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When I broil or grill my burgers, I end up with burgers that are round in the middle.

I grind my own beef blend and form my patties the same every time. When I cook my burgers in a pan I don't get the rounded burgers.

What makes the burgers rounded and smaller when broiling/grilling, but not with pan cooking?

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I know this is a bit obvious, but when you fry them, do you squish them with the skillet at all as they're cooking? – Blorgbeard Jul 9 '10 at 20:07
FWIW: loose-packed burgers made with course-ground beef don't suffer from this problem - I suspect they're better able to shrink evenly as the fat renders out, where tightly-packed patties find the edge shrinking faster than the center. – Shog9 Jul 19 '10 at 0:51
up vote 16 down vote accepted

I'm not sure what causes the bowing to be more pronounced from one cooking method versus another, but the solution is to put a thumbprint indentation in the middle, creating a slight "donutted" shape. This will help to ensure you get the "patty" shape you want.

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The difference is probably the level of heat being applied to the burgers. Pan frying is only heating one side and probably isn't as intense as the broil/grill method.

I always use a patty press when I make my burgers since it compacts them really well and helps them to be less round.

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It's almost the same effect as frying Baloney (yeah, think back to college) - if you're using thin patties put little slits in three places and the bubbling effect will disappear.

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Making an indentation works, but I prefer to poke a hole all the way through with my pinky finger. The hole disappears while cooking.

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On top of using a patty press as Bryant suggested, freezing the patties first helps them hold their shape until they cooked enough to be self-supporting.

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