How To Keep Burgers From Shrinking On The Grill

Keep Burgers From Shrinking
7-9-08 Weber Grill. 539 N. State Street. Chicago, Illinois. Weber Classic Burger. $10.50 Photo by Scott Stewart/Sun-Times

We all know how frustrating it gets. You do your best to form large hamburger patties and begin cooking them. The next thing you know is that they are half the size of your buns. We automatically lost our appetite as all we wanted was a big juicy burger that perfectly fits the size of your bun. With the few guidelines stipulated below, this should not be a problem for you anymore.

1.      Additives

As we all know, meat is sold by weight. Therefore, many grocery stores are known to add salt and water to their ground chicken, beef and turkey to increase the overall profits of the food. When cooking, this water will eventually evaporate causing the meat to shrink.

Unfortunately, it is very difficult to figure this out when buying the meat. Therefore, it is advisable to make sure that you get your meat from a trusted source. Many of the Five Stars meats don’t contain any water or salt additives and hence, this will work perfectly for you.

2.      Go For Lean Cuts

The shrinking rate of different types of meat is very different. However, one thing that cuts across all types of meat is that leaner cuts shrink less. Ground beef with a higher fat percentage yields slightly less compared to other types of meat. This is because the fat cooks and drains away.

3.      Temperature

Once in a while, we might be tempted to cook our foods at very high temperatures to save time. Unfortunately this works to our disadvantage. This is because, cooking your hamburgers at a low or moderate temperature reduces shrinkage. At the same time, it helps a lot in retaining the meat flavor.

Shrinkage is something that happens throughout the cooking process. Hence, a medium-rare patty tends to retain a larger size of meat compared to a well-done cooked patty.

When the lid of a grill is closed, the burgers tend to reach higher temperatures too quickly. Therefore, it is advisable to cook them over open flame. Not only to prevent shrinking, but also retain the flavor.

4.      Patty Size and Shape

Your patty should not be formed exactly the way you want it to appear on the final product. This is because shrinking is prone to happen no matter how much you try to prevent it. A patty should therefore be wider than what you expect it at the other end. The small central dimple should also be smaller than the outside.

Once you form the patties this way, the bun will perfectly fit and this will result in a completely flat-laid burger. The secret of a perfectly done burger lies on how well the patty is done!


Forming a perfect patty that will stay juicy and big in your burger is not a one time thing. Never give up after several failed trials. With patience and continued practice, you will definitely get things right. At the same time, follow the simple guidelines stated above as they have been stipulated by experts who have learnt on the job!