How to Keep Hamburgers From Shrinking on the Grill

Grilling hamburgers is a part of every summer. My dad would grill them on our backyard grill, and inevitably they would shrink as they cooked. We tried adding all sorts of ingredients to the patties before cooking, but nothing helped prevent it from happening again.

How to Keep Hamburgers From Shrinking on the Grill

I finally found the solution how to keep hamburgers from shrinking on the grill! Some people are under the impression that they need to cook hamburgers to get them juicy and delicious. This couldn’t be further from the truth! All it takes is some careful timing with your heat source and an understanding of what makes a burger shrink in size while grilling.

Things You’ll need

7 Step Guide on How to Keep Hamburgers From Shrinking on the Grill

Step 1: Choose Meat

It’s important to note that you should always go with ground beef and not ground turkey or chicken. While some may say that it has a better taste, you don’t need the added saturated fat. For the best results, use fresh ground beef that is 85-90% lean. If you use fattier meat, the burgers will shrink more on the grill. However, do choose lean meat because it is much healthier than its more fatty counterpart.

 Use Fresh Ground Beef

Step 2: Prepare the Grill

Fire up your grill by igniting the charcoal or turning on the gas. You want it to be at medium-high heat so that the burgers will cook evenly without shrinking too much. Make sure the grill is nice and hot before you start cooking. This will allow for a flavorful, delicious burger that won’t shrink as much on the grill.

Be sure to grease the grill before you start cooking. Once it is hot, clean the grates with a wire brush. Apply a thin layer of olive oil to your hands, and then rub them on the grates to play it safe. How much you need will vary depending on how many burgers you cook.

Step 3: Shape the Patties

Patties that are 1/2 inch thick will result in a juicier burger. While you can use your hands to shape the patties, it is okay if they get a little distorted. This way, you can avoid overworking and weakening gluten (the protein that holds together bread dough), making the meat lose its juices during cooking.

After making your patties, cover them with aluminum foil and put them in the fridge for about 30 minutes. This helps with cooking time because it gives all of the juices time to settle into one part of the meat patty instead of leaving big gaps throughout the burger where all of the juice has gone.  

Many people mistake over-squeezing or under-handling their meat while shaping their patties. Doing this causes more of your burger to shrink up during cooking because fewer juices are running through them! Even if they are slightly flat, don’t press down on them with your spatula because that also squeezes out some of that juicy goodness.

Step 4: Grill the Patties

Place the patties on the grill, and be sure to start it away from you. This is a personal preference because others believe that it is safer this way. In my opinion, I don’t think it’s worth making myself further away from the hot grill to protect against a little splatter of grease or sea salt. Once your burger is sizzling right in front of you, you can place it closer to the heat source if desired.

Place the Patties on the Grill

Let them cook for 5 minutes without turning them. This will help form a crust on the outside of the patty and seal in all of the juices. After 5 minutes, flip them over and cook for an additional 5 minutes or until they reach the desired doneness.

Take care not to flip your burgers more than once while cooking! Doing this causes them to cook unevenly and creates bigger gaps between where all of the juicy goodness has gone. As a result, you’ll end up with two much larger pieces which will be dry and shrunken by the time they’re done. This step is vital in how to keep hamburgers from shrinking on the grill.

Step 5: Add Cheese

This is a personal preference, but all burgers are better with cheese. If you are going to add cheese, do it during the last minute of cooking to melt properly without burning.

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Step 6: Let Burgers Rest

After removing them from the grill, let your burgers rest. You don’t want to serve them right away because doing this will cause all of the juices to run out and result in dry, shrunken burgers. This is especially important if you’re using lean meat, as we discussed earlier!

How long they should rest is depends on how thick they are- anywhere from 3-5 minutes for 1/2 inch patties will do just fine. If you let them sit any longer than that, they’ll continue to cook and lose even more juice!

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Step 7: Serve

Now it’s time to enjoy your delicious, perfectly cooked hamburgers! Add whatever toppings you like, but remember that an ounce of meat has around 100 calories. This means that you could be adding as much as 300-400 extra calories just by eating the hamburger!

It's Time to Enjoy Your Hamburgers

If you’re on a diet or trying to cut down on calories, consider making a turkey burger instead. They are just as delicious and far healthier for you than regular beef burgers!

Tips and Warnings


  • Make sure your grill is hot before putting the burgers on. This will help them cook evenly and prevent shrinking.
  • Don’t flip the burgers too often. This can also cause them to shrink.
  • Allow the burgers to cook for a few minutes before flipping them. They may stick to the grill if you try to flip them too early.
  • Use a spatula to flip the burgers. This will help keep them from falling apart.
  • If you’re using a charcoal grill, make sure the coals are white-hot before placing the burgers on top. This will help them cook quickly and prevent shrinking.
  • Keep an eye on the burgers while they’re cooking. Hamburgers can quickly go from pink to overcooked.
  • Use a meat thermometer to make sure the burgers are cooked all the way through. The ideal temperature for a burger is 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Let the burgers rest for a few minutes after cooking. This will help them retain their juices.


  • Trim fat from meat before grilling to avoid shrinkage.
  • Don’t overcook burgers, or they will shrink even more.
  • Use a grill basket to cook multiple burgers at once and prevent them from sticking together.
  • Serve burgers on a slightly larger bun than the burger patty, so it doesn’t shrink too much.
  • Top with condiments and cheese only after the burger has been cooked to help keep them in place.

How Do You Keep Burgers From Falling Apart?

When you’re cooking burgers, the worst thing that can happen is for them to fall apart while they are still on the grill. However, there are a few things you can do to help keep your burgers from falling apart on the grill. First, make sure your burger patties are nice and thick. If they’re too thin, they’ll cook through before the outside has a chance to get crispy. You can also use a little bit of oil or cooking spray to help them stay together.

And finally, don’t over-flip them! Giving them too much attention will cause them to fall apart—a little oil or cooking spray. And finally, don’t over-flip them! Giving them too much attention will cause them to fall apart. Finally, make sure your burger patties are nice and thick. If they’re too thin, they’ll cook through before the outside has a chance to get crispy.

Burger Patties Are Nice and Thick


Follow the steps on how to keep hamburgers from shrinking on the grill. The best way to ensure that your burgers cook evenly is by flipping them over at the halfway point. Also, make sure you have an excellent grilling grill brush and keep it clean so that food doesn’t burn onto the metal surface of the grill, causing less heat circulation, which means slower cooking times.

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