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4 reasons you should use a cast-iron skillet to grill burgers

Hamburgers are the standard for a good cookout. Make the patties even better using a cast-iron skillet.

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Use your cast-iron skillet to grill burgers. Trust us. 

Alina Bradford/CNET

Hamburgers are no doubt one of the most popular yet versatile dishes. You just fire up the grill, throw on a few patties, pile the burger high with all your favorite condiments and toppings (I recommend adding avocado) and you've made a meal the whole family will love. But what if there was another way to cook burgers? We've already covered eight unexpected ways you can cook with your grill, but there's another trick you may not have considered -- using a cast-iron skillet on the grill for your burgers.

It may sound counterintuitive, but there are a few reasons it's worth giving it a go. Whether you're cooking up burgers at a tailgate party this football season or preparing for the next summer cookout, try this new tactic.

Less mess to clean

You might grill to keep from cleaning the kitchen, but cooking fatty burger patties on the grill can also create a bit of a mess. Of course, it's nothing a grill brush (or aluminum foil) can't handle. But using a cast-iron skillet on the grill will reduce the mess even further.

When you're done cooking the burgers, let the skillet cool down a bit, wipe it down to remove the burnt bits and grease, coat it in some oil and throw it back on the grill to season it for the next use.

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Fewer flare-ups

When you cook hamburger patties on an open grate, the fat from the burgers seeps out and falls down into the grill. If this fat hits a flame, it will cause a flare-up.

Flare-ups can not only be dangerous, they can also toast the outside of your food more than you want. Cooking in a cast-iron skillet traps the fat and prevents it from falling into the heat source.

No more dry patties

One of the main differences between a grilled burger and one cooked in a skillet is how juicy the burger usually is.

The fat that drips down through the grates is just flavor escaping your burgers, so trapping the fat is two-fold. Not only does it almost completely put an end to flare-ups, it means you'll be cooking the burgers in their own fat. This helps preserve some of that precious beef flavor and will make a juicier burger in the end.

Not to mention, while you preheat the skillet, you'll want to throw some cooking oil in there, too. The fat and oil (hey, no one ever said a juicy burger was a healthy option) will help you obtain that crispy, brown crust without overcooking the center and while keeping flare-ups from burning your burgers.

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Cooking directly on the grill grates allows fat (and flavor) to escape.

Josh Miller/CNET

Same smoky flavor

Even with a pan, you're still cooking on a grill -- over an open flame of some sort. That means regardless of whether you're cooking over charcoal, on a pellet grill or with gas, you can still get that awesome smoky flavor.

All you need to do is open the vent and close the lid for a few minutes while the burgers are cooking. If you're using a gas grill, throw some wood chips in a smoker box before you start cooking to help flavor the burgers.

For more grilling advice, check out these articles on the top five grilling tricks you should know and the best grills tools to buy. You can also read about our favorite portable grills and charcoal grills of the year. 

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