Prevent Dry Homemeade Burgers
Beef,  Cooking,  Food Preparation

How To Stop Homemade Burgers Being Dry

There is nothing more disappointing than looking forward to enjoying a nice juicy burger, only to find it is dry like cardboard when you come to eat it. This can happen quite often if you don’t know what is causing it.

So how do you prevent having dry burgers? The main reason burgers end up dry, is due to having too little fat content, and/or being overcooked. For a burger to remain moist during cooking, you want meat that has at least 20% fat content to add both flavor and moistness to the burger. Cooking to an internal temperature of 160oF/72oC will ensure any harmful bacteria are destroyed, whilst the burger remains moist and tasty.

Prevent Dry Homemeade Burgers
Fat content is important for both flavor and moisture in a burger

We will now look at some of the best cuts of meat to use or avoid when making homemade burgers, and some cooking tips that will help prevent the burgers drying out.

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Best Cut of Meat for Making Homemade Burgers

For homemade burgers to remain juicy and tasty during the cooking process, you need to ensure you use a cut of meat that has enough fat to add both flavor and moistness to the meat.

The cut of meat that offers both of these factors is the Beef Chuck Steak.

Beef Chuck Best For Burger
Beef Chuck Is Best Cut For Tasty Juicy Burgers

The chuck comes from the shoulder of the animal which is a hard working muscle. The meat is veined with fat and marbling and is full of flavor.

You will often see Ground Chuck in the meat markets and aisles of your grocery stores.

Ground chuck has a higher fat content than the leaner ground round, and is always the better choice when making your own burgers.

How To Make Homemade Burgers That Won’t Be Dry

If you are using ground chuck to make your homemeade burgers, and they are still ending up dry like cardboard, then you are probably making them all wrong!

Here are some simple tips to help you make the perfect burger.

Grind the Meat Yourself

Although ground chuck is available in most grocery store, you can’t beat ‘fresh’ ground meat for making your own burgers.

By grinding your own meat, not only do you know the meat is fresh, but you also get to control just how much fat is going into the burgers, and can adjust to your liking. Remember though, fat adds flavor and moistness to the burger, so don’t go less than 20% fat if you can help it!

If you enjoy burgers on a regular basis, then investing in a small meat grinder and grinding your own meat will take your burgers to the next level. There are some great inexpensive grinders or food processor attachments available online such as these models sold on Amazon.

Grind Your Own Meat For Burgers
Grind The Beef Yourself For More Control Over Your Burgers

Don’t Overwork The Meat

When you make your burgers, you don’t want to overwork the meat by handling it too much.

The more you press and compact the meat, the more likely it is for your burgers to become tougher and more dense.

Gently press the meat together to form a rough patty shape that is slightly shallower in the centre than the edges. Some people put a slight finger indent in the centre of the patty. This will stop the patty from puffing up during cooking.

Add Flavors But Don’t Season – Yet!

Some people like to add different flavors to their burgers such as fresh herbs, garlic, bbq sauce etc.

Feel free to add these ingredients to your burger prior to forming the patties, however avoid adding the salt and pepper seasoning until right before you start to cook the patties.

Adding salt too soon will draw moisture from the burger patty, and this is what you are trying to avoid!

Don’t Make Thin Burgers

You want to avoid making your burgers too thin as this will likely lead to having dry, overcooked patties.

By making the burgers at least 3/4″ – 1″ thick, you have more control over the cooking process, which allows the outside of the burgers to get nicely browned whilst the interior meat remains moist and juicy.

A Video On How To Form Perfect Burger Patties

Cooking Burger Patties That Won’t Be Dry

If you have made your burger patty with meat that contains the right amount of fat, and handled the meat as little as possible, you are on your way to enjoying a moist and juicy burger.

That is providing you cook it properly!

The incorrect cooking of the patty is probably the most common reason your burgers being dry.

Here are some cooking tips that will help you prevent having dry burgers in the future.

Season Just Before Cooking

Add a liberal amount of salt and pepper right before you begin to cook the meat.

Adding salt too early will draw moisture from the meat, and that is not what you want.

Remember, some of the seasoning will fall off the meat during cooking, and so you can be generous with the amount of seasoning you add at this stage.

Season one side of the patty and apply to the heat. The season the upper side of the meat as the bottom side cooks.

Have A Hot Pan / Grill

You want to have a nice hot pan or grill at the ready.

By putting the meat onto the hot surface, it will sear in all the juices and prevent them leaking out during the cooking process.

Don’t Turn The Meat Too Often

Once you have placed the meat onto the heat, let it do it’s thing without too much interference from you.

Let the cooking side get good and done before you turn the patty over to cook the flip side.

Don’t Press Down on The Burger!

For some reason, there is a temptation to press down on the burgers as they cook.

Resist ALL temptation to press down on the burger patty as it cooks on the grill or pan.

Pressing down on the meat will literally push all the fat and juices out of the buger, leaving you with the dry cardboard offering that you are trying to avoid.

Allow the burger to cook at it’s own pace and you will be rewarded with a much better eating experience.

Don’t Overcook The Burger Patty!

Overcooking is the number on reason you will end up with a dry and tough burger patty.

To avoid this, you want to cook the meat to an internal temperature of 160oF/72oC which is enough to ensure any harmful bacteria within the meat has been destroyed, whilst the meat remains moist and juicy.

Advice on Cooking Rare Burgers

Many people like to have their burgers cooked rare or medium, just like they have their steaks.

If you wish to have your own burgers cooked this way, then you will need to ensure that you use only the freshest meat, and preferably grind the meat yourself.

Most of the harmful bacteria found on meat, is on the outer layer of the meat that is exposed to the elements. The interior of the meat muscle is unlikely to pose much of a threat.

When you have a steak cooked rare, the outer surface of the meat that harbours the bacteria is cooked to a high enough temperature to kill the threat.

However, when you grind raw meat, the bacteria that is on the outer surface of the meat, is chopped together with the interior, and so spreads through the whole of the meat. This now means that the harmful bacteria are inside the centre of the meat as well as the outside.

Therefore, cooking your burger rare will not kill all of the harmful bacteria that may make you sick.

I would NEVER advise you to cook a burger rare/medium when using any pre-ground burger meat!

To Avoid This!

Caution When Eating Rare Burgers
Caution Is Needed When Cooking Rare Burgers!

If you are adamant on eating a rare to medium burger, and why wouldn’t you be, it’s the only way to eat one really, then you must remove the outer layer of the meat prior to grinding.

By cutting away the exterior layer of meat, prior to grinding, you are removing the bacteria that would otherwise be ground into the rest of the meat.

Don’t waste that trimmed meat though, it can also be ground up to make a dish that will be thoroughly cooked, such as spaghetti, chilli, taco’s etc, and will be perfectly safe to eat.

Although this is not a 100% fool proof way of ensuring you don’t get sick, it is the closest thing to it.

So there you have it.

Hopefully this article has given you all the tips and advice you need to ensure yo never have to suffer dry burgers again!

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