Whether it’s for a regular weeknight dinner or a weekend special treat, there’s nothing better than kicking back and enjoying a great burger. But while your favorite burger joint makes some delicious burgers all the time – it can sometimes be a whole different story when you’re making them by yourself.
If you haven’t done it before, cooking burgers over the stove, grill, or in the oven requires a little bit of practice. And if you’re squeamish at the sight of blood? Well, here’s some advice if you want to be a burger-flipping pro at home – you’ll have to learn to get over seeing blood coming out of your burger while you’re cooking it!
Is it normal for burger meat to bleed while cooking? (brown stuff coming out of burger)
Still here? Good. Okay, here’s the thing: it’s not really blood that’s coming out of your burger while it cooks. It’s actually something called myoglobin, which is a protein that exists in animal muscle tissue. The main function of myoglobin is to transport oxygen from the blood through the entire muscle.
The reason why myoglobin comes out as a reddish-brownish liquid while your burger patty cooks on the grill are because when it is exposed to heat during the cooking process, it is converted to globin ferrihemochrome, eventually turning gray as it goes through a complete chemical reaction.
This occurrence is very common when cooking burger patties. So if you find yourself worrying about why there’s bleeding from your burger meat while it’s cooking, worry no further, as it is a completely natural process when cooking burgers.
Can I prevent burger meat from bleeding when cooking?
No, you can’t prevent burger meat from bleeding while you cook them. This is because the “bleeding” that you see is an entirely natural chemical process that your burger patty goes through when it is exposed to heat as it is cooked to perfection.
In fact, if your burger doesn’t bleed while it cooks, you’ve probably got something to worry about there. Minced beef, which is what a burger patty is basically made of, will always contain a certain level of myoglobin when it is still fresh. So if you’re cooking your burger patties, and you don’t see any red-brownish liquid coming out at all while it cooks – chances are you’re probably cooking a burger patty that’s not fresh. No matter what your taste buds say, eating stale meat is never a good idea!
The myoglobin eventually settles when you let your burger rest after cooking, giving it the juicy texture that we all love biting into. Conversely, if you overcook your burgers, it turns gray and dark as the liquid myoglobin evaporates completely. This unfortunately leaves you with a burger patty with the texture and taste of an old hockey puck.
How to make sure your burger is fully cooked
So, we now know that blood coming out of your burger while cooking is a natural process. How do we then know that your burger is fully cooked and it is safe to eat?
- Meat thermometer
The best way to check if your burger is fully cooked is to use a meat thermometer. Meat thermometers allow you to accurately measure the inside temperature of your burger patty. Meat thermometers consist of an easy-read gauge or LCD screen at one end, connected to a stainless steel metal stick that you use to poke into your burger patty at the other end.
Stick your meat thermometer into the thickest part on the side of your burger patty. The USDA regulation for safe temperature of ground beef is 160ºF, so if your meat thermometer reads 160ºF, you’ll know that your burger is fully cooked.
- Use pressure
Another method you can use if you don’t have a meat thermometer at hand, is to press down gently but firmly on your burger patty while it cooks, and look at the color of the juice that comes out of it. If you don’t want to use your finger, you can also use the back of a fork to do this.
If the color of the juice that comes out is bright red – it’s definitely still raw. If the color is a pinkish, pale red, your burger is currently at a medium-rare to rare doneness. And lastly, if you see clear liquid coming out from the burger patty, your patty is cooked through from medium-well, to well-done.
Is it safe to eat pink ground beef (USDA)
No matter the color of your burger’s inside, the USDA regulations of 160ºF for safe internal temperature for ground beef never changes.
Some people love their burgers and meat medium-rare (pink inside), while others prefer them to be well-done to medium-well (grayish inside). If you’re in doubt whether your pink burger patty is safe to eat – the best thing to do is to consult the meat thermometer to ensure that you don’t get exposed to any foodborne diseases like salmonella or e.coli.
Lean vs fatty burger
Here’s another thing to learn about burgers – the fattier your meat is, the juicier your burgers become. If you’re making your own burger patties, look at the labels on the ground beef that you’re buying and look for these numbers below.
If you’re planning on making juicy burgers, you can choose to use ground beef that is 70/30 – that is, 70 percent meat and 30 percent fat – to make your patties.
For healthier, leaner burgers, choose 80/20 ground beef. They’re less juicy, but still delicious.
Most people don’t go below 15 percent fat on their ground beef when making burger patties, as it usually results in dry, tasteless burgers.
So, the next time you see “blood” coming out of your burger patty while you’re cooking it – you’re not doing anything wrong. It’s a completely natural process, and it actually helps to produce the juicy texture that is pretty much what separates a delicious burger from a meh burger!