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How to Keep Burgers From Shrinking

Whether you’re cooking burgers on the grill or in a pan, it is essential to know how to keep burgers from shrinking. Although shrinkage is normal when cooking hamburgers, you can take measures to minimize the problem.

Luckily, several practical solutions can help you maintain your patty’s size, shape, and flavor.

How To Keep Burgers From Shrinking On The Grill

Hamburgers can shrink if measures aren't taken.
How can you keep burgers from shrinking?

When meat and poultry muscle fibers change shape when hot, shrinkage occurs while cooking. Both denaturing processes cause the protein to lose its original form, shrinking due to water and moisture loss.

It would be best to monitor your patties if you want their size to be consistent. Therefore, you must know the various factors that determine burger shrinkage:

Avoid Additives

Preservatives are injected into dried meats like beef jerky and ground beef. Butylated hydroxytoluene prevents patties from becoming rancid.

Ground beef typically contains compounds like carrageenan, which aid in binding the flesh. It might potentially be infused with an unidentified water solution to retain moisture.

You’ll notice a significant difference when cooking with high-quality beef because it is free from additives. The more natural the meat, the less you have to worry about artificial ingredients.

Use More Lean Meat

Fat tends to shrink and burn while cooking on a grill. The grease also liquefies and evaporates at high temperatures, resulting in a smaller burger. Therefore, reducing the quantity of fat is crucial to maintaining a patty’s original size. In burgers, the lean meat to fat ratio is 80% (beef) to 20% (fat).

So, how do you ensure that you have the right kind of meat?

Consider using ground chuck meat that consists of at least 30% fat. While the right amount of fat is crucial to making a delicious patty, it can also retain the juicy flavor.

Avoid High Temperatures

Maintaining a reasonable temperature decreases shrinking while preserving the meat’s rich qualities. Since shrinkage occurs gradually during cooking, medium-cooked patties will be bigger than smaller patties when in contact with high heat.

Burgers may reach a high temperature prematurely, especially if the lid remains on the grill for an extended period. The fact that your favorite restaurant’s burgers are grilled over an open flame is why they taste so delicious.

Cooking your hamburger at a moderate temperature prevents shrinking, but it also helps the meat preserve its flavor. Since shrinkage occurs during the cooking process, a medium-rare patty will expand.

On the other hand, the temperature may rise quickly with a closed lid. Burgers retain their size and flavor when cooked over an open flame.

Consider a Larger Size

The size of a decent burger patty is determined by what you aim to achieve and the heat level. A burger patty that is too thin may break on the grill, regardless of the meat blend. It may burn on the exterior but be cool in the middle if thick.

Your burger should be broad but also thick. Additionally, it should fit precisely on a bun instead of having more bread than meat. One suggestion is to use more meat than usual to ensure your burger remains large even while cooking. Also, form wider patties to reduce the chance of shrinkage.

Depending on how many burgers you want to make, divide the meat accordingly. Roll each piece of meat between your palms after you separate them. Check whether the meat is sticking together, but don’t overwork the patties. Set them aside until you’re ready to toss them into your pan or on your grill.

Create a Small Indentation

Indentations for the patties are a common technique essential to chefs. After flattening your burger, form a dent in its center with a fingertip. The impression should be 1/3 the thickness of the patties with a modest depth, preventing the burger from shrinking. Also, ensure that you create a dent instead of a hole.

The indentation method prevents the meat patty from shrinking, keeping it from warping into a strange shape. Also, assembling contents such as lettuce and cheese between the hamburger buns is effortless.

Avoid Compression

Compressing a patty is a mistake to avoid because it may cause excessive dryness. It releases liquid, causing a burger to become dry and shrink quickly. Avoid the flattening method to retain moisture and juice as your patty cooks.

Reduce Flipping

Some individuals worry their burger will burn or cook too quickly if they don’t flip it consistently. However, they can cause an imbalance between the patty and the heat. The meat could be al-dente on the outside while raw inside.

Try cooking the burgers for 2 to 4 minutes on one side before flipping. Each flip should be swift and precise.

Mistakes to Avoid When Making Burgers

Be sure to season burgers beforehand.
Preparations should be made while the meat is still raw.

Few individuals can resist the flavor of a juicy meat patty on a crisp bun, but cooking the perfect burger can be challenging. Since burgers tend to swell while cooking, their edges cook faster than their center, causing the meat to bloat as it shrinks. Another common issue is a growing bubble that eventually erupts, causing the juice to run.

When burgers are in contact with heat, their juices escape, and flesh shrinks, resulting in contraction. Burger shrinkage is determined by a few factors: the quantity of oil and moisture, the temperature, and the length of time.

You can implement a few strategies to determine how to keep hamburgers from shrinking, and we’ll go over each of them in detail in the following paragraphs.

Failing to Season Burgers Before Cooking

No one wants to sink their teeth into a bland, poorly seasoned burger. Although an adequate amount of salt is acceptable, you also must ensure you use all of your condiments correctly.

Seasoning is a crucial pre-cooking procedure essential to making a good burger. It provides a robust taste and effectively flavors a patty with a loose texture and tender bite.

While salt is beneficial, avoid going overboard. Spices and seasonings are frequently used in excess because some individuals believe they will add more flavor. Unfortunately, they do not realize they are ruining their burger. While adding various veggies, condiments, and spices to burgers may seem like an excellent idea, it’s better to let the meat do its job.

Overhandling Meat

When forming your patties, you must handle ground beef gently. Excessively shaping the meat can result in a burger being too thick and tough to chew. For a tender burger, combine the contents while keeping it somewhat loose. Reducing your handling can be worth sinking your teeth into the perfect burger.

Constructing a Burger Improperly

While there is no right or wrong way to build your burger, construction is essential because it contributes to its appearance and taste. Many individuals plop items such as cheese, pickles, or tomatoes on their burgers, overpowering a patty’s flavor.

There should be a 50/50 flavor ratio between patties and condiments. Therefore, consider placing lettuce on the bun before the patty. As a result, the lettuce acts as a wall, preventing excess moisture and sogginess.

Know how to construct a burger properly.
Know how to handle the patty after the burger is cooked.


A burger that remains in its original size is more flavorful and enjoyable. Although shrinkage is a common issue that can be challenging to avoid or prevent, you can take the necessary measures that we suggest above. We hope the information we share helps you make and enjoy better burgers.