The Best Ground Beef for Great Burgers

published Jun 10, 2015
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(Image credit: Jag_cz)

What makes a good burger? There have been endless debates about grilling vs. stovetop, size of the patty, bun choice, condiments, cheese, and seasoning, but let’s get down to the very first choice you have to make: buying the ground beef. Start with the right ground beef and you’re well on your way to making a tasty burger, no matter your cooking method or garnishes.

(Image credit: Razmarinka)

The Best Kind of Ground Beef to Buy for Burgers

When buying beef for burgers, there’s just one basic rule of thumb: Go for ground beef with a high fat content. The hallmark of a good burger is one that is nice and juicy when you bite into it, and you just can’t get that juiciness if you buy really lean ground beef. Burgers are usually cooked at a fairly high temperature to get a nice crust and/or char on the outside, but to keep the inside moist, you need fat.

At the store, look at the label on the package or ask the person behind the counter if you’re not sure. What you’re looking for is the percentage of fat. For a tasty burger, get ground beef that’s labeled around 20% fat (which means 80% lean) or more. Since burgers are really all about the beef, stay away from extra-lean ground beef, which will cook up dry and tough.

Beyond fat content, freshly ground is always great, especially if they do it in-store or to order. Freshly ground means it hasn’t been sitting around for a long time, plus it’s also less likely to be compressed with packaging or have been moved around a lot.

Grass-fed or conventionally raised is really up to your preferences or your budget, but don’t ever be afraid of fat in your burger!

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