Burger Seasoning

Joined Sep 19, 2016
Hi All

I'm running some trials in the week to come and needed some advise about seasonings to add to Ground Beef in order to make Patties.

I know most of us are purists and don't advise any mix-ins except when the patty hits the grill - then we season it. I'm just experimenting to learn the difference.

I'm thinking of adding just msg to the Ground Beef as a start to Kick Up the Umami - when would you suggest I add it - before Grinding the beef or after it's ground?

Joined Apr 25, 2014
I'd do it after.   BUT instead of msg consider putting shiitake mushrooms into a spice grinder to make mushroom powder.  That ups your umami and you don't add salt as with msg powder.  Then your cooks can season the outside of the burger as normal, the salt on the outside helps dry it out and helps with browning and forming crust.
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Joined Nov 27, 2006
A good friend of mine runs a steakhouse and he puts apples in his burgers for that little extra hit. Myself personally when I make burgers I use a blend of ground chuck and brisket.
Joined Mar 21, 2008
Nothing added to the burger but makes me wonder if a teaspoon of Better than Bullion beef base mixed int the burger would kick the flavor up. Then a little less salt on the outside...
Joined Sep 5, 2008
If the goal is to make the beef taste beefier, you could try grinding some beef jerky into a powder and adding that to the ground meat. 

I personally don't like the idea to "kick up" the flavor of a beef burger (other than sourcing more flavorful beef), this is just an idea - that I would personally never try. 
Joined Apr 3, 2008
This is why sometimes it is perilous going out to eat. Cooks put stuff in your food you would never do at home. Please, if you put msg in your food you must list it on the menu and somehow "Burger seasoned with msg" doesn't sound appetizing to a diner does it?

Buy better meat or leave the meat as it is. Or add spices and herbs to it. At a local restaurant that specializes in sausages here they sell a sausage burger. At another local Greek restaurant they sell a lamb burger topped with kasseri cheese. There are so many ways to make a good tasting burger. At the end of the day what people appreciate above all is a fresh product.


Staff member
Joined Mar 29, 2002
I've toyed with something I called Basic Beef Oomph. Haven't played with it in years though. I guess it was a phase in my cooking development. 

It was based in dried powdered mushrooms, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, seasoned with some onion powder and garlic powder. As I recall. There might have been some other things. 

Better technique and understanding replaced my interest in that effort. Still some seasoning tricks I use now and then to correct something that's not quite achieving my aims. 
Joined Jan 25, 2013
first off, i would not use MSG.  enough people think they are allergic and will get sick if they ingest MSG that it is not worth the trouble.  yes i fall into purist category.  blend ground round, chuck and sirloin with a little crushed pepper, cook quickly over a red oak fire(the smoke seems to take care of need for salt), serve on toasted bun with fresh tomato. nothing more, nothing less.  I cringe when i see ads on TV where a poor piece of ground beef is covered with multiple layers of fruit and veg.  with that many layers of "Seasoning Tricks", you could serve 75% beef/25%soy protein and folks will come back for seconds.  the US Navy has been doing it for a Loooong time.
Joined Jan 8, 2010
I am not a purist at all when it comes to burgers and sausages.

I like spices and I don't particularly like sauces.

My burgers contain onion, garlic, chili and soy, and a little egg and breadcrumbs.
Joined Mar 1, 2017
For years, messing with hamburgers has been somewhat of a preoccupation of mine.  I have pretty much done it all with varying results.  However, one of the best results is when I combined the ground beef with ground bacon on a 50/50 ratio.  The ground beef should be at least 85/15 to compensate for the fat content of the bacon.  I like to trim a chuck roast, grind it and combine it with ground hardwood smoked bacon (choose your favorite species of wood).  Some sugar cured bacon have also produced some very good results.   I have even made my own sausage and used that in lieu of the bacon but on a lessor ratio than with the bacon.....say, 60/40 to 80/20 depending on how bold the sausage is and its fat content.

I started messing with this idea when Reagan was still in his first term.  Now, mixing ground beef with bacon has become common in gastro pubs.  I should have copyrighted the recipe.   LOL! 

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Joined Oct 9, 2008
Add a small amount of salt to a coarse grind of short ribs, then let cure in the fridge overnight. Grind the rest of the meat plain. Re-grind it all together and keep the strings from the grinder parallel. The salt activates the myosin, keeping it from falling apart. Wrap the roll very tight, chill overnight, and slice patties.

See Heston Blumenthal, "In Search of Perfection." His recipe is brilliant. His explanation is extraordinary.


Joined Feb 16, 2017
I agree with Scott Livesey about the MSG. MSG is one of those controversial ingredients that could cause you more headache than it's worth. I grew up in a family that used MSG (Asian mother) regularly. My American grandparents then started using it. Subsequently, my grandpa started to notice ill effects after meals in which it was used. It was then banned from their house. And my grandparents never hesitated to tell people that MSG makes people sick.
Joined Oct 9, 2008
If you add ice while grinding, as for sausage, you could use strong kombu-dashi ice cubes. Same as MSG but natural. Or powdered dry shiitake, or a little grated Parmesan, or a bit of meat seared until nearly burnt and ground fine. All umami from Hell.
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Joined Jun 23, 2015
The James Beard Foundation and the USDA worked on q burger project together.  The purpose was to come up with a healthier burger for school lunch.  They came up with a burger that was 25% minced mushrooms and 75% ground beef.  I have done this and seasoned with a little soy, Worcestershire, and fresh ground pepper.  It worked very well and was well received but all I have served it to. 
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