There's nothing quite like a juicy burger, but they often shrink when cooked. Unfortunately, many people experience shrinkage when they cook burgers. This can be frustrating, but with a few tips, you can keep your burgers from shrinking. Shrinkage is that unfortunate phenomenon where your burger patty shrinks in size after cooking.
The good news is that there are ways to keep your burgers from shrinking. This blog post will discuss some of the best ways to prevent shrinkage and becoming hockey pucks and ensure you enjoy a delicious burger without any shrinkage drama. Stay tuned for our top tips!
What happens to the meat when it's cooked
When you cook a burger, the meat undergoes a series of changes. The first change is denaturation, when the meat proteins unravel and break apart. The grill's heat causes this process and helps tenderize the meat.
Next, the water inside the burger begins to evaporate, causing the meat to shrink and become more concentrated. At the same time, fat begins to melt, adding flavor and juiciness to the burger and dripping out, reducing its weight.
Finally, as the burger continues to cook, the Maillard reaction occurs. This chemical reaction between amino acids and sugars produces hundreds of new flavor compounds. It's what gives grilled meat its signature taste.
What causes hamburger patties to shrink?
It will inevitably shrink to some degree when you cook a hamburger patty. But why does this happen? There are several reasons why hamburger patties shrink when cooked.
- As the meat cooks, the water inside it evaporates. As a result, the patty loses weight and volume.
- Muscle fibers in the meat contract as they're heated up, resulting in a loss of volume. Consequently, the patty is becoming shorter and shorter.
- The fat in the meat melts, and juices inside the patty are released, reducing its diameter and thickness.
These factors together cause a hamburger patty to lose about 25% of its original size when cooked. So next time you're making burgers for a crowd, be sure to factor in this shrinkage when deciding how many patties to make.
What are the other factors that affect shrinking?
1 Using meat that's too lean.
When making burgers, many people believe that leaner is better. After all, why waste calories on fat when you can get all the flavor from the meat itself? However, there are good reasons to use beef with higher fat content.
The fat is what gives burger meat its flavor and juiciness. It helps keep burgers moist and juicy, preventing them from drying out on the grill. Additionally, fat lends flavor and richness to the meat, making for a more satisfying burger experience. Trimming all the fat off leaves you with a bland, dry, and unappetizing burger.
For a delicious burger, meat is 80% lean and 20% fat. This is the perfect ratio for a juicy, flavorful burger with everyone returning for seconds. So next time you're at the grocery store, pick up some 80/20 ground beef and make the best burgers of your life.
2 Overhandling the meat.
You must handle the meat as little as possible when cooking burgers. Many people think that the only way to make a burger is to squish it with their hands and then press it down onto the grill. Handling the burger meat too much can cause it to become tough and dry. When mixing the ground beef with other ingredients, use a light touch and be careful not to overmix.
The same goes for when shaping the patties. Be sure to use a light touch when forming the patties. Use your hands to gently press the mixture into shape, careful not to compress it too much. Finally, give the burgers a light dusting of flour before cooking. This will help create a crisp exterior while keeping the inside juicy.
3 Creating no dimples in each patty
It's the eternal conundrum: how to make the perfect burger patty. Some say that the key is to add a dimple to the center of the patty, whereas others say it only leads to uneven cooking. So what's the best way to achieve burger perfection? The answer may surprise you.
It turns out that creating a dimple in the burger patty is a good thing. The dimple helps to prevent the burger from shrinking as it cooks, which leads to a juicier, more flavorful final product. So next time you're grilling burgers, don't be afraid to make a slight indentation in the center of each patty before grilling. Your taste buds will thank you!
How to make a dimple in the center of each patty?
1. First, take your burgers out of the fridge, and then, with your thumb or the back of a spoon, make an indentation in the center of the patty. This will help the burger to retain its juices, leading to a tastier, more flavorful result.
2. Grill your burgers as usual, and enjoy!
4 Putting the salt on the burger too soon.
Any budding chef knows that timing is everything when it comes to cooking. This is especially true when making burgers. Salting the meat too early can result in a disaster, as the salt will start to draw out moisture.
The key is to season the meat just before cooking it. This way, the salt will have time to penetrate the meat, resulting in juicy, flavorful burgers that are sure to please any appetite. However, if you wait too long to add the seasoning, the burgers will be bland and lack flavor.
5 You use a spatula to flatten your burger.
When grilling a burger, it's essential not to press down on the patty with a spatula. Although it may seem like this would help the burger cook evenly, it has the opposite effect.
However, there are a few good reasons to avoid flattening your burger with a spatula.
- It squeezes out all the delicious juices, leaving you with a dry burger.
- It increases the chance of the burger sticking to the grill, making it more likely to tear when you try to flip it.
- Flattened burgers are less attractive than plump, juicy ones.
The best way to cook a burger so that it doesn't shrink
Cooking burgers at home can be tricky - there's a fine line between a juicy, flavorful burger and a dry, overcooked one. One of the most common complaints about home-cooked burgers is that they shrink up too much on the grill, leaving you with a smaller patty than the bun.
Fortunately, you can do a few simple things to prevent your burger meat from shrinking. By following these tips, you can ensure that your burgers will be juicy and delicious, with minimal shrinkage.
1 Choose the right type of ground beef.
Look for ground beef at least 80% lean and 20% fat for a juicy burger. The higher the fat content, the juicier your burger will be.
2 Avoid over-handling ground beef.
Overworking the ground beef will make it tough and dense. As a result, it's essential to mix the beef just enough to incorporate the seasonings. When forming the patties, use light pressure and handle the meat as little as possible. Form your patties by hand rather than using a hamburger press. When using a press, the meat is compacted too tightly and is more likely to shrink during cooking.
3 Make your patties slightly larger than the bun
Make your patties slightly larger than you want them to be when shaping them. This way, they will still be the right size after they have shrunk during cooking.
Ensure your burgers are of uniform thickness - this will help them cook evenly and prevent them from shrinking too much in any area.
4 Keep burgers refrigerated until grilling time.
Keep burgers refrigerated until grilling time. Why is that? Because when meat is cooked, the proteins contract. If the burgers are cold on the grill, they will shrink less as they cook. When meat is heated, the proteins contract. The contraction is minimized if the burger is cold when it hits the grill.
This may seem counterintuitive, but it actually works. When the burger patties are cold, they contract less when they hit the grill's heat. This means they will retain their shape better and won't shrink as much.
5 Create a dimple in the center of each patty.
Why is that? It helps the burgers cook evenly and prevents shrinkage. The dimple allows heat to distribute throughout the burger evenly, so it doesn't cook too quickly on the outside while the inside remains raw. This ensures that your burger will be cooked to perfection!
6 Cook your burger patties on medium-high heat
If you cook your burger patties on medium-high heat, they will shrink less and be juicier. This is because the heat will cause the juices to stay inside the meat rather than evaporate while searing outside the patty, creating a barrier that will prevent the juices from escaping. When juices escape from the burger, it causes the burger to shrink. The juices will stay inside by cooking on medium-high heat, and your burger will remain the same size.
7 Don't press down on the burgers while they're cooking.
Don't press down on the burgers while they're cooking. This squeezes out the juices, making the burgers dry and tough. So resist the urge to press!
8 Don't overcook your burgers.
The longer they cook, the more moisture they lose and the smaller they become. Take the beef off the heat and rest for a few minutes before serving. This will help to prevent further shrinkage.
9 Give your burgers a chance to rest after cooking
It allows the juices to redistribute, making for a more flavorful burger. If you cut into a burger right after cooking it, all the delicious juices will run out, leaving you with a dry burger. So, after cooking your burgers, let them rest for 2-3 minutes before cutting into them.
What is the typical grilling time for burgers?
We get asked this question all the time. And the answer depends on how you like your burgers cooked. If you want your burgers well, it will take longer to cook them. But it will take less time if you like your burgers rare or medium rare.
The standard burger patty should grill over medium-high heat for about 4 to 5 minutes per side, which is enough time to develop a nice sear on the outside of the burger. This will give you a burger cooked all through but still juicy and delicious.
If you like your rare or medium rare burgers, grill them for 3 minutes per side. It will give you a juicy and delicious burger that is pink in the middle.
Here are some general guidelines for grilling burgers:
- For well-done burgers (no pink), cook for about 5 minutes per side; 10 minutes total.
- For medium-rare burgers (red-pink in the center), cook for about 3 minutes per side; 6 minutes total.
- For medium burgers (pink in the center), cook for about 3.5 minutes per side, 7 minutes total.
- For medium-well burgers (a smidge of pink in the center), cook for about 4.5 minutes per side, 9 minutes total.
Keep in mind that these are just general guidelines. A meat thermometer is the best way to know when your burgers are done.
Why it matters - how do you make sure your burger is the right size
Juicy, tender, and perfectly cooked – there's nothing like a delicious burger fresh off the grill. But to achieve burger perfection, you need to start with the right size patty. Too small, and it will be dry and overcooked. Too large, and it will be greasy and undercooked. So how do you make sure your burger is a perfect size?
- First, take into account the thickness of the patty. A thick patty will take longer to cook through, so it's essential to adjust the cooking time accordingly.
- Second, consider the weight of the patty. A heavier patty will shrink more during cooking, so it's best to start with a slightly larger size.
- Finally, remember to factor in the number of toppings. A burger with lots of toppings will be bulkier and may require a larger patty to maintain a proper ratio.
A few well-chosen toppings, such as cheese, lettuce, and tomato, are all you need to create a delicious and perfectly sized-burger. Too many toppings can make a burger difficult to eat and overwhelm the meat and bun flavors. So next time you're in the mood for a burger, remember to keep it simple for the best results.
The science of grilling burgers
When you sink your teeth into a burger, you're experiencing a symphony of flavor molecules carefully orchestrated to please your palate.
The science of burgers is complicated. The grilling process involves various factors, such as the type of meat, the temperature of the grill, and the addition of condiments. But at its core, making a great burger is all about understanding the chemistry of cooking.
The Maillard reaction is a process that occurs during grilling. This reaction creates complex flavor molecules that give grilled meat its distinctive taste. While the Maillard reaction is responsible for many of the flavors we enjoy in cooked meat, it also creates some harmful compounds that can increase cancer risk.
Let's take a closer look at some of the science behind burgers.
1 Let's start with the meat.
A burger patty consists of ground beef, a mixture of muscle, fat, and connective tissue. The muscle fibers are responsible for the burger's texture, while the fat adds flavor and juiciness. The connective tissue helps to hold everything together.
2 There's the bun.
The perfect burger bun should be soft and fluffy, with just the right amount of crust. Bakers achieve this by carefully controlling the fermentation process of the dough and using unique ingredients like baker's yeast and malt flour.
3 The toppings.
Of course, no burger would be complete without toppings like cheese, lettuce, and tomatoes. Each ingredient brings its unique flavor and texture to the sandwich.
So next time you bite into a burger, remember that it's a work of art created by master chefs - and scientists!
Types of ground beef that shrink the least
A few factors affect how much ground beef shrinks when cooked. The type of meat, the fat content, and the grind all play a role.
In general, leaner beef shrinks less than fattier ones. And ground beef that is cooked slowly will shrink less than those cooked quickly at high temperatures.
For the least amount of shrinkage, aim for ground beef with a low-fat content that you cook slowly over low heat. Ground chuck and ground round are two types of beef that meet these criteria. So if you're looking to minimize shrinkage, they may be good options to keep in mind the next time you're at the grocery store.
For example, chuck steak is a relatively tough cut of beef that contains a higher amount of connective tissue. It will shrink more when cooked than a tender cut like filet mignon. However, chuck steak also has a higher fat content, which can help to keep it moist and prevent shrinkage.
The best way to minimize shrinkage is to choose a leaner cut of meat with a moderate amount of fat. Flank steak or sirloin are good options. Or, if you're using ground beef, look for a 95/5 blend (95% lean, 5% fat).
Recipes for some great-tasting burgers
There's nothing quite like a juicy burger fresh off the grill. And while everyone prefers toppings and condiments, a few key ingredients are essential for any good burger recipe:
- You'll need some ground beef; look for an 80% leaner cut of beef for the best flavor and texture.
- You'll need some buns. Choose a soft, crusty bun that will hold up to all your toppings.
- Remember the cheese! A sharp cheddar or Swiss cheese will add just the right flavor to your burgers.
With these key ingredients in mind, try out one of these delicious burger recipes:
1 Basic Burger:
Start with a simple grilled burger topped with cheese, lettuce, and tomato. Add your favorite condiments, such as ketchup, mustard, or mayo. Recipe here.
2 BBQ Burger:
Brush your burgers with BBQ sauce before grilling them for a touch of sweetness. Top with shredded lettuce, pickles, and onions. Recipe here.
3 Mushroom Swiss Burger:
Sauté mushrooms and onions until they're nice and tender. Spread them on top of your burgers and some melted Swiss cheese. Yum! Recipe here.
4 Blue Cheese Burger:
Crumble some blue cheese over your burgers before grilling them. Top with crisp bacon and tangy BBQ sauce for an incredible flavor combination. Recipe here.
5 Hawaiian Burger:
Give your burgers a tropical twist by adding pineapple slices and teriyaki sauce. Top with shredded lettuce and diced tomatoes for a tasty burger that's sure to please. Recipe here.
Tips when making the perfect burger
Having your burgers shrink in size after cooking can be frustrating. Here are some tips on how to prevent your burgers from shrinking. You can cook your burgers as you like them if you follow these tips!
1 Patty's size and thickness
Patty size and thickness are two of the most important, as they can make all the difference in taste, texture, and overall satisfaction. A burger that's too thin will be dry and overcooked, while one that's too thick will be difficult to bite through. The perfect burger, however, strikes a balance between these two extremes.
It should be thick enough to be juicy and flavorful but not so thick that it's tough to eat. In addition, the patty should be a generous size, providing plenty of coverage for the bun.
2 Grill temperature
When it comes to grilling, the temperature is everything. If your grill is too hot, you will burn your food to a crisp. You'll be left with undercooked, raw food if it's not hot enough. So how do you find the perfect temperature for grilling? The answer is quite simple: use a meat thermometer. A meat thermometer will help you cook your food to the perfect temperature, ensuring that it is both tasty and safe.
Here are a few tips for using a meat thermometer:
- Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the meat, away from any bone.
- For steak, cook to an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit for medium-rare, 160 degrees Fahrenheit for medium, or 170 degrees Fahrenheit for well-done.
- For chicken, cook to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
3 Flip frequency
For the perfect burger, it is essential to flip the meat only once during cooking. Otherwise, you risk overcooking the patty on the outside while the inside remains raw. You also risk compacting the meat when flipping multiple times, leading to a dry and crumbly burger.
So how do you ensure that your burger is cooked evenly from all sides? The key is to start with high heat to sear outside the patty, then turn the heat down and cook the burger slowly.
This method may take a bit longer, but it's worth it for a juicy, flavorful burger. So next time you're firing up the grill, remember: when it comes to burgers, less is more.
4 Cheese coverage
Do you know what makes a burger better? More cheese. And not just any cheese, but melted, gooey cheese that covers the entire patty. Some might say that's overkill, but we know that's because they haven't experienced the joy of a cheesy burger.
There's nothing better than biting into a burger and having the cheese oozing out with each bite. It's a heavenly experience and one that everyone deserves to have.
When it comes to cheese, choose something that melts well. American, Fontina, and Monterey Jack are all great choices. Cheddar is not a good choice, as it doesn't melt well. It kind of sweats and gets stringy, which no one wants in their burger.
While you're at it, use at least two slices of cheese per burger. This will help keep the burger moist while it's cooking. Why put two slices of cheese? The answer is simple. The cheese acts as a barrier between the meat and the heat, helping to prevent the burger from drying out. If you only use one slice of cheese, chances are that your burger will be dry.
It's simple math. Two slices of cheese = more deliciousness.
5 Choose the right meat.
When it comes to burgers, you want to use 80/20 ground beef. This means that 80% of the meat is lean, and 20% is fat. The fat is what helps keep the burger moist and gives it flavor.
If you use ground beef that is too lean, the burger will be dry and crumbly. No one wants that.
Use ground beef that has a higher fat content.
Although it may seem counterintuitive, using ground beef with a higher fat content will prevent your burgers from shrinking. The fat helps lubricate the burger, so it doesn't contract as much when cooking.
So, what's the best fat content for ground beef? 80/20 is ideal, but you can also use 70/30. Avoid lean ground beef, as it will be too dry and result in shrunken burgers.
6 Use an ice-cold patty.
This may seem strange, but an ice-cold patty will help prevent shrinkage. When you form the patty, ensure it's as cold as possible. Then, when you cook it, the outside will sear quickly and seal in the juices.
Why use an ice-cold patty?
The cold temperature prevents the outside of the patty from cooking too quickly. If the outside of the patty cooks too quickly, it will shrink. Sealing in the juices will prevent your burger from drying out and shrinking.
7 Burger toppings
When it comes to burgers, there are endless possibilities for toppings. While some purists may argue that a burger should only include the basics, such as cheese, lettuce, and tomatoes, others believe that anything goes. After all, the beauty of a burger is that it can be customized to suit any taste. So why not get creative and try out some new toppings? Here are a few ideas to get you started:
For the adventurous eater, why not try a burger with crispy bacon and jalapeño peppers? The smoky bacon will add a delicious depth of flavor, while the jalapeños will give the burger a nice kick.
For those who prefer burgers on the sweeter side, how about topping yours with caramelized onions and grilled pineapple? The sweetness of the pineapple will complement the savory onions perfectly.
8 Bun type and toasting
Every kind of bun will offer a different flavor and texture, so choosing one that will complement your burger patty is essential. Many options are available, from traditional sesame seed buns to Brioche buns.
The second thing to consider is toasting. Toasting the bun helps to prevent it from getting too soggy from the burger juices, and it also gives the bun a slight crunch that works well with the softness of the patty. So when you're choosing your burger bun, be sure to keep these two factors in mind!
But when it comes to toasting, not all buns are created equal. For the best results, you should always toast your bun on the inside. This way, the outside stays nice and soft while the interior gets crispy.
9 Don't overhandle the meat.
When you're making burgers, handle the meat as little as possible. Overworking the meat will make it tough and dry and can also cause it to shrink more during cooking. So, when shaping your burgers, do it gently and quickly.