If you're making your own hamburger patties, adding egg to hamburger meat can help hold the meat together for easier cooking. Without the proper binder, the burgers may fall apart in the pan or on the grill.
Eggs in Cooking
Eggs are a nutritious meal on their own, but are useful in preparing a variety of other dishes, too. The American Egg Board provides a list of egg functionalities, some of which include adhesion, binding, thickening, emulsification and leavening.
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When it comes to egg in hamburger patties or meatloaf, the egg serves as a binder to hold the meat and other ingredients together.
According to Michigan State University, the higher the fat content, the more the meat shrinks during cooking. You need fat to add flavor and juiciness, but the fat packs on extra calories.
If you opt to use a low-fat ground beef or another base for your burgers, you may need to add an egg to prevent the patty from crumbling during cooking. The University of California San Diego says that while you don't have to add an egg, you could add an egg or two or just the egg whites to your burger recipe.
Read more: Are Eggs Only as Healthy as You Cook Them?
Adding Egg to Hamburger Meat
If you're using ground beef with high-fat content, the ingredients should bind together fairly well on their own without needing to add an egg in the burger. However, if you're unsure about the meat holding together, you can always add an egg just to be safe. You'll add the egg, either whole or just the egg white, to the meat along with the other spices and mix it all together before shaping into patties.
Want to try some burger recipes that are made with eggs? Take a look at this LIVESTRONG.com recipe for Black Bean-Quinoa Burgers With Eggs. You'll need two eggs or the equivalent vegan egg substitute for every 2 cups of black beans and one portobello mushroom cap. Don't want to go strictly vegetarian or vegan? Our Spinach-Stuffed Turkey Burger Patties are a tasty alternative.
If you add fillers like oats or breadcrumbs to your hamburger mixture or want to add any bulky ingredients such as peppers or onions, the eggs are necessary to bind those ingredients.
To help ensure the burgers stay together, avoid overhandling the meat and flipping the burgers more than necessary during cooking.
Are Eggs Necessary for Burgers?
Adding egg to hamburger meat is not the only way to bind the ingredients to keep the patty together while cooking. It is possible to hold hamburgers together with other binders, in the case of an egg allergy or desire to make a vegan burger.
According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, you can mix 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed mixed with 3 tablespoons of warm water. Let the mixture stand for one minute before adding it to your meat mixture for binding purposes.
If you just want to avoid the egg for allergy reasons, you can use unflavored gelatin as an alternative to eggs. Mix 1 cup of boiling water with 2 teaspoons of gelatin. Use 3 1/2 tablespoons of that mixture per egg in your recipe.
Once you've prepared your burger meat, with or without egg in the hamburger patties, the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service says you should cook the meat until it reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
- American Egg Board: "20+ Functional Benefits of Eggs"
- Michigan State University: "Beefing Up Ground Beef"
- University of California San Diego: "Turkey Burger"
- Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America: "Cooking and Baking Without Egg Ingredients"
- USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service: "Leftovers and Food Safety"