Getting the ideal hamburger patty can be very satisfying. But it can also take some trial and error. Here’s how to make hamburger patties stick together every time, so you never have to worry about your burgers falling apart again.
I love a nice, juicy bacon cheeseburger. But we’ve all been there. You form the perfectly round hamburger patty, only to have it break apart on the grill or in the pan. And like Humpty Dumpty, there’s no putting that patty back together again, no matter what you try.
The good news is, I’ve got you covered. Here are 6 different methods I’ve tested and use to help hamburger patties stick together.
Why do hamburger patties fall apart?
Hamburger patties can fail to stick together for a variety of reasons, from adding too much liquid to overworking the burger mix to simply missing a key ingredient.
Fortunately, you can create the perfect burger patties by making just a few simple adjustments. In most cases, you simply need to add one or two items to the mix.
Let’s take a closer look at the best tried-and-true ways to help hamburger patties keep their shape so you end up with the best burgers.
6 ways to make hamburger patties stick together
Often, the biggest reason why hamburger patties fall apart is the lack of a good binding agent. The following methods include the best binders to use, as well as the top ways to cook burgers so they maintain their structure.
Method 1: Eggs
Maybe the most overlooked ingredient when making hamburger patties is eggs. Adding them to your raw meat mix can simply help everything stick together. Plus, it adds a richer flavor to your burgers. Just drop a whole raw egg into the burger mix and combine thoroughly.
For best results, use one egg per pound of ground meat.
⭐️ As a bonus, if you prefer turkey burgers, adding an egg and a bit of oil can help prevent the burgers from drying out.
Method 2: Bread crumbs
Bread crumbs are a common ingredient in helping crab cakes keep their shape. And they can be used in the same way for burger patties.
Simply mix in 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup bread crumbs per pound of ground meat. This will thicken the patties and provide more support for them while cooking. They also help lock in moisture, which gets released back into the burgers during the cooking process.
One note: you’ll want to be careful not to add too many bread crumbs, as that can dry out your burgers.
Method 3: Chickpeas
If you’ve ever had falafel, you may be familiar with how chickpeas can serve as a great binder. That same principle works with homemade burgers. To do it, drain a can of chickpeas, then crush them. Next, combine them thoroughly into your burger mix.
This will help the meat stick together, add another level of flavor, and give your burgers a nice, firm texture.
💡 Chickpeas are also a great binder if you have egg or gluten allergies. And they’re ideal for veggie burgers if you prefer to skip the meat altogether.
Method 4: Avocados
A healthy way to help give a classic burger added structure is to add fresh avocado. Do it by mixing it right into the ground chuck. Not only will it help bind the meat, it will also give the burgers a creamy rich flavor and texture.
And avocados are a great source of healthy fats, along with omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins B6, C, and E. They’re all important to protect cells and for a healthy immune system.
Method 5: Limit the liquids
Adding some liquid ingredients like Worcestershire sauce and evaporated milk can really enhance the flavor of burgers and keep them moist. But adding too much can make your patties fall apart.
A good rule of thumb is to add 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire for every pound of fresh ground meat. The same goes for evaporated milk. And when you also include eggs and bread crumbs, you’ll help create the perfect mix of liquid ingredients and binding agents in your homemade burger patties.
Method 6: Don’t overwork the burger mix
You may have heard that overworking dough can lead to hard, chewy bread. Well, a similar concept applies to burgers as well.
If you overmix your burger meat and other ingredients, you can make the resulting burgers tough and dry, as the fat can break down. As a result, the patties can become more fragile and crumbly when cooking.
To help prevent this, it’s a good idea to make a well in the center of your ground meat, then add the liquid ingredients and other binders. Mix just until everything is combined thoroughly.
Hamburger patty cooking tips
Adding the right ingredients to your hamburger meat and forming them properly is just half the battle in keeping your patties from falling apart. Cooking them the right way is also key. Here are some best practices for cooking a great burger.
Use the right meat
As with any dish, great ingredients are essential to creating the perfect burger. To help keep your ground beef patties stick together, avoid very lean types of ground beef. That’s because fat in the meat helps bind it. Leaner meat won’t have enough fat and the burgers could crumble or be dry.
Instead, opt for good, quality ground beef with higher fat content, around 20 percent. Not only will this help the burgers keep their shape, it will also give you the juiciest burgers.
🥓 Tip: If you do have leaner ground meat, try adding some chopped bacon to the mix to increase both flavor and texture.
Chill the patties beforehand
After you’ve mixed together all the burger patty ingredients, avoid going straight to the grill or stovetop. Instead, form your patties and then chill them in the fridge first for at least an hour.
This will help all of those ingredients bind together. Plus, it will help your burgers retain moisture and give them a juicy center with a little pink when cooking.
Use the right cooking temperature
Another way to help your burger patties hold and keep their shape and flavor is to cook them at a high enough temperature. Using a low cooking temperature can result in the patties cooking too long. The longer the burger cooks, the more moisture you’re drawing away from it and the drier it can get.
Aim for medium-high heat on the stovetop or grill pan, and preheat it before you add the patties so you can get a nice sear on them.
If you’re using a grill, preheat it to around 400 degrees Fahrenheit and cook the burgers until they reach an internal temperature of at least 160° F. Using a meat thermometer is an easy way to make sure your burgers reach the perfect temperature.
Don’t flip the patties too early or too often
Just as you want to use the right temperature when cooking your homemade hamburger patties, you also want to make sure you’re not flipping them too much. Simply put, the more you flip them, the greater the chance that they can break apart.
Instead, cook them for about 3-4 minutes on each side (that may increase depending on the burger thickness). And just flip them once. You should end up with a nicely browned exterior and a juicy burger that’s pink on the inside.
And avoid pressing down on them with a spatula, as that can release valuable juices.
Use a binding agent
As noted above, using a binding agent like an egg, bread crumbs, or even chickpeas or avocados can help give your patties more structure and add some extra flavor and texture.
Just don’t overdo it as that can make the burger meat too moist or too dry, depending on the binder you use. And don’t be afraid to mix your binders, for example adding both an egg and breadcrumbs. That can give you the best balance of structure and moisture and result in a delicious, juicy hamburger.
It’s a good idea to season burgers right before you cook the patties. Adding salt too soon can draw moisture from them and you could end up with dry burgers instead of moist, tender, juicy ones. Simply sprinkle some salt to each side of the patty, then cook them as desired.
Adding a bit of milk or evaporated milk to burger meat with some breadcrumbs can help add moisture to your patties and help them keep their shape. In general, the best way is to add a tablespoon of milk for each pound of ground meat.
You can add some rich flavor to burgers with a few extra ingredients. A tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce can give burgers a deep, umami flavor. And mixing in some garlic powder and onion powder to your homemade hamburgers can also enhance their overall flavor.
More meat-related answers
Get more answers to your questions on how to best cook and reheat meats. Tap the following posts.