Cooking Tips

The Key to a Juicier, Richer Burger? Just Add Butter.

  It delivers flavor and richness galore.

Published May 10, 2022.

If you’re after an ultimate burger experience–the kind that stops you in your tracks to appreciate the juiciness, beefiness, and all-around goodness–grinding your own meat is a must-do. But for the most succulent results, we recommend taking things a step further by including some butter in the grind. It’s a trick we use in our Juicy Pub-Style Burgers and our Tender Juicy Grilled Burgers. The butter doesn’t add buttery flavor, per se, rather, the milk fat lends remarkable beefy depth and richness to the patties. 

Sign up for the Cook's Insider newsletter

The latest recipes, tips, and tricks, plus behind-the-scenes stories from the Cook's Illustrated team.

How to Grind Meat for Burgers

In the test kitchen, we've found it easy to grind meat ourselves with a food processor. The method we've developed (no matter the cut) calls for trimming gristle and excess fat from the meat, cutting the meat into ½-inch pieces, freezing it for about 30 minutes to firm it up so that the blades cut it cleanly instead of smashing and smearing it (which leads to pasty, dense results), and finally processing it in small batches to ensure an even, precise grind.

The Key to Adding Butter to Homeground Burgers

It’s important to grind cold butter into the meat. Like adding cold butter to pastry dough, the solid fat creates tiny particles of richness strewn throughout the grind.  To accomplish this, we freeze small pieces of butter along with the meat prior to grinding.  

How to Add Butter to Homeground Burgers

1. Place beef chunks and ¼ inch cubes butter on large plate in single layer. Freeze until meat is very firm and starting to harden around edges but still pliable, about 35 minutes.

2. Working in small batches, pulse portions of meat and butter into finely ground into pieces size of rice grains (about 1⁄32 inch), 15 to 20 pulses, stopping and redistributing meat around bowl as necessary to ensure beef is evenly ground.

3. Transfer meat to baking sheet.  Spread mixture over sheet and inspect carefully, discarding any long strands of gristle or large chunks of hard meat, fat, or butter.

4. Season meat with salt and pepper and toss with fork to combine. Divide meat into balls and shape into patties.

More Burger Recipes

Smashed Burgers

The best burgers usually revolve around bespoke blends that cook up ultrajuicy, but this diner staple trades on one simple truth: Crust is king.
Get the Recipe

Best Old-Fashioned Burgers

Sixty years ago, drive-in burgers were synonymous with freshly ground high-quality beef. Today they mean tasteless mass-produced patties. We wanted to bring back the genuine article.
Get the Recipe

Black Bean Burgers

Earthy black beans should make a satisfying nonmeat burger. But most either fall apart when flipped or are so mushy that no one wants to eat them.
Get the Recipe


This is a members' feature.