My wife is having pregnancy cravings for (homemade) hamburgers, but has developed a prenatal allergy / intolerance to egg.

What is a possible replacement for egg to stop a hamburger pattie from collapsing into mince during cooking?

  • 9
    I never use egg in my burgers, just beef and pepper. Salt added to the outside immediately before cooking. Oct 28, 2011 at 16:19

12 Answers 12


A bit of corn starch would help if you cannot add egg at all.

  • An interesting though, I'll give it a try
    – johnc
    Oct 27, 2011 at 23:44
  • 5
    Great :) Just to add, in Asian cuisine, corn starch is used a lot to make food "stick" together.
    – K2so
    Oct 28, 2011 at 19:57

Have you tried not adding egg? In my experiments, egg is needed when you add breadcrumbs, but if you just form some ground beef into a patty and fry it, it doesn't fall apart. Hm, let me clarify that. If you take a single blob of ground beef straight from the styrofoam and press it in a patty press, it doesn't fall apart. If you take two pieces and put them next to each other in the patty press, it does fall apart as you cook it. So when I need to add an extra bit, I add it on top. That works. So there is at least one way you can make a hamburger without adding egg. Now, if you wanted to mix spices into the beef, then you might have a problem. I'll admit that. Better than nothing, though.

  • Thx, we do tend to add onion and breadcrumbs
    – johnc
    Oct 27, 2011 at 23:44

I've never used anything other than beef, dry spices, and sometimes garlic to make my hamburgers. Truthfully, I much prefer the taste of a burger with no binders. We buy our beef by the half cow, and make plenty of burgers. Freezer -> defrost -> Mix beef with spices -> Form burgers while still cold (I make a round ball with the meat, them compress it) -> straight to grill. We've never had any issues.

I will also say, that my wife is much better at making evenly sized, well formed burgers, that hold together really well..

  • This is correct. Should be recognized as the right answer.
    – gnicko
    Mar 11, 2021 at 14:40

There are two things you need to do to make perfect hamburgers without egg or other binder.

First knead the meat balls so that the meat binds together. Kneading give you a better bind you will get. Press the meat firmly into your mould before popping out.

Second, after forming into shape, refrigerate the meat pats.

This process first stretches the proteins in the meat. When chilled, the proteins contract again but now they are twisted together in a bond. When cooking, the pat will hold together just a well as any that you buy in a shop.

If find that this works even when I add liquids to the meat. I often season my meat with Worcester sauce mixed in. Even with this extra liquid the meat will hold together just fine. No egg required.

  • 2
    The more you knead, the more the fat melts in the burger before you've even cooked it and the drier your burger is after cooking... Oct 28, 2011 at 16:18
  • Beef fat melts at hand temperature??? Secondly if you that stressed, need with a tool not your hand. The above works. It's used commercially. Rather than knocking it, why don't you try it. Oct 28, 2011 at 16:24
  • Been there, tried various methods, found kneading for long periods is not good. Different strokes etc. I guess. Agree totally with refrigeration however. Oct 28, 2011 at 16:53
  • Personally, I've never managed to over knead, but I've adjusted my wording above to prevent misinterpretation. I still hold that more action is required than simply forming a round shape. Pressing and folding several times does distinctly improve the stability of the shaped pat prior to refrigerating. Oct 28, 2011 at 17:09
  • Oh, you've got to pack it a bit for sure. I usually pack until a coherent ball can be formed, then flatten to a disk. Oct 28, 2011 at 17:16

You can fry it without an egg at all.

I just form a patties, leave them on the table or in the fridge for a hour or so and then fry it.

Nothing fall apart, everything is fine.


You can use what is called a flax egg, it is 1:3::milled flax seed: water (4Tbsp is about 1 egg in terms of binding strength). Not only is flax the secret glue in many vegan recipes, but it might be a good additive for your wife's diet.


I too had an intolerance to egg when I was pregnant with our last child. In place of egg when making hamburgers or meatloaf I used a jar of veal baby food. It helped bind and keep the dish moist. Doesn't really add or subtract from the flavor of the beef either.

Best of luck to you!


1 Tbs flour for 1 Pound of meat

  • Can you provide any detail on what this does, why it works, or how you are supposed to do it?
    – SAJ14SAJ
    Sep 10, 2013 at 23:27

Using pork mince will make a good burger as the proteins in pork meat bind naturally and so you do not need the egg to bind the mix. Just work the meat a little to encourage a good mix.

  • 1
    The taste would be utterly different, though.
    – Catija
    Jan 28, 2016 at 5:32
  • Pork burgers are not real hamburgers.
    – gnicko
    Mar 11, 2021 at 14:37

3 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons chia seeds

Let this sit on the counter for ten mins.
Mix in with 1 lb. hamburger meat.
No egg needed or breadcrumbs either.

For added taste add 1 tbsp. tomato paste
or 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

Works perfect every time.
My mom made it this way for years!


Just my opinion, but here's how you do it:

  1. Form the ground beef into a patty. (Don't over-handle it, knead it, or compress it. That will make it tough or chewy. Completely ruin the texture.)

  2. Cook it. (Preferably on a grill, but frying is almost acceptable if necessary.)

There's no need for eggs, or cornstarch, or bread crumbs, or any other impurities, pollutants or additives. If you're adding that stuff, you're not making a real burger. The idea of adding anything to a burger is kind of repulsive.

Nearly world-famous, quasi-chef Alton Brown walks through the process and philosophy of making a quality burger: https://youtu.be/cOP6QuhyONc

And these guys have way too much fun with an "instructional take" on the process too: https://youtu.be/gaIyaobHKY8


Time for some molecular gastronomy. Transglutaminase ("meat glue") should work perfectly. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transglutaminase

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