How To Pan Fry Hamburgers

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We all know the grill makes the best burgers, right? Or does it? Regardless, no one wants to grill when it’s 30 degrees and snowing. And most people living in cities or apartments don’t even have a grill. But that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice a well-seasoned hamburger.

These are easy to make and only take about 10 minutes. And with just 4 common ingredients, they’re just as flavorful as ever. All you’ll need is a stove and a frying pan—that’s it!

Seasoned Pan Fried Hamburgers

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 10 minutes

Ingredients(Makes 4 servings):

  • 1lb ground beef(either 90/10 or 85/15 are good)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 medium onion, diced

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  1. Add the salt and pepper onto the meat and massage the seasoning in. Do not apply too much pressure ever as this can make for tough and tight hamburgers.
  2. Split the beef into 4 quarter-pound patties and flatten between the palms of your hands. Make a slight indent in the center for when the air in the center expands.
  3. Meanwhile, heat a pan over medium heat and add the diced onion to sweat. When the pan has come to temperature, add the burgers on top of the bed of onions.
  4. Cook for 4 minutes on both sides for rare, or until the liquid coming out starts running clear. For medium well, add about 2 minutes on both sides. Note that how many you can cook at a time depends on how large your pan is. I wouldn’t cook more than two at once as crowding will slow down the cooking.

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Like any meat, let the burgers sit for 5 minutes off of heat for them to retain their juices. Serve with any condiments you could desire. What I love about these is that they don’t taste salty, or peppery, or “onion”y; they just taste like a perfectly seasoned burger.

You can either discard the onions or serve them alongside. They will most likely be slightly burnt and cooked heavily in beef fat; that just sounds perfect to me, but if you’re not a fan of onions feel free to dump them.

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31 Responses to How To Pan Fry Hamburgers
  1. brandi
    November 10, 2010 | 10:26 am

    i love your love of burgers 🙂

  2. Kristina @ spabettie
    November 10, 2010 | 1:16 pm

    yep – I would eat those onions!! LOVE the ketchup swirl !

  3. suki @ [Super Duper Fantastic]
    November 10, 2010 | 1:49 pm

    we pan fry our burgers since our backyard isn’t set up to BBQ just yet. 🙂 i’ll have to remember to make a bed of onions to grill upon. i usually just mix them into the meat itself… the burgers i make usually have garlic and cheese in them too! 😛

  4. Shannon, Tropical Eats
    November 10, 2010 | 3:01 pm

    hahah love the ketchup bit 🙂

    burgers are the BEST!!! and the crispier the onions, the better

  5. J3nn (Jenn's Menu and Lifestyle Blog)
    November 10, 2010 | 3:30 pm

    I love pan-fried burgers; it’s how I almost always make them when I don’t want to use the grill.

  6. Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga)
    November 10, 2010 | 3:36 pm

    I just really want to eat ketchup. That’s all.

    With a perfect swirl tip.


  7. BroccoliHut
    November 10, 2010 | 9:24 pm

    My mom always pan-fried our burgers when I was a kid. They always tasted great to me!
    I am in awe of your ketchup swirling skillz.

  8. Estela @ Weekly Bite
    November 10, 2010 | 11:10 pm

    In all the years I’ve cooked burgers I’ve never seen it cooked over onions before! I can’t wait to try this!!!

  9. Lora @cakeduchess
    November 10, 2010 | 11:23 pm

    Sweet ketchup swirl!! I love pan-fried burgers. I like how you added the diced onions. I bet the flavor was amazing:0)

  10. sophia
    November 11, 2010 | 12:34 am

    How DID you get that nice ketchup swirl? That is cool. But I doubt I have the patience to do that. ;-p

  11. k kelly
    April 17, 2011 | 6:36 pm

    I love fryed hamburgers, the onion idea is something iam fixing to try! Can’t wait!!

  12. Steve
    March 18, 2012 | 6:57 pm

    Perfect article, loved how simple it was. Thanks for the great info!

  13. Rachel
    August 31, 2012 | 6:56 pm

    Soo, I make hamburgers a few times a week and I thought, “Who posts a recipe for something this simple?”

    And so I just went to make my lunch (a hamburger, of le course), and remembered this post. I cut up my onion, let it sweat in my coconut oil, added the burger on top for exactly 6 minutes on each side… let it sit for 5 minutes as instructed.

    OHHHHHHH MY GOOODDDD WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN ALL MY LIFE!?!?! Now I’m double thinking EVERYTHING in my rotation because I know it can be made even tastier! This was SO juicy, I am so impressed.

    Thank you for posting this!! I welcome any more “simple” cooking techniques ANY day!! 😀

  14. Ed
    September 21, 2012 | 9:22 pm

    Dude thank you! I used this recipe to make my first pan fried burger and it was amaaaaazing. The onions make all the difference!

  15. Ty
    January 18, 2013 | 6:31 am

    This is my first try on pan-fried patties following your tips.
    Amazingly simple. Tastes perfect!
    Thank you!!

  16. Kara Heise
    January 25, 2013 | 10:34 pm

    Simple idea and too easy. Loved them, came out great.

  17. Libby Ball
    February 26, 2013 | 7:24 pm

    Just made this recipe and it was delicious! So easy and way better than any other pan fried burger I have attempted. Thanks!

  18. Khyron
    March 6, 2013 | 11:45 pm

    Just made my very first hamburgers ever using this recipe – they were fantastic!

    I made a few small changes for taste, starting with cooking some bacon to go on the burgers, and mixing the cooked bacon grease and small bits of bacon left on the spatula/griddle liberally to the burger and onions while cooking.

    I added just a about a half tsp more of both salt and pepper (I have a notoriously unrefined palate), cooked for 5 minutes on each side, and topped with thin-sliced cheddar cheese at 1 minute to go. Had no buns, so used sliced bread with lettuce and tomato (and the bacon, two half-strips per burger). Kept cooking onions for 5 minutes while the burgers locked in their juices, then drained the grease and used them to top the bacon-cheddar burgers.

    Was magnificent!

    I’m eager to try cooking the bacon ON the skillet, then cooking the onions/burgers directly in the remaining grease!

  19. moonlake
    May 23, 2013 | 6:11 pm

    Enjoyed reading this never fried a hamburger on a bed of onions but why not. Love the ketchup have to try it.

  20. LG
    May 27, 2013 | 8:15 pm

    Not only are they delicious, these burgers saved my husband 😉 We were all set for a Memorial Day cookout, only to learn that we ran out of gas for the grill (because he forgot to get a new tank this week). In desparation, I searched for pan fried burgers recipes and am thrilled that I found this recipe. They were awesome!! We didn’t miss the grill at all!

  21. Pete
    June 23, 2013 | 11:03 pm

    I tried this for the first time tonight and just one word of warning:

    “They will most likely be slightly burnt and cooked heavily in beef fat; that just sounds perfect to me,”

    If your pan is too hot (like mine was…even though the recipe clearly states ‘medium heat’ I was going by memory and cranked it up to high) as those onions start to hit that slightly burnt stage, they’re going to smoke a LOT! LOL

    Wound up having to open all the doors and turn on a floor fan to blow the smoke away from the smoke detector.

    Burgers were great, though!!!

  22. Max
    July 10, 2013 | 11:40 pm

    I have been working this summer to find the best way for me to cook a burger. I have been trying different time frames on the grill but have not found success in the type of burger I am looking for.

    Then I stumbled across this recipe.

    It took me a few weeks to actually get to it, but on the spur of the moment I made them about half an hour ago and they are exactly the burger I am looking for. Nice and rare, but not too rare, without a burnt exterior thanks to the bed of onions.

    I suggest anyone giving it a shot. If you like onions, you won’t be disappointed.

  23. Roxy
    July 13, 2013 | 4:15 pm

    WOW! I’ve already made this recipe twice and everyone loves it! I mixed in some onion into the meat…could never get enough onions! Thank you so much for the recipe!

  24. Mike
    February 2, 2014 | 10:50 pm

    Thank you!

    I tried this tonight with some minor modifications, and it was *the* best burger I’ve ever cooked. I slivered my onions instead of dicing, and used 1/3 pound patties of 93/7 ground beef, cooking about six minutes on a side for a perfect medium rare. The skillet I used had just cooked a pound of bacon, and I just poured off the fat before putting the onions in.

  25. donland
    April 10, 2014 | 8:38 pm

    This really works. It was the best. Added some bacon and jalapeños to the sweat. Dear lord even the wife liked it.

  26. mallory
    April 24, 2014 | 9:27 pm

    Thanks for the tip on not applying too much pressure. I think I may have unwittingly made that mistake before.

  27. johnny
    May 23, 2014 | 9:23 am

    That plate looks like crap. A pattie with over cooked onions and a “Swirl” of ketchup? That looks like crap and you freaks on this page who are all in awww over the ketchup,… you guys clearly have no culinary skills at all. Pan fried burgers are crap just like your faces.

    • Wannabe Chef
      May 23, 2014 | 11:35 am

      I agree with you. I wrote this post 4 years ago and my photography skills were terrible. It’s cringe-worthy looking back. I’m also a vegetarian nowadays. But it is a really delicious way to cook a burger for people who eat meat.

  28. Katie
    June 23, 2014 | 9:58 pm

    You CANNOT cook a rare burger! Or medium rare, or anything but brown all the way through. You can cook rare or even blue steaks because bacteria is only in contact with the cut surfaces. You cook the exterior, you kill the germs.
    Ground beef, and therefore a hamburger, has been exposed to air all over and all through. You might not get food poisoning, heaven knows people don’t always, but I was taught this in school and I just think people should be aware of it.

    • Chris
      September 4, 2014 | 5:17 pm

      Katie, while you are biologically correct I probably have a better chance of being hit by a bus than dying from a rare burger. They taste great!!!

  29. Laura Arango
    February 20, 2015 | 7:25 pm

    I came here to learn, lol.. I’m actually making some ham burgers right now and the oil is flying everywhere. Thanks to this article I made it alive haha.