Here we will discuss the reasons why your burger keeps falling apart, and what you can do to fix it. We will start with the most common reasons why they are falling apart first, then go from there with the least common reasons.
When making burger patties, the easiest way to fix the problem is to think of other foods that are made with little pieces of meat in them. A good example of this is hamburger helper. The meat in hamburger helper is intentionally cooked and broken apart to make the dish.
While the beef is cooking, it starts out first as a chunk, then it is broken apart later to make little bits and pieces. The point is, that hamburger meat toughens up once it reaches a certain point in the cooking process. It loses some of its fats, and becomes near impossible to form it back together into bigger pieces. Understanding this, will help you fix your burgers that keep falling apart during/after cooking.
If you are talking about the burger itself falling apart after is has been made, and not the patty, then this can be fixed by buying a burger toothpick to stick in the burger, after it is made.
Reason #1: Using the wrong hamburger meat.
Once the hamburger meat has reached a certain point when it is cooking, it will lose some of its bonding, if it wasn’t bonded well from the start. So, the most common reason why burger patties fall apart is by using the incorrect ground beef to make the burger patties. The meat used to make the burgers can’t be too lean, else it will make it difficult to keep the burger patties from falling apart, because of the lack of fat in the meat.
This same thing applies to any meat that is being made/used for burger patties. Usually meat with 20% or more fat content is used for making burger patties. The fat in the meat helps the burgers to stay together.
This is why beef is used instead of chicken to primarily make burgers from grounded meat. The meat from chicken is very lean, meaning that it is better to leave the chicken whole, and just place them in a sandwich, rather than mincing it for the usage of a burger.
To fix this, buy ground meat with a higher fat content, not the lean meats with only 7% fat. Try meats with 20% to 30% fat.
Reason #2: Too much/many additions in the burger patty.
Majority of foods cook and stay together better when they are cooked only as they originally were. Adding in extra things to be mixed into the patty before it is cooking, can break its integrity and make it fall apart while it is cooking. Of course, burger will bond better with its own contents when cooking, but it also may not bond too well with other things added in that you might think will make it taste better and still bond.
This is the main reason why burgers are cooked as they are, and any additional things for the burger are just added into the hamburger buns with the patty on the top of bottom of the meat. The additions weren’t made to be mixed directly into the burger meat and cook with it. It can cause the burger to fall apart while it is cooking, or make the addition in the patty just completely fall out, leaving an ugly patty with spaces in it.
As explained earlier, once the burger meat for beef has been cooked to a certain point, trying to mend the patty back together into a full patty after it is falling apart, will be very difficult.
To fix this, simply cook the burger patty how it was intended to be cooked, without the extra additional things in it. If you still want the additions in the burger, then cook them separately and place them in the burger with the patty.
For example, we watched an individual that was incorporating uncooked mashed up bacon directly into the ground beef, then trying to form a burger patty from it by cooking it. The burger patty would not hold its integrity, because the bacon shouldn’t be placed directly into the ground meat to cook with it. This also prevents the burger from cooking evenly when too many additions are added.
The individual doing this could have just simply cooked the bacon separately and placed it in the hamburger. A bacon and cheese hamburger has already been invented, so there is no need to incorporate it into the ground beef before it cooks. When a hamburger is bitten, all of the ingredients are eaten in that single bite; considering that the ingredients are evenly spread out in the burger.
The more additions that are placed in the burger meat before it is cooked, the more you will end up with hamburger helper that is falling apart, instead of a well intact burger.
Reason #3: Flipping the burger too early.
If the burger patty is well formed from the start, then you might be flipping it too early. As stated earlier, the meat will toughen up as it cooks, but if it isn’t given enough time to cook before it is touched, then you could risk it falling apart before it even finishes. Once again, this can make it difficult for the burger to stay together later on, while it continues to cook. Let the meat toughen up a bit before trying to flip the burger.
To fix this, simply give the burger more time to cook before it is flipped. Also, make sure that the temperature is high enough, so that the meat can actually cook for this process to actually happen without it falling apart and it is flipped.
Reason #4: The burger patty isn’t shaped well enough to hold together.
The burger patty has to hold together (bond well) before the cooking starts. It will not get better after it has cooked later on. Ground beef works well for hamburgers, because the grounded meat is well mixed that is bought from the grocery store. However, it still needs to be mashed together really well before it is formed into a patty and cooked on a grill.
If you are using a meat grinder to make your own burgers from minced meat, that meat still needs to be able to bond well when it is packed together to form a patty. Trimming too much fat from the initial piece of meat before it is grinder, can break the integrity of the burger patties and cause them to fall apart while cooking them.
The burger patty can still fall apart during/after cooking if the grounded meat isn’t tightly packed first into a patty. Form the meat into a tight ball first, then flatten it into a burger patty. Use a burger press to help flatten the ball, so that it doesn’t crack and form crevasses and valleys in the patty when it is squashed.