For The Perfect Burger, Skip The Pan And Break Out The Plancha

Cravings for the perfect burger can strike at any time of year, not just during the outdoor grilling season. That's why it's important to explore all available options for cooking an excellent patty indoors as well. Some home cooks like to prep their hamburgers in an air fryer, while others simply reach for their favorite pan or skillet.

While these methods might be handy for cooking this particular culinary delight, if you really want to master the perfect burger, there is a better option out there. For a patty with the ideal blend of a crispy outer layer and a juicy, flavorful interior, it's time to try a tool known as a plancha.

The even heating and large surface area of this flat-top griddle not only produce more delectable results than a typical stovetop skillet, but also offer greater efficiency when cooking for a crowd. Plus, once you invest in a plancha, you'll find it can be incredibly versatile in your kitchen, useful for more than just crafting burgers.

Why planchas work so well for cooking burgers

"Plancha" is the Spanish term for a flat-top griddle, ideal for high-heat cooking. These are typically made from a ceramic non-stick surface or cast iron, and often feature a trough around the perimeter to collect grease that drains from the cooking surface. Some flat-top griddles have built-in heating elements, while others are designed to be placed on a heat source for cooking.

Planchas are highly effective for cooking burgers for several reasons. First, they provide evenly distributed heat across a large, flat surface, allowing cooks to achieve that perfectly browned burger exterior. Unlike cooking in a skillet, where high sides can trap steam, the plancha's design promotes air circulation, allowing the meat to crisp on the outside. Additionally, flipping burgers is much easier on a rectangular plancha than on a round skillet.

While your trusty pans are useful for one-skillet meals, they can cause hamburger patties to become crowded, which negatively impacts the cooking process. Planchas offer the advantage of cooking multiple burgers simultaneously, with ample space to spread out each patty.

Alternatives if you don't have a plancha

If you're eager to cook up an all-American cheeseburger but don't own a commercial-grade plancha, there's no need to worry, as accessible alternatives are available for the home cook. Many manufacturers offer rectangle-shaped cast iron grill pans that fit across two burners on a typical stovetop. These often feature two sides — one with a raised grill surface to simulate grill marks when cooking indoors, and the other side is flat for plancha-style cooking.

In fact, this same cast iron griddle pan can also be used on an outdoor grill. This way, you still benefit from even cooking on a hot, flat surface while capturing some of the aromas and flavors of outdoor grilling.

After adding a plancha or griddle pan to your kitchen arsenal, you'll soon discover uses beyond burgers. They are also ideal for making pancakes or cooking bacon and eggs, just like at your favorite diner.