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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

                        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!

                          2. Bread crumbs + hamburger = meatloaf.

                            Just burger in my burger, please.

                            1. Cooks Illustrated had a recipe adding a milk-fresh breadcrumb panade to burgers that were going to be cooked to medium. This was to maintain moisture and tenderness in ground beef being cooked beyond pink.

                              1. Although I eat my burgers without any fillers when growing up a burger with soaked bulgur was common. Spiced with cumin, maybe onion and parsley. I have made them on occasion. Not a typical burger but they are tasty. More of a kofta in patty form.

                                1. I'm vegan so I don't eat or make hamburgers, but my mother used to add oatmeal to stretch the budget.

                                  1. No, it's not the way I make them. My husband would probably have a panic attack if I tried. I remember one time I tried to sneak ground turkey past him. He instantly knew (when he saw them un-bunned, of course) and loudly announced "I actually don't like turkey burgers very much. But it's ok I'll eat one." Ooookay then.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Boccone Dolce

                                      No, Worcestershire only in mine.

                                      Although, I had changed my mind once and made hamburgers out of meat prepared for a meatloaf, and they weren't bad at all.

                                      Rules were made to be broken.

                                    2. I imagine it is a holdover from times when people needed to stretch meat.

                                      I agree with you that minimalist is the way to go. The only real trick to a super juicy burger is using the right ground beef. Ground chuck or ground chuck and sirloin will give a great result. 95% lean will produce a dry flavorless burger.

                                      1. I don't add hamburger to my bread recipes so why would I add bread to my hamburger recipes.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Jimbosox04

                                          Why not? Why don't you add hamburger to your bread recipes? There are several creative ways to make kolaches, for example, fusing meat and bread. Its a pastoral concept.

                                        2. yep, I think as a few others have said, a way to stretch the meat out in a big family....but my mom still does it that way, and today they don't need to stretch the dollar like back in the day. Me, I prefer just lots of kosher salt and a bit of pepper, and sometime mix in finely chopped onion!

                                          1. My first response was ICK NO, but then I remembered a giant grilled hamburger that I used to make when the kids were little.
                                            Using 1 1/2 - 2 lbs. of hamburger meat, mix the meat as you would for a meatloaf. I never use dry bread crumbs, always fresh bread and milk mixture. Divide the meatloaf mix 60/40.
                                            On a cookie sheet lined with foil, form a big patty about 8-10" around with a lip around the outer edge. Fill the center with grated cheese, sauted onions, mushrooms and garlic or whatever stricks your fancy. Top the veggies with more grated cheese. Form the remaining hamburger into a patty slightly smaller than the first one and place it on top. Seal the edges.
                                            Gently place on the grill. I didn't have a spatula big enough to handle this so when it came time to flip, I used a no-lip cookie sheet to slide it onto, then flipped the cookie sheet. This is the trickest part to keep the whole thing from falling apart.
                                            When done, I would serve in wedges, bunless.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: Pampatz

                                              Pampatz, this is what we in the Twin Cities call a Juicy Lucy! Cheese (and maybe other fillings, although some people would call that sacrilegious) on the inside. Somehow even more delicious than cheese on the outside.

                                            2. Me? nooo, I think I heard sacrilege... But I saw where someone commented that it makes a jucier burger, someone else said it makes the burger go further. Both true. The bread acts as a binder/ extender when mixed with the ground beef and if you are using extremely lean ground beef, 90% or higher lean, it can certainly serve a purpose by helping the burger hold together, retain moisture, and reduce shrinkage. For my burgers I like to use about 85/15 lean/fat ratio. That would be your average ground chuck. Add just a touch of salt, a little of whatever else you like and knead the mix a little until it starts to get a bit sticky and it'll bind well enough.

                                              1. To beef burgers, I add nothing but salt and pepper. But chicken or turkey needs some flavor, so I find myself adding sauteed spinach or mushrooms and some homemade breadcrumbs to absorb the extra flavor.

                                                I onced asked my butcher to grind up a good piece of steak (forgot what cut) so that I could make burgers out of it. Smart idea for the tastebuds, but not so much for the budget. :)

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: cheesecake17

                                                  I think that this post makes the point. Hamburger is boring. Eat a steak if you want to be a purist. For "burgers," mixin some anchovies or some fish sauce. Layer cheese between two thin patties of ground whatever. Or toss in good green olives and jalapenos. Go crazy with it. I'm a purist with certain things as well, but not something as simple as hamburger meat. The only "sacrilege" is not using the traditional burger concept as a launching pad for creativity!!!

                                                  1. re: rudeboy

                                                    Your post reminded me of the kalamata olive burgers I made recently. Just some good ground chicken, chopped olives, and pepper. I didn't add salt because I thought the olives were plenty salty. It came out really good.. and I put fresh cucumber slices on the buns instead of pickles.

                                                    Speaking of jalepenos, my husband loves when I add chopped jarred banana peppers into his burger. I don't like spicy, so I'll make him two and make a plain one for myself. It's so easy to suit everyone's tastes when you add a little chopped something from the fridge to a single burger.

                                                2. I have never used bread crumbs, but I would not be averse to trying it. I agree with rudeboy that it's silly to be a purist about such a lowest common denominator food which has so many regional varieties. Why not experiment? If you ruin a burger you lose what? Like $2 of meat?

                                                  The only things I'm a purist about when it comes to burgers is the price. To me burgers are a way to make cheap meat into something delicious, so stuffing them full of fancy ingredients and top-dollar meat seems to defeat the purpose.

                                                  I'll readily admit to preferring a burger which is more on the well done side, like hot and slightly pink in the middle, rather than the bloody rare burger of the connoisseur. To keep it juicy I like to finely shred an onion so it makes a lot of liquid, add some spices to the slurry, and fold that into the meat mix. Next time I have breadcrumbs in my pantry I'll give it a try.

                                                  1. yes. not only breadcrumbs but also an egg and half the onion. why? i guess it makes meat more tender.
                                                    it is my mom's recipe. and of course it is the best hamburger in the world for me.