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Apr 18, 2011 08:09 AM

My Hamburgers never work, tips?

I was never a big hamburger fan then about a year ago , there was a rush of "gourmet" hamburger options i my area and I feel in love. They are always very tasty (not like bbq sauce or taco seasoning) , but great flavor of meat and spice. Just great..

However, I can not duplicate anything I ever had from these places. I am not great cook, but for most part can make somethign worth eating . My hamburgers are just awefull, I tried higher quality meats, differnt prep methods, seasoning, marinades EVERYTHING and they never turn out good.

Any tips , ideas, .. with summer approaching I would love to add this to my list of grill foods

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  1. What is the problem with yours? Perhaps the places you visit use a blend of different cuts that you could only duplicate by grinding yourself or having it custom ground at a local butcher.

    4 Replies
    1. re: AdamD

      The problem with mine are they are always to well done, (wich I will eventually get the cooking method right) and never juicy. When I add spices they are either lost in the meat or too noticeable. I am sure those places do have special bends of meats, I don't want to make a exact replica. I just want to be able to whip up a nice juicy tasty burger... seems soo simple hahah

      1. re: Augie6

        O. Asking how to make the best hamburger here may be like asking a group of psychologists the best way to love your child. So I'll just address the juiciness.

        Juicy food is experienced in two steps according to Herve This. (I've experienced it myself; just giving credit where it's due.) First you bite into the food. The first couple of chomps are juicy, because of moisture in the food. The chomping after the first few bites are juicy because of the oil/fat in the food and the moisture the person eating the food makes. (Pavlov salivated at good food just like his dogs.)

        If the burger isn't juicy at all on the first bite, you've probably cooked the moisture out of the burger. This could be because you cooked the burger too long (burnt) , or because your heat was too low and a long cooking time was necessary (grey). You don't need to be shy about heat. If the burgers are cooking quickly just flip them; it'll sear the outsides like rotisserie. You can also add extra moisture to your burgers. I put few tablespoons of flavorful liquid into the burgers I make, and people tend to enjoy the results. Dale's, marinade, chicken stock, veg stock, or just water. For a long discussion on the technique check out this thread:

        If the burger is dry all the way through, you may have rendered all of the fat. This will be apparent in the pan, because the fat isn't going to evaporate. You might also be using a very low fat blend of beef. I go 75 / 15 or 80 / 20. Some people declare that 85 / 15 is the most fat they could accept. Ground sirloin I think is something like 10% fat; it's also lacking in flavour. (This is probably another debate, but I greatly prefer the flavour of cuts from the shoulder.


        Good luck with your burgers, and let us know how they come along. :)

        1. re: Altarbo

          I think it's been determined that searing doesn't seal in the juices.

          1. re: c oliver

            Lol, no of course not. Cooking of almost any type releases juices in the form of pleasantly fragrant steam. If you cook the burger too long, you'll cook out all of the moisture. Searing is just for flavour.

    2. For a good hamburger, start with two simple rules:
      Good quality beef with enough fat (about 20% fat is good for me). I don't bother to grind my own; I just buy it from my reliable butcher
      Be gentle when you form your patties; season it with salt and pepper; don't press down on it when you cook it.
      After that, you can add other things: herbs, grind up bacon, etc.

      1 Reply
      1. re: PBSF

        And if you press your thumb lightly in the center of each burger, they'll cook more evenly and won't puff out so much.

      2. First, use an 80/20 or 85/15 mixture in the meat, (i.e. chuck). Anything leaner than that won't be very tasty or juice.

        Second, don't "overwork" the meat. By that I mean if your'e mixing in spices, cheese, peppers or onions, etc with the meat, you don't want to over mix it. The meat loses its texture if you do. Just loosely blend whatever and quickly shape your patties.

        Lastly, makes sure your fire is good and hot. You want to quickly sear the the burger on both sides and DO NOT, under any circumstances press the patty and squeeze out the juice.

        It pisses off the hamburger gods, and they will give you a dry, flavorless hamburger as a penalty.

        I'm hungry.

        1. I have done it this way for many years & been very happy:

          1. Maybe they are too thin? I take ground beef straight from the package to the skillet and it comes out juicy and flavorful.

            1 Reply
            1. re: redfish62

              That had crossed my mind. I am going to try to make larger patties next time.