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Best Beach Burger

Photo: David Hillegas; Styling: Linda Hirst
Yield Makes 4 servings
Ground chuck (20% to 25% fat) makes the tastiest bites. For tender, juicy burgers, don't overwork the meat when forming it into patties.


  • 1 to 2 cups mesquite or hickory wood chips
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1 seedless cucumber, sliced into thin ribbons
  • 1 pound ground chuck, formed into 4 (4-inch) patties
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 (1-ounce) Cheddar cheese slices
  • 4 (3-ounce) sesame seed or brioche buns, split
  • 1 (1-pound) beefsteak or heirloom tomato, cut into 4 slices

How to Make It

  1. Preheat grill to medium-high heat (350° to 400°). Rinse wood chips in water; drain, and place on a sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Fold foil over, and seal sides to make a packet. Poke several holes in top. Place foil-wrapped chips on grill grate or hot coals.

  2. Whisk together vinegar, sugar, celery seed, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl; toss with cucumber ribbons. Set aside.

  3. Grill burgers, covered with grill lid, 5 minutes on each side for medium-rare, or until desired degree of doneness. Transfer burgers to a platter, and sprinkle with pepper and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Top each burger with 1 cheese slice; tent loosely with aluminum foil to keep warm.

  4. Grill buns 1 minute. Meanwhile, squeeze excess liquid from reserved cucumbers. Place burgers on buns, and top evenly with tomato slices and cucumber relish.