What is the Best Ground Beef for Burgers?

Burgers are one of the most beloved American foods. The flavor of a juicy burger hot off the grill is hard to beat. But not all ground beef is created equal when it comes to making the perfect burger. The type of ground beef you choose has a major impact on the texture and flavor of your finished burger. So what is the best ground beef to use for burgers? Let’s take a deeper look.

Understanding Ground Beef Ratios

Ground beef is labeled with a ratio that indicates the percentages of lean meat versus fat. For example, 80/20 ground beef contains 80% lean meat and 20% fat. Here are some common ground beef ratios you’ll see:

  • 80/20 – 80% lean meat, 20% fat
  • 85/15 – 85% lean meat, 15% fat
  • 90/10 – 90% lean meat, 10% fat

The more fat in the ratio, the more flavor and moisture there will be. Fat equals juiciness and beefy taste. But too high a fat content can make burgers greasy.

Why 80/20 is the Best Ratio for Burgers

For burgers, the ideal fat ratio is 80/20. This gives you plenty of rich, beefy flavor while still having enough lean meat to hold the burger together on the grill. 80/20 patties will be juicy and satisfying without falling apart.

Ground beef with a 70/30 or 75/25 ratio has more fat for flavor. But it can become too greasy and soft when cooked. Ratios above 80/20 lean meat tend to produce drier, less flavorful burgers.

So 80/20 hits that perfect balance between moisture and structure. For a tender burger with big beefy taste, 80/20 can’t be beat.

Choosing the Right Beef Cut

In addition to the ratio, the specific cut of beef used for ground beef affects the taste and texture. Common cuts used include:

  • Chuck – Comes from shoulder area. Has great beefy flavor with decent amount of fat. Excellent for burgers.

  • Round – Comes from back leg and rump areas. Lean and slightly tougher but still flavorful.

  • Sirloin – From mid-back. Very lean so not ideal for burgers on its own.

  • Brisket – From chest area. Contains a lot of connective tissue so can be stringy in ground form.

For burgers, ground chuck is the best choice. It naturally has that perfect 80/20 fat ratio. Ground chuck offers big beef flavor along with enough fat to keep burgers moist and tender.

That said, other cuts like round and sirloin can work well when blended together to achieve the right ratio. Mixing meats allows you to get the benefits of different cuts in one burger.

Grind It Yourself for Freshest Flavor

For the absolute freshest, best tasting ground beef, have your butcher grind it custom for you. Choose the exact cut like chuck roast and the coarseness of the grind. Coarsely ground beef performs best for burgers, giving a loose, light texture. Finely ground beef compacts and becomes dense.

If you have a meat grinder at home, you can also grind your own beef. This lets you control what cut is used and the fat content. It doesn’t get fresher than grinding the beef yourself just before cooking your burgers.

Handling and Storing Ground Beef

Proper handling and storage keeps ground beef in optimal condition. Always refrigerate ground beef as soon as possible after purchasing or grinding. Keep it stored in the coldest part of the fridge for up to 2 days.

Check packaging dates when buying pre-ground beef and look for a fresh, bright red color. Grey, brown meat is a sign of oxidation and spoilage. For maximum freshness and shelf life, ground beef can be frozen for 4-6 months.

When thawing, do not leave ground beef out at room temperature. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator to keep it safe. Raw ground beef should always be kept cold until ready to cook.

Mixing in Other Meats

While ground beef is the most popular burger base, you can add flavor complexity by blending in other ground meats. Some deliciouscombos include:

  • 75% ground beef, 25% ground pork – Adds juiciness
  • 80% ground beef, 20% ground lamb – For deeper meatiness
  • 85% ground beef, 15% ground bacon – Smoky, salty undertones

As long as you maintain that 80/20 fat ratio, experiment and have fun with different meat mixes. The added flavors take burgers to the next level.

Seasoning Your Burgers

Resist overworking the ground beef when forming patties. Too much handling compacts the meat, resulting in dense, chewy burgers. For flavorful additions, gently mix in:

  • Diced onion and garlic
  • Fresh herbs like parsley, basil, cilantro
  • Spice blends like chili powder, garam masala, jerk seasoning
  • Grate parmesan, crumbled feta or blue cheese
  • Minced chipotle pepper in adobo sauce for smoky spiciness

A light hand with seasonings keeps the beef flavor center stage while adding subtle depth.

Cook Slower for Best Texture

High heat can cause burgers to seize up and become tough. For tender texture along with safety, cook gently at medium heat on the grill or in a skillet. Flip the burgers only once halfway through cooking. Avoid pressing down while cooking, which dries them out.

Cook until patties are just barely pink in the center, 5-7 minutes per side. Carryover cooking will finish them to medium doneness for the most juicy, tender interior. Let the burgers rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Make It a Meal

A quality bun is key to burger perfection. Go for a sturdy brioche, pretzel, or potato bun to hold everything together. Spread condiments like mustard, mayo, and ketchup on the tops of buns so they don’t make the bottom soggy.

Pile on crisp lettuce, tomato, pickles, and onions for fresh contrast. Add cheese and bacon for extra indulgence. A messier burger means you did it right! Serve with steak fries, coleslaw, baked beans or potato salad on the side.

Top Tips for Best Beef Burgers

  • Look for 80/20 ground chuck for ideal fat ratio and beefy flavor
  • Grind meat yourself or ask a butcher for the freshest flavor
  • Add umami boosters like Worcestershire, soy sauce, mustard
  • Mix in fatty meats like bacon, pork, lamb for more richness
  • Cook gently at medium heat to avoid toughness
  • Maximize juiciness by not overhandling the meat
  • Season lightly to let the great beef taste shine through

Nothing beats the smoky goodness of a grilled beef burger in summer. With high quality ground chuck and proper handling, you can achieve burger perfection in your own backyard. What are your favorite tips for the ultimate beef burger?

Which Kind of Ground Beef is Best for Burgers?


What ground beef makes the best burgers?

Some of the best beef cuts for burgers include: Ground Round — As stated above, this cut does well on its own as a reliable option for creating delicious burgers. Round meat can be from top round or bottom round. Brisket — Brisket has incredibly high fat content and great beef flavor.

What cut of beef is best for making burgers?

Beef chuck happens to fall right in the sweet spot of 15 to 20 percent fat (sometimes you’ll see it marketed the other way round, as in 80 to 85 percent lean, or simply 80/20, 85/15, and so on). Its deep beefy flavor with ample, but not excessive, fat makes ground chuck the best meat for burgers.

Is 80 20 or 90 10 better for burgers?

It turns out it’s all about the fat. And on this, experts concur — the most popular and flavorful ratio of lean to fat comes in at 80/20. Paul Vaccari, owner of New York City’s Piccinini Brothers, which sells to restaurants as well as individuals, says his most popular mixture for hamburgers is an 80/20 ground chuck.

What percentage of ground beef is best for burgers?

To make more healthful burgers—but ones that are still pretty juicy and tasty—choose ground beef that is 80 percent lean and 20 percent fat. Ground beef that contains less than 15 percent fat makes dry and somewhat tasteless burgers.

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