How to Keep Burgers from Shrinking?

How to Keep Burgers from Shrinking

You can’t wait to eat one of those juicy, tender burgers you just bought from the supermarket. After all, it’s fiber-rich, nutritious, affordable, and readily available. Also, if you enjoy cooking, you can make it and customize it yourself on your own stovetop or grill. 

However, cooking burgers gets frustrating when when the patties start to shrink unexpectedly. That leaves you wondering: Why do my hamburger shrink when cooking? Read on to find out why you keep confronting this issue.

Possible Reasons for Shrinkage


Whether you’re using ground beef, chicken, or turkey, you can easily find meat for your burgers at the supermarket. Unfortunately, meat suppliers and supermarkets usually prioritize profit over customer satisfaction and health. For example, they often add salty water to their meats to make them weigh more and increase their profit margin. Once you buy such meats and place them on your grill, the water will evaporate, causing the meat to shrink.

Meat That’s Too Lean

Do you want your burger to have a good shape? If so, purchase beef that is 80% meat and 20% fat. That fat will give your meat a sweet flavor and help hold it together. If you want an additional infusion of flavor, add ground sirloin too. 

Still, even if your grocery store only has lean beef, don’t postpone your burger plans. Remember, meat without fat will disintegrate, which will throw a wrench into your plans. To ensure that doesn’t happen, consider adding pork to your beef. If you have lean turkey, you can add other high-fat ingredients to help it hold together. Beyond losing its shape and flavor, a burger made with leaner meat also dries and crumbles more easily.

Over-Handling The Meat

You want to make a tender, juicy burger that’s loosely packed. But as you try to prepare it neatly, you may end up over-handling it. As a result, you’ll end up with a tough, dry burger. That’s why you should minimize your handling time.

Failing to Make a Dimple

You don’t need to be a culinary wizard to make a tasty, flat-topped burger. All you have to do is carve out a wide patty, then put a small dimple in the middle before cooking it. To do so, simply press down on the patty’s center with your fingers.

High Temperature

Another cause of shrinkage is cooking temperature. If your grill or stovetop’s temperature is too high, your burger will shrink rapidly. So, when cooking your burger, use moderate heat. If you’re using a grill, avoid using an open fire instead of a closed lid.

Failure to Season on Time

If you want your burger to retain its natural flavor and texture, you must season it right before cooking it. Otherwise, you’ll have a loose patty that isn’t tender either.

Flattening Your Bugger Manually

Some people think that flattening their burgers using tools such as a spatula will make it cook faster and develop better char marks. That’s simply not the case. Instead of flattening yours, squeeze the juice out so it doesn’t shrink or lose its shape.

How You Can Keep Your Burger from Shrinking

Now that you know why burger shrinking occurs, adhere to the following steps.

Choose Your Meat

Buy meat from vendors who don’t use additives. Also, avoid buying lean meat. Instead, ensure that it’s made up of 80% meat and 20% fat. The fat will give your burger flavor and help it hold together. Finally, avoid store-bought meat–grind your own fresh beef at home.

Prepare the Grill

If you’re using a charcoal grill, you’ll need to prepare it first. Light the coal and let it heat until you see ash settling on its surface. Next, season your grill grate before placing it over the heat.
How to Keep Burgers from Shrinking

Divide and Dimple

Before handling your meat, wash your hands thoroughly to prevent bacteria from interacting with your food. Then divide your meat into four pieces and shape each one into a sphere. Pat the meat and make it flat, and ensure your patties’ thickness does not exceed one inch. It should be larger than the burgers’ diameter.

You can decide to freeze your patties and cook them later if you wish. Freezing them will help them maintain their shape and consistency. If you want to consume them right away, season both sides with salt and pepper. Take care not to season them before cooking them because, if you do, the burgers will lose their shape. Finally, put a dimple in each patty.

Note: If you have lean meat, you can mix it with bread panade. First, take two slices of bread and remove their crusts. Then cover the slices with milk and freeze them. Once the bread absorbs the milk, remove it and squeeze out any excess milk. Last of all, mash it until it’s a paste.

Mix the bread panade with ground beef. The bread panade will act as a fat substitute. You can season it with pepper and salt before placing it on your grill.

Cook It

Place your burgers on the coal and let them cook for at least four minutes. Using a long-handled spatula, flip them over and don’t attempt to flatten them. Let their other sides cook for another four minutes, then they should be ready for consumption. 

Use a meat thermometer to check their temperatures, which should be around 160 degrees Celsius. Undercooked meat can increase your risk of foodborne disease.


Before handling any meat, you should wash it thoroughly to destroy any lingering bacteria on its surface. When buying it, you should ensure that it’s comprised of 80% meat and 20% fat. 

It’s essential to know why your burger’s shrinking. You could be using meat that contains additives, or it could simply be too lean. Whatever the case, when cooking, avoid using high temperatures and season your meat beforehand. Also, don’t forget to indent a dimple in your patty with your fingers. Finally, if the only option for you to purchase is lean meat, add bread panade or other fat ingredients to it.

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