Same as fish, chicken or any other meat, beef and beef burgers lose around 25% of their original weight when grilled or prepared in other ways. This is why the patty you put on the grill is always larger than the one you take out. While there is no way to avoid this, there are some steps you can take to make sure your burgers don’t shrink too much on the grill.
These are some of the methods you can try.
How to Keep Burgers from Shrinking on the Grill
To make sure you get a nice, large burger that fits the size of your buns, instead of shrinking to half their size, here are some steps you can try.
1. Use Lean Meat
Use meat that has no added salt and water in it. Look for labels that state they do not add water and salt to their ground beef. The main reason for this is that if the meat has water added to it (usually so it can weigh more) the water will evaporate during the cooking process and the patties will end up being considerably smaller.
2. Balance out the Fat Content
If you go to a butcher’s shop and have the chance of choosing the pieces of meat that you’d like to be ground up so you can make your own ground beef patties then we suggest going with a mixture of 80% lean meat and 20% fat. This lean meat to fat ratio is perfect when making burger patties. The ground beef won’t be too high in fat content, which means that you won’t lose too much of its size, but you will still have enough fat in the meat, which will make your burgers nice and juicy, instead of dry and crumbly.
3. Use Moderate Temperature
The temperature you use to grill your burgers is directly related to their size once they’re cooked. If you go with a higher temperature, the burgers will shrink considerably faster than they would if you were to maintain a moderate cooking temperature. This will not only keep your burgers from shrinking too much, but it will also keep them juicy and really flavorful, since the moderate heat will help them retain their flavors better.
4. Shape and Size of the Patties
A common mistake people make when grilling burgers is that they expect the patty they put on the grill to be the same size as the one they take out. However, even if you follow all of the steps we mentioned above, there will always be a bit of shrinkage that occurs while cooking the patties due to the loss of fat and water. Therefore, if you want your patties to match your buns, you need to make them a bit larger than what you need them to be once cooked.
Pro tip: Make a dimple in the center of the burger patty (not a hole) to ensure it cooks evenly.
Now that you know all the steps you need to take to avoid shrinkage when cooking your burgers, it’s time to uncover a few more secrets when it comes to cooking the perfect burger.
3 Mistakes to Avoid When Grilling Burgers
There are so many pitfalls you need to watch out for when cooking a seemingly simple burger. That’s because no matter how plain and simple you keep the recipe, there are certain things you need to take into account so you don’t end up with a dry, tough, underdone burger that’s falling apart.
If you want to keep your burgers tender and juicy here are some of the common mistakes people make that you need to avoid.
1. Choosing the Right Meat
Although we talked a bit about this subject above, it’s important to note that choosing the right meat is crucial to the taste, texture, flavor and size of your burger patties.
While we already came to a conclusion that an 80% to 20% balance of lean meat vs fat would be ideal for juicy and tender burgers, there are also other options you can go with.
If you’re looking to cook leaner, less fatty burgers, you can go with ground sirloin that has a ratio of 90% – 10% proportion of protein vs fat. This is a leaner version of the traditional ground beef burger that loses a lower amount of fat in the process so you can get a larger patty that’s close to the size of its uncooked version.
We recommend going with a freshly ground meat, instead of pre-packed or frozen meat, because you will get the most out of its flavors and taste this way. For an even fresher option, you can choose to buy fresh meat and grind it yourself at home.
Don’t rely on pre-made patties, as even though this might save you a lot of time, they aren’t the freshest meat available and they won’t be as tasty as if you were to make them yourself from scratch.
2. Over-handling the Meat
Shape the patties with wet hands so the meat doesn’t stick to your hands. This will allow you to get things done faster and avoid over-handling the meat to a point where you turn it into a dense, dry puck or you can’t shape it anymore.
3. Not Heating up The Grill Enough
While a gas grill will heat up pretty quickly, if you’re using charcoal you will need to wait a bit more for the grill to reach the desired heat. Cook your burgers over medium heat to keep the moisture and flavors intact.
If you follow these simple steps and avoid some of the most common mistakes made when preparing and cooking burgers, you should achieve the best flavor, taste and texture possible and make a lovely meal that everyone will enjoy.