How to Make Hamburger Patties Stick Together? Creating a Sticky Situation

March 31, 2023

If you are tired of patties falling apart on you, there are many ways to fix this problem. This includes using better meat, using less seasoning, adding a binder, forming the burgers properly, and more!

In high school I worked at a burger joint that did things a little differently – they actually made their own burgers instead of relying on the mass produced, pre-frozen patties. The upside was that I got to learn how to make delicious, juicy, and thick patties!

In this post, I am going to show you how to make hamburger patties stick together and identify the top ways to make a great patty.

how to make hamburger patties stick together

How to Make Sure Hamburger Patties Stick Together?

There are actually a few different tactics that you can try – using a better quality of meat, using various binding agents like egg and ground flax seeds, handling the burger patties less, etc.

However, before I give you an in-depth explanation of the solutions, I first want to discuss the problems that are causing your homemade hamburgers to fall apart. This will give you better insight into making sure hamburger patties stick together.

Why Do My Homemade Burgers Fall Apart?

Here are the top reasons that your homemade burgers fall apart on the grill:

Low Fat Ground Meat

If you are trying to stay healthy, then you may use very lean meat. While this may seem like a great health decision, you are actually compromising the structure of your burgers.

See, fat helps to keep burger patties together. If your meat is too lean, the burgers will begin to crumble on the grill.

Adding Too Much Seasoning

I know that this sounds a little sacrilegious, but hear me out. I am all for flavor – I grew up in the South so there is no such thing as too much seasoning.

However, the more seasonings and spice blends that you add when you make hamburger patties, the heavier the patties become. And I don’t need to tell you that a heavier patty is much more likely to break apart.

To add to this, the seasonings can prevent the meat from properly binding together.

Adding Too Much Liquid

Adding liquid when you make hamburger patties makes sense. After all, the liquid helps to keep your burgers nice and juicy. Also, liquid flavorings like Worcestershire sauce can often blend with the meat a lot better than dry ingredients.

The problem is that the more liquid that you add to the burger patties, the soggier they become. This means that the ground beef doesn’t bind as well together and can fall apart.

Another issue is that the more liquid you add, the heavier the ground beef burgers become. And as I already mentioned, this can cause the patty to fall apart.

Handling the Burgers Too Much

We are all guilty of doing this – squishing the ground beef so that it becomes as finely minced as possible. Also, this tactic helps to combine all the ingredients together.

Unfortunately, all that you are doing is breaking up the larger pieces of ground beef into smaller ones. And, you need some diversity in size to ensure that it adheres together better.

Flipping Burgers Too Early

I get that it can be a little tricky to know when to flip burgers. What’s more, you are probably nervous about overcoming the burgers and to compensate, you end up flipping them before one side is properly cooked through.

When you do this, the burger is still pretty fragile and can break apart.

Placing Burgers on Cold Equipment

If your grill is cold when the burgers go on it, then they are not going to cook immediately. Instead, the raw burger will have to sit between the grates for a while.

Needless to say, this can cause the burger to begin breaking apart.

Using a Grill

If you want to make really thick burgers, then balancing them on grill grates isn’t easy. As the grill doesn’t offer enough support, the patty is more likely to fall apart.

Burger Patties on the Grill

How to Stop Your Hamburger Patties from Falling Apart?

There are a few tricks that you can use to make sure that your burgers stick together:

Use Better Hamburger Meat

When choosing burger meat, always go with ground meat that has at least 20 percent fat content. This kind of ground beef is still considered lean meat but it has just enough fat in it to make sure that the meat stays together.

Another benefit of using good hamburger meat is that you end up with juicier burgers.

While I am on the topic of meat, I would advise you to buy some good quality ground beef. This will add to the texture and flavor of the meat and will reduce your need to add too many other ingredients.

Minimize the Seasonings

If you want perfectly formed patties without having to use any binding agents, then it is important to cut out most of the seasonings.

This means that you shouldn’t add any onions, scallions, garlic, or whatever other ingredients that you typically use.

Instead, you should just stick with salt and pepper. Here is the trick, though – you should only season your burgers once they have been formed and right before they go on the grill.

Start by forming your patties. Then, preheat the grill.

A couple of minutes before the patties go on the grill, season one side with salt and pepper. Make sure that this side is facing down on the grill. Before you flip the patty, sprinkle salt and pepper on the side that is facing you.

Use a Binding Agent

If you really don’t want to skimp on the seasonings, then you do have another option. This is to use a binding agent. Now, there are a few popular options here.

The most common is an egg – simply add an egg to your ground beef and mix it in. Then there are ground flax seeds. You can directly add this to the mix as well.

Now, some people believe that breadcrumbs are a binding agent but this isn’t actually the case. Instead, bread crumbs help the meat to maintain moisture and make for a juicier burger.

Minimal Handling Of the Burgers

Try to keep the mixing of the beef and ingredients to a minimum. Simply add the seasonings to the meat (or wait until after the patty is formed), mix a little to spread the flavors, and then form into patties of even width.

Use a Stovetop Pan

As I said, a grill may not work for thicker burgers. In this case, you may want to consider a pan on a stove instead.

If you still want those glorious grilled marks, then consider using a grill pan to cook your burger patties.

Delicious Hamburger with Fries

Heat Your Pan or Grill

It doesn’t matter whether you are using a pan or a grill, make sure to heat up the cooking surface first. This way, your burger starts to cook the moment that it hits the pan or grill, becoming firmer.

At the same time, don’t turn the temperature too high or wait too long before placing the burger on the cooking surface. You then run the risk of the patty drying out.

Leaving Your Burgers Alone

Once your burger is on the pan or the grill – leave it alone – I get that it can be tempting to flip it over, but just wait for a while.

Now, you should be cooking your burger until 150 degrees F. So, after a few minutes of having the patty on the grill or the pan use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the burger. If it is registering around 75 F, you can flip it over.

Then, wait for a few minutes and check the internal temperature once more. If it has reached 150 F, then you can take it off the heat.

Wrapping It Up

So there you have it – you now know how to make burger patties stick together. From now on, making the perfect patties should be an absolute breeze for you!

By Kristy J. Norton
I'm Kristy – a chef and connoisseur of all things BBQ! You can find me either in my kitchen (or someone else's) or at a big outdoor barbecue surrounded by friends and family. In both my professional and personal life I’ve picked up more than a few tips and tricks for turning out delicious food. I consider it a privilege to share it with others!
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