How To Make Hamburger Patties

Homemade hamburger patties are completely customizable and a great way to use up that ground beef in your refrigerator.

Two hamburgers on a serving tray stacked with cheese, lettuce, tomato, and onion
Photo:

Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Torie Cox

When you bring home a pound of ground beef , what should you do with it? Make hamburger patties!

Whether you grill on your stovetop, on a portable grill, or on an outside grill, making patties are the first step to yummy, juicy hamburgers. Making a great patty is the base for everything from a basic cheeseburger to a Juicy Lucy.

From tailgates to weekday dinners, hamburger patties are the perfect palette for your favorite toppings. Let's talk about how to season and shape your patties to perfection.

The Best Ground Beef for Hamburger Patties

If you're headed to the grocery store in search of hamburger meat or ground beef, there are a few standards you should be looking for to yield the absolute best patties.

What is the best fat content for making burgers?

When buying meat to make hamburger patties, some cooks prefer to use a less lean ground beef because it stays juicier during grilling thanks to its higher fat content. Looking for the best ground beef for burger patty making depends on your personal preferences, but 80/20 is a standard grade that works great for making patties.

Tip

If you have a lean ground beef on hand, add fat back into your hamburger patties by brushing them with butter or adding a butter pat to the top of each burger prior to grilling.

What color should ground beef be?

Making hamburger patties with bright red ground beef may feel the most natural. However, per the USDA , oxygen reacting with the meat's color is what makes it look bright red. Meat is naturally a purplish-red color. Don't panic if you start making patties only to find the interior of your ground beef is gray or brown; that means oxygen has interacted with the meat.

Tip

If your ground beef is completely brown or gray or has a bad odor, the meat is starting to spoil or is already spoiled. Don't use fully brown or gray meat to make hamburger patties—dispose of it instead.

Can I use Impossible Burger or Beyond Burger alternatives to make hamburger patties?

While there are pre-made patties available in the product lines of both Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat (as well as many others), you can also buy a pound of the engineered "meat" and form and season patties in the same way you would with ground beef.

Read the instructions from the companies for cooking. Per Impossible Foods , the "best part about an Impossible Burger is that it cooks like ground beef."

How to Make Hamburger Patties

Hamburger patties can be made in a variety of ways: stuffed "juicy Lucy" patties, patties with spices or seasoning added, "smashed" burger patties, sliders, extra-thick, or whatever thickness you make because you're in a hurry.

Food Safety

Keeping your hands and surfaces clean is important when making hamburger patties. Raw hamburger meat or juices shouldn't be on surfaces or your hands that touch other utensils, surfaces, or foods. Designate a cutting board for making the patties on and make sure to dispose of the ground beef packaging.

Should I season my ground beef when I make hamburger patties?

Seasoning ground beef for hamburger patty making is a matter of personal taste preferences. Salt the meat to enhance its natural flavor, and sprinkle other seasonings after the patties are made. While salt and pepper is the go-to for hamburger patties, you can also include seasonings and herbs like taco seasoning, dry ranch seasoning, hot pepper flakes, oregano, dried herbs, curry spice, paprika, or cajun seasoning.

Step 1. Divide the meat into equal sections.

Have you wondered how fast food restaurants created the "quarter pounder?" You can use the same measurement at home: One quarter pound of ground beef is equal to one quarter standard pound of hamburger. If you're making regular-sized patties, a pound of hamburger nets four patties. This makes portioning the meat easy for servings too. Simply divide the packaged hamburger into four sections.

One pound of ground beef cut into four equal pieces
Photography, and prop styling: Caitlin Bensel, Food Styling: Torie Cox

Tip

If you want to make sliders from that same pound of hamburger, divide each section in half again to get eight slider patty portions.


Should hamburgers be all the same size and thickness?

Just like when making cookies, keep the hamburger patties as evenly sized as possible. This ensures that they will cook at the same speed and you won't have some well-done and some rare hamburgers—unless that's what your diners request.

Step 2. Roll into balls.

Form each section of the divided burger meat into equal balls.

Four equally sized balls of raw ground beef prior to flattening into burger patties
Photography, and prop styling: Caitlin Bensel, Food Styling: Torie Cox

Step 3. Flatten into patty shapes.

Without overhandling the meat, press each ball flat into a patty shape at your desired thickness.

Four hamburger patties, three of equal size and one indented
Photography, and prop styling: Caitlin Bensel, Food Styling: Torie Cox

Step 4. Store the burgers until cooking time.

After prepping, put the patties on a cookie sheet or plate; place parchment or wax paper under the burgers before grilling to prevent sticking.

Tip

Make an indentation in the center of your burger patties and add an ice cube right before cooking. Your burgers will cook more evenly and maintain more of their juicy moisture. When you get done grilling, the ice cube will be long gone.

Four equally sized raw hamburger patties
Photography, and prop styling: Caitlin Bensel, Food Styling: Torie Cox

Other Types of Hamburger Patties

Juicy Lucy Patties

Topping burgers with cheese, bacon, and all your favorite toppings is a great way to add flavor. Making a "juicy Lucy" patty infuses that flavor into the patty before grilling.

Once you've divided up your hamburger meat, open each section in the middle, and add your favorite cheese. Then roll the cheese-filled hamburger meat into a ball and make your flattened patty.

Smash Burger Patties

What's the main difference between a regular burger patty and a "smash" burger patty? The main difference is in the smashing.

When you make a standard burger patty, you form the patty from a ball of ground beef; with a smash patty, you take that ball and simply smash it on the grill. This technique allows for maximum browning and less handling of the meat.

How to Cook Hamburger Patties

After you make your patties, you have many options for cooking them. You can use a traditional outside grill, a portable grill inside, on your stove in a grill or frying pan, or bake them in the oven. Cooking them outside on a grill does add the traditional smoky flavor, but "grilling" inside can still create flavorful, juicy burgers.

Tip

If you want grill lines on your burgers but don't want to fire up the grill, try a stove-top grill pan. Make sure to flip the burgers to create grill lines on both sides, and be wary of grease splattering or smoke during cooking.

How to Store Hamburger Patties

Once you've made your hamburger patties, it's best to grill or cook them immediately, but you can keep them in the refrigerator in an airtight container. Cook within 1 day as you would with unportioned ground beef.

How to store hamburger patties in the freezer

If you get a great deal on hamburger meat or buy in bulk, you may want to freeze. How can you make patties easiest for freezer storage? Divide as usual, and flatten before storing. Stack patties with wax paper between patties. Wrap in plastic wrap and then in foil as well before putting the patties in the freezer.

Simple Hamburger Recipes

If you've got the burgers and buns but want ideas for changing up what goes on them, here's something to consider:

Taco Burgers

If you love the taste of tacos, try this easy way to bring tacos to your burgers.

Step 1. Add 1 teaspoon of taco seasoning to a pound of ground beef. Mix well. Make patties.

Step 2. Grill the seasoned patties.

Step 3. Serve the cooked patties wrapped in tortillas instead of buns. Top with cotija cheese, salsa, lettuce, and diced tomatoes. Serve with refried beans and Spanish rice.

Pizza Burgers

Put a little pizza in and on your burgers!

Step 1. Add 1 teaspoon of oregano or Italian seasoning mix to a pound of ground beef before making patties. Shape the patties around pepperoni and provolone or mozzarella.

Step 2. Grill the patties.

Step 3. Add mozzarella or provolone slices to burger tops. Continue grilling until the cheese has melted.

Step 4. Serve with marinara sauce and more pepperoni.

More Hamburger Recipes:

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