Homemade Ground Beef Mix for Summer Burgers
A few years ago my dad gave me a hefty meat grinder that has been sitting in my basement, gathering dust. This year I decided to bust it out and use it to make Homemade Ground Beef with the goal of making the perfect portions and fat content for summer burgers!
The results were awesome and make some of the best burgers I’ve made.
This summer, rather than buy ground beef by the pound from my supermarket or butcher, I have a bunch in the freezer that I know is exactly right for burgers. I can’t wait to bust them out for friends and family!
Let’s dive into the process and you can decide if it’s worth it!
- Work through all your cuts of beef and trim them into fat pieces and lean pieces. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Try to chop the fat into small 1/2-inch pieces and the lean meat into larger 1-inch pieces.
- Run the fat through your meat grinder on a smaller grind and set aside.
- Run the lean meat through your grinder on a larger grind.
- In a large bowl, stir together fat and lean meat. Try to mix it well, but it doesn’t have to be perfect.
- Run the combination through the grinder a second time on the larger grind.
- Portion the ground meat into 1 1/3 pound portions and vacuum seal them. This works out to 4 6 ounce burgers per package.
- Freeze packages thoroughly and use within 6 months.
While you can make small batch ground beef in a food processor in a pinch, for a project like this you want a full on meat grinder. A good one isn’t super cheap and will run in the $80-$100 range, but they make quick work of projects like this.
You can find attachments to mixers (Kitchenaid) or even find hand grinders. These all will work just fine although they will be more work than a pro-grade grinder. Also, a pro grinder will have different sizes of plates which lets you grind the fat and lean meat at different sizes.
Even if you don’t have a meat grinder, it’s probably a good bet that you know someone who does. If you know any hunters, check with them. I would crowd source a bit before I splurged on one just for a project like this!
Cost of Homemade Ground Beef
Before we dive into the cuts I used for this project, let’s talk cost. It will definitely be more expensive to make your own ground beef than to buy it in bulk. This might sound counterintuitive but the truth is that you are starting with whole cuts of beef while bulk ground beef is made with everything else.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for using the whole animal and making ground beef is a good use. But, if I’m making it at home, I can make a much higher quality of ground beef and control things like the fat content by choosing whole cuts.
So, it will probably be more expensive to make it. My version worked out to about $4/pound. I probably could’ve shopped around and found cheaper brisket and short ribs and cut it down to $2.50-$3, but no matter what it’ll be more expensive than bulk ground beef.
The Cuts I used for Homemade Ground Beef
Heads up: You can use literally any cut of beef to make ground beef. Want to spend $20 a pound on ground beef? Grab some aged ribeye and grind it up!
I’m joking. Please don’t do this.
But, also, don’t stress too much about which cuts you use. You could use all chuck roast and end up okay. Personally, I wanted a good mix of different cuts (that have slightly different flavors) and, more importantly, have different fat contents.
- Brisket – I used a big brisket as my base for the grind. I love the flavor of brisket and it has a natural fat content of about what I was looking for (around 20%).
- Short ribs – Short ribs are awesome for adding fat to the mix. Plus, you can generally find them pretty cheap. Remember that short ribs have bones that you will have to remove so the weight on the package isn’t the weight that you’ll end up with for the ground beef.
- Chuck Roast – This is lean meat and is most common in ground beef. Percentage wise this was about 1/3 of my grind.
Fat vs. Lean
Because some of my cuts were very fatty and some were very lean, I’d recommend taking the time to butcher out the fat and lean pieces of the meat. Cut the fat into smaller pieces but you can leave the lean pieces in larger 1-inch chunks. This doesn’t have to be perfect. Just get close.
The Initial Grind
For the initial grind, I recommend using a small grind for the fat (so it kind of melts into the burgers) and a larger grind for the lean meats.
Run everything through the grinder!
If your grinder starts to struggle, it might mean that your meat is too warm or your grinder is too hot. If you have a good one, you should be able to do 15 pounds of meat without issue, but for smaller grinders you might have to let the grinder cool off and work in batches.
Mixing the Ground Beef – The Final Grind
Once you have ground your fat and lean meats, mix them together! If you want to be exact, you could weigh the fat and lean to make sure you are hitting the right percentage of fat content. For burgers I think a 20% fat content is pretty good. If you have more, that’s okay! If you have significantly less, I’d grind up some bacon and add that to the mix for extra fat.
Run the mix through the grinder a second time with the lean and fat combined. Use the larger grinder plate unless you want a really fine ground beef for some reason.
Portioning the Ground Beef
I was excited about this part. Generally, Supermarkets sell ground beef in 1 pound batches. Well, if I’m making four hamburgers, I like my hamburgers to be 6 ounces. So that means I always have to buy an extra one and then I have leftovers.
Making my own though, I just portioned out the ground beef to exactly 1 1/3 pounds per portion which will equal 4 perfect 6 ounce burgers!
For long storage, I recommend vacuum sealing the ground beef. It’ll keep for 6 months or so without an issue!
I’ll be the first to admit that this is a bit of a project, but it’s a delicious project!
Make a Sunday of it, invite some friends over. Make some burgers and freeze some! It’s a great way to kick off summer and have really delicious burgers all summer long!
This was the first burger I made with my homemade ground beef.
It was burger perfection. I just seasoned it with salt and pepper and grilled it. Super juicy with great flavor!
Leave a comment and tell me your thoughts! Too much work?! Up for the challenge?!