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How to Grind Meat in Your Food Processor

Why Should You Grind Your Meat at Home?

Buying ground meat at the supermarket is kind of a crapshoot; unless your butcher grinds to order, there's no way to know what you're actually getting. The cut, fat content, and texture of store-ground meat can vary widely.

But when you grind it yourself in a food processor, you control all the variables. That means you can achieve the perfect grind for beef, pork, poultry, and even fish and seafood. Your food processor can also help with thinly slicing meat, which can be a tricky task without a commercial meat slicer or a supersharp chef’s knife and an extremely steady hand. This opens up possibilities for all kinds of dishes in the home kitchen that are otherwise better left to the professionals.

Here are a few tricks we've discovered for grinding meat in a food processor.

What Types of Meat Can You Grind in a Food Processor?

We use a food processor to grind all types of meat. The key is to make sure it's boneless and skinless, and to cut it into chunks before processing. Here are some of our favorites types of meat to grind in a food processor:

Getting the Perfect Grind

Store-ground beef is often over-processed to a pulp, so it cooks up heavy and dense no matter how much care you take. Processing home-ground meat just enough to get the perfect grind means it cooks up more tender. The exact size of the grind will depend on the type of meat and the type of dish. The visual cues below will help you know when you’ve gotten your grind just right.

Underprocessed (gristly and chunky)
Underprocessed (gristly and chunky)
Ground to Perfection (loose but tender)
Ground to Perfection (loose but tender)
Overprocessed (pasty and dense)
Overprocessed (pasty and dense)

How to Grind Meat in a Food Processor

1. Cut meat into chunks and partially freeze before processing

Cutting meat and poultry into smaller, 1/2-inch pieces makes it more manageable to process, and partially freezing it ensures results that are chopped but not pulverized. To do this, arrange the chunks of meat in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and transfer to the freezer. Freeze until very firm and starting to harden around the edges but still pliable, about 30 minutes.

2. Grind a portion of the main ingredient to a paste

In dishes like turkey burgers and shrimp burgers (below), we grind a portion of the main ingredient to a paste and use it to bind the rest of the dish, which is ground to a chunkier texture. This means the ingredients' flavor shines because you don't need to include eggs or a bready binder.

  • For turkey burgers, we use an eighth of the turkey the recipe calls for (3 ounces of the 1½ pounds) to create a paste that helps the burgers retain moisture.
  • For shrimp burgers, we use one-third of the shrimp to bind a recipe that calls for 1½ pounds of shrimp.
Shrimp Burger

3. Combine more than one cut of meat for the perfect mix of flavor and fat

We used a food processor to make our own Italian-style sausages. To do so, we used a combination of salt pork and boneless pork butt. Choosing our own ingredients allowed us to engineer to perfect recipe with consistent fat, flavor, and greasiness.

4. Use a good amount of pressure to push the meat into the feed tube

A food processor can give you clean, consistenly thin slices with almost no effort. But to ensure clean, even cuts, don't be afraid to get a little heavy-handed! If you use too light a touch, the slicing disc will knock the item on its side or pull it into the space between the slicer and the food processor lid. 

5. Add baking soda to home-ground meat to keep it tender and moist during the cooking process

We found that soaking meat in a combination of baking soda and water for 15 minutes keeps it tender during cooking. That's because the baking soda raises the pH of the meat, which makes it more difficult for the proteins to bond. (And this doesn't only pertain to meat ground in a food processor. Read about why you should soak meat in a solution of baking soda and water.)

6. You can use less panade in home-ground meat

A panade is a bread and milk mixture that is used to add tenderness to ground meat dishes. When you grind your own meat at home because it will already be more tender than store-ground options. This is helpful because a panade, while a key component in maintaining tenderness and binding dishes like crab cakes and burgers, can also dull the flavors of a dish.