Mini burgers
Hamburger patties in the past used to be coarse; now, patties are made much looser.

Blending different cuts of ground beef to make better and more interesting hamburgers is nothing new. But during the last few years, it has become a growing trend, both in the world of food service and in retail where consumers can then fashion their own combinations and blends of ground beef for out-of-the-ordinary burgers at home.

The idea behind blending ground beef is to raise the level of the once-lowly hamburger, a meat dish that until recently wasn’t taken all that seriously. That has certainly changed.

In the past and even today, ground beef patties often sold at retail in grocery stores consisted of beef trimmings mixed with fatty, inexpensive beef by-products. Compare those to ground whole-muscle cuts of beef, with several cuts blended together or even value-added ingredients like bacon, mushrooms and bleu cheese added to the ground beef cuts.

A world of difference exists between those two types of burgers. In recent years, blending various cuts of ground beef, sometimes with value-added products thrown into the mix, has become an art form compared to what used to be the plain old, simple hamburger.

The secret to making good ground beef or hamburgers is not simply grinding pricier cuts like ribeye or filet. In fact, using such cuts that are very lean, with little or no fat in the mix, results in tasteless, dry ground beef that can end up resembling a hockey puck.

Instead, using good beef in a well-mixed blend of cuts like chuck, with an optimal lean-to-fat ratio of 80-20 or similar, results in a tasty, moist and juicy hamburger.