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Preheat Skillet for Diner-Style Burgers

A perfectly cooked, juicy burger doesn’t have to be the closely guarded secret of chefs in diner kitchens. Master the art of heating up your stovetop at home to achieve that same irresistible, mouth-watering dish found in restaurants. In less time than it takes to get dressed and drive to your favorite diner, you can have the perfect setup to serve burgers that are equally capable of satisfying all your cravings.

However, before slapping any formed meat patty onto a cast iron pan, ensure it’s pre-heated to an optimal temperature. Dropping a burger patty onto a lukewarm surface won’t produce the texture you’re aiming for — the toothy, delicate browned char and the rich, moist interior that can occupy gastronomic dreams. While some cooks take the sneaky route of placing skillets into a warm oven to achieve this effect, others spend anywhere from about two to five minutes heating the pan over a flame before beginning to cook. The timing will vary depending on your stovetop and patty, so just aim to get that pan to medium-high heat.

Tips for checking on your pan’s temperature

burgers cooking on skillet

Burgers require heat to achieve that coveted, diner-like sear, and cast iron skillets can simplify your cooking efforts. Not only do they get hot, but they also retain heat, providing an ideal surface to cook your patties without needing to step outside to use the grill. Additionally, the more you cook with your cast iron skillet, the better its seasoning becomes.

To check if your pan is at the right temperature, you can sprinkle a few droplets of water on it, or monitor the behavior of a cooking oil with a known smoking point. When using a cast iron skillet, look for subtle whiffs of smoke rising from the pan’s surface to know it’s ready for cooking. Once your pan is adequately heated, pick one of these drool-worthy burger recipes to whip up, and start preparing the fries. This meal might just rival your favorite diner’s offerings.

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