burger on the grill

Easy Fix: How to Grill Burger Crumbles

Even after an entire summer of cooking burgers on the grill, it can be hard to get them exactly right — especially if you’re not a barbecue aficionado in the off-season. Maybe you already know to make your burger patties thicker to retain moisture and to customize char levels by controlling the size of your flame, but when it comes to the texture of your meat, your patties are falling apart on the grill.

If this is the case, it’s likely you’re not using a binder. While some burger purists claim you only need beef and spices to make a successful patty, that logic can come crumbling down when your food falls apart after taking a bite. Particularly when you’re using lean meat, which doesn’t have enough fat to keep a patty intact on its own, it’s a good idea to incorporate a little quick-cooking oats and an egg into your recipe. The egg contains plenty of protein that will keep the rest of the ingredients melded together, plus a little fat to retain even more moisture. As for the oatmeal, these grains act as an effective binder when combined with liquid and their starch gives structure to your patties, making them less likely to crumble on the barbecue.

How to incorporate oats and an egg into your patties

burger patty mixture with egg

Once you have your egg and oats ready, here’s how to incorporate them into your meat mixture: Just like in a lot of baking recipes, you’ll want to combine the wet and dry ingredients separately, adding the egg to the former and the oats to the latter. Milk, barbecue sauce, and mustard are examples of wet ingredients you may want to add, and the oats might get stirred together with spices, flour, or an onion soup mix. You’ll typically want less than a cup of oats and only one egg, although the ratio of other ingredients you include could impact these amounts.

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After you’ve combined the wet and dry mixtures and added them to your meat, you can make your patties. Try to work as efficiently as possible and avoid squeezing too hard, since overworking the beef is a big reason why burgers fall apart. If you don’t want to grill them right away, however, throw them in the fridge while you wait – colder burgers are less likely to break down when you cook them. But if you’ve added oats and eggs into the mix, you’re already light years ahead of binder-less, crumbly patties.

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