Ina Garten Ditches The Buns For English Muffins When She Makes Burgers

It's no secret that Ina Garten has a knack for elevating recipes using just a single ingredient, and when she makes burgers, she mostly keeps things classic, save for one simple swap. The chef cooked her go-to burgers for a beachside cookout on an episode of the "Barefoot Contessa," and instead of stuffing the patties between hamburger buns, she used perfectly grilled English muffins. 

Garten expressed her love for this perfect combination, and we have to agree. Traditional burger buns aren't bad, per se, but they're typically quite soft. Even when toasted or grilled, they still have the tendency to get soggy or even fall apart under the weight of condiments, toppings, and juice from the burger patty, creating a sloppy mess. Using an English muffin potentially solves these problems. It's a bit more dry, yet somewhat spongy, so it can soak up all of the goodness of the burger and condiments in the nooks and crannies that it's known for, without crumbling. 

To make a burger just like Garten's, all you need to do is fire up your grill (Garten prefers charcoal over gas) and place the burgers on one side. When the paties are almost ready, add halved English muffin on the other side and get them browned and toasty. Garten adds mayonnaise and a generous helping of caramelized onions with sherry vinegar on top. Feel free to use toppings that might normally be a bit messy — the muffins should stand up to them.

More of Ina Garten's tips for making the best burger

The crunchiness of a grilled or toasted English muffin is the perfect contrast to a juicy burger patty, and they're also thinner than standard buns, which allows the beef to shine as the star of the show. For Garten, the key to a delicious patty is using grass-fed beef with a reasonable amount of fat (she aims for 20%). The chef uses premium beef from Niman Ranch, combining it with just salt, pepper, and a dollop of Dijon mustard, so that the meat's flavor takes center stage.

Garten also takes additional steps to keep the patties moist. She drizzles a bit of olive oil into the ground meat before mixing in the other ingredients. Overmixing the meat or packing the patties too tightly can make for a tough texture, so she combines the mixture gently with a fork and cautions viewers not to compact the burgers. If you don't have olive oil on hand, you can also try Garten's butter hack for moist burgers. Finally, once your patties are cooking, Garten says to resist the temptation to press down on them with your spatula. Doing so squeezes out the beef's juicy goodness, voiding all of the hard work you put into making them moist.