Ina Garten's Cold Butter Hack For Juicy Burgers

When it comes to making a spectacular hamburger, it's no surprise that beloved chef Ina Garten would be the best resource to turn to for her expertise. Whether it's for a backyard barbecue with friends or just a casual weeknight dinner for the family, everyone wants to bite into a perfectly juicy burger.

The problem is that with the high heat of the grill or stovetop, it is easy for hamburgers to lose moisture. Throughout the cooking process, the patty can quickly dry out and become unappealing. There are a variety of methods to overcome this hurdle, but, of course, Garten has done it again by offering her simple, genius suggestion for avoiding crumbly and flavorless hamburger meat. She simply folds a pat of cold butter into the top of her hamburgers, making sure the meat entirely encases the butter. This one simple move maintains moisture, is incredibly flavorful, and can be adapted for just about any burger recipe. 

Keeping hamburger patties juicy

There are endless tips and tricks when it comes to keeping a hamburger patty as moist as possible when it cooks. First, experts agree that the meat in a burger should be an 80–20 beef-to-fat ratio. In addition, as with any meat, it is essential to allow it to rest before diving in for that first bite. Hamburgers need just about 5 minutes to allow the succulent juices inside to redistribute before serving. However, these two tips alone aren't enough to ensure a juicy hamburger every time. 

The idea of adding moisture back into a burger as it cooks is nothing new. In fact, "Master Chef" judge Graham Elliot told Fox News, "Make your patties, then put your little ice cube in there, and then when you grill it, it keeps it moist and keeps it from getting dried out." 

While this tip is certainly intriguing, it is also inherently flavorless. To make up for this, there is a Juicy Lucy Cheeseburger recipe from Minnesota where cheese is nestled inside a hamburger patty instead of melted on top for the perfectly moist experience. This idea is also an option, but can be limiting if you want free reign with creativity when it comes to your hamburger creation. 

Butter makes it better

Ina Garten's butter hack for luscious hamburgers provides a glorious blend of moisture and flavor, and it can also be adapted for any basic burger recipe. Both an ice cube and a pat of cold butter will slowly melt during the cooking process for added moisture, but the butter will amplify the richness, in addition to the juiciness, along the way. Why simply add water to a burger when you can also add flavor?

Even when cooking with 80/20 hamburger meat, some of that flavorful fat will render out during the cooking process. Using just this small pat of butter will add a decadent depth of flavor back into the meat as it cooks. Garten suggests using cold, unsalted butter for this home-cooking hack. This way, you can season the burger to suit your taste without adding any additional salt from the butter. 

To quote another legendary American cook, Julia Child, "With enough butter, anything is good." Who's to argue with Ina and Julia?