How To Cook Bison Burgers That Don't Dry Out, According To An Executive Chef

Beef, chicken, turkey, and even lamb are all varieties of meat that can make for flavorful burgers, but there's a strong case to use bison too. For starters, bison meat is high in protein and packed with nutrients such as vitamin B12. Regardless of the health factors, bison is flavorful and rich with similarities to beef but far less greasy. The caveat to cooking bison burgers is that the meat is rather lean, so Tasting Table turned to Chef John Politte, owner and executive chef of "It's Only Food," to learn how to cook them so they don't dry out and ruin your meal.

"Bison meat is very lean, so adding a bit of fat or moisture before cooking is highly recommended," Politte says. "Add a bit of olive oil or melted butter to the burgers when you are seasoning them and forming the patties." In addition to oil or butter, you can add chopped onions that will release both flavor and moisture into the patties as they cook. Regardless of the fat source that goes into the mixture, it's also important to not overmix the burger meat, which might also lead to dry burgers.

Be warned: Bison burgers cook faster than beef patties

Another essential factor to prevent dry bison burgers is how soon you cook them — and what technique you use. "Whether you are cooking on the stovetop, grill, or oven, remember to pre-heat whatever cooking appliance or vessel you will be using to start the cooking process immediately," Politte says. "Due to its lean nature, bison ground meat cooks faster than higher-fat ground meats." To prevent overcooked bison burgers, Politte says to use a meat thermometer to ensure it reaches a safe internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit.

After the burgers are cooked, Politte has a final tip to ensure a juicy bison burger: "Remember to let the burgers rest for a couple of minutes before eating." He explains, "This helps redistribute the juices and enhances the tenderness." When the burgers are rested and it's time to assemble, use toppings like caramelized onions for a touch of sweet umami to contrast with the rich bison, pickled red onions to add tang, homemade classic mayonnaise, greens like arugula, and you can't forget cheese like white cheddar, Swiss, or whatever type is already in your fridge.