The Best Way To Grind Beef, According To Science

Grinding your own meat is the surest way to impress the guests at your Fourth of July cookout. According to No Spoon Necessary, self-grinding your meat allows you to control how much fat is incorporated and which cuts of meat get utilized. Plus, pre-ground meat costs more.

Regardless of how you want to use ground meat, there are multiple approaches you can take to prepare. That starts with selecting the right cut, per No Spoon Necessary. For a burger, many use ground chuck steak supplemented with a couple of other cuts. Tri-tip or sirloin steak is less fatty but full of flavor but also needs to be combined with something else. Round steak is arguably the cheapest option for a burger, while an option like brisket will bring an element of richness. The quickest way to add moisture to your burger is to use boneless short rib, per No Spoon Necessary. Finally, for a more complex flavor, you can use skirt and hanger steak (via Schweid & Sons).

Once you've selected your meats, it's time to break them down and the best method is dictated by science.

Meat-grinding tools are key to the process

For chefs that prefer to control every step of the prep process, self-grinding is a no-brainer. They can control the flavor and fat content and dictate which cuts are best, per No Spoon Necessary. Burger experts at Serious Eats examined different grinding methods using a meat grinder, a food processor, and a knife. They said it's imperative that whichever instrument you choose spends some time chilling in the freezer before the grinding begins. If you start with a tool at room temperature, the meat will increase in temperature, causing it to become softer and more challenging to grind. 

The Burger Lab also included pre-packaged ground beef in their study for comparison, which tested poorly next to the other two options. The food processor-ground meat proved quick and easy, but it also created an inconsistent texture which manifested as "mealiness" in the finished project. Similarly, the meat grinder was easy to use and produced a better result than what they purchased at the store. It also created various crevices in the patty that provided a crisp bite.

Experts found that hand-grinding the meat is the best way to perform the task if you have the time. It takes three or four times as long as the meat grinder would. This method requires a very sharp knife — a cleaver is best — and creates an uneven texture that creates crisp bits of meat for crunch and steak-like bites for chewiness.