The Trick For Prepping Sous Vide Burgers Without Compacting The Patties

One of the most essential tips for preparing burger patties is not to squeeze the ground meat together too tightly when forming them. This is less of a challenge when making burgers on the grill or in a skillet, but it's something to be extra mindful of when prepping sous vide burgers. The typical procedure for sous vide is to vacuum seal foods, but this is an issue for burger patties in particular because to do so would exert too much pressure on them. 

To prevent this problem, try the water displacement method for sealing the bag. You'll just need a sous vide or zip-top bag and a container of water a little deeper than the height of the bag for this easy trick. Form your patties loosely, slip them into the bag, then slowly dip the bottom into the water container — the water pressure will gently push the air out of the bag as you lower it. Although the air is pressed out, there's not enough pressure to compact the burger. Next, just seal the bag and continue with your sous vide process.

The science behind why you should avoid the squeeze

Compacted burgers become tough and rubbery when cooked and are unable to hold their succulent drippings for a couple of reasons. Meat fibers contract as they heat and push out the liquid we often see when it's resting. Where we'd like those juices to go is in the pockets of space within the ground meat, but these are removed with a pressed-out patty. Ground beef also contains a high amount of sticky protein called myosin, which makes the meat cling to itself when handled roughly. So a tightly pressed burger cannot retain its flavorful moisture and will be forced out of the burger into the bag.

This means that to make the best sous vide burger patties, use a gentle hand when forming the patties and use the water displacement method to seal their bags so that you are not crushing the air spaces and pushing the meat fibers together. After cooking, rest the patties in their bags before searing them in a hot pan so the juices can reabsorb. You'll have tender, not tough burgers with a juicy bite, perfectly cooked every time.