How Restaurants Keep Their Hamburgers From Shrinking

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How to fix burger shrinkage.

Have you ever seen the difference in your hamburgers compared to some restaurants? Their burgers always seem to come out more better in shape than yours. So how are they able to get their hamburger patty to not shrink when they cook theirs? This is how some of them are doing it…

First, it has to do with the initial shape of the beef before it is placed on the grill. Make sure that the meat is spread out enough when forming a patty. The hamburger meat should be bigger than the bun that it is going to go on.

If you ever examine the premade frozen beef patties from a local grocery store, you will notice that they look a lot bigger in diameter than the regular hamburger buns that they would go on. McDonald’s hamburger patties are the same way before they are cooked. They are like squashed large hockey pucks. Their patties also shrink, but they fit the buns that they are going on perfectly.

All hamburger meat for burgers will shrink to some degree when it is cooked, but this is how restaurants handle it; by simply making the patties bigger in diameter than the buns they are going on. Doing this gives the illusion to some that they are cooks that rarely mess up, but they have more practical methods to prevent even new hires from ever making such mistakes.

All of McDonald’s patties come out the same shape and size because they use machines and equipment to make sure that they do. Many restaurants use the same methods as they do to make perfect hamburger patties that fit their hamburger buns or sliced bread.

This doesn’t mean that there aren’t restaurants that don’t make their hamburgers in a similar way to the backyard dad. Some do, but they even have measurement tools and techniques that they use to keep their hamburger meat from shrinking too much on the grill. They may use for instance 5 ounces of meat everytime for making their burgers. It is common practice for restaurants to portion their food when making it for customers. Food ring molds can be used to shape the meat into a perfect circle after it is pressed and flattened inside of them.

How Restaurants Make Burgers Keep Their Shape

Restaurants use special grills like a commercial panini press to keep their burger meat from shrinking and losing its shape. The grill closes down on the patty and cooks both sides simultaneously while preventing the patty from puffing up and losing its shape. It cooks the meat faster because no flipping is required to cook the other side, since both sides are cooked at once.

Also, as mentioned, some restaurants already have their patties made by machines into perfect circles before it is cooked. When they receive their deliveries, they take the paper separating each frozen patty off and place them in the panini press grill. After they are done cooking, they are placed in trays that go in a warmer to keep the cooked meat hot until it is ready to go on a bun. This how McDonald’s makes their burger patties.

Restaurants that don’t use a panini press grill may use a burger weight press to mash down the burger when it placed on the grill. Some burger presses are made so well that they can mash the ground beef down on the grill without losing any of the flavor in the patty, drying it out or making it tough.

Some are made to enclose the patty as it is smashed on the grill, preventing any juices from running out. Others can’t enclosed them, but work the same by smashing the edges down first, which keeps the juices in the rest of the patty from running out while it is cooking.

How To Keep Burgers From Shrinking, Puffing Up, And Losing Shape

These are some techniques that some people have learned to do at home when making burger patties:

  1. Start out with 4 to 6 ounces of hamburger meat. The amount used will determine the thickness of the burger meat, but not the size. Thicker burgers will require more ground beef to be used.
  2. Form a giant meatball from the ground beef in your hand. Make it into an actual ball in shape as much as you can by rolling it and shaping it in your hand.
  3. Smash down the meatball on a clean flat surface with the palm of your hand; making a patty bigger than the hamburger buns that they will go on. The diameter should be around 2 inches more in size. Imagine the patty as if it is the bun, and the actual buns as the patty. Make the “buns” (the patty meat) larger than the actual hamburger buns to fit the “patty” (the actual hamburger buns).
  4. Season your patty appropriately to your liking, then put it on the grill to cook.
  5. Make a dent in the middle of the meat and cook it thoroughly on both sides.

Without using machinery or any special equipment, this will reduce puffing up, shrinking, and losing shape in your burger and help it come out more perfectly while it is cooking.

It is recommended to let both sides of the burger cook without messing with it while it is doing so. It can cause the burger to break. It should only be flipped to cook on the other side when it is ready to be flipped.

How To Use A Burger Weight Press

  1. Form a meatball out of 4 to 6 ounces of ground beef.
  2. Take a tablespoon of butter and place it on the spot on a flat top grill where you are placing your patty.
  3. Take the meatball and place it on top of the butter.
  4. Take wax paper or parchment paper and place it on top of the meat. Use the burger press to smash down the meat and form a patty, smashing it down for 10 seconds.
  5. Take the press off and remove the paper, season the patty, and let the patty cook to your liking.
  6. Use a spatula at a 45 degree angle to scrape the patty off of the grill and flip it to cook the other side. Season the other side.
  7. At the last 30 seconds of cooking, place a slice of your favorite cheese on top of the patty, then remove the burger from the grill after the 30 seconds are up.

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