Recipe

Grass-Fed Half-Pound Burgers

By Tim Chin

Grass-fed beef burgers are notorious for being dry, flavorless, and generally unpalatable. But they don’t have to be that way. Grass-fed cows typically lack the extensive fat and marbling in their meat that grain-fed cows are prized for. Without the insulating properties and perception of juiciness that fat provides, grass-fed beef is prone to tasting dry and overcooked. You can’t just slap a grass-fed burger on the grill and expect greatness. So I thought that a thick, pub-style burger might allow for better control over cooking and highlight the delicate flavor of high-quality grass-fed beef.

I tested many cuts of beef—from brisket to short rib to sirloin—and all blends in between. But my team kept coming back to one of the most common cuts available: grass-fed chuck. In a grain-to-grass comparison of cooked patties, grass-fed chuck tasted slightly less fatty and unctuous but still packed tons of grassy, beefy flavor. So to ensure perfect cooking and perfect texture on this burger, I settled on a reverse searing method: I cook the patties in a low-temperature oven for an extended period of time and then give them a nice quick sear to finish and create a perfectly browned crust. This technique all but eliminates the dreaded “gray band” of tough, overcooked meat and allows for more control over final doneness. So you truly can have it your way. 

Yield
Makes 4 burgers
Grain-Fed_20Burgers_111.jpg
Ingredients
908 g grass-fed boneless beef chuck-eye roast, cut into ½-inch chunks
  Vegetable oil spray
hamburger buns, buttered and toasted
  ketchup
leaves Bibb lettuce
recipe Pickled Red Onions
  Kosher salt and pepper
10 g vegetable oil, divided
slices sharp cheddar cheese
2 pounds grass-fed boneless beef chuck-eye roast, cut into ½-inch chunks
  Vegetable oil spray
4  hamburger buns, buttered and toasted
  ketchup
4  leaves Bibb lettuce
1  recipe Pickled Red Onions
  Kosher salt and pepper
2 teaspoons vegetable oil, divided
4 slices sharp cheddar cheese
Essential Equipment
Instructions
    • 908 g grass-fed boneless beef chuck-eye roast, cut into ½-inch chunks
    Place beef on baking sheet in single layer. Freeze beef until very firm and hard around edges but still slightly pliable, 1 to 2 hours.
  1. Place one-quarter of beef in food processor and pulse until finely ground into 1/16-inch pieces, about 35 one-second pulses, stopping to redistribute beef around bowl as necessary to ensure even grinding. Transfer beef to second baking sheet. Repeat with remaining beef in 3 more batches. Spread beef over sheet and inspect carefully, discarding any long strands of gristle or large chunks of hard meat or fat.
    • Vegetable oil spray
    Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 225 degrees F/107 degrees C. Set wire rack in rimmed baking sheet and spray with vegetable oil spray. Divide beef into 4 lightly packed balls. Gently flatten into 4-inch patties and place on prepared wired rack. Make slight depression in center of each patty. Bake until burgers register 120 degrees F/49 degrees C for medium-rare, 30 to 40 minutes. Tent burgers with foil.
    • 4 hamburger buns, buttered and toasted
    • Ketchup
    • 4 leaves Bibb lettuce
    • 1 recipe Pickled Red Onions
    Dress bun bottoms with ketchup, lettuce, and pickled red onions to taste. 
    • 10 g vegetable oil, divided
    • Kosher salt and pepper
    • 4 slices sharp cheddar cheese
    Heat 5 grams oil in 12-inch skillet over high heat until just smoking. Pat patties dry with paper towels and season liberally on both sides with salt and pepper. Using metal spatula, transfer 2 patties to skillet and cook, without moving them, until well browned, 60 to 90 seconds. Using metal spatula, flip burgers. Top each burger with 1 slice cheese; cover and cook until second side is browned and cheese is melted, 60 to 90 seconds. Transfer burgers to prepared buns. Wipe skillet clean with paper towels, add remaining 5 grams oil, and return to high heat for 30 seconds. Repeat cooking with remaining 2 patties and remaining 2 slices cheese. Serve.
Instructions
    • 2 pounds grass-fed boneless beef chuck-eye roast, cut into ½-inch chunks
    Place beef on baking sheet in single layer. Freeze beef until very firm and hard around edges but still slightly pliable, 1 to 2 hours.
  1. Place one-quarter of beef in food processor and pulse until finely ground into 1/16-inch pieces, about 35 one-second pulses, stopping to redistribute beef around bowl as necessary to ensure even grinding. Transfer beef to second baking sheet. Repeat with remaining beef in 3 more batches. Spread beef over sheet and inspect carefully, discarding any long strands of gristle or large chunks of hard meat or fat.
    • Vegetable oil spray
    Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 225 degrees F/107 degrees C. Set wire rack in rimmed baking sheet and spray with vegetable oil spray. Divide beef into 4 lightly packed balls. Gently flatten into 4-inch patties and place on prepared wired rack. Make slight depression in center of each patty. Bake until burgers register 120 degrees F/49 degrees C for medium-rare, 30 to 40 minutes. Tent burgers with foil.
    • 4 hamburger buns, buttered and toasted
    • Ketchup
    • 4 leaves Bibb lettuce
    • 1 recipe Pickled Red Onions
    Dress bun bottoms with ketchup, lettuce, and pickled red onions to taste. 
    • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil, divided
    • Kosher salt and pepper
    • 4 slices sharp cheddar cheese
    Heat 1 teaspoon oil in 12-inch skillet over high heat until just smoking. Pat patties dry with paper towels and season liberally on both sides with salt and pepper. Using metal spatula, transfer 2 patties to skillet and cook, without moving them, until well browned, 60 to 90 seconds. Using metal spatula, flip burgers. Top each burger with 1 slice cheese; cover and cook until second side is browned and cheese is melted, 60 to 90 seconds. Transfer burgers to prepared buns. Wipe skillet clean with paper towels, add remaining 1 teaspoon oil, and return to high heat for 30 seconds. Repeat cooking with remaining 2 patties and remaining 2 slices cheese. Serve.
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