How to Use a Grill Press for Hamburgers: Secrets to Making Great Patties

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Whether you are an experienced home cook or a professional chef, you are fully aware that there is a difference between smashing a hamburger and smashing a burger.

In one case, you get a firm and delicious patty that works well as a meal.

In another, you are left with a mess that is difficult to eat and unappetizing to look at.

The key difference between the two is in the force used to squish the patty into submission, as well as the equipment you have available.

When making the best burgers, it is important to know how to use a grill press for hamburgers; otherwise, you will wind up with a mess that is stuck to the metal, falling apart in pieces, or otherwise unappetizing.

The trick is to prepare the press’ surface well.

It would help if you also focused on cooking both the inside and outside of the burger.

What Is a Grill Press?

At its core, a grill press is a heavy flat weight designed to be placed on food to squish it down into a desired shape or thickness.

The majority of meat presses are crafted using cast iron, which tends to retain some flavor and seasoning between uses.

However, modern cooking implements have started to use a broader range of materials and might incorporate glass and aluminum.

These materials are easier to clean and degrease but might not have all of the authentic flavors you are looking for in your burgers.

How to Use a Grill Press

Before learning why a grill press is unique when used on hamburgers, it is important to learn how to use one in general.

A common mistake made while using this utensil is pushing down too hard on your food, which can result in flattened meat and vegetables.

That can also cause uneven cooking and the burning of the food.

With that in mind, follow the following steps to use the press properly so that you can avoid making mistakes while barbecuing burgers for your buddies, family, or guests:

1. Get One That Fits

The first step to using a press is to make sure you have one that fits on your skillet or grill.

Many people will simply buy a press that they think looks cool only to arrive home and discover it won’t work with their current dishes.

You want to make sure the press fits in any dishes you intend to use.

This can be done by measuring your skillet before you go shopping.

2. Preseason the Press

One of the perks of using a grill press is being able to add extra seasonings and flavors, which help boost the taste of your meals.

To prepare the press, cover it with a thin layer of vegetable shortening and then coat it in your favorite seasonings like garlic or onion powder.

Do not use oil since it might not pervade the press properly.

It would be best if you allow the press to sit in a preheating oven for 15 minutes.

The set temperature should be 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

After 15 minutes, remove the press and wipe down the surface to redistribute the shortening.

Then, put the press back in the oven for an additional hour to seal in the flavor.

3. Season the Skillet With the Press

This is a basic step.

To impart maximum flavor to both sides of your burgers or whatever you are trying to cook, place the press inside your desired skillet while it is preheating.

This step allows some of the shortening and seasoning to transfer and coat your food.

Remove the press once your skillet or grill has warmed up.

4. Safely Store It

You’re not done with the grill press yet, but you need to store it in a safe place, so it doesn’t burn anything in the kitchen.

It is usually a good idea to place it in a sink or on a surface accustomed to hot temperatures like the surface of the stove.

5. Cook Your Food

You can place your prepared food on your skillet and grill.

You then want to immediately place the press on top to apply pressure and heat to the other side.

Using a press in this manner will more rapidly complete the food cooking process and allow you to enjoy your meal faster.

The press will gradually lose heat, so don’t wait too long before using it.

6. Clean the Press

Finally, you can wash up after dinner.

You want to wait until the press cools down completely before you try to clean it because if not, you are likely to burn yourself on the surface.

Also, since most presses are made from cast iron, you want to avoid cleaning chemicals as well as soap and water.

Instead, wipe down the surface with paper towels to remove excess oil and shortening.

If there is food stuck to the press and you don’t want it to rot, dip a sponge in soapy water and carefully remove the pieces.

Dry the press off as soon as possible and avoid the temptation to stick it in a sink full of water.

Lastly, never clean a press in a dishwasher, as this will damage the material.

How to Use a Grill Press for Hamburgers

Now that you know the basics of the grill press, you should have an easy time crafting the perfect hamburgers for any meal.

There are still just a couple of things you need to know.

1. Pack the Burger Patties

In particular, you need to avoid pressing too hard or trying to use the grill press on loosely packed meat, as this will smash the entire patty and can even cause the meat to become lost in the grating of a traditional grill.

The trick to avoiding a grill press mess is, therefore, knowing the proper techniques for packing a burger patty.

While this seems like it would be an easy task, nothing could be further from the truth.

how to use a grill press for hamburgers

Ground beef is soft, flexible, and malleable, which means it often loses its shape and can be difficult to manage if you have not cooked with it before.

The Lid Technique

A straightforward way to get patties grill-press-ready is to form them in the lid of a standard jar.

The sides of the lid keep the meat intact and allow you to pack it down and apply pressure.

The bottom holds the meat in place, so it is forced to stick together and become packed, meaning it won’t fall apart when you try to cook it.

The Hamburger Press

This product is a small handheld device composed of two separate pieces.

One is similar to the lid mentioned above.

It will have a bottom and sides to prevent the meat from escaping.

You can pack your burger inside until you are satisfied with the quality and quantity of the meat.

You then use the second part, which is a small plastic press, to push down on the meat, once again forming the patty to become firm and hold its shape.

You can then go ahead and cook it like normal.

Mix in Some "Fillers"

There are some ingredients that you can add to hamburger meat, which will make it stickier and less likely to fall apart.

In short, these ingredients act like glue to keep everything together.

One of the most common additives is extra fat in the form of shortening or oil since a common problem burger chefs run into is using low-fat beef.

Unfortunately, low-fat options will not hold together.

You should also avoid incorporating large chunks of ingredients such as onion, garlic, or peppers.

These pieces will prevent the sticky ground beef from adhering to itself, resulting in pits or holes where the patty is more likely to fall apart.

2. Grill Press the Patty

Once you have properly packed the burger, you can go ahead and use the grill press.

Remember to follow the steps mentioned above to season and prepare the press itself, and then apply the surface to your burger to cook the surface facing you.

Again, the trick is to avoid applying too much force, as the pressure will drive the meat apart and cause you to lose your delicious patty. 

If you are unsure of the proper burger seasonings, consider keeping it basic.

You can prep your press using a combination of salt, pepper, onion, and garlic to get a delicious and simple patty.


Using a grill press is a simple process, but one that needs to be done correctly to result in delicious burgers that have been seasoned and cooked to perfection.

The main trick is to pack the burger patty properly so that it doesn’t implode or break from the extra weight of your grill press.

You also want to make sure you use plenty of seasoning and shortening to create a good surface to supply extra heat and flavor to the burger patty.

After reading this guide, you no longer have to wonder about how to use a grill press for hamburgers.

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