When I lived in New York, there was a restaurant that I went to every Friday night for dinner that served the best cheeseburgers in the whole wide world—cheeseburgers so good that the line out the door would not deter me. The wait was so worth it. I finally cracked the code as to why these juicy, beefy burgers were so good; all I had to do was ask. The cook told me they grind chuck roast fresh every day, fire up the grill really hot, and use kosher salt for flavoring. Sometimes the less you fuss with something, the better. So simple. No fuss. Just pure beef.–Cristina Ferrare

Classic Cheeseburger FAQs

How firmly should I pack my burger meat?

The recipe says to not pack your patty tightly or you could risk having a dry burger. Your patty should just hold together. Just. You don’t want it firm, and you don’t want it to fall apart.

How important is the cut of beef – in this case, chuck roast – for burgers?

Chuck roast is the classic choice for burger making due to its fat content. A good burger absolutely needs a good deal of fat to ensure juiciness and mouthwatering beefy taste. We’ve all heard the saying “where there’s fat, there’s flavor” right? It’s the truth. If you’re purchasing pre-ground meat, make sure your label specifies “ground chuck” and not “ground beef”.

Two classic cheeseburgers with red onion and pickles on sesame buns on a wooden serving board.

Classic Cheeseburger

5 from 1 vote
This classic cheeseburger is made with freshly ground chuck, salt, and pepper, and little else. Sometimes, the classics really are the best. Simple to make–no messing around with trendy ingredients or techniques–it'll knock your socks off.
David Leite
Servings6 servings
Calories446 kcal
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time10 minutes
Total Time20 minutes


  • 1 1/2 pounds chuck roast, (ask your butcher to grind it for hamburger)
  • Healthy pinch kosher salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • 6 slices sharp Cheddar cheese*
  • 6 hamburger buns
  • Condiments of your choice
  • Pickles, homemade or store-bought
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced


  • Shape the ground chuck into 6 patties, each about 1/2-inch thick. Be careful not to pack the meat too tightly or you'll end up with dry burgers. Sprinkle a healthy pinch of salt over each burger. Crack some pepper over the top as well.
  • Prepare a grill or place a grill pan or cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat for 3 minutes.
  • Place the burger over the heat, seasoned side down. Toss some salt and pepper over the now top of the burgers and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Flip the burgers and cook for 2 minutes more. Flip the burgers again and grill for 1 minute more. Flip the burgers again, place a slice of cheese on each burger, and cook for 1 minute more. The burgers will be medium-rare. If you prefer your burgers cooked medium to well-done, transfer them to a cooler part of the grill or reduce the heat under the pan to medium-low and leave the burgers on the heat a little longer.
  • Transfer the burgers to a warm plate but do not cover them. Place the hamburger buns, cut side down, on the heat and warm until the desired toastiness.
  • Assemble the burgers and buns on a clean plate, using any condiments you like. You're now ready to bite into the tastiest, juiciest burger ever.


*What You Need To Know About What Type Of Cheese To Use

What kind of cheese goes on a burger is quite the personal matter. We understand that. You needn’t feel compelled to use Cheddar just because this recipe calls for it. Any cheese that turns melty, stringy, or gooey when heated will do just swell. Although actually, you needn’t use any cheese at all, seeing as a bare burger can be a thing of beauty, too. Hey, maybe that’s how the little ditty about how the cheese stands alone came to be? Someone scraped it off their cheeseburger and then felt sorry for it!
Christina Ferrare’s Big Bowl of Love

Adapted From

Cristina Ferrare’s Big Bowl of Love

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Serving: 1 burgerCalories: 446 kcalCarbohydrates: 24 gProtein: 33 gFat: 24 gSaturated Fat: 11 gMonounsaturated Fat: 9 gTrans Fat: 1 gCholesterol: 106 mgSodium: 536 mgFiber: 1 gSugar: 4 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2011 Cristina Ferrare. Photo © 2011 Todd Porter and Diane Cu. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

This is a good cheeseburger. A very good cheeseburger. I like how simple it is. Grind a chuck roast, form it into patties, and grill it. I grilled these burgers in a skillet over medium–high heat using the suggested timing and I got a medium–well burger. I like mine a bit pinker, so I flipped each minute. Absolutely perfect.

Even though this set off the smoke alarm in my house, the result was a delicious, juicy hamburger. This is similar to the way I do steaks indoors (which also sets off the smoke alarm!), and it works equally well with hamburgers. My cast-iron pan was extremely hot after 3 minutes on high, so I think next time I’ll turn down the heat a little after putting the hamburgers in the pan.

The technique used in this recipe is perfect. Not packing the meat combined with the high temperature is key. We did our burgers on the grill, topping the ones with cheese for people who wanted cheese and leaving the others plain. Both were a hit.

We didn’t top our burgers with the red onion or pickles, but that’s just our personal preference.

This is a great hamburger recipe. The meat was full of flavor and extremely moist. I don’t think I’ll ever go back to store-bought pre-ground meat. It was very easy to grind the chuck using my KitchenAid meat grinder attachment. I bought meat cubed for stewing, which cut down on prep time.

In my cast-iron skillet, the burgers took less than a total of 4 minutes to cook to medium–rare. If I had left them on for the full 5 minutes, they would’ve been well beyond well-done.

What can I say? I love a good burger and this one didn’t disappoint. The author, Cristina Ferrare, did an excellent job of explaining how to make these wonderful burgers. I went a little further by purchasing my own chuck roast and grinding it myself though that’s me (I prefer to grind my own meat for food safety reasons).

There are three keys to this great burger: 1) make sure your pan is super hot, 2) DON’T pack your meat too tightly, and 3) season the meat generously. Salt really brings out the beef’s natural flavors and, well, beefiness.

Next time I make these burgers I’m going to make them larger—4-ounce burgers are a little on the small side, 8 ounces would be much better. If you do that, be sure to adjust your cooking time.

I was surprised how good these simple cheeseburgers tasted. The butcher was more than willing to grind up a chuck roast for me. From the very beginning of preparation, I could tell these burgers were going to be different. The beef had a better feel as I shaped the patties. It held together better, a little tighter than traditional ground beef. The flavor of the burger itself was outstanding! It was beefy and had a lighter texture. All in all, a fantastic cheeseburger.

Our barbecue soared past 700°F during the preheating stage. That was a bit too hot. A couple of the burgers were a smidge beyond medium–rare, so I would pay more attention to the temp next time.

Yup, this is a foolproof burger recipe. It really is as easy as it sounds and the timing worked perfectly for my medium–rare burger (a little more time for the husband’s medium doneness). I skipped the grill pan and cast-iron skillet and did this right over hot, hot charcoals on the grill.

This seems simple—and it is. The key is the freshly ground chuck roast. The sear seals in the juices and after that it’s a matter of just leaving it alone and letting it cook.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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