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Dec 31, 2009 02:15 PM

Salting your burger before cooking

This food lab report seems to suggest that the conventional wisdom of salting meat in advance isn't the best approach when it comes to burgers. Anybody's experience different from what the article seems to say?

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  1. i've *never* salted mine in advance. kosher salt gets sprinkled on the patty immediately before it hits the pan.

    1 Reply
    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

      Ditto ... "never" may be a strong adverb, but in this case IMO, it's appropriately used.
      I suspect that mcsheridan's enjoyment of the burger's saltiness came from the salt in the cheese. Cheddar cheese contains about 10% sodium.

    2. Interesting timing. I just finished eating a burger that was seasoned Just before cooking. It was Marvelous (with caramelized onions, a mix of sharp and mild cheddar, and organic ketchup).

      I've cooked them many times with the seasoning mixed Into the meat and let to sit for 10 minutes; and other times seasoned on the surface 5 minutes before cooking, and neither method produces results that come close to the one I just ate.

      I've been doing it that way since I read (and tested against) two pieces of chef advice about burgers: One, treat a burger like a steak. Season just before cooking, turn only once and let rest before eating. Two, season a bit more than you think you should, as some will certainly come off on the grill or in the pan.

      It works for me. :)

      1. We salt thick slices of chuck the night before grinding it.

        1. I always mix S&P into the mix before forming burgers.

          1 Reply
          1. Nancy Silverton is widely regarded as THE Burger Queen of LA County; her favored meat mixture (sirloin and chuck, I think) is sold as such at Huntington Meats in the old Farmer's Market, and the LA Times Food Section gang devoted an article to her advice on the subject. One of her rules is to salt the meat an hour or more before you cook it. ANY meat, in fact. This draws juices from the meat, yes, but given time the juices are drawn back in. I tried it. It works. So I continue to do it and have for several years.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Will Owen

              Um...I found an LA Times article at featuring Nancy Silverton's take on the perfect burger. Silverton regarding seasoning the burger patties with salt: "It's important to do this only just before cooking them," she added, still salting. "Otherwise the salt will draw the moisture out of the meat."

              Her rule of salting an hour or more prior to cooking may only apply to whole cuts of meat.