How to grill the perfect burger: 3 tips from an award-winning chef

Brooks Burgers 

Todd Brooks is the owner of Brooks Gourmet Burgers & Dogs, a Naples, Florida, restaurant ranked the No. 2 burger joint in all of America by TripAdvisor in 2018.

Brooks bought Lindburger's, a local institution but total dive, in 2010 and turned it into Brooks Burgers (as fans call it).

"It was a very greasy spoon sorta feel, like a dive on the corner, which I liked," Brooks tells CNBC Make It. "We cleaned it up but kept it so it felt like an old, beat-up restaurant.

"I decided on burgers and dogs because I knew a lot about the meat market and I also loved the history of the old burger joint," Brooks says. "We made [it] more approachable and we improved all the food."

Todd Brooks at Brooks Burgers
Brooks Burgers

Customers are loving the results. "We still get lines in high season," he says. Brooks now has two additional locations in the area.

The place is especially known for its Donut Burger. "The Donut Burger was something that we had eaten at state fairs and made a great talking point, so we offered it," says Brooks. "It took off like crazy when people started taking photos and put them on Facebook and Instagram.

Don't worry if can't head to Naples to try his burgers any time soon. Brooks gave CNBC Make It three tips on making great burgers at home.

Start with great ingredients

"Buy the best meat," he advises. "You can make your own or ask your local butcher to make a special blend. Adding brisket to the blend is very popular."

"Also, I like to mix a little extra fat so the mix is closer to 76 to 77 percent lean as opposed to 80 percent. Prime is great but not necessary. If you find a nice choice blend that you like, save your money," he says.

How to grill the meat

"When grilling, cook the outside over high heat on both sides to get a quick sear or char depending on the grill," says Brooks. "Then move it to a low heat area to finish it so it keeps its moisture. My preference is medium rare," he says.

And "remember to pull the meat just a touch early so it can rest a few minutes without overcooking."

Secret pro hack

"In addition to our secret seasoning, when I grill, no matter what I am cooking, I keep a small spray bottle of salt water that I spray the meat with right before I top it or take it off the grill. This adds a very uniformed flavor enhancement without over salting," he says.

"Play around by adding vermouth or cognac to your salt solution. Making your own liquid seasoning for the end is nice because a lot of times the seasoning comes off in the cooking process especially if it has a lot of fat.

"This is a great way to set your home burger apart from everyone else," he says.

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This story was originally published on Sept. 1, 2018. It was updated on May 27, 2019.

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