How To Keep Burgers from Shrinking

Whether you’re a novice cook or an advanced one, burgers are the staple of every household. From frying burgers in a pan to grill them on a state-of-the-art grill in your backyard, there is an art to grilling the perfect burger without shrinking it. Well, if you are someone who struggles with shrinking burgers, there is no need to fret, as this is something that happens to the best of us. The great thing is that a shrinking burger is definitely something that you can prevent by taking care of some things during the cooking process, and we are here to tell you all about it. 

How To Keep Burgers from Shrinking: Quick Answer

In short, the best way to keep your burgers from shrinking during the cooking process is to use eighty by twenty ground meat for the patties. You should also shape the ground meat patties to be wider than the buns you are using are. This helps in working as a counteract measure to the patty shrinking by around 25%. You can also make a small-sized indentation in the center of the patty to stop it from puffing up. While these tips have been developed through the process of trial and error, there is no doubt that they will work for you no matter what type of meat you’re using to make the patty and whether you’re grilling the patty or frying it.

Why Does Your Burger Shrink During the Cooking Process

To fix a problem, you have to first go to the root of the problem itself and understand why it’s happening. So, what is it in the entire process that leads to the burger shrinking? Well, as your burger patty heats up while it’s cooking, the meat releases juices. These juices then cause the collagen within the meat, that is, the connectivity tissues, to shrink up. As a reaction to the contraction in the connectivity issues and the heat, the meat also begins to puff up. All in all, three factors impact how much your burger will shrink and puff up during the entire cooking process; the amount of moisture and fat contained within the patty, how long you cook the meat, the temperature at which you are cooking your meat. It has been reported by Weight Watchers that a large majority of different types of meats will shrink up to 25% once exposed to heat while cooking. So, if you’ve got a raw patty that is three and a half inches in diameter, after cooking, it would shrink to about two and 2/3rd inches in diameter. The great thing is that this shrinking and puffing up of the burger is something that you can avoid with the following tips and tricks.

Use 80 by 20 Ground Meat for the Patty 

It is known that burgers with a high-fat content, the kind that drips down through the gaps in the grill and causes the charcoal to flare up, shrink much more than a burger with a lower amount of fat. Of course, one can argue that fat not only makes the patty moist but also adds flavor. So, the ideal ratio of lean meat to fat content in a burger that doesn’t shrink as much while being flavorful is 80 by 20. We would personally recommend ground chuck with this golden ratio. This is because the chuck, which is meat that is sourced from the upper arm, shoulder blade, and neck of a cow, is meat that isn’t overtly fatty but also not too lean. So, with this tip, you will no doubt be able to keep your burger from shrinking while retaining moisture and flavor.

Shaping The Burger Patty Wider Than the Burger Buns

Knowing now that a burger patty can shrink up to one-fourth of its original size, you would be interested to know several other things that you can do to prevent it from happening again. One of those things is to compare and adjust the diameter of your burger patty to that of your burger buns. The best way to do this is to make your patty wider than your buns by one-fourth of one inch. The reason behind this ideal diameter difference is quite simple; you can only keep your burger patty from shrinking up to one-fourth of its size. So, by adding that proportion, you’ll be able to keep the perfect ratio between patty and buns.

Making An Indent in the Burger

Another great technique you can use to prevent your burger from shrinking and puffing up is to make an indent within the burger patty before you cook it. The great thing is that all that you will need are your hands. So, with your middle fingers and your thumb, make an indent right in the center of your party. You should do this before you season your patty and cook it. According to Christine Gallary, the best indent is a shallow indent. Of course, getting the diameter of the indentation right will take some practice to get just right. However, once you’re able to pull it off, you’ll never have to worry about your burger shrinking and puffing ever again.

Cook The Meat on Medium or Medium-High Heat

Since the temperature at which you are cooking your meat also impacts how much your meat will shrink and puff up, it is also important to take note of the ideal temperature. It is a mistake to cook your burger patty on a grill that has been set up on its highest setting. The ideal temperature to cook your burger is medium heat or medium-high heat. It is also best if you use a cast-iron skillet that has a thick bottom or a pan that is stainless steel to do so.

There is no doubt that by following all of these techniques and perfecting them over time, you will be able to make the best burgers in town, which feature the ideal burger patty. 

You can also check: How To Smoke A Brisket In An Electric Smoker

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