I have tried to keep my burgers flat for a while but they always end up turning into a ball and I have to flatten them out as they cook, even tried the little hole in the middle of the patty but it doesn't work.

It's ground beef (90/10 angus beef) and I'm only adding salt and pepper before i shape them. I am doing 8 oz patties and grill at medium high temp.

Ok the inflation is gone, put no salt on it and added a bigger dimple. Now my second question would be, what can I do to keep the meat together?. Sometimes about 30% of the times it breaks a little from the sides.

  • 5
    The little hole in the middle of the patty thing is the accepted answer. The whole thing should be more or less concave. Commented Jun 22, 2018 at 14:23
  • Tried it but nothing they keep inflating like balloons. I compress them as much as I can too Commented Jun 22, 2018 at 14:42
  • you could/should invest in a cast-iron grill press (google it).
    – Max
    Commented Jun 22, 2018 at 15:54
  • 3
    please don't edit your question to add another question. Instead you can accept the answer that helped you the most, and ask a different question about the breaking. Commented Jun 23, 2018 at 12:32
  • 1
    @Elcubanitoese506 Welcome to Seasoned Advice. We do have a bit of a learning curve as we are a strict Q & A site, rather than a typical blog or forum found on the Internet. We readily welcome new users and hope that you (and others) will hang around long enough to get used to our format. You may want to take our Tour and visit our Help pages to learn more about how the site works. Both can be found under the question mark (?) dropdown at the top of the page. Again, welcome!
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    Commented Jun 24, 2018 at 19:51

5 Answers 5


Many chefs in the USA recommend pressing a large dimple in one side of the meat patty before cooking it on the nondimpled side first, to prevent the problem you are experiencing

  • 1
    Tried doing that still inflated Commented Jun 22, 2018 at 16:55
  • 2
    That and make the patties thinner and wider than you want them to end up.
    – mrog
    Commented Jun 22, 2018 at 19:38
  • I put a dimple the size of my thumbs which is what i was thought, tried putting no salt and the outcome was a lot better. Commented Jun 23, 2018 at 2:07

You shouldn't salt burgers before shaping; it tends to give them a sausage-like texture instead of a burger texture. (See, for example, this note from Cook's Illustrated). Salt the burgers, outside only, just before you put them on the grill.

I suspect that firmer texture probably makes the balling up problem worse, and that's why normal approaches like a thinner area in the middle aren't able to overcome it.

If you want the texture you get from salting them before forming, then you'll have to get a press (or re-purpose something as a press, small cast iron pan for example) or cook them with less heat (you could, for example, bake in a low oven or bag and sous vide them, then just brown over high heat).

  • I see thanks for the tip. How about pepper would it do the same? Commented Jun 22, 2018 at 17:40
  • @ArmandoMejide Pepper is fine, as far as I know.
    – derobert
    Commented Jun 22, 2018 at 17:52

Try a burger press, such a this one Burger and Meat Press with Wooden Handle available online at Home Depot.

To use, place on your grill to get warm, and then place on top of your patty while it cooks. They're made of cast iron, and have some weight to them, which makes keeping your patties flat pretty easy.

  • I would have to buy minimum a dozen of those lol, but thanks for the answer. I'll think about it. Commented Jun 23, 2018 at 2:43
  • @Elcubanitoese506 things like these and similar are failry standard issue at restaurants...
    – SnakeDoc
    Commented Jun 24, 2018 at 3:41
  • Not at the one I work at lol... Commented Jun 24, 2018 at 4:34

The chemistry of your "burger recipe" is affecting the physical 'cupping' action of the patty; as you explained here:

I'm only adding salt and pepper before i shape them

My question to add quality to my answer though, is, are you adding more salt to one side of the patty over the other? That could explain the cupping action. It is precisely like two dissimilar metals forged together and then heated again and then you notice the arching of the 'unified' piece of metal.

So, consider how you are seasoning the meat before cooking. Perhaps consider seasoning while you are cooking.

The only other option is the dead-weight/press that you see posted above; which does work well, but you are only countering the forces of the edge cupping upward (before being flipped).

  • I stopped salting it and turned out a little better than it was before, also im salting both sides the same Commented Jun 24, 2018 at 20:50

I make patties every few weeks and have resorted to freezing them before frying them on my outdoor flattop. I don't find that a dimple is needed if you're making smash-style patties.

My current method:

  • form 140g/5oz balls out of lean (11-17% fat) ground beef, ideally chuck, rib, etc.
  • press each ball between cut squares of parchment paper using a cast iron pan to get a .75cm or ⅓ inch thick patty (about 12-15cm / 5-6inches across)
  • freeze (30 minutes - 3 weeks)

I season the patties once I flip them the first time, and I cook them at 230C/450F on a oiled flat top.

The freezing is optional, but it produces a patty that doesn't fall apart when using leaner meat. The frozen patty takes 1-2 minutes longer on a hot flattop to cook, and the texture/flavour are not significantly changed. Using "regular" ground (18-25% fat) doesn't require the freezing step.

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