Hamburgers are the all-American food, despite being named after a German city. Among the many ways to prepare a burger, one of the easiest and fastest is in the microwave. Ground beef is particularly responsive to microwave cooking, thanks to its tenderness and short cooking time. Of course, microwave cooking is faster and neater than pan frying or firing up an outdoor grill. When you factor in convenience and speed, burger-plus-microwave might just be the perfect cooking combination.
Form the ground beef into doughnut shapes about 4 to 5 inches in diameter. Each patty should completely cover the palm of your hand. Leave a 3/4-inch-diameter hole in the center of each patty. Sprinkle salt and pepper to taste.
Place the burger patties onto a microwave-safe plastic colander or trivet set on a microwave-safe dish. Lay a sheet of wax paper over the patties and place the dish into the microwave.
Microwave on high for about 40 seconds per patty. Turn the burgers over when the time is up and repeat the process on the other side.
Insert an instant-read thermometer into the center of the burger to check its internal temperature. Ground beef is considered safe when it's fully cooked to a temperature of at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Cook for another 15 seconds and check again if the temperature is lower.
The doughnut shape helps the burger cook evenly and helps fat to drain. When it comes to making burgers, leaner meat is not always the best tasting. Fatty meat shrinks when cooked and the burger that started out full-size may end up much smaller when it is fully cooked, but lean meat can be dry and less tasty. In general, the leaner the meat, the longer it will take to cook. The higher the fat content, the shorter the cook time. Meat labeled "hamburger" may contain added beef fat, but "ground beef" may not.
Use caution when biting into a microwaved burger. It may be hotter in some areas than others. Wait 1 to 2 minutes before eating. Cooking burgers to medium or rare carries with it the risk of foodborne illness.
- Purdue University: Microwave Cooking
- LA Times: Healthful Ways to Cook Hamburgers -- Microwave or Broil?
- U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service: Ground Beef and Food Safety
- University of California at Davis: Protection Against Cancer from the Grill
- Southern Living: Better Burgers Tonight
Robert Morello has an extensive travel, marketing and business background. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from Columbia University in 2002 and has worked in travel as a guide, corporate senior marketing and product manager and travel consultant/expert. Morello is a professional writer and adjunct professor of travel and tourism.