Weeknight dinners are all about fast, affordable, healthy, and crowd-pleasing at our house. That’s a lot of boxes to tick! (Especially since we have a toddler!) If you’re anything like me, the urge to just order a pizza or drive through your local take-out spot can be fierce at the end of a long day, especially once you hit mid-week. But, take-out or delivery usually only ticks the “fast” box. I’ve come to realize that if I use a few secret weapons, there are a couple dishes my family can enjoy for dinner that not only tick all my boxes but require minimal clean up afterwards. (And all the mamas cheered!) One of those tricks is easy weeknight burgers.
I’m going to let you into the mind of Lindsay for just a minute–I usually like the way food smells while it’s cooking or while I’m eating it, but 10 minutes after the meal, I’m over it. And if that smell is still lingering in my house even a couple hours after I’ve cooked, I just about have a comin’ apart.
Which is why easy weeknight burgers requires a secret weapon….
It’s such an underused tool in our kitchen, and I think that’s because most of us don’t like cleaning the broiler pan. I’ll share a couple tips for that later. Broilers can be a mama’s best friend on a weeknight. They’re fast, and they allow me to cook inside my oven instead of on my stove top. Cooking burgers on a stove top means it smells forever. Using my broiler also lets me cook inside which means I don’t have to attempt to use my husband’s grill outside or wait for him to get home to fire it up and grill me some patties. When the goal is to have all four boxes ticked and dinner on the table as he’s walking through the door, I just can’t wait for him to get home.
So, the broiler is secret number #1 to easy weeknight burgers.
Secret #2: The freezer.
I usually do my grocery shopping at the beginning of the week or over the weekend. Some meats might not last all week in the fridge, but they will last all week if I pop them in the freezer until the day I’m ready to cook them. Same with hamburger buns. Most of us aren’t using hamburger buns every day, am I right? And when 8 come in a package, and my toddler isn’t eating them yet, that means me and the hubby are going to take weeks to get through all eight. Those buns will have mold on them by week 3 for sure. So, I pop them in the freezer as soon as I get home from the grocery store along with my pre-made hamburger patties. (I like Laura’s. They’re extra lean and hormone free and come in a package of four.)
And now I wait until the day comes (haha – Thursday usually) when I have no idea what to make for dinner, and I’m tempted to order a pizza or drive through our local hamburger place and get a few burgers to go (and a chocolate shake).
That is when I take those frozen patties out of the freezer and let them start defrosting. Depending on how much time I have, I’ll either put them right on the counter for a bit and then move them into the fridge, or I’ll just put them straight into the fridge.
When it comes time to actually make dinner, I pull out however many hamburger buns I need from the freezer and set them on a plate on the counter and let them hang out till I’m ready for them.
Toppings and Sides–Anything Goes!
Next, I make sure my top rack in the oven is in its highest position, and turn on the broiler to HIGH.
Then I pull out whatever I have on hand for toppings. We usually have all the standard hamburger toppings on hand. Once easy weeknight burgers are on your REPEAT menu, you’ll start collecting your favorite toppings too: ketchup, mustard, mayo, pickles, sliced cheese, etc. If I have the fresh stuff (i.e. lettuce, tomato, etc.), hooray! If I don’t, oh well, I’ve got the other basic condiments I like already.
Same goes for sides. Use what you have. Bag of kettle chips? Frozen broccoli you can steam up? Can of baked beans? Carrots? EASY. If keeping things easy is your goal, don’t pick something that requires more than one plate or bowl or pot to prepare it.
Side note: The burgers cook so quickly when broiling, that I take care of my sides and toppings before I start them.
I spray my broiler pan with my favorite non-stick spray (I love grape seed oil personally) and season my hamburgers (I just use a few shakes of seasoned salt). I place my hamburgers onto the broiler pan and pop them in the oven.
This next part is going to be 100% up to you and your family’s preference on burger doneness. I recommend starting with 2 minutes, then flipping, and putting them in for 2 more minutes. Until you know how fast your broiler cooks the thickness of your burgers, you won’t know exactly how long to cook them. Keep in mind the burgers will continue to cook once you take them out of the oven. You can always use your trusty meat thermometer if in doubt. I like a well-done burger, so I cook mine for 4 minutes on one side, then flip, and then put them in for another 3 minutes.
While your burgers are broiling, pop your hamburger buns in the microwave if they’re still frozen. I microwave 2 buns for 30 seconds. Next, if you want some cheese on your burgers, put them on your bun and pop them into your toaster oven for a quick toasting.
When they’re done and your burgers have gotten to your family’s preferred doneness, you’re ready for toppings and sides!
And dinner is served! (Da da da daaaaa!!!!)
Next, dinner is over. It was yummy, and healthy, and fast, and affordable. You did good, mom.
Now it’s clean up time.
The only beast you have to tackle is the broiler pan. Everything else should be a quick drop in the dishwasher.
I use my scrubbing brush to get all the burger-goo off of both pieces of my pan. (This takes 2 minutes max.) If there are any sticky spots from my spray, I rub those really quickly with my steel wool brush. Then I pop the whole thing in the dishwasher! I have had my broiler pan for 10+ years. My mom gave it to me (it was hers) when I left for college, and she had just gotten a new one. This thing could totally be 20 years old for all I know and has been in COUNTLESS dishwashers. Non-stick spray, scrubber brush, steel wool brush, and the dishwasher = my tips to an easy clean up with the broiler pan.
And there you have it. Easy weeknight burgers. I’m curious to know, do you have any easy dinner dishes that you use your broiler for? I’d love to hear what they are in the comment section!
Easy Weeknight Burgers
Pre-made burger patties
Burger seasoning (I prefer seasoned salt)
Favorite burger toppings: ketchup, mayo, mustard, pickles, lettuce, tomato, etc.
Place top rack in oven to its highest position. Turn broiler on to HIGH. Defrost hamburgers buns and pre-made burger patties if necessary. Season patties with seasoned salt or preferred burger seasoning.
Place patties on broiler pan after spraying it with non-stick spray. Broil patties for 2 minutes, then flip, and broil for another 2 minutes.
Continue to broil until burgers have reach your desired doneness or have reached desired internal temperature with meat thermometer.
Once cooked, remove patties from broiler pan. Toast hamburger buns in toaster oven (add cheese before inserting into toaster oven if desired). Remove buns and place on a plate. Add patty to one bun and adorn with your favorite toppings.
Enjoy with a simple side such as steamed broccoli, kettle chips, or baked beans.