How to make hamburgers made with lean meat juicy & flavorful…

May 30, 2018

Even those of us who limit how much red meat we eat occasionally like indulge in a hamburger every once in a while, especially during cookout season.  I’ve often heard from people that the when they bite into their hamburger, the taste of them is sometimes not what they remember from growing up.

I also often heard from some people who see me for nutrition counseling that they think the 90% or 93% lean ground beef doesn’t give as juicy a hamburger the ground beef that has more saturated fat in it.

There is an easy and tasty way to correct both of these issues and still use leaner versions of ground beef!

What’s the secret?

It’s simple: Add ground up mushrooms to your meat before making the burgers.  Even if you don’t like the texture of mushrooms, keep reading because your wallet and your body will thank you.

Adding ground mushrooms to your hamburger beef adds moisture, enhances this taste, reduces the calories from the burger, and helps make a pound of beef go further.

Why does it work?

Beef and mushrooms both give off a taste called “umami”.  This is one of the five tastes just like sweet, salty, bitter or sour.  The odd-sounding name is because it comes from a Japanese word that has been translated in various sources as “savory” or “delicious” or even “yummy”.

How to make those flavorful, juicy hamburgers using lean meat

For maximum umami flavor in hamburgers, the Mushroom Council recommends finely chopping the mushrooms in a food processor (or with a knife) and then sautéing or roasting them before adding them to the raw hamburger before forming the patties.

To save time and skip having to clean up the pan, you can just add the raw chopped mushrooms to the raw hamburger meat.   If you are going to do this, I recommend using the following proportions:

Flavorful, juicy hamburgers using lean meat

Use this option for juicy, satisfying burgers that will have people thinking you used the 80% lean instead of 93% lean. Their taste buds will jump for joy and so will their hearts at this leaner, reduced fat option.
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Cookout
Keyword: burger, Cookout, hamburger, picnic, reduced fat
Servings: 4 burgers
Author: Lisa Garcia, MS, RDN, LD, CLT


  • 4 to 8 ounces raw mushrooms finely chopped
  • 1 cup whole grain cereal such as Cheerios® or one of the Chex® cereals (ground into fine crumbs)
  • 1 pound 93% lean ground beef


  • Mixing the crumbs with the mushrooms before adding the mixture to the meat helps compensate for the extra moisture that will come from the raw mushrooms. The crumbs are so fine that most people will never know they are there.


In addition to increasing the flavor of the meat, the mushrooms will make your burger juicier while reducing the saturated fat and calories in each burger.  You’ll also make a pound of meat serve more people and save a bit of money.

While you are grilling, be sure to avoid making these common mistakes.

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Having personally struggled with weight and gut health issues, I understand how easy it is to think that food is the enemy especially with the changes our bodies undergo as we age.  It doesn’t have to be that way!

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