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60 40 Ground Beef: How Much Fat is Too Much, and Why?

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Even if you buy your ground beef at the supermarket rather than grinding your own, you’re probably familiar with the meat-to-fat ratio. 

Packages of ground meat are often labeled “85 percent lean,” “81 to 21,” or something along those lines. Ground poultry tends to have a higher meat-to-fat ratio, while beef has a reputation for being a fattier option. 

Have you ever tried 60 40 ground beef? It’s not something you’re likely to find in the store, and there may be a good reason for that. Here’s why. 

60 40 Ground Beef 

Ground beef that has a meat-to-fat ratio of 60 to 40 will be too fatty to make a decent burger. But if you were to use it in a different recipe, most of the fat would cook out anyway, so there would be no point. If you want a burger that’s extra juicy but still holds its shape, grind bacon along with the lean beef to create a blend. 

Exploring the Meat-to-Fat Ratio 

When it comes to ground meat products, you absolutely want a measure of fat in the mixture. If there wasn’t any, there would be no point in cooking it in the first place. 

A meat to fat ratio of 90 to 10 is fine if you’re looking for a heart-healthy blend. However, when the blend is this lean, the cooked meat can be on the tough side. 

It’s best to reserve the lean stuff for recipes that include a hefty dose of their own moisture. For example, if you’re making a soup that includes meatballs, such as Italian wedding soup, a 90-to-10 blend would work fine. It would also be good in meat sauces. 

When preparing burgers or tacos, you want a bit more fat in the mix. Aim for a meat-to-fat ratio of at least 80 to 20. A lot of people who grind their own beef use a 70-to-30 formula, which also seems to work. 

Ground Beef Burger Meat

How Fat Content Affects the Dish

You want there to be enough fat in the meat to provide flavor and juiciness, but not so much that it ruins the dish. 

If you’ve ever had a burger made with a 70-to-30 blend, you’ll know that the results can be rather messy. The burger will taste excellent, but the consistency will be a lot sloppier than what most people are used to. 

A juicy texture is the hallmark of a great burger. I get that, and I’m always looking for new ways to improve the quality of this signature dish. But when the ground beef is more than 20 percent fat, the grease can get in the way of the quality. 

Is 60 40 Ground Beef Available? 

I’ve never seen ground beef with this meat-to-fat ratio for sale before. That’s not to say that it’s impossible to find, but I would argue that it’s pretty rare. 

Of course, you can always make your own ground meat products. That allows you to control everything from the quality of the meat to the fat content to the seasonings—that is, if you’re adding any. When you grind meat at home, it’s all up to you. 

To make ground beef with a 60-to-40 meat-to-fat ratio, add 2/3 as much fat as beef to the grinder. If you have 3 pounds of beef, make sure to include 2 pounds of fat. 

I personally feel that a blend this fatty would prevent the burger from browning properly. All that grease will make it seem like a moist-heat cooking environment, even if you’re using the grill. However, feel free to experiment if you’re curious. 

60 40 Ground Beef Bacon Burger 

If, like me, you find the prospect of a 60 40 ground beef blend to be too daunting, try this instead. It’s made up of a blend of bacon and ground beef, so the texture will be slightly different than what you’d get with beef and fat alone. 

Beef Bacon Burger

Bacon burgers have been a pub-menu staple for years. But most of them use a regular ground beef patty and put strips of bacon on top. This blend puts the bacon right inside the burger, so its savory kick is present in every single bite. 

Full disclaimer: Since bacon isn’t made up of 100 percent fat, the “60 40” in this case is a bit misleading. But the resulting burger is juicy enough to give you the general idea. 

How To Make It 

You’ll need a meat grinder in order to pull this off. A regular food processor won’t do the trick here; there’s too much fat. Use a medium grinder plate, which provides the best consistency for burgers. 

As for ingredients, look for top-quality lean sirloin—preferably Prime—and the thick-cut bacon of your choice. Personally, I like to use the Wright brand, but there are other fine options out there. 

Since you’re aiming for 60 percent beef and 40 percent bacon, start with 3 pounds of sirloin and 2 pounds of bacon. If you’re only making a few burgers, you can go with 1-1/2 pounds of sirloin and 1 pound of bacon. 

Cut the beef and bacon into small strips. You might have to freeze the beef for 30 minutes or so in order to carve it into thin slices. It’s a good idea to freeze it for a while afterward too. The colder everything is, the easier it will be to grind the meat. 

When you’re ready to begin, feed the beef and bacon through the grinder, then repeat the process. Putting the meat through the grinder plate twice will give it a more complex texture. 

If you’d like to make additions to the meat mixture, now would be the time. I don’t recommend adding eggs—while they act as a binder, they detract from the qualities of the ground meat. Try adding Worcestershire, garlic powder, or hot sauce instead. 

Once you’ve mixed everything together, form the patties. Remember that the high fat content will result in a higher shrinkage factor, so make them a little bit larger than you normally would. Season liberally on both sides with salt and pepper

Cooking the Burgers

These burgers are best prepared in a cast iron skillet. They’re so fatty that they would cause serious flare-ups if you were to try grilling them. 

Grilled Beef Burger

Heat the skillet over medium-high. When it’s hot, add 2 or 3 of the burgers, taking care not to crowd the pan. Cook for 5 to 6 minutes, depending on how thick your patties are. Then flip them over and cook for an additional 5 to 6 minutes on the other side. 

Remove the burgers from the heat and drain the pan, if necessary. Repeat with remaining burgers until they’re all cooked. Take care when flipping the patties, as they’ll probably be softer than the ones you’ve dealt with in the past. 

Top the burgers with cheese—cheddar and pepper jack are excellent options—and serve on toasted buns. These burgers are especially good when topped with lettuce, crispy onion strings, and avocado, but feel free to experiment! 

Final Thoughts 

There’s a juicy burger, and then there’s a patty that’s so rich with fat that it barely stays together. The former is a lot easier to deal with, which is why I stick to a leaner blend most of the time. Using bacon instead of tallow offers a nice compromise. 

Happy grilling!

Darren Wayland Avatar

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