In this article by Kenji from serious eats he discusses forming the patty to a bare minimum so the strands of ground beef are still visible. He also recommends only salting the beef just before making it. Both strategies to avoid toughness.

In this video by Gordon Ramsay (and other burger videos by him) he completely mushes up the mince to turn make it completely consistent. He also adds salt and a bunch of other flavourings, which a lot of people don't recommend.

So who's right? Assuming Kenji is right in his assertions, why would Gordon do that to his burgers? Is it true that the meat should be just formed and otherwise left alone?

  • 1
    Heston is right ;) Commented Jan 28, 2016 at 16:41
  • But seriously: If you go through the videos/blogs of renowned chefs describing how to make burgers, for every one showing ugly pictures of what happens when you do X instead of Y, there will be one showing similar ugly pictures of what happens when you do Y instead of X. I doubt there's An Answer. Commented Jan 28, 2016 at 16:51
  • I will only say that I J. Kenji Lopez-Alt has made an extensive study of all things burger related aht.seriouseats.com/the-burger-lab/index.html and in many cases he approaches things scientifically (measuring weight before and after for each technique, measuring liquid expelled for each technique, etc) and personally I trust that more than Mr. Ramsay. Commented Jan 28, 2016 at 17:02
  • @djmadscribbler: Science can be an aid in achieving what you want, but it's not a template of How Things Must Be Done. Aiming for less expelled liquids must/might need to be balanced with The Science Of Seasoning. Escoce's answer highlights that very nicely. Commented Jan 28, 2016 at 17:39
  • To my mind, the two methods depend entirely on which side of the Atlantic you were born. US, all meat, UK,+ onion, egg, & sometimes breadcrumbs. Gordon's burger looks just as good as Kenji's when cooked. My bet is that Kenji's 'bad example' was seriously overworked to prove a point.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Jul 20, 2019 at 11:24

3 Answers 3


There's no right or wrong answer as there are advantages to both and it's about what you want out of a burger.

The advantage of the minimal disturbance method is that the strands of the meat give the burger structural strength. It also gives a pure beef flavor as you aren't adding anything to it. The mix up method breaks up the strands of meat which come out of the grinder which makes patties more fragile, however flavorings are distributed evenly.

Some people add binding agents like egg and breadcrumbs to hold it together when using the mix up method in which case it becomes more of a flat meatball than a burger.

My personal preference is the minimal disturbance method as it is fast, the patties hold together, and I like the flavor of pure beef. After forming the patties I salt them on both sides. After the final flip I grind fresh pepper on the cooked side - pepper gets bitter when burned. If I did want to add flavorings I would grind my own meat for the burgers and add the flavorings then.


Neither is right nor wrong, it simply depends on what you are trying to accomplish.

The way I make a basic burger is to try and pull off the right amount of ground meat from the package and shape it right there as is without kneading it at all. Literally just enough handling to shape it.

However sometimes I want a seasoned burger, and that's more like making a patty shaped meatball and you can't really avoid mixing/kneading it in the case.

Sometimes seasoning the outside of the burger is all that's needed.

  • Even if you want it seasoned, you could still save the salt for just the outside, right? It looks like Kenji is saying the salt is a much bigger problem than any other seasonings you might want mixed in.
    – Cascabel
    Commented Jan 28, 2016 at 19:01
  • 1
    Well salt doesn't burn, but it will drop off with the burger juice somewhat. As I said I don't usually make a seasoned burger, I usually make a plain fresh burger using the least handling method
    – Escoce
    Commented Jan 28, 2016 at 19:41

From a traditionalist perspective, Kenji is right.

I didn't click through to the Ramsay video, but from your description of him adding lots of stuff, and mushing it up, his burger could more accurately be called "Salisbury Steak on a Bun." Not that that is a bad idea.

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