To any real fan, a hamburger is never "just a burger." A great burger is a work of art, passionately thought out and painstakingly executed. It's the very extension of the grill master's identity.
And, of course, determining what makes a burger great can stir as much passion as choosing our next president.
So with the smells of charcoal and propane beginning to perfume backyards across the country, we challenged L.A. Times burgermeisters everywhere to submit their recipes in our second annual Battle of the Burgers. The response was amazing. More than 140 recipes were submitted from all over the country, with readers across the nation voting to choose their favorites.
Thousands of votes were tallied to narrow the choices to the top 20 burgers. Top recipes were then put to task in the Los Angeles Times Test Kitchen. The burgers were then judged by Food section editors and staff. It was tough, but after days of testing, exhaustive judging (and maybe a little post-burger napping), we came up with five favorites.