I picked up this trick from one of the restaurants I used to work at.

When cooking a beef hamburger on a med-high stove-top, they would add a half ounce of water midway through cooking and cover the pan. It's the only way I cook my burgers now, as I've noticed a significant difference in fat content reduction.

  • Can anyone explain the science behind this reduced fat content?
  • 1
    Possible duplicate of Why do fry cooks use water to cook burgers?
    – paparazzo
    Dec 16, 2016 at 22:01
  • 1
    What do you mean by "fat content reduction"? Do you mean you think the burgers contain less fat or that they loose less fat?
    – Catija
    Dec 16, 2016 at 23:45
  • I'm voting to leave open because the dupe only addresses half of the question posed here.
    – Catija
    Dec 16, 2016 at 23:47
  • @Catija Then I would VTC based on too broad (multiple questions). They are not even directly related questions and no proof to the assertion that steam reduces fat content.
    – paparazzo
    Dec 17, 2016 at 1:19
  • 3
    A question based on a false premise isn't closable. Answer the question and say the premise is wrong if you feel that it is.
    – Catija
    Dec 17, 2016 at 1:39

2 Answers 2


For the same reason that fast food burgers are often dry :)

When beef hits high heat, the juices go in the opposite direction. This is why when pan-frying a steak, you know it's close to medium rare once you see the juices start to come through the top. The fat in burgers does the same thing, it moves away from the heat source, and back into the rest of the meat. That's just what happens when meat cooks and constricts.

Many fast food joints use a double grill (you pull an inverted flat top down on top of the burger on the flat top). Whoops, there goes practically everything moist in the 3 or so minutes they cook them.

Using steam, you make this a much gentler process. As the patty is cooking from the top and bottom and sides at once, but with a more gentle heat, the fat (and some juices) come out instead of going to hide on the other side of the patty that isn't on a heat source.


With this method, you are effectively steaming the meat which allows the top of the burger to cook directly, instead of the gradient heating that happens from pan to bottom to top of the burger. Therefore the cooking time will be reduced because you can cook for less time once you flip to the other side.

I've not seen this technique used to reduce the fat content before, and I can't comment on the science behind that.

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