How to Form Hamburger Patties

How To Form Hamburger Patties

This is planning how to form hamburger patties by hand. This is a part of our Food Guides & Resources category. To form hamburger patties fast and efficient, there are 3 simple stages shown next.

  1. Get the meat and other items ready.
  2. Shape ground beef into patties.
  3. Move the formed patties to cook or storage.

Stage 1. Get the Meat and Other Items Ready

The first most important steps are to plan your setup so you can focus on shaping the patties. This is done by setting out everything you’re going to use and have each item ready.

And that includes the meat, bowls, platters, parchment or patty papers or plastic wrap, paper towels, and so on. Here’s an example of the steps I perform during this stage:

  1. Wash hands.
  2. Layout mixing bowl, platter or plate, patty papers (or parchment), spices.
  3. Unwrap ground beef and put into mixing bowl.
  4. Add spices on top of ground beef.
  5. Thoroughly mix spices into ground beef by hand.
  6. Wash hands.
Planning to Form Burger Patties
Planning to Form Burger Patties

Stage 2. How To Shape Ground Beef Into Patties

This stage is how to shape ground beef into patties, since it’s now ready. You want to have the dish, tray, or platter ready to receive the patties you’re about to form. Also, if you have to stack any of them, you typically will want something to separate them, like patty papers or parchment paper you’ve cutup for this. If everything’s laid out, you’re ready for shaping the meat.

How To Shape Hamburger Patties

This step in this stage is how to individual shape hamburger patties. Just follow these steps in order and pay attention to the smallest detail so you’ll have firm, properly sized patties.

  1. Referencing using about a pound of ground beef, divide the meat into 4 portions or less. This will ultimately result in approximately 1/4 pound burgers (uncooked weight).
  2. Then, hand roll one portion into a ball.
  3. Change from rolling into gradually compressing to flatten it as you still rotate it in your hands. While pressing inward (and rotating), use your thumb to press inward the outer sides to restore its splitting edges.
  4. Place each patty onto the platter, dish, or tray. If using cut parchment (or patty) papers to separate stacked patties, use that when needed.
    • Patty papers are relatively cheap and a lifesaver, available in a ton of places online. You can also use them to flatten ground beef patties further. If available, place each patty on a patty paper, or keep somewhat separated on a plate.

Here’s a clever, alternate method of forming burger patties. It’s about making a template “mold” for shaping your own burger patties at home. See this excellent article with pics for a “DIY Burger Patty Mold” on site.

Pull Meat to Use for Patty
1 Pull Meat to Use for Patty
Roll Meat into a Ball for Patty
2 Roll Meat into a Ball for Patty While Rolling Mash It and Press in the Sides to Form Disc Shape
Use Hands or Patty Paper to Flatten Patty
3 Use Hands or Patty Paper to Flatten Patty
Final Burger Patty Shaped
4 Final Burger Patty Shaped

Stage 3. Move The Formed Patties To Cook or Storage

You’re now ready with formed patties to either cook or store away. If you’re going to cook them soon but not right away, decide if they should go in the fridge temporarily.

Move the Formed Patties to Cook

Sometimes, you can actually form the hamburger patties and put them directly in the skillet or on the grill as you shape them. That’s good for about 3 or 4 burgers max.

Form and Move Small Amounts of Patties Directly Onto Grill
Form and Move Small Amounts of Patties Directly Onto Grill

Otherwise, they might not cook evenly. Regardless, you can now cook your patties in the manner of your choice. As soon as you’ve put them in the pan, broiler, oven, or on the grill, you want to get ready for whatever platter, plate, or tray you’ll need for moving them after they’re done.

Move the Formed Patties to Storage

If you’re going to cook them relatively soon, but longer than about 10 minutes, you might want to consider setting them in the fridge for food safety purposes.

If you’re making hamburger patties cooking much later or the next day, you’ll want to cover them so they don’t dry out. Plastic wrap or a food storage bag is great for that purpose.

If you’re making these burger patties for longer term planning, they’re best for the freezer. If you used patty papers to separate them, all that you need is good covering to prevent freezer burn. If I’m doing storage for a month, I’ll put them in a marked plastic food storage bag. If I’m planning on longer, I’ll double bag them.

Stacked Patties Inserted into Marked Food Bag for Freezing
Stacked Patties Inserted into Marked Food Bag for Freezing

Regarding frozen burger patties, there are several ways to separate them. Read the section named like “Separate The Frozen Burger Patties” in our “Frozen Burgers on the Grill” article, as linked below.

Tips on Forming Hamburger Patties

Here are some final tips on forming hamburger patties.

  • Equalizing Patty Size Portions: The smartest way to approach reasonably equal size portions while dividing up the meat is to do this. Don’t pull out a guessed amount of meat for each patty. Think in terms of halves. Just visually divide the entire bulk ground beef in half. Then, take each half and divide that into half. When done with all the halving into the approximate number of patties you want, look them all over. You can then pick and move portions from each mound to even out them all, as desired. Then, shape each mound into a patty.
  • Using Patty Papers to Make Flatter and/or Thinner Patties: If using patty papers, you can put a burger on one, add one on top, and press down to even it out and make it a more even surface for better cooking. You also can now use the pressing down to make them thinner while retaining a good shape, usually not possible routinely with just hands.
  • Recommended Optimum Ground Beef Ratio: The recommended common meat to fat ratio is 80/20.
    • The content ratio of 80/20 is 80% meat and 20% fat. This is the middle road of ground beef for burgers. It has a modest amount of grease and shrinkage. The flavor is considered very good as a hamburger meat.
    • You can use a higher fat content like 73/27. It’s extremely popular and cheaper. There will be more grease and the patties will shrink more. If on an outdoor grill, there will be more flareups. These do, however, have more flavor overall.
    • You can still use a lower fat content like 93/17. It is much more expensive and not as popular compared to more common burger meat. There will be little or no visible excess grease and the patties won’t shrink noticeably. If on an outdoor grill, there will be little or no flareups. These have less burger flavor but are closer towards being like a steak burger.

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Now that you know about the methods of forming your own hamburger patties, tell me your experiences. I’m always interested in what methods others use. In the meantime, plan on cooking some burgers now.

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