I have to eat 93% lean beef as part of my diet. I am trying to find creative ways of cooking it because throwing it in the instapot with some tomato sauce is getting bland. I'd like to try making it into a burger so I can pretend like I'm eating a burger.

Yesterday I added some salt, garlic powder, chili powder, and olive oil to 12oz of raw ground beef, and mixed it up with my hands. I then rolled it into a ball and slowly pressed it into a fairly thick patty. I then seared both sides on high heat and then lowered the heat and covered it for a few minutes. The internal temp (assuming my thermometer was correct) was 120 degrees F which is what I read online was restaurant style medium rare. Unfortunately, when I forked off a piece of the patty, the insides of it were still mushy like the ground beef. It also wasn't very juicy or palatable like I expected.

Does anyone have some cooking tips on making lean ground beef as tender as possible when cooked? In my next attempt I will probably try to make a thinner patty, then pan sear both sides and put it in the oven at 400 for 6 minutes.

  • Not adding as an answer as I have never tried it and have no idea if it works, plus Tetsujin has suggested the exact way I would cook! However, some people suggest putting an icecube on the top or in the middle of the burger when cooking to stop the inside cooking too quickly and keeping the burger moist!
    – Gamora
    Commented Jul 12, 2019 at 14:43
  • This sounds like you made one, rather large, burger patty out of 3/4 pound of 93% lean ground beef. Yes? or No?
    – elbrant
    Commented Jul 18, 2019 at 1:32
  • Yes that's correct Commented Jul 18, 2019 at 21:21

3 Answers 3


I use only 5% fat beef - which I would assume would be considered 95% lean, though the UK doesn't measure it that way.
I cannot abide fatty meat, but that's a topic for another day ;)

For me, a burger is 500g beef mince, an onion, either finely diced, or pre-fried [different flavour profile], 1 egg, a good handful of breadcrumbs [somewhere between 1 & 2 tbsp, I guess] a little salt & pepper & often a hint of cayenne. You could get adventurous with a hint of dill or even some finely-diced pickled gherkin.

That will make 4 large patties or 6 - 8 small ones.
I shape to 'about 1.5x the diameter of the bun it will go in' to allow for shrinkage, maybe 5 - 7mm thick.

Grill, medium-high, one side until it 'looks done' [1], browning nicely & bubbling any fat/water off - I've never measured a temperature in my life - flip it, give it maybe half the time again on the 2nd side. Cheese optional, takes about the same time to melt the cheese as it does to toast the bun on the inside.
If you still find that dull, try a side of home-made cole slaw. Add to that a dash of Tabasco for an instant hit, or some coriander [cilantro] & lime juice.

btw, there are a million things you can do with mince, even if many of them are tomato-based.
Chilli, curry [& how many different curries are there?] bolognese, shepherd's [cottage] pie, meatloaf, meatballs, kofte, kebabs, stuffed peppers...
& that's before you even think about chunks rather than simple mince.
Goulash, youvetsi, tagine, Ethiopian wat, rendang, Irish stew... the list just goes on & on...

Pick a different continent every day. [2]

[1] Until you get used to the timing, just break it in half when you flip it, so you can get a visual clue as to how far through it's cooked. After a while you'll be able to tell by just looking, or by poking at it with your finger.

[2] This is our family's cooking motto.

  • I don't have access to a grill, but I do like the flavors you added to the burger. Will try that. Also thanks for the different ideas for ground beef, will probably look at making some meatballs so I can mix it in with my rice for meal prep. Commented Jul 9, 2019 at 18:46
  • Wish you luck in your adventures:) I think there may be a terminology difference, if you are US-based. If I have my 'translation' from UK to US English correct, a 'grill' UK would be a 'broiler' US... I think? [heat entirely from the top, usually inside an oven, but not (necessarily) with the oven door closed.]
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Jul 9, 2019 at 18:53
  • @Tetsujin Correct on the "Grill/Broiler" conversion. A grill can also be what a lot of the western world calls a BBQ.
    – bob1
    Commented Jul 12, 2019 at 11:31

Increasing the fat content of the ground beef is the easiest way to improve the flavor and texture, but you mention you're on a low-fat diet.

In that case, I have a few suggestions:

  • Cook to an internal temperature of at least 135°F. According to https://www.reluctantgourmet.com/meat-doneness-chart/, 135°F is medium-rare; 120°F is rare. Note that the USDA recommends ground beef be cooked to 160°F for safety.
  • Don't overwork the meat when mixing it or forming a patty. A looser texture to the meat allows it to "crumble" when chewed. There's an art to pressing enough to form a patty that will stay together while not pressing so hard you get a single blob of texture-less meat.
  • Consider using a rougher grind of meat or grinding your own. Some grocery stores will sell a "chili grind"; it's about twice as thick as typical ground beef. This also changes the texture of the finished product.
    • Don't press on the patty while cooking -- it drives out the little bit of fat you have.

The texture of beef patties (hamburgers) is greatly influenced by the way they are formed and the ingredients added. It sounds like you are creating a sort of meatball, and then flattening into a patty. This compresses the meat a great deal, and makes the whole lump much stickier. In addition, and perhaps more importantly, the salt you are adding to the grind is going to firm things up, and make the burger much more rubbery...like a sausage. To make the most tender patty, regardless of fat content, I would recommend handling the meat as little as possible, adding few (if any) extra ingredients to the grind, and skipping the salt (including garlic salt...any addition of salt) until just before you cook. These folks have more info.

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