Why You Should Wet Your Hands Before Making Burger Patties

According to an estimate by USA Today, Americans eat roughly 375 million hamburgers on the Fourth of July. And while Independence Day is everyone's favorite time to roll out the grill, it doesn't mean you shouldn't practice your skills all year long. You don't need to be a five-star chef to make the perfect burger. For the most part, they're an uncomplicated combination of ground beef and seasonings, but a few simple tricks can help elevate your burgers at the next neighborhood cookout.

Whether you're a true connoisseur who grinds their own meat, or you grab the cheapest pack of ground chuck at the store, shaping your own patties can let you more thoroughly season your hamburgers, and also make sure they come off the grill with the perfect texture. An easy tip to help with this is to shape burger patties with wet hands. According to The Spruce Eats, this helps to keep the burgers from sticking to your hands while shaping, and gives more control over the final texture.

How wet hands make better burgers

WonderHowTo says that the ground meat tends to stick to your hands thanks to a protein called myosin that is present in meat, but is released when ground. As this protein breaks down it forms a sort of "meat glue" that will start to bond with other objects. Heat will also increase the rate that myosin breaks down. By dipping your hands in cold, wet water before shaping a burger you're able to prevent that protein break down while you shape. It's the same reason why you shouldn't add salt to your burgers before they hit the grill.

Breaking down the different proteins present in ground beef will result in tough hockey pucks coming off the grill instead of a juicy, tender patty. Serious Eats says that the same result can come from overworking ground beef before it's ever shaped. Using ground turkey or other meats will also have different results because the types and amounts will be different depending on which type of meat you choose (via NPR).

Whichever type of meat you go with, remember that burgers aren't meant to take a lot of work. Keep it simple, take a few extra steps to keep your meat from breaking down, and let the natural rich flavors shine through.