Learn how to grind your own burger meat! Making your own burger blend at home is incredibly simple and will take your hamburgers to the next level! Easy tips and tricks for the best burger patties included! Plus, a different method for those of you who don’t own a grinder!
Update: This post was originally published in September 2014. I took new photos and updated the post below to include more information about how to grind your own meat!
Why purchase pre-ground, overly packed burger meat, which will surely lead to a dried out burger, when you can grind your own? AND you can give it the all-star, V.I.P, ritzy treatment complete with love and a delicate touch?
Grinding your own hamburger meat is an extraordinarily simple process and with grilling season right around the corner, you should totally to be DIY-ing your burgers!
Grinding your own meat only requires a knife, cutting board, ice cubes, two mixing bowls, meat grinder (totally worth the few bucks it costs for the attachment if you already have a stand mixer) or a food processor, and a few minutes of your time. The pay off, hands down, exceeds the minuscule amount of effort.
Ever wonder why your favorite restaurant has an unbelievably juicy burger you just cannot seem to replicate at home? Especially, when you took the time to purchase all the special toppings and make the copy-cat sauces? Yet the burger as a whole is just missing a little something?
What your burger is missing is homemade ground beef! It’s the secret ingredient to an epic burger!
Why grind your own beef?
When you grind your own burger meat, you know where the beef is coming from, plus you are in control of the fat content and can customize the cuts of beef used. While these may seem like small factors, they make all the difference in the world. Basically, grinding your own beef ensures the freshest meat possible with the perfect fat ratio!
Another added bonus, your wallet will thank you! Because, it is a heck of a lot cheaper to grind your own meat versus purchasing prepackaged ground beef or beef patties.
Oh, and how could I forget, if you grind it yourself you can also safely enjoy your burger cooked rare. High five!
Essentially, grinding your own beef (or chicken, or pork) takes your average ho-hum burger and transforms it into something spectacular and next level!
Be prepared for people to ask you “what is your secret ingredient”? When you tell them all you did was take a few minutes to grind the meat yourself, they might not believe something that simple could possibly make THAT much of a difference. But trust me, it does!!
The simplicity of achieving an outrageously good burger is literally mind blowing. Once you grind your own hamburger meat, you will never be picking up a package of the prepared beef ever again. Mark my words!
But, before you go running off to use your meat grinder, or ordering one online, let’s go over a few very imperative rules to follow.
How to grind your own meat for burgers?
- Make sure your grinder is cold. You want your grinder attachment (all of it: shaft, tube, plate, die and screw) to be extremely COLD. You need to place it in the freezer at LEAST 1 hour before you plan on using it. I will put mine in the freezer the night before I am going to use it, or sometimes well before that, if I know I want to use it sometime during the week to come.
- Make sure your meat is cold. After you cut the meat into 1’’ cubes, spread them evenly on a baking sheet and place in the freezer until the meat starts to get firm, but not frozen throughout, about 20-30 minutes. (Do you see the theme here? Cold = a must! )
- Make sure you have a cold bowl to catch the ground beef. To ensure your meat remains out of the temperature “danger zone” while you are grinding, fill a large mixing bowl with ice and a little water. Place another large mixing bowl inside the bowl of ice. Place this underneath the attachment to catch the meat as it falls from the grinder. Also, you will want to work quickly here, so don’t plan on taking any business calls or dilly-dally-ing about. However, I understand life happens. Worst case scenario, if your meat or grinder become too warm, simply place the meat and attachment back into the freezer for another 10-15 minutes. Then proceed to grind the meat again.
- Run the meat through the grinder twice. Running the cubes of steak through the meat grinder twice, first with a coarser disk and then a slightly finer disk, will give your burger blend the perfect texture, especially if you are making smashed burgers or burgers on a griddle!
- Shape burger patties gently. When forming your burgers DO NOT compact the patties too tightly, use a delicate touch. And, make sure you make a small dimple, using your finger or thumb, in the center of each burger to prevent burger bulge.
- Keep your burger patties cold. To be on the safe side, I like to transfer my formed burgers onto a sheet pan and place them in the freezer for 10 minutes.
What is the best meat to grind for hamburgers?
The best cuts of beef for burgers
- Chuck steak. Chuck is the most commonly used cut of beef in burger blends. Marbled throughout and well-balanced in flavor with a decent lean-to-fat ratio, chuck steak is generally the primary cut used in burger blends and is supplemented with one or two other cuts of meat.
- Sirloin or Tri-Tip. Sirloin is a relatively lean cut of steak, but has a good amount of flavor. You will need to supplement sirloin with another cut of meat that has a higher fat content, such as chuck, brisket, or short rib.
- Round. Round is extremely lean and very cheap. If you are looking to adjust your protein-to-fat ratio or lean out your burger, round is a great choice.
- Brisket. With a distinct beefy flavor and high fat content, adding brisket to your burger will yield a beautifully rich burger.
- Boneless Short Rib. With a high fat content and rich flavor, adding short rib to your burger blend will produce an incredibly moist burger.
- Plate (Skirt and Hanger Steak). A tougher cut of beef with a tart and tangy flavor, this cut is a good choice if you feel like getting a little fancy with your burger.
How to make your own burger meat without a grinder?
Don’t have a meat grinder? That is absolutely okay!
There are two ways to make ground beef without a meat grinder:
- Food processor. To grind your own burger meat using a food processor, you still need to cube the beef and place it in the freezer for 15-30 minutes before proceeding. Then, working in batches, pulse the meat until it is finely chopped, about 20 pulses. Transfer each batch of pulsed meat into the mixing bowl inserted into the ice bowl.
- Hand chop. To hand chop your own burger meat, you still need to the meat to be nice and cold, so place your steaks in the freezer for 15 minutes before proceeding. Use a cleaver to chop the meat as finely or coarsely as desired.
How to make burger meat patties?
Forming ground beef into patties is simple and easy to do! For perfect burger patties, follow the steps below!
Before you begin form your hamburger patties, make sure your ground beef is as cold as possible and has been properly refrigerated. As well, make sure you are working on a clean work surface lined with a large sheet of wax paper (to help prevent the meat from sticking to your surface).
- Divide the ground beef. When dividing the beef, keep in mind that the higher the fat content of the mixture, the more the patties will shrink as they cook. The exact size of your patties should be determined by the size of the bun you will be using. To be precise, I like to use a scale. Raw burger patties should typically range from 4 ounces (for a quarter pounder) to 6 ounces. Try to divide the meat into even sized portions, this will ensure every burger is done cooking at the same time.
- Form meat into a loose patty. Once you have the meat divided into useable portions, use your hands to gently form the ground beef into a very loose patty. If you have a cookie cutter, even better! For exact precision, fill a cookie cutter loosely with ground beef.
- Shape the patty. Take the loosely formed patty of ground meat and very gently shape it into a burger patty using your hands. Take care to not overwork the meat. You want a solid disk of meat that is compact, but not too tightly compacted.
- Make an indentation. Use your thumb to make a small indentation or well in the center of your patty. Since the burger patties will swell while they cook, the indentation will ensure that the burger patty holds its proper shape once cooked.
- Refrigerate. Transfer the shaped burger patties to the refrigerator and allow to chill for 30 minutes before using! Cold patties will hold their shape and stay together better while cooking.
How to make burger meat stick together?
There is nothing more frustrating than a burger patty breaking apart and falling between the grates of your grill! Follow these tips to help your burger meat stick together.
- Keep your burger meat cold. The colder your burger patties are, the more likely they are to hold their shape and stay together. After forming your ground beef into patties, place the burger patties onto a sheet pan lined with wax paper and place them into the refrigerator for 30 minutes before using.
- Handle your raw patties as little as possible. When forming your ground beef into patties, make sure you use a gentle touch and avoid overworking the meat.
- Avoid adding liquid to the raw patties. Liquid flavoring agents, such as Worcestershire sauce or marinades will cause the burger patties to be loose and fall apart. If you want to add a sauce or liquid flavoring, do so once the burger is done cooking.
- Do not over-flip your burger! When the burger meat is cold and placed on the grill it will hold its shape well. As well, when it’s cooked, the burger will be solid. It is the in between stage that makes the burger susceptible to falling apart. This is why it is essential you fully cook the bottom of your burger before flipping it over! A burger fully cooked on the bottom will help the burger hold together when flipping!
- Add an egg, but only if absolutely necessary. While I personally do not advocate adding egg to your raw burger patties, you can if needed. To me, the addition of an egg takes a ground beef patty from a burger to a mini meatloaf, but if you are paranoid the burger is going to fall apart, adding an egg as a binding agent will make the ground beef stickier.
Storing ground beef
How long is burger meat good in the fridge?
Ground beef should be stored in an airtight, zip-closure bag. Properly stored, burger meat will keep for up to 2 days in the refrigerator.
Can you freeze burger meat?
You can absolutely freeze ground beef as well as formed ground beef burger patties for longer storage!
To freeze burger patties, place the formed patties in a single layer on a wax paper lined sheet pan. Transfer the sheet pan to the freezer and allow the patties to freeze solid before transferring to a zip-closure storage bag. Freezing them solid in a single layer will help them keep their shape.
Once fully frozen, stack the patties with a square of parchment paper layered in between to prevent sticking. Transfer the stacked patties to a heavy-duty, zip-closure bag and remove as much air as possible when sealing to prevent freezer burn.
To freeze loose ground burger meat, portion it out into useable portions first (half a pound, 1 pound or 2 pounds), and then transfer to a heavy-duty zip-closure bag.
Properly stored, burger meat and burger patties will keep in the freezer for up to 3-4 months. Make sure you label your bags with the date they were placed in the freezer so you can keep track of storage times.
How to thaw burger meat?
The best way to safely thaw ground beef or burger patties is to place the meat in the refrigerator and allow it to defrost overnight.
To defrost burger meat more rapidly, you can defrost it using cold water. To do so, keep the meat in an airtight, zip-closure bag and submerge under COLD water. Be sure to change the water every 25-30 minutes and use the meat immediately.
While you can use a microwave to defrost the ground beef, I do not recommend it. Using a microwave will cause some areas of the raw beef to cook, which results in unappetizing, tough cooked ground beef.
Using your ground beef
How and when to season burger meat?
You should season your burger meat after forming it into patties and as close to the actual cooking time as possible.
Since salt draws the moisture out of meat it will affect the texture of the cooked burger. Seasoning your burger meat too early will result in a tougher, denser burger patty. So, make sure you preheat your grill first and season the patties right before you cook them!
How much burger meat per person?
When making your own patties, you can assume between 4 to 6 ounces of ground beef per patty.
While there are a number of factors to consider when feeding a crown, such as – age and gender of your guests, the number of sides at your party and so on – you can safely assume each person will consume 1 to 1.5 burgers.
To be on the easy and safe side when estimating how much burger meat per person, assume you are making 6 ounce burgers and each person will consume 1 burger:
- 4 people = 24 ounces (1 ½ pound)
- 6 people = 36 ounces (2 ¼ pounds)
- 8 people = 48 ounces (3 pounds)
- 10 people = 60 ounces (3 ¾ pounds)
- 12 people = 68 ounces (4 ¼ pounds)
So, what are you waiting for?! Let’s do the dang thing, grind some beef and make the best burgers EVER!
Until next week, friends, cheers – to bodacious burgers!
More burger recipes!
How to grind your own burger meat recipe👇
How To Grind Your Own Burger Meat
- 2.5 Pounds Boneless Chuck Steak (See Notes)
- .75 Pounds Top Sirloin Steak (See Notes)
- Prepare the grinder attachment: Place the meat grinder attachment in the freezer at least 1 hour (or up to overnight) in advance of using. I have found the 3 hour mark to be perfect. Line a baking sheet with freezer paper or plastic wrap for easy clean up.
- Cut the steaks: Cut the steaks into roughly 1 ½’’ cubes. Spread the cubes of beef in an evenly distributed, single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Place the tray of beef in the freezer for 30 minutes.
- While the beef is chilling, prepare a bowl to hold the ground beef: Fill a large bowl with ice and add a little bit of water. Insert a smaller bowl on top of the ice to catch the meat as it comes out of the grinder. THIS STEP IS IMPERATIVE. You need to keep your meat cold!
- Attach the meat grinder, affixed with 3/8’’ plate, to your stand mixer. (If you have a different grinder, follow their provided instructions).
- Grind steaks: Grind meat by running it once through the grinder, with your make shift ‘double meat chiller’ placed underneath to catch your ground beef. Do not separate different cuts of beef when grinding, you want them mixed together.
- OPTIONAL: Switch to the ¼’’ plate and run the meat again through grinder attachment once. (I highly recommend running the meat through the grinder twice if you are making smashed burgers! For a regular burger this step is completely optional and depends on the texture of the burger desired.)
- Chill ground beef before using: Cover the bowl of ground beef and place it in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to chill or store it until you are ready to use. The ground beef will keep in the refrigerator for 2 days or you can transfer ground beef to a freezer bag and store in the freezer for up to 3 months.
1. Follow Steps 2 and 3, you do not need to place the bowl of the food processor in the freezer.
2. Working in batches, pulse cubes of steak until finely chopped, about 20 pulses. After each batch, transfer the chopped meat to the ‘double meat chiller’. RECIPE NOTES:
- Steaks: There is no way to gauge the beef-to-fat ratio other than eye-balling your mix. If you want to be precise, ask your butcher for help. But, just look at the fat in your steaks. For a juicy, flavorful burger, look for about 25 percent fat. For a leaner burger, look for leaner, less fatty steaks.
- Steaks: If you want an even juicier burger, ask your butcher if he has beef trimmings available and add those to the mix!
- Grinding Steaks: When grinding the cubes of steak, do NOT separate the cuts of beef! You want to grind the steaks together.
- Forming burgers: When forming the burger meat into patties, take care to NOT overwork the meat! And, do NOT pack the meat together, you want to use a light touch! The slight separation of the meat will allow the juices to run through the patty to create a super juicy and moist burger!
- Indent burger patties: After you have formed the beef into patties, take your thumb and make a small indentation or well in the center of your patty. Since the burger patties will swell while they cook, the indentation will ensure that the burger patty holds its proper shape once cooked.
- Seasoning burgers: For the most flavorful burger, make sure you season the patties liberally on both sides with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- When grilling your burgers: DO NOT use a spatula to press down on the burger!! If you have used your finger to create an indentation, there will be no need to press down. Flattening the burger with a spatula causes the patty to lose all its moisture and juices resulting in a dry burger.
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