100 Techniques

Technique #62: Grind Your Own Meat for Superior Burgers

Homemade burgers are delicious. Homemade patties make them even better.

Published Aug. 31, 2023.

This is Technique #62 from our 100 Techniques Every Home Cook Can Master

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“Superior burgers” means different things to different people. But for us, it all starts with the main ingredient. For truly ultimate burgers, let go of any notion of buying ground meat at the supermarket. To ensure the perfect grind that will deliver tender burgers, you need to control all the variables and do it yourself.

What’s Wrong with Storebought Ground Meat?

Store-ground meats are often over-processed to a fine pulp in a commercial meat grinder, so it can be challenging to keep them from cooking up tough. Grinding your own meat is easy and doesn’t require any specialty equipment. We found that a food processor is just as good a tool for grinding meat as a home-model meat grinder, with just 20 pulses producing a coarse grind that’s ideal for burgers.

Grinding at Home Means Easy Customization

Cutting the meat into 1⁄2-inch pieces and briefly freezing them before processing ensures ideal results for a loose and tender, not pulverized, texture. A great thing about grinding your own meat is that you can customize it and combine more than one cut to engineer your preferred mix of flavor and fat. Sirloin has a solidly beefy flavor that we love, but it's leaner than many other cuts, so we like to add a bit of butter; you could also incorporate short ribs for rich juiciness or skirt steak for texture and earthy flavor.

Take Extra Steps for Leaner Patties

For leaner poultry burgers, grind a portion of the main ingredient to a paste and use that as a binder to hold together the patty; grind the rest to a chunkier texture. For these lean proteins, choose dark meat, which has more fat, and add a pinch of baking soda to keep the burgers tender and moist during cooking (this is achieved because baking soda raises the pH, which makes it more difficult for the proteins to form a pasty glue).

Use a Light Touch When Shaping

Be extra-gentle when it comes to shaping the patties, since less handling equals more tender burgers. And only season with salt on the outside, since incorporating salt into the meat mixture would toughen it. Freezing the tender patties briefly before grilling helps ensure they hold together while cooking.

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Step by Step: How to Grind Your Own Meat at Home

It may sound like a daunting task, but grinding your own meat is simpler than it seems, and only requires a few staple kitchen gadgets. Simply season your meat, gently freeze it and blend in a food processor. Spread the ground meat out on a baking sheet before forming and cooking the patties, and you have a superior burger.

Click here for the ingredients required for our Grind-Your-Own Sirloin Burger Blend, then follow the step-by-step instructions below.

Step 1: Trim 

Trim excess fat and cut meat into 1⁄2-inch pieces.

Step 2: Freeze 

Arrange pieces in single layer on rimmed baking sheet and freeze until firm and starting to harden around edges but still pliable.

Step 3: Pulse in Food Processor 

Working in batches, pulse meat in food processor until finely ground into 1⁄16-inch pieces, stopping to redistribute meat as needed.

Step 4: Discard Gristle and Fat 

Spread ground meat over baking sheet, discarding any gristle strands or fat chunks. Drizzle with melted butter, if directed, and gently toss with fork to combine.

Step 5: Form Patties 

Divide meat mixture into 4 lightly packed balls, then gently flatten into 3⁄4-inch-thick patties. With fingertips, press center of each patty down until about 1⁄2 inch thick, creating slight divot.

Step 6: Cook 

Cook patties until well browned on both sides and interior registers desired temperature.

Watch as Bridget Lancaster demonstrates how to grind meat at home in this video.

The Ultimate Burger

Take a deep dive into achieving burger greatness. The Ultimate Burger covers updated classics, regional favorites, homemade everything (from meat blends to pretzel buns), and craft-burger creations, plus fries and other sides and frosty drinks.

Recipes That Use This Technique

Whether you’re out to make a beef or turkey burger, we have recipes that will help you make your own patties at home and experience the flavor and texture of a truly superior burger. Try them out below.


Grind-Your-Own Sirloin Burger Blend

Although store-bought ground chuck makes a quick and satisfying burger, home-ground meat provides a loose craggy texture and strong beefy flavor that make for a truly superior burger experience.
Get the Recipe

Grind-Your-Own Turkey Burger Blend

Grinding your own turkey can take your burgers to the next level.
Get the Recipe

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