Grinding Your Own Meat

Grinding your own meat at home couldn’t be easier. Here’s how to up your burger game with beautiful, fluffy, burger patties. Suck on that little Jimmy from down the street’s dad. Your store bought patties taste like last season’s hockey pucks.

Brace Yourself. Summer Is Coming.

Oh yeah! You know what that means? Beaches, BBQs, and of course Burgers! Grilling season is the best and I love those lazy days when I’ve got a beer in my hand a patty on the grill. However, have you ever been to a BBQ where the burgers are dry, flavorless, disks  smushed between bland white bread buns?  Well you’re on your own for the buns, but today I’m going to show you how to up your burger game! Actually I kind of love Martin’s Potato Rolls, but that’s beside the point.

Why Should I Grind My Own Meat?

Now that’s a very good question.  Why should you put all this effort into grinding meat when you can just go to the store and buy it?  First, ground meat from the store is usually a combination of random parts of the animal that you don’t normally eat.  I mean, yes your hotdog has things like mystery chemicals, beef lips, and pig buttholes (no joke), but we are OK with that because we assume the worst with hot dogs. But when pork bung (the technical term) is in your burger, that’s just wrong.  Store bought ground meat is a mystery you’d rather not solve and those pre-formed patties even contain sawdust.  Don’t believe me?  Check the ingredients list on the package and if cellulose is listed, then your burger is filled with sawdust.

Second, you are able to control the blend of the meat and the amount of fat in your burger.  You ever go to the store and see a package that says something like 70% ground beef, 86% ground beef, or 98% ground beef?  Well that number refers to the amount of meat vs. fat in a grind.  For example, 86% ground beef is 86% meat and 14% fat.  98% ground meat is very lean and is honestly flavorless.  Just like skim milk.

Ron Swanson Skim Milk

Lean burgers are lying about being meat.

You can also control what cut of the meat you can put into your grind.  Some folks like to mix it up and use varying cuts of the cow.  I prefer chuck steak myself because it’s a well marbled cut.  Marbling or marbled refers to how much fat is in between the muscle fibers.  The red and white pattern looks like a slab of marble.  Of course, It’s not limited to beef.  You can use fatty chicken thighs, pork loin, salmon filets, or even shrimp.

Third, a good burger, like one you’d get at a restaurant, should melt in your mouth.  The pre-ground meat you buy at the store is usually packed so densely that the burgers are tough and chewy rather than tender and juicy.

Store Bought Vs Home Ground Meat

On the left is freshly ground pork loin.  On the right is store ground pork.  As you can see the fresh, home ground meat is much fluffier while the store but stuff is much, well, pastier.  Meat paste does not make a good burger!

So How Do I Get Started?

So what you need is a meat grinder!  Duh!  But where do you get a meat grinder and which one should you buy?  I cannot speak to which meat grinders are the best as I’ve only had one, but I can tell you what to look for in a meat grinder.  I would say it’s mandatory that you get a metal one; preferably stainless steel.  I’ll get to why in a minute.

Kitchen Aid Meat Grinder

This is my meat grinder attachment for the Kitchen Aid stand mixer.  It’s actually a vintage piece we found at a garage sale years ago, which I think they stopped making in the 70’s when they switched over to plastic.  I prefer a meat grinder that bolts into the Kitchen Aid over a hand crank one that bolts to the kitchen counter.  The problem with a manual grinder is the fact that the clamp can damage your countertop.  It’s much less of a hassle to use the Kitchen Aid.

What About The Meat?

So the next step is figuring out which meat you want to grind.  If you’re making burgers or meatballs I’d suggest a fattier cut of meat.  The fat actually helps the patties stick together and keep their shape.  For beef, I’d suggest chuck steak or London broil.  That’s chuck steak not chuck roast as chuck roast is tougher and may jam up the machine.  For pork I’d go with pork loin.  If you’re grinding chicken use thigh meat.  You could also add fat simply by adding suet into the grinder or better yet bacon.  MMM Bacon.

Cut your meat into cubes that are small enough to fit into the hole on top of the grinder.

Grinding Your Own Meat

In the picture above is cubed pork loin.  It’s a good fatty cut which will lead to a nice juicy burger.  The next step requires cooling down the cubed meat.  Without this step, the fat will smear and the meat will come out stringy and messy.   Simply it in a freezer bag or air-tight container and freeze for 30 minutes to an hour.  Now here is why I prefer metal grinders.  To better aid in keeping the meat cool you should freeze the grinder as well.  It’ll also heat up due to friction so starting with a nice cold one is ideal.  Once your meat and grinder are chilled, loosen the bolt on the front of your stand mixer and remove the shiny plate.  Your grinder attachment will fit right into the hole.  Tighten the bolt snugly and you should be good to go.

How To Grind Meat With A Kitchen Aid

What Speed Do I Set My Kitchen Aid To Grind Meat?

4.  Turn your mixer on to 4 and simply drop in the meat a fistful at a time, but don’t add too much at once because the grinder might jam.  Use the pusher stick that came with it to push the meat through.

Freshly Ground Meat

There you have it!  That’s it.  You’ve just ground your own meat.   You can even spice the meat by adding things things like garlic, rosemary, basil, or whatever.  When forming your patties, loosely mold them into a ball and flatten.  Make an indent with your thumb so that when it cooks the burger will stay flat.  If you’re making meatballs you can pack them tighter.

Well there ya have it. Not only was that easy but you’re about to make the most delicious burgers you’ve ever made.

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Summer Tiiiiiime And The Livin’s Sweaty Easy

How To Grind Your Own Meat

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19 comments on “Grinding Your Own Meat

  1. Great article! I am ready to get in the kitchen and grind a ton of hamburger for our summer grilling!

  2. What a lot of great information! Thank you for sharing!

  3. Great article. Sharing this!

    • Thanks, Amy!

  4. Wow, I only wish I could have one of those machines. A great tool to have in the kitchen for sure!

    • You know, I saw this exact grinder set on eBay for 5 dollars the other week. You should get one!

  5. I cannot go on in life anymore…I must use my Kitchen Aid meat grinder! I already have ideas spinning around in my head for how to make the BEST BURGERS EVER! 🙂

  6. My parents used to grind their own meat when I was growing up…..but I’ve never thought to do it, myself! I need to put my Kitchenaid to work!

  7. This was really informative and helpful! My mother in law grinds her own meat for certain Middle Eastern dishes that she makes! I’ll be pinning this to save for later, and I’m going to look into meat grinders now.

  8. Thanks for all the great info!! Had no idea.
    My parents favorite pastime in the colder months is grinding meat for homemade sausages. 😀

    • That kind of makes me look forward to that age when I can just hang around making sausages all day. haha

  9. Hmm, my mouth gets watery just looking at the pictures. Yum!

    I didn’t know that hot dogs can contain all kinds of poop. My niece really loves hot dogs, maybe I should share this article with her Mom.

    Thanks for the rundown!

    • No not poop! I mean I don’t really know first hand what goes in on slaughterhouses as it’s illegal to film inside one, but bung can be in meat and “pink slime”.

  10. I am sure your right! I bet this makes a huge difference in the texture! Great info here!

  11. My dad asked for a meat grinder the one year because he wanted to make his own amazing burgers. I guess he did not think it through because he bought the best cuts of meat to make this “ultimate burger,” which included beef tenderloin but they turned out super dry. You need some fat in there or else the best and leanest cuts of meat are just going to dry everything out! Poor guy, he has learned his lesson 🙂

  12. I love posts like this! I’m a firm believer of always grinding your own meat! Thanks for sharing!

  13. Ron Swanson is the BEST! Love that you added a quote 🙂 Also, my stepdad was a butcher so we were always grind our own meat (god that sounds dirty to write that out) and I agree it’s the best!

  14. Question – We’ve been grinding our own meat (we buy the big 20-30 “chuck roasts” at Costco), the last time, though, the meat (fried up for tacos) tasted somewhat “Grainy” (ie not juicy/melt-in-your mouth). Any ideas why this might be? Too lean of meat? The only step I haven’t done when grinding is freezing the grinder components (Kitchenaid) which I’ll definitely try for next time.


    • Hey Kari, a chuck roast is a tougher piece of meat used for, well roasts. A roast needs time to cook or marinate to tenderize. Try chuck steak instead.

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