At Cool Mom Eats, we’re all for grilling veggies, chicken, and even pizza. But to really celebrate the start of summer, there’s nothing better than a mouthwatering burger. To help you make the very best, I called on our friend and NYC butcher, Peter Pinti, for advice on the best cuts of beef for burgers.
Because when you’re using the best cuts of beef, you’ll get a delicious patty that needs nothing more than salt and pepper.
Well, maybe a bun and cold beer too.
The best cuts of beef for burgers: Meat to fat ratio
Before we get into specific cuts of beef, let’s talk meat-to-fat ratio. This is the most important consideration when it comes to good burgers. The classic — and best — mix is 80 percent meat to 20 percent fat (often seen on packaging or in the meat case as 80/20). Save the fat and calorie counting for your sides; when it comes to a burger, fat equals flavor.
The best cuts of beef for burgers: The everyday burger
Cut from the shoulder, ground chuck is the classic high-fat (80/20) cut to use for a well-balanced beef burger. Hands down, this is the best grind you can find that’s widely available. But make sure that it says ground chuck, not ground beef, which is ambiguous and inconsistent.
Sourcing from a local butcher is best, or ask the butcher counter in your local store if they can fresh grind the meat for you. A course grind is preferable – this helps achieve that melt-in-your-mouth texture.
Good to know: Ground sirloin has a nice beefy flavor, but is a little leaner — 85-90 percent meat to 10-15 percent fat — so will work nicely, but lack some richness. And skip ground round: this cut churns out dry burgers. No good.
The best cuts of beef for burgers: The kick-it-up-a-notch burger
If you’re a real burger connoisseur or just want to experiment this summer, try a custom blend. Start with a chuck base and ask the butcher to grind in any of the following meats, depending on your taste. Or if you really want to experiment, grind the meat yourself. The folks at Serious Eats have a great guide on the best ways to grind beef.
Brisket: While tough on its own, brisket adds a buttery, grassy flavor.
Shortrib: Adds richness in both flavor and texture.
Hanger: Adds a stronger beef, steak-like flavor.
Sirloin: This cut can vary, but in general, ups the beef flavor when combined with chuck.
Bacon: Adds fat — which equals flavor! — and smokiness, but you may want to combine it with leaner sirloin as opposed to chuck (see note above).
Peter says that his favorite is a bacon beef burger. He recommends getting this combo from a butcher; bacon is very high fat and your butcher can best control the blend to ensure that you get the best taste and texture.