The Best Meats to Use for Hamburgers


For the best burgers, skip the ground meat at the supermarket and start grinding your hamburger at home, using a food processor or a stand mixer fitted with a grinder attachment. This lets you control the quality of the burgers, as well as the additives. Grinding your own burger also reduces the risks of foodborne contaminants and yields superior flavor. Create your own signature burger blend by mixing two or more types of meat, based on their overall characteristics and flavor profile.

Tender Meats

  • If you're looking for maximum tenderness, grind your burgers with boneless short ribs, which come from the front part of the animal and have a high fat content to keep the burger moist. Another option is chuck flap tail. The meat has a nutty, rich flavor and plenty of marbling that keeps it moist, even when the burgers are cooked at higher temperatures and doneness. Just ensure to remove the silver skin -- that thin, inedible, connective tissue that covers the outside of the cut -- before you begin grinding.

Richly Flavored Meats

  • When you want to add bold flavor, look for brisket, which Saveur recommends for its rich flavor. Keep the burgers lean by choosing flat-cut brisket or increase the richness with fattier nose-cut brisket, also called second cut. Dry-aged beef, such as ribeye steak, lends burgers a bold, steaky flavor while sirloin cuts -- particularly tri-tip or top sirloin -- give the burger a full flavor along with substantial marbling that adds tenderness. Other options include oxtail, which has a high fat content and a rich, nutty taste that lands it among the most flavorful meats.

Versatile Meats

  • You don't have to use more exotic, fancy cuts of meat to create a tasty burger. One of the most widely available and versatile meats is chuck, which comes from the shoulder region of the animal. It has a balanced ratio of fat-to-lean tissue and a balanced flavor. Round, which comes from the hindquarters of the animal, has minimal intramuscular fat. This gives you a relatively lean burger that is an ideal backdrop for bold, rich toppings and accompaniments.

Lean Meats & Pricy Cuts

  • If it's a lean burger you seek, you don't have to switch to turkey, chicken or fish. Instead, use bison meat to create hamburgers with full flavor and less fat than beef. To offset the lower fat content in these leaner alternatives, you may want to add some sauteed vegetables such as onions, mushrooms or peppers to the mixture. Bison meat is expensive, but if you want the Cadillac of burgers, go with the even more pricy, top-quality Wagyu beef, also known a American Kobi Beef. Although grinding it for burgers may not be your first thought, Wagyu beef's substantial marbling and superior tenderness adds a touch of luxury to your burger, according to Saveur. Wagyu beef comes from cows with Japanese blood lines that are raised in the United States. Because there are minimal producers of Wagyu, it is a rare find.

Creating Blends

  • Mixing meats with different characteristics gives you the opportunity to create burgers with ideal flavor and texture. It also lets you incorporate pricier cuts for added richness or tenderness without necessarily breaking the bank. For example, mixing 1 part short rib with 2 parts sirloin gives you burgers with rich flavor and tender texture.

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