Lean vs Fat: What’s The Perfect Ratio For Burgers?

January 5, 2017 | Joe Gorgone

Fat is just as important in a Burger as the meat used to make it. While the meat contains its own distinctive flavor, it’s the fat (and marbling) that surrounds it that gives it richer flavor and juiciness. But before you can select which ratio is best for your Burgers, you need to understand what those ratios mean. Let’s take a look at some common lean-to-fat ratios sold at retail today.

What Does A Lean-To-Fat Ratio Look Like?

The maximum fat content in any ground beef is 30% (70% lean) by law. This ratio has seen various labeling techniques over the years, but is now most commonly seen as XX% / XX%, where the first percentage is the lean and the second percentage is the fat. For example, 75% / 25%. Alternatively, some packaging goes one step further and identifies which percentage is which with a descriptor: 75% Lean 25% Fat.

Shcweid & Sons Butcher's Blend Retail Pack - 80% Lean / 20% Fat

Common Lean-To-Fat Ratios

85% Lean / 15% Fat – A leaner composition that can have a tendency to dry out if overcooked.

80% Lean / 20% Fat – The most common choice among Burger chefs for its fat content which makes juicier, more flavorful Burgers.

75% Lean / 25% Fat –  The meat is usually pink and contains several flecks of flavor.

Which Lean-To-Fat Ratio Is Best For Burgers?

While your specific needs may dictate which ratio you opt for, there are some standards that chefs and Burger fanatics consider when choosing their beef. Juicy, more flavorful Burgers will always come from higher-fat ratios of ground beef. If you like to cook your Burger medium-rare to medium, 80% / 20% will give you a juicy and flavorful Burger without a greasy coating.

Higher-fat compositions will render that fan in the pan and may cause your Burger to be greasy (leading to a soggy bun). By contrast, lower-fat compositions (85% / 15%, for example) will dry out faster. So if you prefer to cook your Burger medium to medium-well or more, go with a higher-fat composition to avoid a dried out Burger lacking in flavor.

Three Burgers by George Motz800

It All Comes Down To Taste

Your personal preference for taste and texture will be the ultimate deciding factor when selecting which lean-to-fat ratio to go with. In most cases (when a juicy and flavorful Burger is desired), 80% / 20% is the way to go. No matter how you cook it (medium rare or medium well), this composition will retain juiciness and have the most robust flavor.

But you don’t have to take our word for it! Go out there and test out different ratios until you’ve found the one that’s right for you! And don’t forget to consult our grilling tips on making the Very Best Burger to ensure you’re getting the most out of your next Hamburger.

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