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May 28, 2011 06:04 AM

How do you prevent burgers from shrinking? / How to make big burgers?

I recently bought this Weston Hamburger press.
A tool I percieved to be the "default" hamburger tool for homecookers there in the US. Since it is all over Ebay and Amazon.

The size is exactly how big I wanted the burgers to be, but thats not the final outcome! I use a ground meat ratio of 14% fat and the rest meat.

I throw the burgers on high heat, using nothing but freshly ground pepper and salt on both sides. But they shrink so much! I had to actually find "mini" hamburger buns in the store.

I didnt find any bigger hamburger press than the westons. But I´d like them to be atleast twice as big.

I used to handmold the burgers before, but they never became flat enough, and I prefer them to be perfectly round and even sized.

Is there some sort of magic trick here? Like adding potato starch, or an egg or something to the meat mixture?

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  1. Can't prevent shrinkage. If you want them twice as big, use twice the amount of meat. Guess you'll have to go back to doing them by hand.

    Your finished burger will be thicker in the middle. If you don't want that, after you've shaped your bigger, before cooking, press down in the middle, making a big dimple. Your finished burger will then be flatter.


    1 Reply
    1. re: DPGood

      And there it is. I'll only add that a large TB. is what I use to make the dimple because my dimpling thumb's pretty small. :)

    2. The consensus on CH, and I agree, is that burgers are going to suffer from overhandling and using a press would definitely fall into that category. I only hand form mine and they come out fine. I think trying to make them perfectly round and flat is perhaps not a real good goal. BTW, I make 6oz. burgers and they shrink so little that they cover the bun from 'sea to shining sea' :)

      1. Purists may cringe but I always add about 1/4 cup or so of water to a lb. of ground beef when I make burgers. Besides that, nothing but salt and pepper. I think the water helps the meat stay moist and it doesn't shrink as much. I measure the meat out in a 1/2-cup scoop, then flatten the patties out by hand to a slightly larger disk than what I want to end up with. If you want a bigger burger, use more meat. 1/2 cup of ground beef ends up being about 1/3 lb. which is big enough for us.

        1. Agreed that a good hamburger should be hand-formed. But also consider how much you're cooking them. Shrinkage happens throughout the cooking process, so a medium-rare patty will be a lot larger than an otherwise identical patty that's cooked well-done. If you can trust your meat source, try cooking the burgers less.

          1 Reply
          1. re: alanbarnes

            Why didn't I think of that? Medium rare is the most done we cook our burgers so, of course, they don't shrink much. They're done in about 6-7 minutes.

          2. Meat shrinks when cooked.

            It's just a fact of life.

            I suppose the only way to prevent your burgers from shrinkage is to cook them "sous vide". Eh, but then who wants to eat hermetically sealed boiled ground beef?