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Are Burgers getting more expensive or am I just seeing things?

As a burger lover I'm always on the lookout for the next best burger. I used to think I could get a good one for 7 or 8 dollars max. every now and them you find a gem for even less. Thing is I'm starting to see a trend towards the more expensive. It seems that 9 and 10 dollar burgers are becoming the norm and I've seen them as high as 14 dollars. I mean I love a good burger but when your making them nearly as expensive as a steak I mean come on.

So first have you noticed a trend or is this just something in my head?

Secondly, this one I'm almost afraid it ask because I'm pretty sure I already know that answer, but are these new expensive burgers worth it?

It used to be If I wanted to go out to eat on the cheap a burger was the way to go to get something tasty. Its starting to seem like this may not be the case anymore.

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  1. beef has gotten VERY expensive in the past two years. I generally grind my own hamburger, but get sticker shock when the everyday price for 85% lean hamburger in the supermarket is $5.69 lb.
    Therefore it is no surprise that the typical restaurant 8+ ounce hamburger with trimmings is $10+.
    Afterall, a restaurant has to figure at least food cost times 3 in order to cover costs and make a profit.

    2 Replies
    1. re: bagelman01

      Hard to believe that in the 70s ground meat was the go-to protein because it was so cheap. My friend used to say of her mom: if it didn't have hamburger in it, she didn't know how to cook it.

      1. re: pdxgastro

        when I giot my first apartment in the 1970s, mom tpld me never to buy the 39 cent/lb hamburger at the supermarket, but to get the 49 or 59 cent per pound variety as it wasn't all fat.

    2. Everything's getting more expensive, and burgers are no exception. But are burgers outstripping inflation? Wouldn't surprise me. I've certainly noticed that fast food--including burgers--is no longer cheap. Not so very long ago you could get a sizable fast food meal for less than six bucks. Nowadays nine samolians is my norm. That's a 33% increase in roughly 15 years.

      5 Replies
      1. re: Perilagu Khan

        haven't looked in detail, but that's less than 2% compounded annually. seems pretty reasonable.

        1. re: FattyDumplin

          Perilagu, actually re-read your email.... going from under 6 --> 9 is actually 50% increase which is closer to 2.7% annual inflation. probably still pretty reasonable, especially on a low price item, where if you're going to move prices, you're likely to move in small absolute increments which still translate into meaningful percentage increments.

          On a side note, what's really outstripping inflation is college tuition!!! With two young kids in tow, I'm scared of where I need to be in 15 years monetarily. That is a big cost that is absolutely outstripping inflation!

          1. re: FattyDumplin

            Hey, folks, the rising cost of college tuition and other inflationary items is really too far afield for Chowhound, as is general kvetching about politicians. We've removed some some posts and ask people to let that part of the discussion go. Thanks.

        2. re: Perilagu Khan

          Honestly I hardly ever eat fast food and when I do its almost never a burger. Too many fast foodsish but better places out there with a burger that 5 time better for a buck or 2 more.
          Your right its gotten too expensive especially for the quality of what you get.

          1. re: Perilagu Khan

            Everything's getting more expensive, and burgers are no exception.

            Um, no.


          2. In addition to everything being more expensive (including operating costs beyond food), chefs more than ever are concerned with where they get their food from. Meat from a grass-fed cow on a local farm is going to cost more than meat from a factory farm.

            8 Replies
            1. re: LeoLioness

              That makes a lot of sense and Im all for that. I don't mind paying up for something as long as they can reasonably prove to me its actually for a reason. A lot of place around here are using a new blend that seems to be the next thing. Its like a mix of like short rib , brisket and steak or something like that. So obviously thats going to cost more. I just need to find out of its actually better or not.

              1. re: loki993

                You can thank the "Burger Lab" from "A Hamburger Today" for that. Kenzii published a recipe for the perfect burger mix (after taste testing about five or six different blends, fat contents, etc.) which sounds a lot like what you've described.

                  1. re: FrankD

                    Can the use of different cuts really be attributed to a writer on A Hamburger Today? My butcher has been grinding blends for years. I suspect many others have too. The first time I did it was probably in 2001.

                    1. re: tommy

                      <Can the use of different cuts really be attributed to a writer on A Hamburger Today?>

                      Certainly not.

                      Like you, I've been using different blends for years as well as many others. I do think the seriouseats Hamburger Lab is a great resource for those wanting to make a better burger.

                      1. re: tommy

                        Maybe not, but he WROTE about it. ;o)

                        1. re: tommy

                          I don't know all the particulars but my father in law had a friend who made a VERY good living in the Philly area selling custom hamburger blends. I believe the time period was 1950's - 1980's

                  2. I noted prices for burgers in the $12-16 range in some of the Northern California restaurants I visited which were not fast food places but nice restaurants. I attributed it to the fact that most of these restaurants advertised the use of grass feed organic beef.

                    1. I don't know where you are paying $14 for a hamburger, but I'm guessing it's at a nice restaurant rather than (for example) Five Guys, where the double burger is half that. You are paying for the restaurant, not the hamburger.

                      1. I've noticed a trend for restaurants to serve ever bigger hamburgers to justify a higher price. I like a 1/3 lb burger but a lot of restaurants don't serve anything less than 1/2 lb these days, with some doing not less than 10 or 12 oz burgers.

                        1. Here's a menu from a new "Burger Bar" that just opened: http://citizenburgerbar.com/wp-conten.... As you can see, their burgers range from$11-25. We went for lunch today and I got the Classic. It was fine, but not worth $11. That's been my experience at most such places.

                          1. I wrote a more lengthy response to this question on another thread, which is now locked, but I wanted to post in here in case any were interest: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8558...

                            Also, NPR has a great article that provides a lot of data about beef consumption and the costs that go into raising cattle. It's not directly related to cost, but you can clearly see how the price a lot of the components of raising beef would have gone up recently.


                            1. The cost of beef has gone up, no doubt about it. Having said that, the South Jersey Diners I have been to recently still put out an 8 oz burger with fries, pickle & coleslaw for under $8.00 in most cases. A bonus is that many of them still grind their own meat and will gladly cook it rare.

                              Never ordered a burger at a "Fine" dining restaurant so I can't speak to that. When I want a really special burger I make it myself.

                              1. Menu price for burgers at my favorite pubs have remained stable BUT I have noticed the patty size has been reduced recently.

                                1. Pub burgers around here are in the 9-14 range, with the luxe burgers sitting Ing the 18-25 range. Its been that way for a while now

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: jgg13

                                    Where do you live? Our local tavern (South Jersey) sells an 8 oz Certified Angus Beef burger (Never frozen from Sysco) for $7.99 which includes fries and a pickle..... Thats horrible your being socked $18. to $25. for a burger plus the cost of a few beers / tax / tip. If I were you I would find a good source of ground beef or grind your own and cook them to your liking.

                                    1. re: Tom34

                                      Boston. Those aren't normal burgers, and many (not all) are worth every penny. Grass fed beef, particular blends, advanced cooking methods, special cheeses, house made condiments, home made buns, etc. one in particular (IMO the best of the bunch) will only put tomatoes on them she the local ones are in seaso. - sadly I've discovered that the tomato is key to my enjoyment as odd as that sounds.

                                      My real irritation are the lower range ones as a lot of those are Sysco type stuff.

                                      At home I do grind my own, my personal fave is pure short rib but thats pretty rich :)

                                      1. re: jgg13

                                        The specialty cuts of high grade beef & the labor to trim / grind it and blend it along with high end condiments & homemade buns would bump the price I guess.

                                        Sysco quality runs the spectrum but their fresh 8oz Certified Angus Beef burgers around my way are very, very good for a basic pub burger and their around $8.00 with fries & pickle.

                                        About 12 yrs ago after driving from Philly to Boston my wife and I arrived late. We were exhausted and we just wanted to grab a quick bite and crash. Having no idea where to go we stopped at a restaurant and the burgers started at around $12.00 with a formal setting and a lengthy wait, not what we wanted.

                                        They recommended a little dive that I think was on a corner.... It was a small white building that was a cooking shack with outdoor seating and it was well lit up at night. It was not far from where we stayed which was a small ground floor apartment in an alley with old narrow cobble stone type streets. (Similar to Historic area in Phila) Their sandwiches & fries were good with quick service at very reasonable prices. It was our go to spot for a bite on the run during the week we were there

                                        1. re: Tom34

                                          I don't mind the sysco burgers, it just annoys me that they're going up in price - IMO places just see that the public are willing to pay more so they keep upping the ante.

                                          I'm pretty open to all comers when it comes to burgers although I prefer the divier fare and the top end far. The middle ground are the ones where I more often than not say to myself "I could totally do better for less money"

                                          1. re: jgg13

                                            A friend of mine owns a restaurant and grinds his own Chuck / Sirloin mix and I think his burgers are good. He told me his material cost is about $3.00 lb plus labor & overhead.

                                            Another friend is a master butcher who works with hanging beef. His fresh sirloin comes from the trimmings off mostly prime grade beef. The specks of fat are a little larger than bee bees and are very white. Smells like steak when cooking and tastes as good in the bun med rare. Need a bib. Usually under $3.50 lb.

                                            He told me they don't have to re-spray the scraps before grinding like the big pack houses which keeps it firmer. When the "pieces" of fat melt not only do they add incredible flavor but it leaves little voids keeping the texture light and airy.

                                  2. Well thankfully you can still get a decent steak for only $40 ( plus valet parking, sides, salad, $12 martinis, and tiramisu or cheesecake). Aaaarrrggghhhh!!!!

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: tim irvine

                                      $12.00 for a martini......what do they get you for a mid range import beer?......OH, speaking of sides, how about the $8.00 baked potato! It doesn't break the bank but REALLY?

                                      1. re: tim irvine

                                        If you are eating at a place with valet parking, that should be a tipoff.

                                        1. re: GH1618

                                          Maybe the next trend in expensive restaurants can hearken back to an idea from Benny
                                          Hill: put those valets in tutus and offer "ballet parking..."

                                      2. I go to an old school place where you can get a 8oz fresh angus patty with 3 strips of thick cut bacon, choice of cheese, fries and a half sour for $7.50. I've also seen places with burgers in the mid teens and I avoid them.

                                        1. Farmers here in Georgia are going to have to start selling cattle if it doesn't rain soon. Not sure how the drought maybe affecting other places.

                                          If they start flooding the market beef prices will go down temporarily but the future supply will be less which will raise prices.

                                          1. Here in LA County they're all over the map. The best burger I've had in Pasadena - at the newish Abricott, on South Lake - is a 1/3-lb patty, nicely dressed and bunned, for $8, or a buck extra for a slice of Gouda; that's the same price as my next-favorite, at Plate 38. The worst fancyburger was the most expensive, at around $18. Other really good ones of this ilk run around $14, with fries. As for the lesser varieties, their success will always be tempered by the essential goodness of the dirt-cheap In-N-Out. I guess people still go to McDonald's just because their lines are shorter …

                                            1. Well the DB burger started at $25 when I first tried it. Its now $32 but what do you expect for a burger that is stuffed with foie gras and braised short ribs? At least you get fries with it.

                                              1. We run the gamut here too. I can get 5 dollar burgers and I can get 14 dollar burgers. It just seems that lately places are opening and more often then not the burgers are 10+ dollars. These are not fine dining places either, they are places you would probably order a burger in.

                                                Yeah I can get 5 guys and get out for under 10 bucks with a drink. We also have Burgz, which I would put up against just about anything and I can get out of there under 10 too most of the time.
                                                There are other places however, and I'm gonna get local here so bear with me, Vinsetta Garage just opened, Roadhouse B&G and Clubhouse BFD that all are fairly new or recently opened and their burgers are all 10+ dollars. I was at a place near my house, The Laundry and their burger is 14.50.

                                                Now Im sure they're all fantastic. I guess maybe its just Im said I can afford to eat them all the time lol.

                                                1. This report from Dec 2011 is relevant. It provides some reasons for higher costs.