t flip until after it's had a good one-to-two- minute sit on that hot stove, either.

Butter your bun

Culver's burgers are all topped with a lightly buttered, toasted bun — and you shouldn’t be slapping your burger patty on a room temp, limp one either. A light toast on any sandwich vehicle (be it a burger bun, tortilla, or white bread) adds some much needed crunch and helps keep your bun from falling apart under the weight of the meat, toppings, and condiments. Plus, a light smear of butter before it hits the pan will ensure it toasts up evenly, with a bit of extra flavor, too.

Cook them to order

Burgers, like most red meat, just don’t reheat well, especially if you’re employing the usual methods like a microwave. So unless you’re into cold burgers, your best bet is to cook them to order, whether you’re playing grill master at a cookout or just making a weeknight dinner at home. Because burgers do cook relatively quickly, wait until everyone is ready to eat to get things started. If you are looking to get ahead of the game, get the fixings ready prep-cook style: slice tomatoes and onions, shred some lettuce, and you’re well on your way to a burger that’s nearly as good as one you’ll find at Culver’s.