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Do you add breadcrumbs to your hamburgers and if so why?

I am just curious as to why people often add breadcrumbs to the meat when making hamburgers. I am a minimalist when it comes to making burgers, salt and pepper is usually as much as I add to the meat before cooking.

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  1. Nope. No bread crumbs. When I want a hamburger, I want a hamburger, not grilled meatloaf. I just use a little Worceshire Sauce while the burgers are on the grill.

    1. absolutely not...i'm with you 100% on this. a burger should be nothing more than quality beef, kosher salt, and maybe a fresh grinding of pepper.

      as smtucker said, if i want meatloaf, i'll make meatloaf...bread crumbs have no business in a burger, IMHO. [and with all due respect to smtucker, neither does Worcestershire ;)]

      14 Replies
      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

        Oh, your deference and respect is a wonderful thing, but have you tried it? Really good actually!

        1. re: smtucker

          I love it when minimalists try and out minimalize each other.

          The truth of the matter is, ground beef is enough of a poor man's deal that it warrants invention. Anything to increase the moisture content (like a panade) and flavor (specks of gorganzola) of the finished product is ok in my book. Unless you are grinding up some very special beef to make that hamburger - and if you are, that's the sacrelidge!

          1. re: rudeboy

            With all due respect to rudeboy, most American meat products contain Way too much water. I don't know if it is lack of aging or some USDA loophole that allows water injection but frying supermarket meat can be an exercise in frustration. I let my meat dessicate on paper towels, covered or loosely wrapped, in the fridge for a day or two.
            And just say no to bread crumbs in hamburgers.

            1. re: DiveFan

              I read, somewhere on CH, I think, that ground beef which is in an amorphous lump has had water added. Look for meat that looks like "spaghetti" if you don't want the added liquid. I'd previously noticed that I liked Trader Joe's ground beef, which is the "spaghetti" style grind, better than what I get at the bigger supermarket chains.

              1. re: DiveFan

                Verrry Interrrestinggg.
                I had the exact opposite experience at TJ's with ground turkey. It had that spiral helix appearance like pasta, but my hands were dripping water as I formed it into patties.

                1. re: DiveFan

                  Well, that's a great point. Actually, tonight I'm making lamb chops, and I'm doing the same thing. Last week, I let a wet aged prime sirloin sit on the island, under the ceiling fan, to completely dry it out!

                  1. re: rudeboy

                    "Wet" ground meat most likely aint had any water added to it but has been frozen or made from frozen blocks of a certified lean like 85% or 90%. They take the fat trimmings from what was cut in the shop and mix it with the frozen boneless to make regular ground beef, which will go 73% - 75% lean. The retail meat shop will take a 60lb block of frozen boneless beef 85% and run it thru a chipper, yep, they even got a special machine for it, or saw it into any size that will go through the grinder to make ground chuck. They grind it still frozen and it looks real pretty and red but as it thaws it becomes really wet and the longer it sits in the meat case the wetter it gets. Turkey holds more water anyway and is a sloppy mess to grind thawed. You can bet that it was ground at least semi-frozen to get that nice spiral helix appearance.

                    1. re: jsummers

                      The more natural the beef, the less likely you are to have these problems. Try grass-fed beef (depending on where you live, you can find it at a farm store, co-op market or Whole Foods). There are environmental implications to my comment as well, but it tastes so much better you'll want to kiss a cow.

                2. re: rudeboy

                  I count cost not only in dollars, but in fat/calories. On the rare occasions I splurge on a burger, I'll be damned if it's going to contain anything besides cow , salt and pepper. I'd actually be willing to loose the pepper.

                3. re: smtucker

                  smtucker - i have had them with Worcestershire - my mom used to add it to our burgers when i was a kid. it's not that i think it tastes *bad* by any means, but for me it has the same association as bread crumbs - reminds me too much of meatloaf.

                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                    I just re-read my post and it sounds sort of mean - the first sentence was meant to be in good humor. I'm sort of a minimalist myself - just not with burgers!

                    1. re: rudeboy

                      it didn't sound mean - trust me, i've read *much* worse on CH, and many times it has been directed at me :)

                      btw, i'm not opposed to ingredients that elevate the burger to another level or turn it into a different experience [nothing wrong with blue cheese & bacon!]

                      i was talking more about the essential/basic burger. for me, there's no need to add anything to enhance moisture because if it's cooked to my preferred degree of doneness - barely medium-rare - it will still be plenty moist.

                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                        Interesting. I only tried adding Worcestershire sauce to meatloaf last winter... and I am not young. Of course, I was raised in a family that viewed meatloaf night with horror. My mother's specimens were worthy of being Chris Kimballs opening scene as Exhibit A: We Won't Eat This.

                  2. Although I don't personally add bread crumbs to burgers, my family did when I was growing up. It was a way to use of stale bread and extend the meat so that there was enough to serve everyone in the family. Many recipe for meat loaf include bread crumbs as an ingredient and I do use a small amount of bread crumbs in my meat loaf recipe.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: todao

                      I agree. Although I do not add any bread crumbs to my burgers but definitely breadcrumbs or oatmeal into my meatloaf, I would if money was really tight and I was trying to stretch a pound of burger to feed my family. I bulk a lot of things up with extra vegis to use less meat but make more food.

                    2. I add WET bread (1 slice mooshed to a paste with 1/4 cup milk per pound of meat). I'm convinced it makes moist burgers.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: blue room

                        Ground beef that has a panade (a paste made from milk and bread) added to it, creates juicy burgers even when they are cooked to well done according to America's Test Kitchen.

                        Paraphrased recipe from America's Test Kitchen-

                        Well-Done Grilled Hamburgers
                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5419...

                        1. re: Antilope

                          that's how my sister does her burgers. juicy to me! makes a less dense burger.

                          1. re: Antilope

                            i will use this technique if I'm cooking for my parents who like their burgers really well done. It allows you still to get a moist edible burger instead of a hockey puck. If I'm just cooking for me, it is just plain ground cow .... although if I have some Daddy Hinkles steak spice around it might get involved.

                        2. Definitely not! Bread crumbs, crackers, oatmeal or whatever can go in meatloaf but not in burgers. All that should be added is whatever spices you like and maybe some worceshire sauce. After all as the television ad says these are actually "Steakburgers" and as such should not be altered, only seasoned. In addition cooking them to more than medium ruins them (medium rare as better).

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Msradell

                            "In addition cooking them to more than medium ruins them (medium rare as better)."
                            Definitely! And no crumbs, ever. Sacrilege! Sauces, seasonings, spices - OK.
                            The bread goes on the outside!