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Perfect burgers begin with meat selection

Published January 05. 2011 05:00PM

If you're going to make a beef burger, your first decision takes place in the butcher or meat department. Your ground beef choices are usually chuck, round and sirloin. The following information, adapted from the Food Network Kitchens' "Get Grilling" (Meredith Books, 2005), will help you get the burger you desire:

Chuck is your classic burger meat and is usually the most flavorful, simply because it has the most fat. Ground round is the leanest of the three, with sirloin in the middle range. Sirloin has a great flavor, but it is the most expensive.

Packages either identify the percentage of lean to fat, i.e. 80 percent lean/20 percent fat (the maximum fat allowed by law is 30 percent), or sometimes just the primal cut, meaning chuck, sirloin or round.

Fat gives beef burgers flavor and "juiciness." If the meat is too lean, it has a tendency to dry out when cooking.

One of our favorite beef combinations is half chuck, half sirloin. You get the great taste of sirloin with the juiciness of chuck.

Other meat options are chicken or turkey and bison. If your primary concern is nutrition, read the labels carefully and compare this area can be misleading.

Ground chicken, if not labeled lean, can sometimes have the skin ground in. You will get a juicier burger, but it will be higher in fat.

Lean ground turkey is leaner, but less flavorful, than regular ground turkey, which can be a blend of light and dark meats.

Bison is comparable in flavor to beef, with to of the fat. But like all lean meats, it too can easily dry out.

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