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Cooking Tips

Your Burgers Need a Meat Dimple

Sick of puffed-up burgers? Consider the dimple.
By Published July 25, 2022

Everyone has burgers on the mind right now. They’re such a simple yet delicious summer staple. But as simple as they are, there are a couple of small tricks that can separate a good burger from a great one, especially on the grill. 

One of the most important tricks for a truly great grilled burger? Putting a dimple in the middle of the patty before you start cooking.

You can spend as much time as you want shaping the perfect patty, but if you skip this step you’ll be left with puffed-up, domed burgers, not nice and flat as you intended.

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So what’s going on here? The meat’s connective tissue, also known as collagen, shrinks at a temperature of 140 degrees. This causes the bottom and sides of the patty to tighten and shrink. This then forces the middle of the burger to puff up.

Adding a ¼-inch deep dimple to the middle of your burger patty before grilling will prevent this from happening.

Let’s call it preventative dimpling. You are basically anticipating the eventual puffing of your burger. By making this impression, when the meat expands in the middle, your burger will be perfectly flat and even.

But do you always need to add the dimple? If you are grilling your burgers, the answer is yes. This is because the entire burger is going to hit that 140 degree temperature, which causes the shrink and puff.

But if you’re cooking your burgers in a skillet, the dimple can be skipped.

In this cooking method, only part of the patty is taking direct heat from the pan. Since the edges don’t make direct contact with the skillet, they will never get hot enough to shrink, thus causing no puff, and you’ll end up with a perfectly flat burger, dimple or no dimple.