The Great Burger Taste Test: Is BBQ Really Better?

With Father's Day coming up this Sunday, everyone is focusing on what meats to round up for the inevitable Sunday cookout. Because even though it's Dad's special day, he inexplicably prefers to stay home and chuck some ground chuck onto the faithful backyard barbecue grill rather than living it up with dinner out at a local steakhouse.

This week, Cooking Virgin decided to jump on the meaty bandwagon by testing out three at-home methods of cooking up burgers: pan frying, cooking with the trusty George Foreman tabletop grill, and grilled via charcoal BBQ. Unfortunately, the original plan to include propane in this taste-off as a tribute to TV's most famous animated redneck dad Hank Hill fizzled out, since the local hardware store declined to let us "borrow" one of their propane grills.

Whatever. We would've cleaned it afterwards. Probably.    

Will charcoal-broiled burgers win out over the quicker, more healthful George Foreman version? Find out after the jump.

Don't forget to dent your patties.

​To even things out in case The Virgin's homemade patties were inconsistent, I used both premade beef patties and hand-formed ones made with 90/10 lean ground beef and a touch of seasoned bread crumbs. A pinch of salt and pepper added flavor; no other spices or condiments were used so that the natural taste of the meat could really shine on its own.

Tip: If you're planning to cook burgers using more than one method, better get your timing right or one set of patties will blacken and turn to shoe leather before the other set stops mooing. Meat with a higher fat content will also help to keep the burgers moist.

Call those lessons learned.

The George Foreman method was the quickest, searing the molded and shaped patties in about four minutes -- long before the charcoal even started to heat up. For the pan-fried burgers, I used a simple non-stick pan with a touch of olive oil spray and cooked them about 5-7 minutes until charred on the outside and cooked through.

The charcoal BBQ took the longest, as even with burn-in-bag charcoal it takes a while for the coals to heat up. All three burgers were a little overdone and seemed to accelerate from raw to nuclear-blasted in less time than it took to take the condiments out of the fridge.

Of course, that could be because I was cooking all three types of burgers simultaneously (bad idea unless you have a kitchen staff).

Here's how the test went: Pan-fried was labeled "Burger A", charcoal was "Burger B" and George Foreman grill was "Burger C." Here's what our three volunteer tasters had to say when they blind tested the 3 cooked burgers:

Chris: They're all not that bad. Burger A is a little juicier than Burger C. Burger C is... meh. Burger B is clearly the best.
Noelle: Burger B -- Oh, hell yeah!! This is way better than the other two. Burger A is a little juicy, and has a lot more flavor than Burger C. But Burger B is the moistest. It has lots of flavor. I'm probably going to regret saying this, but it's all about the fat. The fat is good. Burger B sealed the fat in. It just kind of pooled and dripped around it, which keeps the flavor in. The other ones are leaner, but dry.

Adam: Burger B is ok. It's juicy, but I don't like the flavor that much. Same with Burger A. To be honest, I like my burgers really well-cooked, so Burger C is my pick. It's the closest to how I'd make a burger.

The Virgin: Are you serious? Burger C is like a freaking hockey puck. Can I spit this shit out? Burger A is much better. At least it's a little juicy. Burger B is awesome. It's greasy as hell, but I really don't care. At least it's mildly edible. Can we go to In-N-Out Burger now?

Where the eff is the charcoal-grilled burger? Still mooing.
Where the eff is the charcoal-grilled burger? Still mooing.

Good news for dads! The BBQ burgers nabbed 75% of the top votes and the taste testers all thought the other dude was crazy for picking the dry-ass George Foreman burger. So tell Dad to bring on the grill and break out the cheesy #1 DAD apron -- it's totally worth it.

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