Hamburgers have long been a staple of the American diet thanks to their low cost, great taste and easy preparation. Most of us imagine the cooking process involving a charcoal grill or a stove-top skillet. However, the oven is an equally effective and often under-used tool that creates juicy, succulent burgers with no searing, shorter cooking times and heat circulation that eliminates the need for flipping. Essentially, the oven can be a burger-lover's best friend if used properly.
Place the oven's cooking shelf in the upper third of the oven and close the door. Heat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Fit a sheet of aluminum foil inside a baking pan and then place an oven-safe metal rack over the pan. Make sure the rack, which holds the burgers, rests at least an inch above the baking sheet to provide for adequate air circulation. If you do not have a rack, you can use a broiler pan instead, although you will have to flip the burgers regularly for more even heating.
Wash your hands thoroughly before handling any food. Next, make a hamburger patty from ground meat by breaking a piece of the meat off and gently tossing it from one hand to another until it forms a ball shape. Gently press the ball into a patty until it is the desired size and shape. About 1 inch thick and 3½ inches wide is a good rule of thumb. Season it with salt, pepper and any desired spices. Basting the meat with a sauce or marinade like barbecue, steak sauce or Worcestershire adds flavor and helps keep it moist while baking. Repeat this process for as many burgers as you wish to make.
Cooking the Meat
Place the burgers on the metal rack that sits over the baking pan. Place a meat thermometer inside the thickest part of one of the burgers. Then place the rack, with the burgers on top and the pan underneath, onto the oven's cooking shelf. Shut the door and bake the burgers at 425 degrees; grease will drip into the pan below as they cook. Periodically check your burgers and make sure the center reaches the USDA-recommended temperature of 145 degrees. Cook 8 to 10 minutes for medium rare, 11 to 12 minutes for medium, and 13 to 15 minutes for medium well. Also, please note that while suitable baking temperatures actually vary from 400 to 475 degrees, depending on the source, the above times are correct when cooking at 425 degrees.
Ready to Serve
When your burgers are done, pull out the rack and pan using oven mitts. Transfer the burgers to buns using a spatula, dress them with condiments as desired, and allow them to sit for a couple minutes before serving. This lets the juices settle and the patties cool to a safe temperature for consumption. In the meantime, simply remove the aluminum foil with the drippings from the pan and discard it. For easy clean-up later, soak the metal rack in soapy water for 20 minutes while you sit down to enjoy your meal.