Can you make burgers out of ground brisket? And if you do, will they be any good? Since brisket is naturally high in fat, the answer to both questions is yes. If you have any other questions about this underrated delicacy, read on.
Are Brisket Burgers Good?
These burgers consist of ground beef that’s made exclusively from the brisket cut. We recommend using the point end for brisket burgers, as the meat is fattier and more flavorful. If you’re watching your fat intake, you can make burgers from the flat end as well, but the meat might be on the dry side.
About Ground Brisket
Ground brisket is just another type of ground beef. The main difference is—you guessed it—that it consists entirely of meat from the brisket.
Butchers often grind the point end of the brisket for burgers and other ground meat dishes. That’s because this segment of the cut is higher in intramuscular fat, which gives the ground beef an improved flavor and a succulent, juicy texture.
If you want a leaner product, you can grind the brisket flat instead. However, you may need to add in a bit of extra fat during the grinding process, especially if you’re making burgers. Otherwise, the recipe will turn out a bit too dry.
Although brisket burgers have many fine qualities, you might notice a slight difference between this type of burger and the kind made from ground chuck, round, or sirloin. We’ll talk more about those differences in the section below.
If you use brisket as a substitute for ground beef in a recipe, be forewarned that it might need to cook for a while longer than what’s recommended. The meat’s fibers are tough and dense, which is why brisket requires the low-and-slow treatment when it’s cooked whole.
Ground Beef vs. Ground Brisket
The brisket comes from the underside of the steer, around the front of the ribcage. If the ground meat lists “brisket” as the sole ingredient, then it’s made up entirely of this cut.
Ground beef, on the other hand, is a generic label. The meat could have come from any portion of the cow—although the chuck, round, and sirloin are most common. There could be a bit of brisket mixed in, but most of the time there’s no way to tell for sure.
Texture and Flavor
When butchers grind brisket for burgers, it tends to have a coarser grind than other types of ground beef. This makes it a good fit for sauces, stews, and any other dish that needs to simmer for long periods of time.
As we pointed out, the high percentage of fat and connective tissue in brisket give the ground meat a richer flavor. If it’s intense beef flavor you’re after, then brisket is the way to go.
For shoppers on a tight budget, regular ground beef is the clear winner. It’s more widely available than brisket, which puts it at a lower price point.
You can expect to pay more for your ground meat if it consists entirely of brisket. For some, however, the improved flavor is worth the money.
Ground beef is a highly versatile ingredient. It’s suitable for burgers, meatballs, pasta sauce, casseroles—you name it.
Brisket, meanwhile, benefits from longer cooking applications. While you can certainly use it to make tasty burgers (as demonstrated in the recipe below), it’s a great fit for slow-simmered dishes such as chili.
In this, the two choices are roughly the same. Both are low in carbohydrates and high in protein, and the calorie count is roughly the same.
The most notable difference is in the fat content. While the ground meat will be a bit leaner if it’s made from the flat end of the brisket, it’s still slightly higher in fat than 85-percent lean ground beef.
Can You Grind Brisket Yourself?
If you have a meat grinder or even a high-quality food processor, you can grind brisket for burgers or other recipes yourself. Just be sure to follow the correct protocol for making your own ground meat products.
First of all, be sure to include enough fat. Ground lean meat might be healthier, but it doesn’t hold its shape well, and the texture is too dry for most recipes. That means the cooked meat will be flavorless and tough.
Try to aim for a ratio of at least 85 percent lean meat to 15 percent fat. An 80/20 ratio is preferable. For a rich blend that will lend plenty of flavor to soups and stews, go for a 75/25 ratio.
Using the brisket point should get you to the 75/25 threshold on its own, but a trimmed flat might require some additional fat. Save some of the trimmings from the fat cap and add them to the mixture when you’re grinding.
You’ll also need to make sure that all the meat is very cold. Cut the brisket into 1-inch cubes and arrange them in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Freeze for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the edges of the cubes are stiff but the centers remain pliable.
With a food processor, you can put the blade and bowl in the freezer for the same amount of time. If your freezer isn’t large enough to accommodate the bowl, just chill the blade. For meat grinders, chill the blade, feed shaft, and die plates.
Try not to handle the meat too much when you’re transferring it to the food processor or grinder. Use a spoon or a spatula, or a meat pusher if you’re using a grinder.
Finally, remember not to over-process the brisket. If you’re using a meat grinder, try the 3/8 die plate to start, and then feed about half of the resulting mixture through the 1/4 die plate.
If you’re using a food processor, the brisket should appear crumbled or coarsely chopped when you’re done. When the meat resembles a paste, it’s been overworked.
Tip: Feel free to mix brisket with another type of beef to create a customized blend. Try using 2 parts beef round to 1 part brisket. As always, make sure to include enough fat in the mix.
How To Make Brisket Burgers
These burgers are so succulent and flavorful, they don’t even require condiments. A simple garnish of lettuce and tomato are all you’ll need. Feel free to add a slice of your favorite melting cheese as well.
Tip: Use the flat cut for a leaner burger, or the point for maximum beef flavor.
- 1 pound beef brisket (point or flat), trimmed and ground as directed above
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Cooking spray made from canola or olive oil
- 4 hamburger buns
- About 2 tablespoons butter, or to taste
- 4 slices of melting cheese, such as cheddar, Swiss, or Monterey jack
- Lettuce leaves
- Sliced tomato
1. Divide the ground meat into 4 equal-sized portions. Shape each portion into a patty measuring roughly 1/2 inch thick.
2. Press a nickel-sized indentation in the center of each patty. This will prevent the burgers from bulging in the middle as they cook. Cover and chill the patties while you preheat the grill.
3. Build a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill.
4. When the coals are ready, season the brisket patties with the salt and pepper. Lightly coat the grilling grate with cooking spray.
5. Place the patties on the prepared grilling grate and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until grill marks appear. Turn and cook for another 3 minutes.
6. At this point, you can add cheese, if desired, and continue to cook for about 1 minute or until the burgers reach your desired degree of doneness.
7. Remove burgers from the grill and set aside to rest.
8. Split the hamburger buns in half and spread the cut sides with butter. Grill with the cut side facing down for 10-15 seconds, or until golden-brown grill marks appear. Watch them carefully, as they burn easily. Also, try to keep them off to the side as much as possible to avoid flare-ups from the melting butter.
9. Serve the burgers on toasted buns with lettuce and tomato, if desired.
The Bottom Line
Are brisket burgers good? You bet—and they taste even better when you grind the meat yourself. That gives you full control over the meat-to-fat ratio, so you can experiment according to taste.
Best of luck, and happy grilling!