How To Keep Burgers From Shrinking – Top Secrets to Big Juicy Burgers

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There are many different factors at play when it comes to why your burgers are shrinking on the grill. That’s why it’s important to tackle what causes this to happen!

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In this article, I’ll be walking you through why burgers shrink in the first place and how you can take steps to prevent it. So, let’s get right into it!

Table of Contents

smash burger being grilled without shrinking

Why Do Burgers Shrink On Grill?

Burgers tend to shrink anywhere you cook ’em, grill included. But why is this?

The truth is that there’s a few different forces at play!

If you find your burgers are looking sad and small, there’s either a problem in the temperature you’re cooking them at, the blend of meat you’re using, or the size of the raw patty. It’s also pretty likely that’s all of the above.

To explain further, all beef, poultry, and fish generally shrink by about 25% of their original weight when cooking. However, there can be a lot of variation in this – the amount your food shrinks is dependent on the temperature, moisture content, and fat content.

These fats and liquids either melt or evaporate during the cooking process – which is why temperature matters. Higher cooking temperatures cause the fats and liquids to evaporate quickly and unevenly, which can result in your patty puffing up and shrinking suddenly.

Why Do Frozen Burgers Shrink?

Frozen burgers shrink for all the same reasons, but they tend to shrink more than fresh-made patties. The main reason for this is an increase in moisture.

When anything is frozen, condensation will accumulate on it during the process. This condensation then freezes either on the food or is absorbed into the food before freezing completely. This leads to more water in your burger, making it likely to shrink even smaller.

So… how do you stop frozen burgers from shrinking?

Well, the same as you would do for any burger! And I’ll be going through just that in this next section.

bacons cheese melt burger

Most Important Tricks To Keep Burgers From Shrinking

While it’s impossible to prevent shrinking, there are a few ways to reduce it. While this generally comes down to buying the right meat, and making sure to cook it evenly, there’s a few tricks that can help along the way.

Giving Your Burger The Best Chance

This tip may just be the most helpful on the list!

It’s impossible to completely prevent shrinking, so the best thing you can do is to plan for it. Save yourself from sad shrunken patties by simply making your patty bigger than your bun. When you cook it, it should be just the right size.

Even Cooking And The Thumb Method

When making burgers, cooking at the right temperature is more important than you may have guessed. If you don’t, its likely your patty will puff up and shrink oddly – this is because the meat was not cooked evenly. To avoid uneven cooking, keep the temperature low or medium and dimple your burger using your thumb. This second method is especially helpful if you’re making a thicker burger.

Choosing The Right Patty

Now this is the trickiest tip to implement – there’s a balance you want to achieve, but it can be difficult.

To put it simply, fatty burgers are no good for preventing shrinkage. But no one wants a dry disc of a patty either! When choosing the meat for your burger, strive for an equilibrium between fat and lean. Also, look out for any meats that claim to have no additives – avoiding added salt and water is best for ensuring the least shrinking possible.

There are a few different cuts I’ve seen recommended, but 80/20% ground chuck has been one of the most prevalent. It’s not too lean, but not overly fatty either. If you’d still like to consider other options, watch this video by Andrew Rea! The timestamp for trialing different meats is 2:41, and the stamp for making unshrinkable smash burgers is 5:15.

How To Keep Burgers Moist

While cooking with lower fat burgers is a good way to avoid shrinking, if you don’t choose the right cut it can leave you with sad, dry burger patties. This is why it’s important to keep your burgers moist, especially if you’re using leaner ground beef. Do this by keeping the patties cold until cooking and not moving them around too much once they’re on the grill. Be sure to not overwork the meat when mixing too! Choosing an 80/20% mix can also help – anything less than 20% fat will leave your burger pretty dry.

Reducing Burger Shrinkage In Different Cooking Scenarios

While smash burgers are a great way to combat shrinking, some may prefer a thicker patty. This is why I’ll be running through how to keep burgers from shrinking in different cooking scenarios. So before you let that meat sit out for too long, I’ll show you how to put it to use!

How To Keep Smash Burgers From Shrinking

One of the easiest ways to overcome shrinking is by making a smash burger. You can plan and easily adjust the size of your burger, get more patties out of your meat, and you’ll have a nice, crispy seared burger to boot! In short, just make sure to make your smash burger a little bigger than your bun, so when it shrinks its the right size. You can also use a grill press to smash your burgers with.

The only other issue with this burger is how easily it can slip through grills. To avoid this, place a cast iron pan on your grill and cook it there. Alternatively, you can place a drip pan beneath the grill – this will catch your burger if it slips between the grill.

How To Keep Burgers From Shrinking In Air Fryer

Cooking burgers in an airfrer can be difficult because you don’t have complete control. Your patties are likely to shrink and rise while inside. to avoid this, make the burger as flat as you can and bigger than the bun you plan to serve it in. If you want to keep your patties thick, use the thumb method and dimple y our burgers instead of flattening them.

How To Keep Burgers From Shrinking In The Oven

When making burgers in the oven, the thumb method is the best route you can take. Create a dimple in the middle of each patty so they cook evenly, and keep your patties cold until its time to put them in the oven.

How To Keep Burgers From Shrinking On Stove

Stove-cooking your burgers might be one of the easiest ways to cook them, purely because you have more control over whats happening. Again, I’d suggest making them thinner – or using the dimple method if you want thick burgers. Make the raw patties larger than what you want your end result to be, and cook them at a low-medium temoperature so they cook evenly.

Dishing Up Your Patties

Unsure of what to serve with your burgers? Why not try some American white or yellow cheese – put them on your patties straight after flipping for the best results! If you’re using a George Foreman grill where you don’t have to flip them, just put your cheese singles on straight after cooking.

How To Keep Burgers From Shrinking On The Grill Next Time

So, there you have it! It’s not so difficult to make perfect burgers after all. The most important thing to keep in mind is that shrinking is inevitable, so instead of trying to prevent it, prepare for it. With that, I wish you good luck on the next batch of burgers you make!

By Anna

Anna Brooks, the voice behind, is a seasoned writer and editor with an insatiable love for food. While not a professional chef, her culinary adventures and unique insights have captivated readers for years. Anna believes in the transformative power of food, stating it "feeds the soul." Dive into her writings for a mix of inspiration, entertainment, and culinary wisdom. Author Pinterest Facebook Twitter Instagram YouTube Tumblr Reddit Quora

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