Shaping Perfect Hamburger Patties

by Alice Currah on May 28, 2010. Updated January 12, 2012

Have you ever walked by the butcher case at your local grocery store and noticed how perfectly uniform the hamburgers they sell are?  I have.  A few months ago my sister and I were walking through Whole Foods and there was a man forming hamburger patties in this thingamajig in the meat department.  As I watched him for a few seconds I found a sudden urge to know exactly what that thing was he was using.  So I asked and he seemed surprised I would even be interested.  Before telling me what it was, he joked that if I wanted one it would cost $20.  Say what?!  Then he looked at me, smiled and chuckled.

“Oh this?  This is a lid.”

A lid?

“A lid, you know.. from a jar.”

Oh..oh thanks.

I looked at him feeling pretty stupid and decided I wasted enough of his time and moved on to another part of the store.  My sister laughed at me but also agreed we just stumbled into a great kitchen/cooking/grilling tip.

Here’s my conclusion – if I didn’t know you could make uniform hamburger patties with a stinkin’ lid, chances are you didn’t know either.  So here’s your chance to make your burgers look perfect like the ones you get in restaurants. It’s so simple yet so brilliant. Say goodbye to jagged edges.  In the words of my two daughters, “Reduce, Re-Use, Recycle, Re-think.”  This technique would work great with forming veggie patties and crab cakes too.

Although you could easily buy a hamburger press, I for one will gladly use a lid -I only have a drawer full of them.  What’s also great about using lids is you can find the lid that best suits the size of your hamburger buns.  For instance, if you wanted to make mini-sliders, use a small tupperware or canning lid.  Pretty simple, huh?

So start saving those lids. You never know when you’ll need the perfect hamburger patty. Enjoy!

Season ground beef with your favorite spices.  Salt and pepper work great but I also like Weber’s Gourmet Burger Seasoning.

Find a lid that is slightly bigger than the size of your hamburger bun.  Cover the lid in plastic wrap.  This will make it easier to remove the patty after each use.

Place a good amount of ground beef inside the lid.

Press meat down into the lid.  Remove any excess meat or add more if necessary.

Flip patty out and continue to make as many burgers as needed.

For best cooking results, refrigerate patties for at least 1 hour before frying or grilling.  Enjoy!


Shaping Perfect Hamburger Patties
Recipe type: Main
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
How to shape and make the perfect hamburger patties
  • ground beef
  • salt and pepper
  • seasonings of your choice
  • lid
  1. Season the ground beef with salt, pepper, and any other hamburger seasonings.
  2. Find a lid that is slightly bigger than the size of your hamburger bun.
  3. Cover the lid in plastic wrap. This will make it easier to remove the patty after each use.
  4. Place a good amount of ground beef inside the lid.
  5. Press the meat down into the lid. Remove any excess meat or add more if necessary.
  6. Flip the patty out and continue to make as many burgers as needed.
  7. Refridgerate the patties the patties for one hour before grilling.
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{ 92 comments… read them below or add one }

Uthman Apatira September 19, 2010 at 1:34 pm

Ive always done the meatball and then flatten with your fingers/palm technique, and just making 2lbs of meat, my hands always end up hurting at by end… not anymore! Thanks for the pro-tip ;-]


Thisni Caza January 22, 2011 at 4:57 pm

Like a whack on the side of the head…plus, I read once that the less you handle ground meat, the more tender and juicy it will be. Of course, in the past I had always worked the pattie over, in the shaping process. So don’t be surprised if your patties not only look better, but taste better.


Rob Engberts June 19, 2011 at 1:32 pm

Awesome tip!!! tyvm


tini July 4, 2011 at 9:39 pm

Great advice ty!


Diane July 21, 2011 at 1:52 pm

what a fantastic tip, I have always struggled with this part , making them all the same size.. It will work great with the salmon burgers too.
Thanks a million


Kate July 25, 2011 at 10:42 pm

Been doing this for years. Your photo gave me an idea! Use rings and lids from wide mouth canning jars…you can just push up on the lid and the burger should come out very nicely…I’m going to try this next burger night.


Debi August 3, 2014 at 7:19 pm

Genius! Will also save on plastic wrap.


M. Sterwitz July 31, 2011 at 6:37 pm

We just tried a lid from an old Kirkland Mixed Nuts jar, about the size of the red one in your picture, with half a pound of 80-20 hamburger per patty. Came out perfect!
Thank you so very much for this wonderful tip.


asian recipes August 24, 2011 at 10:27 pm

I love burgers! The photos make me drool! Absolutely amazing!


best salad recipes August 24, 2011 at 10:36 pm

Fabulous!! this sounds like a great variation.


Lily_J October 12, 2011 at 11:58 pm

oh. I assumed you were going to use a cookie cutter. Oh well, I sometimes use lids as cookie cutters anyway (easier to get different sizes)


Gusto October 13, 2011 at 11:08 am
Eldon October 24, 2011 at 5:03 pm

Oct 24/11

I have a rolling pin that I put hot water in this would press the pattie more tightly. A really great idea you had. WEB


Pam February 8, 2012 at 5:10 pm

Genius! :) LOL


Tami April 5, 2012 at 7:55 am

Love it and like one other said, a slap against the head for this not just being a common sense thing! I’ve always used the Tupperware patty maker, but really hate cleaning it for some odd reason, so it slides to the back of the cupboard . For one, duh, plastic wrap to avoid cleaning up the T-ware and two, if I’m at someone else’s home or camping out, there we go! Thanks for the tip, and thanks to the butcher!


richard April 19, 2012 at 1:21 am

very helpfull tip, thanks to this article… try this later at home..


alwaysaleaf April 25, 2012 at 1:11 pm

Excellent Excellent idea, always wondered how to make the perfect burger!! It seems the harder it looks the easier it is!! LOL! Thanks very much for the info, I will share this.


Garth Whelan May 3, 2012 at 11:52 pm

LOL, don’t you sometimes feel silly not thinking of something so simple? I did.

I notice in the recipe though, it’s not a recipe for hamburgers, but beef burgers. If you want pork, you can use 70% chicken, and 30% pork of meat. You can still taste the pork clearly enough, and it’s just a little bit healthier than all pork.

I will rate this recipe once I’ve tried it.


louis May 25, 2012 at 3:51 pm

season your ground beef with salt & pepper, then marinate it in beer. Delicious!


Alice Currah May 26, 2012 at 5:30 pm

Hi Louis,
Thanks for your tip. I am going to try it!


TMB June 8, 2012 at 2:51 pm

Awesome tip. I was JUST about to go buy a hamburger press — now I can save that money. Sometimes, we don’t think about the simplest things. :)


Lisa July 4, 2012 at 12:35 pm

Thanks so much for the tip! I am creating homemade burgers for our 4th of July barbeque and was nervouse about them falling apart on the grill. I am going right now to go hunt for a lid. Thanks!


Debbie July 14, 2012 at 4:07 pm

This is one of those “why didn’t I think of that” ideas! Just made 16 patties and they are on cookie sheets in the freezer. We will grill some tomorrow and use the Food Saver for the rest and see how it goes. Thank you for sharing.


Andrea (Quest for Delish) July 17, 2012 at 4:32 pm

I just used this idea with jimmy dean sausage. It worked so nicely that I just blogged about it. When you have a chance come by and check it out. Thanks for the great tip. I found it on pinterest and am so happy to have found your blog.


Nicole Ferguson July 30, 2012 at 10:30 am

I found your site while looking for an alternative should my readers not have a burger press (I was blogging about burgers). So, thank you for posting this tip. A great alternative. I linked my blog to your article. I hope this is OK.


Holly Jo January 9, 2013 at 10:53 pm

Mind. Blown. This made my night.
My boyfriend came in and asked: “Why are there only three patties?” And all I could reply was “that was what I got because of the size of the lid!” Ahahahaha.
Thanks for the tip! :D


Brandy February 10, 2013 at 12:43 pm

What an awesome tip! Just tried it and I was so impressed at how easy it was! Why have I struggled making patties for so long??


Laura March 21, 2013 at 7:38 pm

He was most likely using a hamburger press. I have one. It’s nice because you don’t have to use plastic wrap to remove it, and most lids are not made to be re-used and after being washed, they leach chemicals into foods.


Lia L. Baltinado April 20, 2013 at 7:03 am

Hi..can i use this hamburger patties recipe in selling hamburger?how long it will last?Im planning to run a hamburger station in our neighborhood kasi,is it okey to use?Please i need to hear your advice…Thanks a lot…Lia


BitsyBet July 14, 2013 at 7:22 pm

It looks like a peanut butter jar lid that you used. I’ve used a cheap metal hamburger press that my mother bought me ages ago. She’s owned hers for forever. I works very well and makes about a 1/4 pound burger if you pack it generously. No problem with uniform burgers. I don’t have issues with them falling apart on the grill, either. The press can be found, at an inexpensive price, on Amazon.


William C. August 2, 2013 at 2:02 pm

I know this is about pressing/shaping burgers… but for spicing the burgers and making them absolutely remarkable… add 1 enelope Lipton Onion Soup (& California Dip) mix per lb. of 80/20% ground beef for the best burgers you’ll eat all summer! After mixing in the soup mix, it helps to let the beef sit overnight in a covered tub before patting out your burgers. The juices from the meat reconstitute the dehydrated onions (or you could add a tiny bit of water to the meat if it’s dry). That’s the best way to eat ‘em!


Stefan August 4, 2013 at 1:11 pm

Most chefs recommend leaving your meat out for an hour before grilling, to let it get to room temperature. This helps the meat cook evenly and sticks to the grill less.


Haley Grossman September 30, 2013 at 2:14 pm

I just found this on pinterest…great idea. I actually have a tip for burger patties on my blog. It’s a little different than yours, but has the same results. I’d love if you check it out!


StufZ Burger November 1, 2013 at 3:38 pm

Good read. It seems like the easiest way to perfectly shape burger patties. Thanks for the tip.


Rollforming November 23, 2013 at 12:59 am

Thanks, A very useful information .


TYVM February 14, 2014 at 11:12 am

TYVM indeed. makes preparation so much simpler.

Why would anyone wanna suggest pork at any point is beyond me. It’s cheap, but it’s genetically developed to be the garbage disposal unit and therefore puts consumers at long term health risks that are avoidable. Screw profitability over common sense. Soon we’ll be consuming vultures too.


Marcia Rhea June 13, 2014 at 5:40 pm

Just made 18 nice, even patties. Used the lid and plastic wrap and it was so easy. They look like I bought them made that way. Also used the 80 – 20 ground beef. (Added minced cooked bacon, minced cooked Vadalia onion, Worchershire sauce, salt and pepper. Followed your advice and worked it very lightly. Party tomorrow! Thanks so much for posting.


Tom Strayer October 7, 2014 at 11:49 pm

I usually make a lot of burgers at a time, and freeze them individually in sandwich bags, stacked inside of labeled gallon size freezer bags.

Try this: Turn a sandwich bag inside out. Put your form (lid) inside the bag. Form your burger in the lid. Turn the bag outside out. Squeeze out the air and seal the bag. Stack in the gallon bag, freeze.


Alice Currah October 15, 2014 at 1:11 pm

Great tips Tom. Thanks for sharing!


David November 11, 2014 at 12:50 am

Thank you for this tip. I’m making burgers this Veterans day (2014) for friends. I looked & have only small lids. Then it hit me, I have a set of cookie cutters. I found the right size & made 9 beautifully round patties. Thank you again.


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