With the unofficial start to summer (and grilling season!) right around the corner, it's time to talk burgers. There are obviously plenty of tips for cooking the best, juiciest burger, but a good burger starts at the grocery store. Specifically, when you're in the meat department.
I'm not talking about the fancy stuff here (no blending brisket with hanger steak, although you certainly can!) — I'm talking about regular ol' ground beef. You can choose between a package of loose ground beef that you season and shape yourself, or you can pick up a package of fresh patties that are ready to go straight onto the grill.
The latter is certainly more convenient. It gets a bad rap, but I'm actually all for it!
Price Comparison: Ground Beef vs. Pre-Shaped Patties
According to the USDA, 80 to 89% lean ground beef currently averages $3.65 per pound nationwide (with 70 to 79% lean ground beef averaging even less than $3), which is only slightly less than beef patties, which have an average price of $4.13 per pound. That's less than a 50-cent difference, so if you're willing to spend a bit more money, I firmly believe the convenience is worth it.
Why I'm a Fan of Buying Pre-Made Burgers
Are you hosting a cookout where you'll be manning the grill to churn out a massive amount of burgers? Anytime you're cooking for a seriously large crowd, I think the pre-shaped patties win out as a better choice. You'll spend a little more money and save a lot more time — a worthy tradeoff. For the best-tasting burger, just be sure to look for patties that are labeled 80% lean.
Read more: The Best Ground Beef for Great Burgers
Make your own burgers when you need to control the size of the burgers or are looking to do something super fancy. But know that store-bought patties won't be that far off — in terms of taste — from a basic homemade batch. (Pro tip: Find a brand you like and stick with it.) You can always add a dash of this or that to the store-bought burgers as you put them on the grill.
Wondering about frozen burger patties? My advice is to stay away. There are just too many unknowns with them, like the quality of the meat and additives used. But you can always freeze patties if you want to have some on hand for later!
Do you buy the pre-shaped stuff or do you season and form your own? Is the extra money worth it for you? Discuss in the comments below!