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When I make hamburger patties for the kids I like to add extra grated vegetables in there - usually zucchini, carrots, and onion. Also some herbs. Unfortunately when I cook them the burgers disintegrate most of the time in the pan - I don't even try to cook them on a BBQ as I know they'll fall through the cracks into the fire.

I have tried adding an egg or 2 to bind it together better, but perhaps I need to add more? But which part of the egg is the binder? The yolk or the white? If I add 4 yolks will it help - or would I be better adding 4 egg whites? Or do I need the whole egg?

If it helps:

  • I try to use the 80/20 beef mince,
  • include wheat bran or breadcrumbs as filler,
  • squeeze the extra liquid out of the mix when forming into patties,
  • put a dimple in the top for expansion,
  • refrigerate for 30 minutes before cooking,
  • and then cook on a high heat for 4 minutes each side with the lid on.
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Generally you'd use the whole egg. The egg white provides most of the structural integrity, but the yolk does a little too. Also, the yolk helps with what might otherwise be a rubbery texture. Letting the patties sit in the refrigerator for half an hour or so will also help them stay together.

I suspect that the answer you linked, talking about how the yolk is the "only binder", is mistaking emulsification for binding. Ground meat, veggies, and egg whites are all water-based mixtures; they don't need lecithin to play nice with each other.

Incidentally, if you like zucchini and carrots and onions inside the burger, you'll like them even more on top of the burger. Take all that stuff you were going to mix in (other than the egg), slice the veggies rather than mince them, add a bit of olive oil and more salt than you think you should, and saute the crap out of them on high heat for a few minutes. Really char it up. Vegetables in a burger don't want to be steamed in a jacket of meat; they want to do their own flavor work.

  • Yeah. I'm inclined to think it's the veggies, particularly zucchini, that are making it fall apart. Meat, bread, egg shouldn't. I sometimes pre-fry onions before mixing in which reduces liquid too. I like your idea of doing them all separately, though. – Tetsujin Sep 3 at 8:45
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    I like the idea of cooking the veges properly, however the kids won't eat them. Hopefully in a few years when the kids are older I'll be able to eat some decent food again lol – JumpingJezza Sep 3 at 8:52
  • Cook the veggies separately and eat them yourself. Slap their little hands if they try to taste yours. You don't need to deprive yourself because your kids are being idiots, and you are not setting a good example by disguising them too much – user57361 Sep 4 at 0:50
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    @GeorgeM There's really no reason to criticize the OP's parenting. This is a site for questions about cooking. – Sneftel Sep 4 at 7:48
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    @JumpingJezza - If you really saute the veggies, quite well cooked and even a bit charred as Sneftel suggests, they might incorporate into the hamburger better (less volume in the mix and less escaping water breaking up the hamburger, since the sauteing will dry the veggies out some). Plus it should taste pretty good. – Megha Sep 5 at 3:59
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It's the protein in the egg that helps bind the hamburger. There's a significant amount of protein in both the white (about 10% protein) and the yolk (about 20% protein), so both help with binding.

You can also try freezing the hamburger patties for maybe 30 minutes before grilling them, to help them hold together.

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