How to Keep Burgers From Shrinking on The Grill | Secrets Behind Keeping Burgers From Shrinking on The Grill

Slim and thin burgers are neither good for your eyes nor your appetite. So, hurry up and check these tips on how to keep burgers from shrinking on the grill!

Burgers are too hard to resist. Especially while you’re stuck at your home and there’s a commercial of juicy burgers from McDonald’s, or Burger King is going on the TV. 

The mouth-watering commercials are more than enough to take your cravings to the peak. So, the best possible option is to trust your cooking skill and start to prepare some delicious homemade burgers. 

But the disaster happens when you’ve put a healthy patty on the grill to get cooked, and after a while, the first thing you notice is that the patty isn’t healthy anymore! It seems more like the burger is trying to show you how to maintain a slim-fit body!

Well, apart from the jokes, this is a common situation for many people who have tried to cook a burger patty on the grill, but the result was nowhere near as we see in restaurants or commercials. 

So, what to do? How to keep burgers from shrinking on the grill and have a nice, juicy patty?

Keep Burgers Cold before Hitting The Grill

You may get shocked after knowing that your patties need to be cold before you hit the grill. Because the general rule is that we need to keep the meat or whatever we are going to cook at the room temperature. 

But for keeping burger patties from shrinking, you need to follow exactly the opposite. 

This reverse rule is applicable here because when the patties are cold, they stay together, and the moisture remains locked. As a result, you will feel the perfect juiciness with every bite, and it’ll restrict the shrinking as well. 

So, always keep the patties in the freezer (covered in a bowl or tray) until the grill gets heated. 

Wait! Do You Know Why Burgers Shrink On The Grill?

Indeed, “a shrinking burger from the grill” situation is very irritating, and you want to get to the solution as fast as possible. But hold your breath, because first, you need to know why this thing even happens! What mistakes do you make or what are the causes behind this mess? 

Reasons such as using regular grill pans instead of grill grates is a common mistake that makes a burger patty shrink on the grill. But it’s not the end! There’s more. So, let’s know other errors too to get a clear idea about this issue. 

  • Wrong Temperature. 

If the temperature on your grill is excessively high, then the burger patties will definitely shrink. Cooking the burger patty at a moderate temperature is always preferable. Because higher temperature always soaks out the fat and water inside, thus the shrinkage occurs. 

One of the main reasons for the temperature getting increased is when you cook your meat by keeping the lid closed.

  • Meat Is Too Lean

Never expect a juicy and healthy result from a lean patty. Your patty needs to be in good shape. That’s why try finding meat for burgers that has at least the ratio of 80% of meat and 20% of fat. 

Without the fat inside, the patties not only go through a shrinkage but also you won’t get the delicious taste similar to the restaurants. 

  • Using Additives

Meats with additives are meant to be shrunk. Often in many grocery stores, you will find meats containing saltwater or other types of additives. 

These things increase the weight of the meats and make them seem healthy and juicy, which is basically done to trick the customers and earn some extra profit. 

But when you cook it on the grill, the water inside evaporates due to the temperature and the result will not be something you would have imagined. 

  • Over Handling

Often, we handle the meat too much to make it neat and tidy. As a result, instead of a tender, loosely packed patty, we end- up having a tough and dry burger. So, over handling is a big NO. 

  • Forgetting the Dimple: 

Dimples exist to make things look prettier, either it’s a human face or a burger patty! So, when you put more focus on your partner’s dimple and less on making it on the patty, what is more expected than a shrinkage? 

How to Keep Burgers From Shrinking On The Grill

Okay, so now you’re allowed to release your breath that you’re holding. Because here comes the part where you’re going to know how to keep burgers from shrinking on the grill. 

But before that take some time to remember the reasons behind the shrinking again. 

So, when you get to know the proper way of making a burger patty, your sixth sense always acts as a warning for those mistakes! 

  • Oiling The Burger

Many like to avoid using oil on their burgers as they think there’s already enough fat on the meat. That’s true, but using a little amount of oil won’t cause any harm. Instead, it’ll give a better result. 

If you add oil to the meat, it’ll keep the patty stick on the grill and won’t let it shrink. Because oil doesn’t evaporate like water quickly and locks the moisture inside. And if you ask which oil would be better to mix, we’d suggest you use a few teaspoons of Canola Oil. 

Because Canola oil enhances the taste of the burgers more than other regular oils. However, If this oil is not available to you, using regular oils won’t hurt. 

  • Temperature

It has been already declared that overheat causes the burger to shrink. Because it makes the fat and water inside the meat to evaporate and thus the meat becomes slimmer! 

Always cook your burger patties in moderate heat. Also, make sure the grill lid is open while cooking. Because a closed lid captures the heat inside, and thus the temperature rises. 

  • Fat Percentage

Fat is good for your burger’s health, as it maintains the moisture and enhances the taste. If you’re buying your burger ham from a shop, then check if the meat has an 80% meat and 20% fat ratio on it. 

And if you’re planning to cut your own meat, then give it a lean cut so that you don’t remove an excess amount of fat than you’re supposed to do. 

  • Don’t Flip Early

New chefs are always excited to show off their cooking skills. As a result, they flip the patties frequently by thinking that it is making them look professional. But the output will completely be the opposite. 

It would be best if you never flip the patties too early and frequently. At least let it rest on each side for 2 minutes (rare grilling), 3 minutes (medium rare grilling), 4 minutes (medium grilling) and 5 minutes to ensure better results. 

  • Time

The timing usually depends on which type of meat you’re using and at what temperature you’re cooking. If the patty is made of beef, then go for 3-minutes. If it’s made of turkey, then go for 5minutes. 

However, you need to keep cooking and flipping it (check the previous section) until it has turned into a slightly charred and golden shade. 

  • Shape the Burgers Perfectly/Shape Matters

Do you want to have a perfectly sized burger? Then start with giving it a good shape first. If you are not shaping your burgers much wider than you’d like to have, then you’re doing it all wrong. 

Because after cooking it’s natural for every kind of food to shrink. That’s why if you give the patty a wider shape than the usual, then even if it gets shrunk, it’ll still have the shape that is considered as standard. 

And don’t forget to put a dimple on the center. Because when the meat starts to shrink due to the heat, it contracts inward, and a dimple will start spreading the meat and even out the situation, and the shrinkage most likely won’t happen. 

  • Clean the Cooking Grate

We, humans, are always in rush, and that is where the trouble begins. If you directly start cooking on an uncleaned grill, the result will be worse. 

The leftovers from the previous cooking session makes the grill greasy and sticky, which causes issues against proper cooking. Also, uneven cooking sometimes results in shrinkage. 

That’s why make sure to clean the cooking grate before you start for another grill. So that your patties get evenly cooked, and the shrinkage doesn’t happen. 

  • Use a Hot Grill

A steady heat is preferable for cooking burgers. Usually, the temperature 375-400 degrees, which is often called medium-high to heat, is perfect for cooking burgers. 

Put your hands over the grill for 2-3 seconds at a 1-2 inches of distance. If you get the feeling of the even heat, then it’s time to get started. 

  • Shouldn’t Press Burgers

One thing you must know that the spatula you’re holding on hand while grilling the patties is the biggest enemy of your perfectly sized burgers. 

Because the spatula grows an urge inside of you to press the burgers frequently, which is where everything goes wrong. Your burger doesn’t require pressing because it releases the juice out of it and the result? SHRINKAGE! 

Spare those miserable patties from your spatula punishment and use it only for flipping them. 

  • Give It Some Rest

Taking a short break doesn’t hurt, and it is applicable for your burger patties too. Let it rest for some moments so that the juices assembled on the surface have the time to spread out evenly. As a result, your burger gets a curfew from getting shrunk!

Topcellent Tip: All these big words explained above are enough to solve your problem of keeping burgers from shrinking on the grill. But those who never settle for less, strive for more perfection to get the best output as possible. 

That’s why we present you with an exclusive Topcellent Tip, which will be one of your secrets of cooking with perfection for sure!

Our Topcellent tip for preventing burgers from shrinking is using your wet hands to prepare the patty. Soaking your hands with a little amount of water will keep out the meat from getting stuck your hands. As a result, you’ll be able to handle the meat easily and give the perfect shape to the meat without ruining it. 

Should You Salt Burgers Before Grilling?

Even though salt is known for bringing out the taste from every dish better than ever, burgers and salt have an odd relationship. They just don’t go with each other. As a result, while adding the salt into a burger patty, you better be careful.

When you add salt to meat, it dissolves protein. Therefore, after the cooking, when you taste your burger, you’ll get a firm, rubbery or springy taste like sausages! But do you want your burger to taste like a sausage? We hope you don’t!

However, adding salt is mandatory for the taste. That’s why you should salt the burgers right before hitting the grill. Thus, the salt won’t get the time to break the protein, and both the texture and the taste will turn out to be the way you want. 

Do You Close The Grill When Grilling Burgers?

Who doesn’t want crispy, moist, slightly charred in the exterior and tender in interior burgers? But the main barrier to this delight is not knowing if the burgers should be cooked with a closed or open lid. 

The closed lid creates convection. It means the heat that is getting created inside is trapped and can’t go out. As a result, with a closed lid, you’ll get more of an oven-like cooking rather than the crispy grilling.

On the other hand, when the lid is open, the heat gets the chances to travel all over the patties and thus, they become crispy and tender just the way you want. So, it’s better if you don’t close the lid while grilling burgers. 

Do You Use a Thermometer?

Many of us, even some experienced chefs as well, tend to ignore the usage of thermometers while grilling burgers. Even though it’s optional, but still important if you are not willing to settle for less and want your desired result.

Because every person has different tastes and wants their burgers differently as well. Some want a rare burger; some want medium rates, while others wish for medium or well-done burgers. And this is where a thermometer is going to assist you. 

Thermometers are useful to measure the internal temperature of the burger, which indicates the doneness. A patty with an internal temperature of 125-degree F means it is rarely cooked, whereas 130-degree F indicates medium-rare. 

Similarly, 140-degrees F means medium cooked and if you want more than that, go for 150-degree F, which is the pointer that says the burger is well cooked. 

And all these things are impossible to measure without a thermometer. So, if you have been compromising with your taste bud by eating burgers that aren’t your style, then don’t wait anymore and invest in a thermometer. Trust us, and you won’t regret it. 

What Do You Put on Burgers Before Grilling to Keep Your Burger Patties Flat

Ever had a burger in a home gathering with a round ball shaped patty? If you’ve experienced this awkward situation, then we can guess that your first thought was, does the chef not know how you keep your burger patties flat! 

Often, we get so overwhelmed handling the burger that we forget to give it a flat shape. But a burger without a flat shape is not considered as a burger!

That’s why we always suggest flatting the patties using burger presses. If the burger press isn’t available, then take two plates and put the patty at the bottom and press it. By this, you’ll have your perfectly flat burgers!

How Do You Keep Burgers Warm and Moist After Grilling?

One common issue every host of a house-party face is keeping the burgers warm and moist until mealtime. Because no one really serves the burgers to the guests right after taking them out of the grill. And serving a cold burger is never an option.

To get rid of this issue, you should simply wrap the burgers in foils and put them at a 200F preheated oven. However, make sure to let it rest for a few minutes anyway before feasting over them. 

Thus, you won’t stop having compliments from your guests for your perfectly served burgers! 

Some Common Mistakes to Avoid 

Wait a minute. Don’t think that we are done here. Only knowing how to keep burgers from shrinking on the grill isn’t enough if you keep repeating a few mistakes. So, let’s take another step in being a professional chef by knowing some common mistakes to avoid. 

  • Slow and steady wins the race. The same goes for the burger. Do not hurry to grill the patties. Maintain a low temperature and slow cooking. 
  • Never make the patty too thick. It results in an uneven cook. To avoid the thickness, make it wider by giving it a proper flat shape. 
  • Don’t just put all the patties together in the grill and make it overcrowded. This type of situation doesn’t let the heat to properly reach all the patties, and also, the chances of cross-contamination increase.


  • Why do my burgers turn into balls?

Ans: It happens when you have flattened the patties unevenly, or the edges are too thin than the center. 

As a result, while grilling, those thin edges get cooked quickly and contract towards the middle and turn into a ball shape. That is why make sure you’ve done an even job while shaping the patties. 

  • Why do my burgers not stay flat?

Ans: It happens for many reasons such as, if the meat consists of more water than fat, you’re grilling at a high temperature, you’ve closed the lid, or forget to make the patties wider etc. Just stop doing these things, and your burger won’t ever dare to shrink. 

  • How many minutes should you cook a burger on each side?

Ans: Let each side of the burgers rest for a few minutes until you flip them again. Frequently flipping is never preferable. If the burgers are made with beef, then each side should rest at least for 3 minutes, and if it is made of turkey, waiting for 5 minutes would be better. 

However, it would be best if you kept grilling them until they have slightly charred with a golden-brown shade. 

  • How do you know when a burger is cooked?

Ans: To have an accurate idea of when a burger is done cooking, you need to have a thermometer to check the temperature inside. Plunge the thermometer into the sides of the patties and count the heat. Measuring through the sides will spare you from false alarms. 

If you see that the internal temperature has reached 155-160 degrees F, then the cooking is done. However, the temperature level of 120 degrees F indicates a rarely done cooking, and a 130-degree F indicates medium-rare cooking, 

  • Why put an ice cube on your burger when grilling?

Ans: It sounds odd but putting an ice cube on the patty actually helps to get a better result. Because the ice cubes won’t let the patties get overcooked due to the extra heat, and it also adds extra moisture. 

As a result, your burgers won’t quickly shrink, and you can enjoy the juiciness with every bite. 

  • What happens if you eat an undercooked burger?

Ans: You should never eat undercooked foods, especially meat items. Because it contains germs and if not cooked properly, that means the heat didn’t reach every part of the meat. As a result, the germs are still alive, leading to severe food-poisoning and other issues if consumed. 

That’s why never eat an undercooked burger and keep it away especially from the children, 


So, here we are at the end of our detailed discussion over how to keep burgers from shrinking on the grill. Preventing burgers from the happening of this issue is no rocket science. All you have to do is ensure a few precautions and follow the procedures we have mentioned above. 

It’s natural to make mistakes at first. But over the time, you’ll become a pro and hopefully discover your own tricks and secrets for avoiding this irritating trouble! 

Thus, you will be able to have the perfect restaurant styles burger that is even more pretty and delicious than those you crave by watching food commercials! 

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