Hamburgers can become rubbery if you add salt to the mixture too soon, add too many breadcrumbs or flour or if you don’t get the grill temperature right. Cooking the burgers on a grill that is too hot or not heated up can cause them to become rubbery. Aim for mince with at least 20% fat to avoid rubbery burgers.
10 Reasons why hamburgers turn rubbery
Here are the top reasons why hamburgers turn rubbery and what you can do to solve each one.
1. Not having enough fat in the mince
Using mince that has a fat percentage that is too low will give you rubbery hamburgers. Mince that is low in fat and higher in protein will dry out faster when they cook.
To avoid rubbery hamburgers use mince that is around 20% fat. This will give you the ideal balance of fat and protein to keep the burgers moist and juicy and avoid a rubbery texture.
I like to read the label of my mince and aim for an 80% protein to 20% fat ratio. If you buy your mince from a butcher, just ask what the fat percentage is or what the mince is best for. They will let you know if the mince is good for burgers.
2. Leaving the burgers on the heat for too long
Leaving burgers on the grill or in the pan for too long will turn them rubbery. The longer they stay in the pan, the more moisture they will lose causing them to taste tough.
To make sure you cook your burgers through without them becoming rubbery, preheat the pan or grill to a medium-high heat. Add a small amount of oil and put the burgers straight on. Cook them for 2-4 minutes on the first side and then flip.
Flip the burgers again until the juice runs clear.
3. The heat on the grill is too high
Cooking burgers on a grill or in a pan when the heat is too high will cause the meat to loose moisture and dry out before it has cooked. Thick burgers in particular will cook heat on medium to medium-high heat.
I like to make thin burgers and put them on a medium-high heat. These will take a few minutes on the first side and another 2 minutes on the other. I like to flip one more time and cook for another 1 minute.
This will cook the burgers through without causing them to become rubbery.
4. Adding too many breadcrumbs
If you are making your burgers with breadcrumbs they can become rubbery if you add too much. Many recipes that contain breadcrumbs will also contain egg to help the ingredients to combine.
To avoid making your burgers rubbery add less breadcrumbs. You can actually make burgers with just mince. Choose mince with 20% fat and form them gently into a burger shape.
You can help them to hold their shape by popping them into the freezer for 15 minutes before you cook them.
Check out this video to find out how to make amazing thin burgers that are not rubbery.
5. Adding too much flour
There are some burger recipes that contain flour. This helps to increase the volume of the meat and helps to absorb the excess moisture. Adding too much flour however will cause the meat to taste touch and rubbery.
If you are adding flour to your burger meat, aim for 2-3 tablespoons. You can also add an egg to help the meat and flour to combine. I have found that burgers made with a small amount of flour will form a nice crust on the outside.
To find out why you would add flour to burgers, check out my article here: Why Put Flour in Hamburgers? | 12 Ways to Stop Burgers Falling Apart.
6. Not using any fat
If you don’t add any fat to the base of your pan or grill you can find that your burgers can dry out and become rubbery. They only need a small amount of oil, butter or lard on the bottom of the pan to stop them from sticking.
As the burgers continue to cook, they will release a small amount of fat which will help the heat to transfer through the burger and cook through.
7. Seasoning the meat too early
Seasoning the meat before you are ready to cook the burgers can cause them to dry out and become rubbery. Adding salt to the mince too early will draw out water from the meat which will be lost when it is cooked.
You may even notice the meat ‘bubbling’ as the excess water has been pulled out of the meat.
If you plan to store your mince in the fridge or freezer before cooking avoid adding salt. You can freeze burgers even if it has egg but don’t add salt.
Season the meat just before you cook on the outside surface. You will taste the salt on the surface, it will enhance the flavor and help the meat to crisp up on the outside.
8. Overworking the meat
Mixing the mince meat too much with your hands will cause the meat to become tough and rubbery. Overworking the meat will cause the proteins to bind together and the meat will taste tough.
To stop the burgers from turning rubbery gently bring the mince together without over mixing. Grab the meat and form the round patty, you can then flatten it on a plate or on the grill with a spatula.
9. Turning the patties too much
Turning the patties too many times will cause them to become tough and rubbery. Turning them too often will stop a crust from forming on the base which will trap in moisture.
If you keep flipping the hamburgers they will not form a crust quick enough and the moisture will escape.
10. Not preheating the stove or grill
Cooking hamburgers on a grill or in a pan that has not preheated will cause them to become tough and rubbery.
Let the pan or grill come up to a medium to high heat. You can then add your oil, salt the outside of your burgers and pop them on the grill.
How to prevent rubbery hamburgers | Summary
Avoid rubbery hamburgers by preheating your grill, gently working the meat, flipping them less and season the meat just before you pop it on the grill. I like to let the burgers rest on a plate before popping them in a bun with cheese. This will avoid the excess moisture making the bun soggy.
I am an accredited practicing dietitian, experienced gardener and a dedicated cook. I love writing and sharing my experience so you can learn from my successes and mistakes.